View Cover Order a Copy

Price: €12.00

Order a Copy

Click here
Unportioned: New & Selected Short Poems
November 2019

Click here
Wringing Blood: New & Selected Long Poems
November 2018

An Unfinished Sufficiency

Ruth O'Callaghan

ISBN: 978-1-910669-04-4

Page Count: 84

Publication Date: Monday, June 22, 2015

Cover Artwork: Jessie Lendennie

About this Book

Dispatches from the front, weather reports from inner and outer weather, it is winter creeping forward into memory with the “boneless words of a child” where a man turns “his mouth adrift in his face” and where the wrist of a woman collecting money is curved “as if the weight of future coinage already hung there”. Things go wrong in Ruth O’Callaghan’s poetry but the poems themselves are sharp and compassionate, not in any easy gestural way, but through an understanding of what confronts us both in nature and our lives, the language beautifully heard, packed and measured.  George Szirtes

Author Biography

Ruth O’Callaghan has five collections of poetry, has been translated into six languages and is much anthologised.  Invited to read throughout Asia, Europe, and the U.S.A., she was awarded a gold medal for poetry at the XXX WCP in Taiwan. The Arts Council of England sponsored her visit to Mongolia to collaborate with women poets and this resulted in a book and a CD. She holds the prestigious Hawthornden Fellowship and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She is a mentor and workshop leader both in the U.K and abroad. As a reviewer and interviewer she has interviewed some of the most eminent women poets throughout the world. An international competition adjudicator and editor, she is also a judge for the Koestler whose awards encourage prisoners to participate in the Arts. She hosts two poetry venues in London – the revenue from these events support three Cold Weather Shelters. She is also the poet for Strandlines, a community, multi-disciplinary project run under the auspices of Kings College, University of London.

Read a sample from this book

A Calculation of Dark

In this ruined light – the dark leaking into the garden
as if light were an interloper

whose presence, no longer desired, 
is sequestered to other places – the urgency of shadow

conspires, determines cross-woven words that lie 
in the gap between desire         

and undisclosed restraints.
Such absence is mocked by the schack-schack of jay

concealed in the elderberry beyond the boundary wall
but a quiver of leaves betrays

as will a breath, caught,
or the silk-split of a leaf loosed from its stem.


I have left linen bleaching in a white sun
by an inlet with its slack of winter water

where a heron breaks free from brittle light.
Skin tightened with cold desires the code

of touch. Unregarded, the curvature of trees
bears the mark of previous snows, grass 

shrivelled, the earth bitten: winter-ravenous.
Winter-ravenous, I will arrive: my feet bare.


Narrative? There is no narrative. Unless you mean 
the mice-scratch of voices rising from the reeds’

silty bed or the latent lick of water rimming the bank 
from a rower already beyond the curve of the river. 

Yet ever, as the last harsh of the late returning crow,
deep-locked, shackles the evening, there remains,

unresolved but latched in re-arrangements of light, air, 
stealth, in a conspiracy of shadows, such a hunger 

for the unremembered that even a midge or squall of dust 
recalls maps of countries no longer named and those

who have no purchase trace, with naked eye, the plane’s 
arc prinked in the sky like stars in a child’s colouring book.

Copyright © Ruth O'Callaghan 2015

Salmon Poetry Home Page The Arts Council Salmon Poetry Home Page The Arts Council