Magnum Mysterium is Irish American poet Julie O’Callaghan’s first collection since Tell Me This Is Normal: New & Selected Poems (2008).
Her new poems have evolved from the early monologues – written in American demotic – to poems of heartache on the death of her husband, the poet Dennis O’Driscoll. But even in these harrowing poems she never loses her ear for the absurdities of modern life – including the grieving process where she can “see” her husband alive and doing what he loves ('Cyber You'):
I need to see you
living and breathing.
I go to YouTube
and there you are being you
(the tiny you)
with the tie I bought you
sitting on a chair
on a stage in Santa Fe
asking Seamus questions.
In Magnum Mysterium Julie O’Callaghan has continued writing poems which 'seem effortless and are immediately accessible and achieve great emotional weight by the lightest of means' (Michael Hartnett Award citation).
'A lovely book. O’Callaghan’s poems are usually short, odd, off-the-cuff-seeming, soft-centred, comic bonbons. Imagine a free-verse Wendy Cope, with hints of Lorraine Mariner and Matthew Sweeney. She somehow keeps that lightness of touch even here, where she’s writing about the deaths of her father and of her husband, the poet Dennis O’Driscoll. It’s an effortless read, a book that made me laugh and almost cry, often on the same page'. - Tristram Fane Saunders, The Telegraph [on Magnum Mysterium ]
'No Can Do is the clearest, most poignant, most sustained voice. The poems seem effortless and are immediately accessible and yet achieve great emotional weight, by the lightest of means. The freshness and wit of this poet’s original voice have gathered scope and gravity. With this book, Julie O’Callaghan becomes an important poet in the English language.' – Judges Citation, Michael Hartnett Award
Julie O’Callaghan: ‘After Dennis O’Driscoll’
Julie O'Callaghan introduces and reads her poem ‘After Dennis O'Driscoll’ – from Magnum Mysterium – at the UCD Special Collections Reading Room.
Julie O’Callaghan: ‘Island Life’
Julie O'Callaghan introduces and reads her poem ‘Island Life’ – from Magnum Mysterium – at the UCD Special Collections Reading Room.
Julie O’Callaghan: Tell Me This Is Normal
Pamela Robertson-Pearce filmed Julie O’Callaghan reading a selection of poems from Tell Me This Is Normal in April 2008 in one of her favourite places, the Long Room Gallery at Trinity College Dublin, the subject of the first poem she reads (for many years she worked as a librarian at Trinity). These are: ‘The Long Room Gallery’, ’No Can Do’, ’Home’, two poems from ’Edible Anecdotes’, ’The Great Blasket Island’, ’Lettergesh Strand’, ’Problems’ and ‘Scary’. This film is from the DVD-anthology In Person: World Poets, filmed and edited by Pamela Robertson-Pearce and Neil Astley (Bloodaxe Books, 2017).