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Highgreen Arts

Leanne O'Sullivan

The Mining Road
By Leanne O'Sullivan

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The Mining Road

The Mining Road, Leanne O’Sullivan’s third poetry collection, finds inspiration in the disused copper mines that haunt the rugged terrain around Allihies, near her home at Beara, in West Cork. Like remnants of a lost world, the mines’ ruined towers, shafts, man-engines and dressing floors, evoke an elemental landscape in which men and women laboured above as well as underground, and even mined in caverns below sea level. Mining promotes a sense of memory, and the riches embedded in the landscape are human as well as material. But things brought to the surface can have a startling ability to shine in the present, and O’Sullivan’s poems move and provoke as they resonate with experiences at the heart of contemporary Ireland.

'O’Sullivan shifts away from the kind of “topographical” poetry of place that has become common in Irish writing, choosing instead to locate the place’s meaning in “all of us listening”. O’Sullivan repeatedly presents us with objects or places, which then act not as statements of arrival or recovery but as points of departure. Things we have seen before, often in other people’s poems, come alive again in her hands… The Mining Road is a strong and varied book of poems… slow and concentrated pieces that register with great clarity the mystery of stories and images that exercise power over us, images and stories on which readers will dwell. At a time when historians, novelists and journalists are again revising our national narratives, these thoughtful, ambitious poems bring the past to life, but they also ask if any imagination of the past, no matter how rich and inevitable it feels, can ever be quite enough.' - John McAuliffe, The Irish Times.

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

'These new poems are linguistically abundant. They are full of bold similes and metaphors. Both sensuous and religious, her art is at its most impressive in some remarkable love poems. Love poetry so celebratory and erotic is rare in these cool, cynical times. I admire Leanne O’Sullivan’s technical enterprise and unembarrassed imagination.' – Michael Longley, on Leanne O'Sullivan's Cailleach: The Hag of Beara, and why she was awarded the 2009 Ireland Chair of Poetry bursary

'Leanne O’Sullivan’s first collection, Waiting for My Clothes, was published when she was just 21 and was justifiably acclaimed for the extraordinary power of its language and the maturity of vision. It was also an intensely confessional work; it is therefore not surprising that O’Sullivan should eschew further revelations in Cailleach: The Hag of Beara, her second collection, and plough, instead, the furrows of Irish mythology in her exploration of the eternal feminine... O’Sullivan’s vision continues to be deeply romantic in its trust that nature is a panacea for human suffering; these poems catch one’s breath with their exquisite rendering of the Irish landscape... O’Sullivan’s imagery is always precise, yet utterly dazzling in its originality... she is reclaiming her landscape, as all poets must, and she does so with the steadiness and gravity of a writer who has already found her way home.' — Nessa O'Mahony, The Irish Times

'What is remarkable about Leanne O’Sullivan is not that she is so young…but that she dares to write about exactly what it is to be young. A teenage Virgil, she guides us down some of the more hellish corridors of adolescence with a voice that is strong and true.' — Billy Collins on Waiting for My Clothes

Leanne O'Sullivan reads The Mining Road and other poems

Leanne O'Sullivan reads her poem 'The Cord' from her debut collection, Waiting for My Clothes (2004). Then she talks about her second collection, Cailleach: The Hag of Beara (2009) and reads one poem from it, 'Birth'. An Cailleach Bhéarra, or the Hag of Beara, is a wise woman figure embedded in the physical and mental landscape of western Ireland. A large rock rests on the ridge overlooking Ballycrovane Harbour on the Beara peninsula, said to be the petrified body of the Cailleach; she has had several lives, beginning each life with a birth from her stony form – and returning to stone at the end. Leanne then reads five poems from her latest collection, The Mining Road (2013), in which she finds inspiration in the disused copper mines that haunt the rugged terrain around Allihies, near her home: 'Townland', 'The Mining Road', 'Love Stories', 'Antique Cabinets', 'Sea Level' (from 'Man Engine') and 'The Glimmerman'. Neil Astley filmed this reading in February 2012 at the O'Sullivan family farm at Beara, West Cork, where Leanne O'Sullivan grew up.

Leanne O'Sullivan reads at Dublin Writers' Festival

Leanne O'Sullivan reads one poem from her debut collection Waiting for My Clothes, 'The Cord', followed by five poems from her second collection Cailleach: The Hag of Beara: 'Sister', 'Lost', 'Rapture', 'The Dancing Rooms' and 'The Return'. The film shows excerpts from her reading at the Project Arts Centre in the Dublin Writers' Festival on 6 June 2009.

£8.95  paperback 
1 85224 968 4.  64pp. 2013. 

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Other books by Leanne O'Sullivan:
The Mining Road (ebook)
Waiting for My Clothes