Katie Donovan writes about the hungers which haunt our flesh and our fantasies, the conjunction of myth and the physical world of body and earth. Her visceral poems render new sensations, landscapes and perceptions, taking a fresh look at family and history, with daring imagery interwoven with language by turns playful and elegiac. The need for role models, how to cope with loss, the way we interact with the natural world, the play of power between people, and how women cope with love and its aftermath are among the many topics she addresses in her poetry.
This book draws on three previous collections, together with a whole collection of new poems, Rootling. Here Katie Donovan's lively sensibility explores motherhood, with the birth of her two children: from the blues to the pleasures of breastfeeding, she charts the shock of birth and the delights of watching her babies develop. Enmeshed in the familial and domestic, the death of her father prompts her to shuttle back to scenes of her own rural childhood, as well as mourning the passing of a remarkable man. The end of the collection dwells on her partner's courageous struggle with cancer.
'Donovan has an exceptional descriptive gift…a highly idiosyncratic, individualistic writer who probes experiences for hidden meanings...her seeming introversion is expressed through a poetry of great solidity and tactility… She covers a remarkable range…extending from the powerful elegies and international death-rituals of the opening poems to smart human parables' – Bernard O'Donoghue, Irish Times.
'Here is a poet who enjoys writing about what is new and strange, surprising or disconcerting... When she is introspective, what she homes in on is not the reflective mind's attempt at a just balance but the wildness of the instant of emotion' – Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Cyphers.
'Disarming candour, detachment, intense emotion, and violent, savage imagery…thoughtful and precise, Donovan's tough, compassionate, practical intelligence is tempered by humour, grace and a pleasure in playfulness' – Eileen Battersby, Irish Times.
'Adventures of place meet and mingle with adventures of the body. This is by no means a reliable or frequent encounter in contemporary poetry… The tension in these poems is also their intent: they are discovering and making a private world which also manages, with real grace, to be inclusive and engaging' – Eavan Boland.
Katie Donovan reads seven poems
Katie Donovan reads seven poems from Rootling: New & Selected Poems (2010): ‘Butter’, 'Yearn On', 'Stitching’, ‘Day of the Dead, New Orleans’, 'Rootling' and ‘Buying a Body’. Pamela Robertson-Pearce filmed Katie Donovan reading her poems at her home in Dalkey, Co. Dublin, in June 2009. This film is from the DVD-anthology In Person: World Poets, filmed and edited by Pamela Robertson-Pearce and Neil Astley (Bloodaxe Books, 2017).