Catching Up With…David Bryan from Near FM’s Pure Phase

Spinning a broad variety of genres every Tuesday night on Dublin’s Near FM (90.3 FM) from 10:30pm –  11:30pm, David Bryan’s Pure Phase is a blissful hour for avid listeners of everything from Psychedelic rock and Shoegaze to Garage rock and Krautrock; from Ry Cooder and Love to Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and Timber Timbre. I spoke to the Dublin based DJ about discovering music in his early teens, his favourite albums of 2014 and why everyone should hear The Cure’s Disintegration.

Pure Phase DJ David Bryan.

Pure Phase DJ David Bryan.


What’s been the highlight of your year so far?

Tough to say, musically. There have been a few very good albums released so far: The Afghan WhigsDo To The BeastDoug Tuttle‘s eponymously titled début; PixiesIndie CindyThe HorrorsLuminousDamon Albarn‘s Everyday Robots; Dirtmusic‘s Lion City. Album of the year, so far? It ‘s a toss-up between Gallon Drunk’s re- emergence with The Soul Of The Hour and a brilliant record from a brilliant band: Lay Llamas’ Ostro.

 

When did you first realise you wanted a career in music / media / radio?

I have always loved music. It struck me more so during my early teens. I had originally been listening to mainstream stuff: George Harrison, Dire Straits and the like in the 80’s. A guy I knew introduced me to The Cure and my cousin introduced me to Pixies and Sonic Youth and, from that point onwards, I was hooked.

 

Describe the five minutes before a gig / broadcast.

Pretty chilled, quite honestly. Once I have the first few tracks lined up and Twitter set to fire, I like to sit back and enjoy the music.

 

How do you wind down after a gig / broadcast?

Not a lot…

 

In three words, describe the live scene in Ireland.

Generally very good.

There are a good few good Irish acts currently making a dent and a good few international acts make a point of playing here.

 

Whose career do you envy and why?

Envy is maybe a little strong; I know it’s a cliché, but everyone is their own person. “Whispering” Bob Harris, however, had- and still has- a great career in music. I would be envious of the artists that he has met down through the years.

 

Vinyl or digital downloads?

I know it’s not one of your options, but I do like CD’s for their lossless quality.  So…CD’s for a proper listen, downloads for being handiest on the move.

 

What is your favourite record shop anywhere in the world?

I do like Tower Records in Dublin; they have a good selection of records and, particularly, a great psych collection. Rough Trade and Sister Ray in London are great. I recently found two great record stores in Rome; Transmission and Soul Food: definitely worth checking out.

 

Name one rare record you don’t own, but you want more than anything.

An original pressing from 1963 of ‘Surfin’ Bird’ by The Trashmen.

 

Name one piece of music memorabilia that you wish you owned.

Albert Bouchard’s cowbell on Blue Öyster Cult‘s ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper’.

 

What is the one thing in your life that you couldn’t go without?

Good music.

 

Name one record, one book and one film that everyone should hear / read / see.

Another tough one: there are so many!

Album: O.k., if push came to shove, I’d have to say The Cure’s Disintegration. It really is the pinnacle of The Cure’s career. Robert Smith had the “classic” lineup of the group on board and, together with co-producer David Allen, they got it so spot on. It’s bleak, it’s happy, it’s deep; very deep.

Book: I have always been amazed that, whilst a lot of adaptations of Philip K. Dick’s made it to the big screen, The Maze of Death has never been adapted for the screen. It’s Dick at his very best: part sci-fi, part existentialist (as he did so well). It is also one of his darkest works.

Movie: Well, just for fun, The MonkeesHead always brings a smile to my face. A complete Monkees farce with a heavy dose of surrealism (I’ll blame Frank Zappa for that…).

 

Name one overrated TV series and one underrated TV series.

I never could hack Lost. I’m not sure if one could class it as underrated but Ronnie Barker’s Porridge is so good. The interplay between characters is brilliant and the writing is so good.

 

Pick the director and lead actor for a biopic about your life.

Michael Bay and Roger Moore.

 

Describe the perfect night in.

Good tunes on the stereo, couple of beers, couple of mates to enjoy it with. I’m easy going that way.

 

Describe the perfect night out.

Good gig, couple of beers, couple of mates to enjoy it with. I’m easy going that way.

 

Where did you grow up and what are the best and worst things about that place.

I grew up in Dublin.

The best thing about Dublin: The vibrancy.

The worst thing about Dublin: The crime, particularly that of the last 20 – 25 years.

 

What is your biggest fear?

Missing a penalty in the World Cup Finals.

 

Who is the person in your life without whom your life wouldn’t be the same?

It’s impossible to answer that question. I am lucky to have had great parents and friends, not to mention the better half.

 

What is the most important lesson life has taught you, so far?

Enjoy it while you can.

 

If you could give one piece of life advice it would be…

Keep the eyes and ears open to new experiences: it’s worth trying everything at least once…

 

Pure Phase is broadcast every Tuesday night from 10:30pm to 11:30pm on Dublin’s Near FM (90.3 FM). Click here to listen back to previous shows.

New Poems in Cyphers 77

Poems ‘Bite’ and ‘Aurora’ appear in Cyphers 77, along with new work by John Kinsella, Michael Farry, Clare McCotter, Doireann Ní Ghríofa, Peter Sheehan, Gabriel Rosenstock and many, many more.

Cyphers 77: New poems by yours truly appear in the latest issue of Cyphers

Cyphers 77: New poems by yours truly appear in the latest issue of Cyphers

HAVING spent more than my fair share of time wallpapering my home, twice over, with rejection slips,  I felt relieved when an acceptance email from Cyphers arrived in my email inbox, some weeks ago.

Undoubtedly one of the most prestigious poetry magazines / journals in English language poetry and certainly one which has a colourful history, Cyphers is the magazine that all writers of poems hope to see their work published, its reputation sealed by the reliable judgement of the editors as shown by the consistency of the work that Cyphers publishes from issue to issue.

Founded in 1975 by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Macdara Woods, Leland Bardwell and the late Pearse Hutchinson, the editors founded Cyphers- named so after a black cat owned by Eiléan and Macdara which, in turn, Eiléan and Macdara named after a series of poems by Macdara- during a particularly harsh time in our social history. By all accounts, the seventies in Ireland was a harsh, grim time of economic recession in Ireland, making the funding of Cyphers a daunting challenge. On-line publishing wasn’t an option; print was (and is still) costly; quiet, generous spaces in Dublin city centre where the spoken word could be heard faultlessly were hard to find. 

In an excellent piece written for Poetry Ireland’s newsletter, ahead of the launch of Cyphers 71 at the 2011 Strokestown International Poetry festival, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin reflected on how far Cyphers had travelled since 1975:

In 1975 the four editors, Leland Bardwell, Pearse Hutchinson, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin and Macdara Woods, produced the first number.  When we started up, The Dublin Magazine had closed and The Lace Curtain’s penultimate issue had appeared.  We wanted to be as regular as the first and as open to the wide world as the second.  People assumed we wanted to encourage new writers – nothing was further from our thoughts, though in fact we were to assist with several emergences.  We did want to keep faith with the poets we admired, who might not be, or might not stay, in fashion: we felt strong enough to back our own judgement. Our first Cyphers contained only poetry.  In the second we included fiction (a piece by the late Jimmy Brennan, followed in No. 3 by one from Adrian Kenny who also has a story in No. 70), and for a long time we were the only magazine in Ireland publishing literary fiction.

Our first Cyphers felt like quite an achievement, after struggles to raise funds in a recession, much wondering about the title, and long enjoyable meetings discussing the content.  That was the easy bit – we wrote to our friends, and to the contacts we had made when we had run a series of poetry readings in Sinnott’s pub in South King Street, abetted by the late Justin O’Mahony.  We had admitted defeat there when the price of drink rose, so that the audience came later; also, the noise of a hostile regular inhabitant of the pub and the crash of the cash register combined to make some voices inaudible; also, Pearse left for a stint as Gregory Fellow in the University of Leeds.  His return was the signal for the new project.

I asked the Arts Council for money.  They gave us half of what we wanted for the first two issues.  Some friends, John Buckley, Benedict Ryan and Katherine Kavanagh, helped out, and we decided to go ahead and try our luck.  For years afterwards we depended on the patience and good humour of our printer, Pat Funge of Elo Press, as we struggled to pay off the bills for those first issues. But the Arts Council was impressed with our determination and funded us, so that in the end we got out of debt.  Pat’s old letterpress machines were damaged by vandals, and he used the insurance money to shift to the newer offset litho technology, so we learned about paste-ups and light-boxes; nowadays I make pdfs using Open Office.  After Pat’s death when Elo closed, Christy, Mark and Richard, who had all worked there, started a new firm, and they are our printers today.

More important than the six pounds that Patrick Kavanagh’s widow could afford to donate to the founding, she taught me to keep accounts properly.  It was the beginning of my long career as amateur bookkeeper and administrator.  For fourteen years I took care of the business end of Cyphers, haunted by bundles of invoices, dead chequebooks, and stacks of back numbers and unpublished submissions waiting to be returned.  All four editors would gather for ameitheal of writing rejection letters. I had card-indexes of subscribers and battered concertina files of stamped envelopes.  Then FÁS came to the rescue, with a lovely worker, and we got our first second-hand Amstrad computer (it came with a flowery oilskin dust-cover).  All of the succession of nice clever people who worked for us through FÁS schemes, and the later equally nice and clever ones whom the Arts Council helped us to employ, were frightened by accounts, so I still do that part.  But they were willing to log and list and copy and post the manuscripts and look after subscribers and see that the writers were eventually paid their fees.

In 1975 we swore that we would always pay a fee, however miserable.  Quite often the cheque has arrived so late as to surprise the recipient, but we reckon that, small as it is, a fee is never an unpleasant surprise.  It is also a marker of our opinion of the pieces we publish, that we have considered and weighed them carefully and think them worth money.  (But what of the writers we didn’t publish?  Some of them too have made it, but not all. Our archive is rich with pompous letters of self-introduction from people who wrote a poem about their holiday in Ireland; these contrast with the admirable brevity of the man who began his letter ‘Dear Shits’ …)

The early issues had a masthead with lettering by the late Ruth Brandt.  It was the arrival in early 1975 of her husband, Michael Kane, to get the details for the cover, that pushed us to decide on the title.  We had thought of Landrail, The Blackbird, Waterhouse Clock … Michael liked cats and asked us what our black cat’s name was.  She was called (after a series of poems by Macdara) Cypher, a name derived from, among other things, the Arabic word for zero, but it also means a code.  We thought that would do, though we were annoyed later when some critic thought we were being modest, taking the sense ‘nonentities’ – which it hadn’t occurred to us is one of its meanings too.

When we saw that first issue it was clear we’d got some things wrong.  The card for the cover was a paleish yellow, the format looked like a child’s copybook, and so we realised we must make changes, and a long evolution began.  From the second issue onward we used a stronger, cleaner colour, from the fourth we put the contributors’ names on the cover (all of them – we refused to pick out the bigger names); we moved to glossy card and acquired a spine at issue 5.  The black cat is in her grave in the back garden of Selskar Terrace, but her name lives on.

And live on it does.

Launch of issue 77 at Strokestown International Poetry Festival

Last weekend, at the 2014 Strokestown International Poetry festivalEiléan and Macdara were, again, launching a new issue of Cyphers, featuring a cover designed by Dedalus Press publisher Pat Boran. During the launch, I read the two poems included in the current issue: ‘Bite’ and ‘Aurora’.

Also reading at Strokestown were Doireann Ní Ghríofa, who featured on the Strokestown competition short-list and is due to publish her first collection of poems, in English, with Dedalus Press, next year; Trim based poet and former Boyne Berries editor Michael Farry; Quantum Sofa organiser and QS Press editor Peter Sheehan; Macdara Woods, co- editor and founder of Cyphers.

What became apparent to me at Strokestown is that the DIY ethic and charm of Cyphers is still very much in tact as it is in all small-scale production publications: lugging the boxes into the car; lugging the boxes out of the car; setting up glasses and bottles of prosecco ( juices for designated drivers and teetotallers) ; writing the price of the publication on a folded A4 page next to the stack of freshly pressed copies…

The only comparison that I can make that might make any sense is that the charm of such a publication is on a par with my affection for vinyl records and local record shops over digital downloads and on- line stores such as iTunes and Amazon; there’s a social component to print publications and their accompanying launches that feels as vital as that of vinyl records and local record stores. When you attend a book / magazine launch, as when you attend a Record Store Day event, the audience comprises of people who care as much as you do about the art form and, crucially, its format.  To your surprise, you meet other people out there who feel the same way about it all as you do. You are not alone.

Cyphers is available from the following bookshops:

Dublin

Books Upstairs
Hodges Figgis
The Winding Stair
Ranelagh Arts Centre

Cork

Munster Literature Centre

Galway

Charlie Byrne’s
Kenny’s

For a subscription to Cyphers, contact the editors:

3 Selskar Terrace,
Ranelagh,
Dublin 6

Email: letters@cyphers.ie

Theatre review: The Vortex | The Gate Theatre

Originally published by Entertainment Ireland. To read the original, please click here

Noel Coward's The Vortex will run at The Gate Theatre until 22nd March

Noel Coward’s The Vortex will run at The Gate Theatre until 22nd March

RECEIVING its first production on an Irish stage in what we now recognise as post- Celtic Tiger Ireland, Noël Coward’s breakthrough work encapsulates the fall from dizzying heights of London’s bohemian set. While the play strives for the drama that defines a work such as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Coward’s play is laced with his savage wit, taking the form of catty dismissals of characters (“Poor Clara: she eternally labours under the delusion that she really matters”) courtesy of Pauncefort “Pawnie” Quentin (played by Mark O’Reagan).

There is, of course, the obligatory, fabulous dance sequence- jazz hands and all- choreographed by Philip Connaughton, though, in a twist, the drug- addled anti- hero of The Vortex, Nicky Lancaster (played by Rory Fleck Byrne) dances manically and out of time with the rest of the party, which tells its own story.

Set designer Paul O’Mahony’s round set is symmetrical with all of the images and the themes that Coward’s play raises: the play’s title, of course; the social circle of London’s elite; the glasses in which cocktails and wine are swirled; the meeting, again, of the Tom and Bunty; the circle of substance abuse and addiction.

Adding to the visual aesthetics of this complete production is Philip Stewart’s sound design and Chahine Yavroyan’s lighting design, both of which provide added punch to the production. Cutting each scene are flashbulbs- effects, which attempt to summon the nostalgic charm inherent in any jazz age- era production, but also to give the effect that the moments in the play are frozen in time, much like the play itself.

Just as the success or failure of a production such as A Streetcar Named Desire hinges on the quality of the performance of the actress playing Blanch Du Bois, a play like The Vortex will always be judged on the strength of the performance by the actor playing Nicky Lancaster; in this respect, The Gate’s production of The Vortex is success. Rory Fleck Byrne’s compelling performance as Nicky Lancaster is well- paced and nuanced, the subtext beneath Nicky’s neediness towards his mother and his sham engagement towards Bunty clear to the uniformed audience member (“I’ve grown up all wrong”, utters Nicky, in one of the play’s more memorable scenes).

Following on from The Gate’s successful runs of The Threepenny Opera and Pride and Prejudice was never going to be easy, but this production of Coward’s great play feels definitive and precise, lifting its audience up into the dizzying heights only to be brought back down through the crashing lows, much like Cowards anti- hero.

Star rating: 4 / 5
Review by: Philip Cummins
Venue: The Gate Theatre

Written by: Noël Coward
Directed by: Annabelle Comyn
Cast: Fiona Bell, Rory Fleck Byrne, Simon Coury, Peter Gaynor, Mark O’Regan, Susannah Harker, Andrea Kelly

Interview: Micheal O’Siadhail, poet

Originally published in Rí- Rá by The Irish Post, Saturday December 7th, 2013

Best Known for poems that evoke a certain despondency, Micheal O’Siadhail has been celebrated this year by the publication of his Collected Poems

Dublin poet Micheal O’Siadhail

STRIDING across the lobby of the Dublin 4 hotel in which we meet, 66 year- old poet Micheal O’Siadhail doesn’t look like a man with a large amount of weight on his shoulders. Standing at over six feet tall, boasting an athletic frame, a youthful, bouffant hairstyle and an impressive visage, the Clongowes educated “Jesuit boy” is a striking figure, which might explain the appearance of painter Mick O’Dea’s portrait of the poet, featured on the front cover of Ó’Siadhail’s Collected Poems, recently published by Bloodaxe Books.

As we exchange pleasantries, O’Siadhail is notably downcast and ashen- faced. I ask him how is feeling, today. “As good as can be expected”, he replies.

The poet has every reason to struggle with the business of publicising his latest publication. In June of this year, Bríd O’Siadhail (née Ní Chearbhaill), wife and muse of the poet for over 43 years, died of a heart attack while in care. A former teacher and suffer since 1997 of Parkinson’s disease, the poet is noticeably shaken and upset at the very mention of her passing.

“It was the most extraordinary moment in my life when I was writing the dedication of the book to my late wife, Bríd. My intention was always to write “To Bríd, with love” and I found myself writing “In Memoriam: Bríd”. I see the publication of the Collected Poems, though, as a huge privilege. I’m proud of the work between the covers, Mick O’Dea’s portrait and the cd provided by Bloodaxe, which is wonderful. Though she saw the proofs, I wish Bríd could have seen the finished book. We had a wonderful rhythm in our life, together. My overall feeling, though, is that I feel incredibly privileged to have been with her for 44 years, because not everyone can say that, unfortunately, and I fell deeper and deeper in love with her, over time. The support that I have received over the months at the recent readings and speeches have been heartening and supporting. “

Micheal O'Siadhail's Collected Poems comprises of more than 40 years of poems.

Micheal O’Siadhail’s Collected Poems comprises of more than 40 years of poems.

At over 800 pages, O’Siadhail’s Collected Poems comprises of a life’s work- 40 years, in fact- of poetry. What impresses O’Siadhail most about the publication by Bloodaxe, however, is the audio c.d. “There’s an accompanying c.d. with the book, which I’m delighted about. I often ask myself how poems by my favorite poets would sound and feel if I have audio tracks of them reading: imagine hearing Shakespeare reading his Sonnets?! Claddagh Records have, over the years, done a great job of recording poets such as Patrick Kavanagh, Michael Hartnett, Derek Mahon and, many, many others, reading their own work. I think that it is important to have a record of how the poet sounded when he / she read their poems. That said, a composer isn’t always the best conductor of his / her own music: inevitably, readers will put their own spin on these poems when they read them out loud and they will stress and inflect where their voice leads them.”

It was the most extraordinary moment in my life when I was writing the dedication of the book to my late wife, Bríd. My intention was always to write “To Bríd, with love” and I found myself writing “In Memoriam: Bríd”

Culturally, what was energising those first poems in 1978’s The Leap Year? “Well, when I was writing in the 70’s it was quite a time to be writing. We had already been through the highs and the elation of the 60’s and those who came to adulthood in the 60’s had to face up to a different set of circumstances in the 70’s: it wasn’t the party that the 60’s was. So I was trying to make sense of my at that time, I think, which is what I’ve done with my poems: trying to find rich and deep meaning in life and question what that is: in friendships, in love. I have, however, also written about the Holocaust, which I think encapsulates the evil aspects of life, which I have also written about.”

“I don’t think that those early books are full of despair, but I think they reflect, certainly, a lot despair that was in the air. At the that time, Beckett was still one of the most major writers in the world and his plays full of despair, as is Pinter’s work and that of the theatre of the absurd. My work, I think, says that despite all that, I have seen ordinary people live lives of normality, of joy, of richness.”

In an early poem, ‘Line’, there seems to come a point of self- realisation, much like Seamus Heaney’s ‘Digging’; that the poet has chosen the vocation, or the vocation has chosen the poet. “You’re absolutely right. There came, with that poem, a sense of confidence. ‘Line’ was the moment when I realised that I was on this path of poetry and- I think I write in the preface in the Collected Poems– a way of reassuring both myself and my reader that this was all worthwhile; that for better of for worse, this is the commitment; this is where I stand. Up until ‘Line’, those early poems from the first two books were probing towards the vocation until there comes a certain point that you realise this what you are; this is what you do.”

As with O’Siadhail’s thematically- focused poems since the 1980’s, there is an index to the poems. “I think the index is another great addition to the book. It’s a surprise to me, to be honest; when I now read from the book I am able to see how many poems that I wrote about jazz, which occurs so often across the book, to my surprise. Even for me it’s fascinating. I wasn’t surprised by some of the themes that I have written about, but I have been surprised by how pervasive they seem to be in my work. Seasons crop up a lot and primal imagery is recurring, which is also interesting.”

I come from a completely different background to Patrick Kavanagh, but his sincerity and his vulnerability are things that I recognise

It was move to Oslo as a student that had a profound effect on the poet. “Oslo changed my poetry significantly, there’s no question about that. I was interested in Icelandic poetry, Swedish poetry, Nordic poetry and there is a quality in those works that appealed tremendously to my temperament: it’s the clarity and the primal imagery, which I would think is a result of the extreme climates in which they live. I’m sure it had an effect of me. I don’t think I was imitating anyone; I think all of those things were already inside me and my experiences opened up a lot of those things.”

In the late 1980’s, O’Siadhail left his Professorship in Trinity College Dublin to write full- time, going against the late Dennis O’Driscoll’s dictum that “All play and no work makes jack a dull poet”.

“I never regretted going full- time: it suited my temperament, it suited the way that I worked. I knew Dennis well and that was his choice, as it was T.S. Eliot’s who was a banker, Wallace Stevens who was an insurance man. There are lots of examples. For me, personally, it just suited my temperament. It also gave me the opportunity to explore themes and since I went full- time in the 80’s, my books took on a thematic structure. I knew John McGahern well and John- who also wrote full- time- would say that “it’s not only the hours that you’re working that count; it’s your mind when you’re not working that count as well.” You never clock- off. Perhaps if you are doing something that is automatic or routine- such as research- it takes up a lot of energy, which saps the creative energy. I loved writing poetry over academia and I’ve never regretted going full- time. My poems got deeper and richer.”

The influence that does come through, again and again in O’Siadhail’s  poems is that of Patrick Kavanagh. “An extraordinary poet. On his day, he was as good as anyone. It seems to me extraordinary that he came from a pre- industrial society in Ireland and he reflected that society. He had a medieval humour that underpins his work and he also has a vulnerability, which I think readers like to see in their poets. I come from a completely different background to Kavanagh, but his sincerity and his vulnerability and things that I recognise.”

So with the publication of Collected Poems, 800 pages comprising of over 40 years of poetry, is this the end of the line for the prolific poet? “I hope there’s more to come, but as of now I’m deeply, deeply proud of the Collected Poems.”

Micheal O’Siadhail’s Collected Poems is available, now, from Bloodaxe

Poetry Review: The Mining Road by Leanne O’Sullivan

The Mining Road: Cork poet Leanne O’Sullivan’s latest collection is available now from Bloodaxe.

Originally featured in the print edition and online editions of The Irish Post on Saturday June 8th, 2013. To read the original, please click here.

Bloodaxe, 64 pp, £8.95. ISBN: 978-1852249687

CORK poet Leanne O’Sullivan’s fourth collection aligns her as closely to the Irish lyric poetry tradition as is possible.

The work of Seamus Heaney, particularly the Heaney of Seeing Things (Faber, 1991), appears again and again in poems that, quite literally, dig deep into memory, into the past, into the earth; taking what it is they need to fulfill a poetic vision. As Heaney writes in ‘Lightenings viii’, ‘…and the man climbed back / Out of the marvelous as he had known it’.

Indeed, O’Sullivan wastes no time in plunging us into the underworld of The Mining Road and opening poem, Townland, is a brilliantly subtle poem, which, like the best poems, works its magic on the reader over repeated readings.

The poem’s sound pattern creates a tension between consonants and vowels; between cutting, guttural sounds (‘A hankering in the skull, uttered and worked’) and the long, assonant ‘O’ sounds (‘Old stone walls’, ‘Old homes’), which embeds in the reader the tension between overground and underground; between past and present.

Soon, however, we are also brought into the world of the domestic: You Were Born at Mealtime, again, strengthens the idea of one’s mind constantly being in transition between two different places, finishing with the telling couplet ‘a silence quickens me, / throws open the door again’; the door, perhaps, being Seamus Heaney’s Door into the Dark.

The theme of discovery threads through O’Sullivan’s collection quite consistently. The Boundary Journey, a two part poem- the first mentioning the Atlantic ocean, the second alluding to the Irish Sea- again, finds O’Sullivan wedged between two different places, two different zones (‘Not to the boundary waters / that part our two counties’).

Perhaps the most successful poem in the collection is A Parcel, a brilliant mediation on emigration, which, like The Boundary Journey, is split into parts, again emphasizing the difference between one thing and another. True, the third and final part of the poem could easily have been cut, the poem standing strong enough on its first two parts, which describe domesticity with great vividness. It’s the feel of the parcel which is best achieved, ‘It smelled of heat and a stretch- marked pull / where the brown paper had word out / against the cardboard, its sides broadening’, writes O’Sullivan.

Subtle, slow- burning and sensuous poems that reward with successive readings, The Mining Road is a step in the right direction for O’Sullivan and, indeed, for Irish poetry.