Julie O'Callaghan's Magnum Mysterium reviewed in The Irish Times & The Telegraph
‘A lovely book. O’Callaghan’s poems are usually short, odd, off-the-cuff-seeming, soft-centred, comic bonbons... 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
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.
PRESS & PODCAST REVIEW COVERAGE
The Irish Times, Saturday 22 August 2020
Irish American poet Julie O’Callaghan’s new collection Magnum Mysterium was very well reviewed by Martina Evans in her August poetry round-up in The Irish Times of 22 August. The print edition of the review was accompanied by the poem ‘Sitting in a Cloud’ from the collection. Read the poem here.
‘Expressing maximum grief with a minimum of words, O’Callaghan never loses her fine sense of absurdity… O’Callaghan’s brand of funny has always been deadly serious.’ – Martina Evans, The Irish Times
Read Martina's review in full here.
Books for Breakfast: Cities, languages, elegies, Thursday 6 August 2020
Magnum Mysterium was discussed by poets Peter Sirr and Enda Wyley in the fourth episode of their new Books for Breakfast podcast.
‘Julie is a very distinctive poet. She’s well known and admired for her punchy, demotic poems written in a way from the sidelines of life - the kind of poems that seem to be instant and immediate, but in fact are craftily and wittily constructed. This book is a continuation of that, but it’s a much darker book as well.’ – Peter Sirr, Books for Breakfast podcast
‘She has a fantastic way of turning something quite harrowing into something absurd which has a quirky quality to it, even in the moments of sorrow and heartbreak in these poems.’ – Enda Wyley
Peter Sirr read ‘Island Life’, ‘After Dennis O’Driscoll’ and ‘News’. Enda read ‘Cyber You’. Peter also mentioned and quoted from the poems ‘MAXIMUM CAR WASH’, ‘PREDICTION’ from the sequence ‘Magnum Mysterium’ and ‘No Longer with Us’.
Listen to the podcast here (from 23:32)
Books Ireland, online 15 July 2020
‘O’Callaghan’s poetry is revelatory, the chat isn’t always comfortable or comforting. She has a gift for surprises. The section ‘After Dennis O’Driscoll’ is lament and celebration, the poems more subdued and thoughtful, but never maudlin… This collection is thoughtful, balanced and well constructed. It is as good a record of the poet engaged truly and honestly with life as one will discover.’ – Fred Johnstone, Books Ireland [on Magnum Mysterium]
Read the full review here.
BEST BOOKS TO READ IN LOCKDOWN FEATURE IN THE TELEGRAPH
The Telegraph, ‘Best books to read in lockdown’, online Saturday 9 May 2020
Two Bloodaxe titles were chosen by Telegraph’s Arts critics for this feature on lockdown reading recommendations. Neil Astley’s Staying Alive anthology was chosen by music critic Neil McCormick, while Julie O’Callaghan’s new collection Magnum Mysterium was recommended by poetry critic Tristram Fane Saunders.
‘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]
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[26 August 2020]