Shortlisted for the Irish Times–Poetry Now Award
Poetry Book Society Recommendation
Caitríona O’Reilly’s poetry is remarkable for its precise observation of the natural world. Her second collection, The Sea Cabinet, broadens that clear-sighted vision in poems also haunted by history, consolidating the achievement of her prizewinning début volume, The Nowhere Birds.
Her title-poem conjures the vanished world of the whaling industry, and serves as a starting-point for other acute meditations on natural and cultural obsolescence. Yet the habitual concerns of the lyric self are present too, in poems which enact the dilemmas and anxieties of the individual amidst a rapidly changing environment.
Caitríona O’Reilly’s first collection The Nowhere Birds won the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, given for the best book by any new Irish writer published in 2001. Her third collection Geis won the Irish Times Poetry Now Award 2016
'Caitríona O’Reilly’s poetry collection The Sea Cabinet really impresses with its intellectual and emotional range. Not an overtly lyrical poet, O’Reilly nonetheless manages to explore the private self at odds with an environment and culture now in permanent flux. Her sense of the trail left by history is absorbing and fresh.’ - Mary O’Donnell, Sunday Independent (Books of the Year)
’Excitingly sophisticated…possessed of metaphysical eloquence and quietly meditative intelligence, from this most European of Irish poets.’ – Eileen Battersby, The Irish Times (Books of the Year), on The Sea Cabinet
’This is a profoundly unconventional collection. It is not, to begin with, lyric verse. Rather, it is an exploration of disturbance and alienation; whose strikingly ornate, often historically derived imagery generates a sense of coalescence, of the irresistible thickening-up of experience… When she stands back, lettting the poem build a new myth around an objection of quotidian apprehension – a Heliotrope, an X-ray – O’Reilly can be among the best we have.’ – Fiona Sampson, The Irish Times, on The Sea Cabinet
'I first came across her poetry in The Sea Cabinet, a book that has the beauty and strength of a blue whale in its reach for the depths of experience and celebration of language as if it were oxygen. Geis (meaning “taboo” in Irish mythology) promises more sharp observations of nature both human and not, plus it features a poem called “Iceland”.'– Sjón (author & former Björk lyricist), The Independent (Best Summer Reads 2015)
’The most startlingly accomplished début collection by any Irish poet since Paul Muldoon’s New Weather in 1973.’ – Patrick Crotty, The Irish Times, on The Nowhere Birds
‘Whether enthralled or appalled, she beholds and magnifies the world and its strange creatures (including ourselves) in poems that are formally versatile and linguistically copious.’ – Michael Longley, on The Nowhere Birds