Richard O'Brien pushes his poetry in alternate directions, offering the
reader tender songlike pieces and lonesome character narratives, as
well as scabrous chants and reflective poems of self-inspection. Some
of the finest poems here act as charming, extended definitions of unusual concepts. With an ear open for music and an eye for detail, he has gathered
an impressive set of poems in this debut selection of his work.
Richard O'Brien divides his time between his home in Lincolnshire & Brasenose College, Oxford, where he is reading for a BA in English and French. He was
a winner of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award in 2006 and 2007 and
the youth section of the 2008 Torbay Open Poetry Competition. He has been published in Magma, Fuselit and The Shuffle anthology. He is a submissions editor of the Pomegranate Poetry e-zine.
I can’t praise this collection highly enough - O’Brien has an immediately palpable delight in language and etymology, articulated in a careful and convincing use of form, but what really sets this work apart is the personality: the arresting correlations and surreal flashes in a recognisably contemporary landscape. His poetry is full of funny, sad voices expressing,
through their exacting details and initially ephemeral facts, at once how inextricably connected and lonely we are.
your own devices
number 16 in the pilot series
£4 inc p&p
ISBN 978 1 904551 74 4
Songs About Louise
It's something near to nakedness
to hear each other sing.
You know now how my weak vibrato
tenor trembles like a virgin
and your pure tone’s a dress
that slips from shoulders far too
sleek to see your fingers trilling
down the zip; Baez and Dylan
found a way of harmonising
side by side in Rolling Thunder.
You and me, babe, keep in key
but if we start to slide asunder
I can set your teeth on edge, the rising
hum from sharp to flat through every
nerve from neck to knee, the jangle
in the beating blood that’s tangled
up in you and blending red
with blue, ascending from your chest
to head and fending off serrated notes
that catch it by its messy hair
and scratch the air above the bed
that’s empty, to the open throat
a breath away from pure whistle –
cactus flower, fruiting thistle,
wild and thin as mercury,
and every freckle spiking grace
from G to F to middle C,
and into bass. Your face
is spreading like a semibreve.
It’s over now, Queen Jane, Johanna,
Sara, Lily, Rosemary.
Sad-eyed lady. Lonesome sparrow.
Absolutely, sweet Marie.