Winner of the Irish Times Poetry Now Award 2016
Shortlisted for the 2016 Pigott Poetry Prize in association with Listowel Writers’ Week
Poetry Book Society Recommendation
'Geis' is a word from Irish mythology meaning a supernatural taboo or injunction on behaviour. In her long-awaited third collection, Catríona O'Reilly examines the 'geis' in all of its psychological, emotional, and moral suggestiveness: exploring the prohibitions and compulsions under which we sometimes place ourselves, or find ourselves placed. In poems that range from the searingly personal to the more playfully abstract and philosophical, O’Reilly's characteristic imaginative range and linguistic verve are everywhere in evidence. These are poems that question our sometimes tenuous links with the world, with others, and even with ourselves, but which ultimately celebrate the richness of experience and the power of language to affirm it.
Geis is Caitríona O’Reilly's third collection. It has won the Irish Times Poetry Now Award 2016, and is shortlisted for the Pigott Poetry Prize. It follows her critically acclaimed earlier books, The Nowhere Birds (2001), shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and winner of the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, and The Sea Cabinet (2006), a Poetry Book Society Recommendation which was shortlisted for the Irish Times Poetry Now Award.
'Geis is an outstanding achievement. It is intense, intelligent and finely-crafted poetry which is both self-examining and dazzled... by the word and the world’s beauty. It is contemporary Irish poetry at its finest.' - Lia Mills, Colin Graham and Gerard Smyth, judges of the Irish Times Poetry Now Award
'I first came across her poetry in The Sea Cabinet, a book that has the beauty and strength of a blue whale in its reach for the depths of experience and celebration of language as if it were oxygen. Geis (meaning “taboo” in Irish mythology) promises more sharp observations of nature both human and not, plus it features a poem called “Iceland”.'– Sjón (author & former Björk lyricist), The Independent (Best Summer Reads 2015)
'O’Reilly has what so few poets have: a language all of her own, so much so that any image or line is instantly recognisable as hers.' – Sinéad Morrissey, Guardian (Books of the Year)
‘Caitriona O’Reilly’s poems offer readers elaborate, richly worked lines as well as engaging, if trickily presented, arguments…This is an imagination that is darkly, vividly creative, occasionally calling to mind the great Irish-American poet Marianne Moore…’ – John McAuliffe, Irish Times
‘The world of her poems is that created by one gazing through a prism. She not only marvels at the strange but recreates it as the mysterious. The effect is intoxicating. The hangover illumination.’ – Hayden Murphy, The Herald (Glasgow)
‘Geis is a welcome return from Caitríona O’Reilly. Her third collection takes its title from ‘a supernatural taboo or injunction on behaviour’, and the book operates in terrain where experience and imagination often take on the contours of myth… Geis is not a book of explanations, though O’Reilly’s wide learning and infectious curiosity are often apparent… O’Reilly is an outstanding poet in her generation.’ – Sean O’Brien, Poetry Ireland Review
North America: Wake Forest University Press
Caitríona O’Reilly reads from Geis
Caitríona O’Reilly gave a reading from Geis on 18 October 2016 at the Lannan Center, Georgetown University, Washington, DC. The introduction is by Associate Professor of English Cóilín Parsons.