Poetry Book Society Recommendation
Shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize
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).
The poems in Life Under Water take in the physical landscape, family and friendship, as well as the transience of both folklore and politics. In part an attempt to speak of what is submerged, they welcome that ‘splash of cold water to the face’ that tells us we’re alive.
‘A world subtly rippled and distorted, in which everyday objects are “made strange” and nothing, when you reach in a hand, is quite where you expected it to be.’ – Sarah Crown, Guardian
‘Kissing a Bone, her second collection, adds a shrewd historicising sense to the lyric tenderness which glowed in her first book. It takes us across borders – literal, emotional and figurative – into states of mind which are entirely her own, yet instantly recognisable by all us us.’ – Andrew Motion
‘Sound Barrier…demonstrates beautifully the strength of this deceptively delicate, often very tender poet: how she marries spare lyrical cadences with political scepticism, packing a whole gamut of wit and sharp observation into very little space.’ – Ruth Padel, Financial Times
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).