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This review is taken from PN Review 156, Volume 30 Number 4, March - April 2004.

MOVING THINGS BERNARD O'DONOGHUE, Outliving (Chatto & Windus) £8.99

Many of the poems in Outliving remember Bernard O'Donoghue's Cork childhood or observe modern life in Ireland. In `The Wind in the Willows' (the title punning on and playing with the cosy, pipe and slippers story by Kenneth Grahame) the poet finds ghosts, wicked folklore, Civil War and evidence of penal times in the Irish countryside in which he grew-up. In contrast, `The Orange Girls of Cork' observes contemporary life, touched-up yet somehow unaffected by modern values: `Max Factor Medium, whatever the sun-index./ Achieving glamour always ... // They alone have held/ Their station through our seasons of Filofax/ And mobile phones and cappuccino,/ Rolling their Cork rs and eyes at everyone.'

If Outliving celebrates what keeps Cork, Cork - the local accents, the Irish dancing (`Growing up with Cullen Feis') - the double sonnet `Sedge-Warblers at Beckley, June 2002' makes `the most' of the poet's life in England. There are poems on paintings. For example, `The Potato-Gatherers' is a response to a work by George Russell (AE), which could be subtitled `Flight from an impressionist twilight'. Others, such as `Claire, Playing Schubert' and `Artistic Block', delight in or are repulsed by the self-absorption of artists. There are engagements with writers, including a translation from Dante's Inferno and a visit to the home of the seventeenth-century Irish poet Aodhagán Ó Rathaille. `The Sea! The Sea!' or `Medieval Love-Diptych' or `Everybody Loves Pat Boone' are love poems, of a sort, and there are some witty pieces - `Shells ...


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