Adam O'Riordan was born in Manchester. He read English
at Oxford University and studied poetry under Michael Donaghy. Later, he won a scholarship to study under Andrew Motion at the University of London where he was awarded the inaugural Peters Fraser and Dunlop poetry prize. In 2006 he received an Arts Council England writer's award.He is curently writer in residence at The Wordsworth Trust.
queen of the cotton cities
Like Marvell seeing the universe in a drop of dew, O'Riordan's poetry pays full attention to the intricate patterns and coincidences of the world, and so makes us see it anew
Manchester from queen of the cotton cities
Queen of the cotton cities,
nightly I piece you back into existence:
the frayed bridal train your chimneys lay
and the warped applause-track of Victorian rain.
You’re the blackened lung whose depths I plumb,
the million windows and the smoke-occluded sun.
A girl steps from a door, her cotton flecked shawl
is the first snow on a turf-plot back in Mayo.
You’re the globing of the world, a litany of cities;
Osaka, Orizaba, Gabrovo: cast in your image.
Your warehouses bloated by curious needs:
butter, shellfish, clog blocks, bleach.
Your little merchants, hawking Lucifers and besoms
to set a small flame guttering in a wet-brick basement:
in the straw and wood shavings a mother’s lullabies
bear their freight of love and typhus.
In the small hours I remake you and remake you,
until you grow faint as a footfall on a fever ward
and I wake from my imagination’s gas-lit parlour
and whatever I seek to have or hold or harbour
is pure curio - a wreath of feathers, seashells
or human hair, a taxidermist’s diorama.