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The Mother House

Ni Chuilleanain, Eilean
Format: Paperback
Publisher: The Gallery Press (Gallery Books)
Published: October 16, 2019
ISBN: 9781911337713
72 pages
Country of publication: Ireland


Winner of the 2020 Irish Times Poetry Now Award

The Mother House . . . yet another perfect book from this poet of sunlight and cloisters. This collection is a joy to read, and a reminder, yet again, that the poets are sent to amaze us, to bring us all nearer to the light. — Thomas McCarthy, Dublin Review of Books

Poems in The Mother House range from the broad, surprising narrative swerve of ‘She Was at the Haymaking’ and the mysterious wound in ‘A Journey’ to the exact detail of ‘the vessels tugging at their tether’ and the lighthouse keeper ‘watching the great revolving spokes / hitting the piled castles of spray’. Stories of historical figures (including the author’s relations) are filtered through tellings. Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin’s meticulous, probing art is like no other. As she writes in ‘Resemblances’, ‘Like everything that I deal with now the room / has a double, a frill of light surrounding it.’

Ní Chuilleanáin’s new collection, her tenth, explores those familiar themes of grief, loss, love and the past, a past both personal and historical; she writes of multiple lives, different lives, in richly-textured poems. In the final poem, the bilingual ‘An Crann’/ ‘The Tree’, in this magnificent collection, Ní Chuilleanáin speaks of ‘waiting for the words to come’. She says: ‘I began searching/ in a still deeper seam, just as the root explores/ its road underground, looking for sustenance and a source’.

. . . The poems in The Mother House are rich and generous and rewarding. Reading them expands our understanding, they remind us of what poetry can do in terms of words and ideas. They sustain us. — Judges’ citation, Irish Times Poetry Now Award

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