The very best of luck to Bernard O’Donoghue who has been nominated for the 2016 T.S. Eliot poetry prize for his new collection of poems The Seasons of Cullen Church. “This collection of expert lyric poems movingly animates the characters of his childhood in County Cork; it confirm O’Donoghue’s place as one of the most approachable and agile voices in contemporary Irish and British poetry.”
Among the theses in the book are: “a schoolboy beaten so hard by his teacher that his bare feet jiggle on the floorboards, a wife disinherited when her husband dies suddenly, and medieval tales which echo to how we live now.”
It is Bernard’s second time nominated for the T.S. Eliot prize. In 2011 he was nominated for Farmers Cross. The winner will be announced on January 16th. Here is one poem from the book called The Will:
When they discovered that my grandfather
was going, unexpectedly, to die young
of meningitis, they naturally set about
ensuring that his wife would not inherit
the farm. They assembled a group of solid men –
as they might have for the threshing: his brother
who lived south on the mountain;
a shrewd solicitor; and a man from Doon
with a good hand who often testified to wills.
There was another witness whose existence
I know from no other evidence: my father’s
Uncle Michael. I suppose he emigrated
to the States or Canada, where – I suppose again –
he was set upon at his arrival
for the few pounds sewn inside his coat
and dumped into the sea, or maybe shunned
because of the disease he carried
and left to die in the plague sheds of Grosse Île.
Radio Interview: When The Seasons of Cullen Church was published back in July of this year, Bernard did a very interesting radio interview with Sean Rocks from Arena (RTÉ Radio 1), where he reads some poems from the book, and talks about their meaning and how they came about. You can listen to that 13 minute interview on:
Read: An interview with Bernard O’Donoghue – … Seasons of Cullen Church is full of gentle, sometimes undetectable flashes of humour: the playfulness with nonsense talk in ‘Mahogany Gaspipes’, the way you dole out your own Purgatorial sentence in ‘The Pay-Off’, how ‘You Know the Way’ interrupts itself repeatedly. Would you describe yourself as a comic poet?… – by Alice Troy-Donovan for the London Magazine.
Book Review: Bernard O’Donoghue – The Seasons of Cullen Church – Read Bernard O’ Donoghue for the diversity of his themes, for his benign tolerance of what life throws at us, for the daring imaginative powers at play and for a certain sly humour…
The Poetry Interview: Bernard O’Donoghue interviewed by Zaffar Kunial – In a new interview series focussed on the poetic practices and influences of poets, Faber New Poet Zaffar Kunial speaks to Bernard O’Donoghue about themes in his most recent poetry collection, The Seasons of Cullen Church, which was recently shortlisted for the 2016 T. S. Eliot Prize for Poetry. – from faber.co.uk
The Seasons of Cullen Church
by Bernard O’Donoghue
is available from Faber and Faber
Bernard’s first full-length collection, The Weakness, emerged in 1991 with Chatto & Windus, following on from a trilogy of pamphlets. His second collection, Gunpowder (1995) won the Whitbread Poetry Award. More recently, a selection of his poetry was published by Faber in 2008 and followed by Farmers Cross (2011),which was shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize. In 2009 he was honoured by the Society of Authors with a Cholmondeley Award.