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Jewel /

Jewel

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Jewel is a love song for life, at times unrequited but a love song nonetheless, the good the bad and the ugly aspects of modern life are mirrored from the degradation of unemployment to the scandalous indifference of the Catholic church to its own misdemeanours or the hypocrisy of the western world in its condemnation of the ways of others. There are myriad poems of youth and romance of humour and age and death and war and t...
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Pub Date Thursday, May 31, 2012
Cover Image Peadar O'Donoghue
Page Count 68
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Jewel is a love song for life, at times unrequited but a love song nonetheless, the good the bad and the ugly aspects of modern life are mirrored from the degradation of unemployment to the scandalous indifference of the Catholic church to its own misdemeanours or the hypocrisy of the western world in its condemnation of the ways of others. There are myriad poems of youth and romance of humour and age and death and war and trying to make some sense of a life on the outside looking in from the bottom of a beer glass. A man trying to make sense of himself in a troubled world.

"Energy is eternal delight" wrote Blake and Peadar O'Donoghue's 'Jewel' fizzes with energy and delight. He writes dynamic and passionate poetry that consumes the world in his search of love and justice with a desperate integrity, a contagious zeal and a keen eye for the ridiculous everywhere, not least in himself. Beyond these attractive qualities, 'Jewel' is a book of joy and power which I loved reading. Treat yourself to some new music from this unique voice in Irish poetry."  Ian Duhig

"Wonderful!" Hilary Wakeman

"I'm amazed by [this] book. Stark nihilism, bittersweet, interspersed with incandescent lyricism."  John Wakeman

"The voice is sweet and strong. Where has he been all our lives?"  Richard W Halperin

Pictures and Postcards

Mountains to mist, Beckett to boxer to blonde-
platinum of course, looking me straight in the eye, 
over the slope of her shoulder.
She says nothing, and a million things.            
not one can I catch as, like the accusations, I fly.
I'm back on the midnight bus as it pulls out and pulls in 
passengers from the random roundabouts of my youth,  
girlfriends dressed to kill and dying from the cold.
Yards and years away are barges passing,  
coal powered, just like the square panes of light from the
Arndale block that lure people like moths.
The bigger picture hints of a hunt, of war, of winter,
brothers in arms, their quarry sought their silence confident,
reflective, pleased with themselves and whatever they have done.
I remember their faces peering in from the streets to the dreamy Cafés 
'Stay a while', they seem to say, 'Drink your coffee,
compile this list for lesser days.'


Introspection

I turn the eye inwards
See the dark of me
That all the oceans of the world
Could not hope to fill.


Dinner with her ex

New-fangled fancy chilli-vinegar bottles, 
I have to say in my defence,
my absolutely necessarily, 
absolutely completely deliciously,
rat-arsed defence, 
can- almost, in a certain seductive light I swear,
be virtually visually indistinguishable from red wine.
But try telling that amid his histrionic spurting, gagging, 
the frantic back-slapping, ruined tablecloth, her
'I'll deal with you later' glancing glares, and me
wondering when I’ll be sufficiently sober to care.


Copyright © Peadar O'Donoghue 2012

Review: Jewel reviewed by Jim Burns for Ambit (210, November 2012)

It's not often that I sit down and read a book of poetry right through without a break and, when I get to the final page, think that I've been listening to a remarkably consistent voice. It happened with Peadar O'Donoghue's Jewel, though, where the tone is set by the opening lines of the first poem:

Along Capel Street I stagger into Slattery’s
and stagger out again to be sure I have my wits.
What the hell have they done?
Is nothing sacred?
Is anything safe from their blandiose renaissance?
A curse on them whoever they are.

It's all there, the bemused narrator raging against a world that is changing in ways that are not to his liking. And it's a mad world, and not necessarily a nice one, as he tells us in another poem: 

Last night I heard the screaming,
I wanted to call the police,
loud voices shouting,
people were in need,
people were broken down,
people were lost,
people were bloodied.
I prayed for change, I prayed for justice,
I prayed for a law to protect the vulnerable,
to insulate the poor. Who will listen?
Who will answer my prayer?

The catalogue style occurs in several poems, and is effective in terms of pushing the lines along and building up the tension. The poet, or at least the persona created by the poems, looks askance at society, noting its falsities, frailties, and cruelties, and spicing his comments with black humor. Wordsworth's 'Daffodils' gets a working over in which there's 'a crowd,/ a host, of golden speculators.' And the bitter 'What is it good for?" asks why we're lured into wars for no good reason:

I fought for you and
you fought for me, and
we fought (apparently)
for liberty.
I stuck a bullet
in another man’s throat
to give him freedom of speech.

Jewel is one of the liveliest and most provocative poetry books I've read for some time.

Jim Burns

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