Mary O'Brien,
Dicing with the Tide
(The Works, 2008)

There is a saying that to meet a global audience, you are best to write about local subjects -- because in the end, everything is local. In this slim volume of poetry, Mary O'Brien concentrates on town and parish, and in so doing she will strike chords in hearts from her chosen Wexford to Sydney to Santa Fe and to Moscow -- anywhere people who enjoy words and feelings read the poems.

All these places have the local, mundane tradesman who cuts the light fantastic when the music plays: "I've seen his white shoes flash mercurial on the dusty dance floor."

In "Asylum," she tackles a problem of many cultures, mental illness: "Joanie Ryan couldn't stop singing hymns, Maggie Brennan heard the devil tell her she was damned."

Old age is another theme as in "The Visit" she reminds us that, wherever we live, in village, town, city or desert, "The reminisce of how it was, in houses long ago, of neighbours dropping in."

This book covers all of life in its collection of new poems and would open your world to thoughts, feelings and dreams.

review by
Nicky Rossiter

6 December 2008

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