Love, loss, memory, history, place are familiar preoccupations in John O’Donnell’s work; and, though poetry’s subject matter may be similar, a unique voice explores these themes in unique ways. The poems take us to very different places: Shakespeare in Ireland, the Holocaust, pioneering in Oregon, a grandmother’s Alzheimer’s. Here is a poet who searches for truth, and whether O’Donnell is remembering “me, surly in a sleeping-bag, fifteen” or the Omagh atrocity, the voice is always direct and honest, while capturing the close-up and personal with a wonderful fluency. O’Donnell’s poetry explores the steady and steadying presence of love within a family context but it also gives us the bigger picture, pictures of injustice, turmoil, ‘the unfathomable’ and what O’Donnell calls ‘a deep darker than ink’. Turn to these enriching and engaging poems in Sunlight: New and Selected Poems;the poems will turn to you. And you will be rewarded.
– Niall MacMonagle, from the Introduction
The poem ‘Some Other Country’ won the Sunday Tribune/Hennessy New Irish Writing Award for Poetry in 1998.
The collection was published in 2002 by Bradshaw Books and a selection of the poems was chosen as the winner of the 2001 Listowel Writers’ Week /Ireland Funds Award for a short collection of poems.
Published in 2004 by The Dedalus Press, ‘Icarus sees his Father fly’ won the Listowel Writers’ Week award for poetry.
John O’Donnell’s Sunlight: New and Selected Poems draws on his three previous collections, adding a number of new poems which, among other things, record the loss of the poet’s mother in some of his most moving poems to date.
John’s collection of poetry, ‘On Water’ was published in May of 2014.