Micheal O’Siadhail’s poetry has always set the intensities of a life against the backdrop of worlds shaken by change. He constantly seeks new dimensions: delving passions of friendship, marriage, trust and betrayal in an urban culture, exploring the intricacies of music and science as he tries to shape an understanding of the shifts and transformations of late modernity.
This book traces the continuity of a poetic voice which ‘heals the rift of head and heart’, resonating with classic traditions. Micheal O’Siadhail is deeply rooted in Ireland while at home in the European and American traditions. Sometimes in free verse, often in more formal modes, a concentration of meaning and music, of thought and language leads to a clarity and accessibility.
This selection, taken from nine books, includes all of Hail! Madam Jazz (1992) and A Fragile City (1995), but excludes his later collections, which are available separately from Bloodaxe (see links below). In an illuminating introduction, Micheal O’Siadhail draws together the strands of a poetry that ‘comes from the core’, ‘an endless jazz improvisation’.
‘From writing about personal experience Micheal O’Siadhail has moved to writing about the world. His poems, especially when he speaks of love, express tenderness – remarkable in a time when poets seem afraid to write with feeling. He works in skilful verse forms, yet his language is so suited to the thought as to seem perfectly natural. A delightful poet – I don’t know of any other who writes with such affection of the every day, our changing mood and chances’ – Louis Simpson.
‘This is powerful life-affirming poetry which is by turns urgent, reflective, terrified and loving…These are poems that celebrate life, that confront and revitalise the old themes of love, loss, memory and desire and do so in a variety of verse forms. They are tender, vulnerable and defiant’ – Paul Donnelly, Poetry Quarterly Review
Micheal O'Siadhail reads two poems
Micheal O'Siadhail reads two poems, 'Between' and 'Transit', from his Collected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2013). This film is from the DVD-book In Person: 30 Poets filmed by Pamela Robertson-Pearce, edited by Neil Astley, which includes five poems from his Collected Poems read by Micheal O'Siadhail.