I finished the Selected Poems by Bernard O’Donoghue. Actually, I finished it something like a week ago, but life and work and stuff has kept me from writing about it. And now that I’m finally writing about it, I don’t have it in front of me, so I won’t be quoting from it. But, trust me. It’s good.
He writes about a life he left behind (according to his talk at the Folger). It’s mostly about a taciturn and unromanticized rural Ireland. Or, actually, it is romanticized. He actually has a poem about watching the great John Wayne movie, The Quiet One, which takes place in rural Ireland. I’m not a John Wayne fan, but I love this movie. Anyway, that movie romanticizes rural Ireland. Sometimes, O’Donoghue romanticizes it by explicitly unromanticizing it. The romance of gritty, poverty-inspired DIY and old fashioned sod busters.
The writing is dense on the page, too. Thick, dense stanzas, with lines being medium long (but not going beyond the available length, so it has to drop down like Whitman or Ginsberg) and mostly the same length, creating a sort of visual square, many times. There is a good deal of mid-sentence enjambment and sentences ending in the middle of a line, but he doesn’t break up the steady meter and it reads smoothly.
I want to right more, but I’m pressed for time.
His work isn’t easy to find, but worth seeking out. So, read it, okay? That’s all.