Grandad_2
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Review of Her Father’s Daughter (Salmon Poetry 2014)

Grandad_2

 

Extract from “Past Masters: elegies and the reconstruction of lost worlds”, John McAuliffe, The Irish Times, 22nd November 2014

In Her Father’s Daughter (Salmon, €12) Nessa O’Mahony describes a family history set off by her talent for finishing poems with a surprising turn. The domestic scene of ‘After Noon’ moves from concrete description to a more suggestive note:
And I watch the sky
cloudless for once
in this Irish summer,
and think that
for the first time in a while,
I know how this could be
even more
perfect.
O’Mahony is sure-footed too in a longer narrative sequence about her grandfather, even if its closing motif, of a walking stick being handed down from one generation to another, seems to elide some of the more difficult aspects of family inheritances.
Like [Kerry] Hardie, she can be suspicious of her own facility, and ‘Portrait of the Artist’s Father’ is usefully self-conscious: ‘My words were cool, disapproving: / those tidy coal-strokes of the dead. // Now what else can I do / as I sit and watch you sleep / one of your countless / dress rehearsals?”

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