Maura Dooley’s poetry is remarkable for embracing both lyricism and political consciousness, for its fusion of head and heart. These qualities have won her wide acclaim. Helen Dunmore (in Poetry Review) admired her ‘sharp and forceful’ intelligence. Adam Thorpe praised her ability ‘to enact and find images for complex feelings…Her poems have both great delicacy and an undeniable toughness…she manages to combine detailed domesticity with lyrical beauty, most perfectly in the metaphor of memory ’ (Literary Review).
Five Fifty-Five is Maura Dooley’s first new collection since The Silvering (2016). These are quizzical poems concerned with time and mortality which ask fundamental questions about our lives, such as Where have you gone? and Who were you anyway? She tries to find out through conversations with, among others, Louisa M. Alcott, Hokusai, Jane Austen, Buzz Aldrin, Anne Tyler and the Great Uncle and Grandfather she never knew.
There are poems, too, about the difficulties and responsibilities of translation, both from the written word and in interpreting what is left unspoken in different kinds of absence; empty streams, bare trees, the loss of friends. Yet these are poems that find and try to offer consolation,
'What have you learned exactly?
To love, to speak up, to hold steady.'
'The Silvering...occupies and explores more deeply the well-planted ground she has made for herself. The poems in this book move with customary reverence between the stripped lyric and something that approaches narrative but never quite becomes it. Her lyrics are often pared back, transformative acts, particularly adept at the making strange... This is not just an act of compression but a master-class in the paradox of elliptical inclusion. And there are many poems in this collection that achieve this.' – Vona Groarke & Tim Liardet, PBS Bulletin
‘I’d also recommend Maura Dooley’s The Silvering, a book of reflective and deceptively simple verse, lyrically beautiful, sharp and observant.’ – Tracey Thorn, New Statesman (Summer Reads 2016)
‘Mystery, memory, uncertainty are recurring motifs in these (mostly) brief lyrics that both relish our perceptions and doubt their staying power.’ – Beverley Bie Brahic, Times Literary Supplement [on The Silvering]
‘A collection of elegiac poems that make us think in new ways about absence. Dooley looks at what happens when we encounter the memory of something or someone lost, and records how those memories are fixed, like photographs, in the “silvering”. The emotions revisited are as fresh and powerful as they were when first felt.’ – Lavinia Greenlaw, The Week (Best books), on The Silvering
Maura Dooley reads seven poems
Maura Dooley reads seven poems: ‘Up on the Roof’, ‘What Every Woman Should Carry’, ‘History’, ‘Dancing at Oakmead Road’ and ‘Freight’ from Sound Barrier: Poems 1982-2002 (2002) and ‘The Elevator’ from Life Under Water (2008). Pamela Robertson-Pearce filmed Maura Dooley in London on 8 October 2007. This film is from the DVD-anthology In Person: 30 Poets, filmed by Pamela Robertson-Pearce & edited by Neil Astley (2008).
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