Conor O’Callaghan and Maurice Riordan: Irish poetry collections to look forward to in 2013

In what is already shaping up to be an interesting year for poetry, two of Ireland’s most exciting poets return with new collections

Rising sun: Dundalk poet Conor O’Callaghan publishes his fourth collection, ‘The Sun King’ (The Gallery Press), on April 25th

April 25th sees the publication of The Sun KingConor O’Callaghan’s first collection of poems in the eight years that have passed since 2005’s Fiction. Currently based in Manchester and teaching in Sheffield Hallam University, the Dundalk poet’s fourth collection to date follows the Patrick Kavanagh Prize- winning The History of Rain (1993), Seatown (1999) and Poetry Society Recommendation Fiction(2005).

Described by his publisher as a collection of poems that “…happen in the spaces between parallel realities…”, the poems collected include a “less than faithful” translation of ‘La Casada Infiel’, Lorca’s tale of infidelity, which caused quite a stir upon publication in an Autumn 2011 edition of Poetry. 

Other poems that may have made the cut include ‘The Modern Pastoral Elegy’, ‘Three Six Five Zero’, which immediately recalls Simon Armitage’s excellent ‘Five Eleven Ninety Nine’, ‘Game Night’, ‘January Drought’ and ‘Mid to Upper Seventies’

The collection finishes with ‘The Pearl Works’, a series of 52 couplets, of precisely 140 characters, each of which were initially published throughout every week of 2012 on O’Callaghan’s Twitter page. The title refers to the  now- derelict steel factory in the heart of Sheffield, which was once part of the city’s then- dynamic steel industry. The building is / was demolished in order to build student accommodation on the site. The building will accommodate- wait for it– 52 students.

Another poem which is sure to intrigue- the title of which is not currently known-  is a longer poem which has been described as “an elegy for the Celtic Tiger’s all- consuming boom.”

Interestingly, another poem is set in a farm house on the coast of the Irish Sea, which, no doubt, will remind readers of O’Callaghan’s Seatown, one of the most accomplished and memorable collections published by an Irish poet in recent years; if nothing else, the poem may reinforce the theme of drifting that appears, again and again, in O’Callaghan’s work.

As is clear from the publication dates of his collections, O’Callaghan is a slow grafter who, refreshingly, takes his time between collections in an era when most poets tend to publish a new collection every three / four years. Suffice to say, then, that new work from O’Callaghan is both a welcome surprise and an event. For more of what we can expect from O’Callaghan’s imminent collection, click here for poems and prose from Conor O’Callaghan that have previously appeared in Poetry.

Conor O’Callaghan will be reading with Medbh McGuckian and Tom French in Droichead Arts Centre on Saturday May 4th at 1:30pm as part of Drogheda Arts Festival.

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London- based Cork poet Maurice Riordan’s fourth collection, ‘The Water Stealer’ (Faber) is published on August 1st

Cork- born poet Maurice Riordan, who was recently announced as the new editor of the Poetry Society’s Poetry Review magazine, effective from September, also returns with his first collection since The Holy Land (2007), winner of the 2007 Michael Hartnett award. Published by Faber, The Water Stealer will appear on August 1st and is said to continue Riordan’s “thematic exploration of time and memory, but with a more  intense focus on natural world”.
Riordan’s previous collections include A Word from the Loki (1995) and the marvelous Floods (2000).

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