Leanne O'Sullivan was born in 1983, and comes from the Beara peninsula in West Cork. She received an MA in English from University College, Cork in 2006. The winner – while still in her teens – of several of Ireland's poetry competitions, including the Seacat, Davoren Hanna and RTE Rattlebag Poetry Slam, she has since published three collections with Bloodaxe: Waiting for My Clothes (2004), Cailleach: The Hag of Beara (2009) and The Mining Road (2013).
Waiting for My Clothes, her first collection, traces a deeply personal journey, from the traumas of eating disorder and low self-esteem to the saving powers of love and positive awareness. Leanne O’Sullivan has been writing poetry since she was 12, and began these poems not thinking they would ever form part of a book, but ‘writing down the reasons I should live for’ and then ‘becoming addicted to looking at things to find the beauty in them’.
'O'Sullivan's voice sounds with striking confidence and originality…These are poems not just of what it is to be young…but of what it is to be alive; vividly, vibrantly, vulnerably so' – Belinda McKeon, Irish Times, on Waiting for My Clothes.
'What is remarkable about Leanne O’Sullivan is not that she is so young…but that she dares to write about exactly what it is to be young. A teenage Virgil, she guides us down some of the more hellish corridors of adolescence with a voice that is strong and true' – Billy Collins on Waiting for My Clothes.
'Leanne O’Sullivan’s first collection, Waiting for My Clothes, was published when she was just 21 and was justifiably acclaimed for the extraordinary power of its language and the maturity of vision. It was also an intensely confessional work; it is therefore not surprising that O’Sullivan should eschew further revelations in Cailleach: The Hag of Beara, her second collection, and plough, instead, the furrows of Irish mythology in her exploration of the eternal feminine... O’Sullivan’s vision continues to be deeply romantic in its trust that nature is a panacea for human suffering; these poems catch one’s breath with their exquisite rendering of the Irish landscape... O’Sullivan’s imagery is always precise, yet utterly dazzling in its originality... she is reclaiming her landscape, as all poets must, and she does so with the steadiness and gravity of a writer who has already found her way home' — Nessa O'Mahony, Irish Times.
Leanne O'Sullivan reads The Mining Road and other poems
Leanne O'Sullivan begins this short film by reading 'The Cord' from her debut collection, Waiting for My Clothes (2004). Then she talks about her second collection, Cailleach: The Hag of Beara (2009) and reads one poem from it, 'Birth'. An Cailleach Bhéarra, or the Hag of Beara, is a wise woman figure embedded in the physical and mental landscape of western Ireland. A large rock rests on the ridge overlooking Ballycrovane Harbour on the Beara peninsula, said to be the petrified body of the Cailleach; she has had several lives, beginning each life with a birth from her stony form – and returning to stone at the end. Leanne then reads six poems from her latest collection, The Mining Road (2013), in which she finds inspiration in the disused copper mines that haunt the rugged terrain around Allihies, near her home: 'Townland', 'The Mining Road', 'Love Stories', 'Antique Cabinets', 'Sea Level' (from 'Man Engine'), ‘Safe House’ and 'The Glimmerman'. Neil Astley filmed this reading in February 2012 at the O'Sullivan family farm at Beara, West Cork, where Leanne O'Sullivan grew up. This film is from the DVD-anthology In Person: World Poets, filmed and edited by Pamela Robertson-Pearce and Neil Astley (Bloodaxe Books, 2017).
Leanne O'Sullivan reads at Dublin Writers' Festival
Leanne O'Sullivan reads one poem from her debut collection Waiting for My Clothes, 'The Cord', followed by five poems from her second collection Cailleach: The Hag of Beara: 'Sister', 'Lost', 'Rapture', 'The Dancing Rooms' and 'The Return'. The film shows excerpts from her reading at the Project Arts Centre in the Dublin Writers' Festival on 6 June 2009.