'We’d crossed three bridges to be here . . .'
Many of the poems in this enchanting and enchanted first collection are set in the early light of morning, the half-light of evening or the firelight of a damp day. Many occur by water's edge - quayside, shore or riverbank - and abound in memorable images: the storm unfolding its rope of cloud, a speaker catching 'the minnow of your reflection'. By conjuring seasons and landscape - and, in particular, expanses of the West of Ireland - Michelle O'Sullivan becomes a meteorologist of emotional states. Grief is a place to be departed from. Threats are at bay: 'and I don’t think anything terrible / is going to happen yet'.
At the core of The Blue End of Stars lies 'Sketches for Vincent', based on the life and letters of Van Gogh. 'If only,' she writes, 'if only I had that kind of fever', and in the stillness of these poems is a series of cries and attempts to find 'a form of utterance'. Michelle O'Sullivan puts an ear to the ground to hear it 'loosening, / spilling its beautiful cargo. In a world of clamour her poems are triumphs of contemplation. This shy, tentative, sparsely populated art explores and fixes insights into a private life.
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Date of Publication: 02/07/2012