‘We are all red inside
Brimming with love
All fluid and quiet and fire’
Chosen as a New Statesman Book of the Year by Sebastian Barry
"Kerrie O' Brien, a young Irish poet, this year published a book of beauty and subtlety called Illuminate. It is so clear, so bright and in no way self-regarding in its potent and hopeful painting of the self."
Chosen as an Irish Times Book of the Year by Joseph O'Connor
“Kerrie O' Brien's gorgeous poems in Illuminate are full of light and colour but also of powerful silences. The pieces engaging with painters have a sort of touching delicacy in the face of grandeur. I adored this book. It's like carrying Paris around in your pocket."
Chosen as an Irish Independent Book of the Year by Sebastian Barry
"Like Keats, she has hit the ground running. The lack of bitterness, the embrace in the collection of the gift of life, is surely something new. She works in a sort of separate realm of her own."
Reviewed In The Irish Times
“In a society that often struggles to deal with death and grief, O’ Brien’s poetry provides us with a language to deal with love, loneliness and loss. As her poem Wish shows, she is fearless and unafraid of death...The loss of great Irish poets like John Montague earlier this month and Seamus Heaney three years ago may leave us with gaping holes in Ireland’s literary landscape, but it’s refreshing and uplifting to know that a new generation of poets like O’ Brien are coming up through the ranks, shedding light on the stuff of life, and reminding us why poetry matters." Full review here.
“Every poem in this collection has the grace of its occasion, speaks with an earned confidence, rehearses and proposes insights of quiet, lingering power. With economy, with precision, with inspired and exact gratitude for being alive, O’Brien draws from each poem here a crafted epiphany — of love and memory, of art and its occasions, of light and colour and time and being human.”
“Kerrie O’Brien gifts us a pure poetry of the senses. Her world is rich with its startling and honest scrutiny of people and places, of states of mind and twilit in-betweens. The writing demonstrates a refreshing openness to language and feeling, and is as colourful as it is spare and understated. Her sense of the city is sublime, whether writing of Dublin or Paris, and her response to the iconic shapers of visual culture original. Through her eyes, the fragile world we inhabit is illuminated: raw, erotic, tender, but aflame with a poetically controlled feeling that ranges from lament to celebration. O’Brien’s vision is beautiful and out of the ordinary, and this is one of the best collections I have read this year.”
“Kerrie O’Brien’s poems communicate in a kind spontaneous language that is paired down to the essentials in a way that truthfully reflects and illuminates her felt emotions and what she sees as the impermanence of things. They reveal a poet of marked sensibility and delicate cadences.”
Illuminate was published by Salmon Poetry in October 2016.
Artwork by Karen Comerford.