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Caitriona O'Reilly's poetry is remarkable for its precise observation of the natural world. Her second collection, "The Sea Cabinet", broadens that clear-sighted vision in poems also haunted by history, consolidating the achievement of her prizewinning debut volume, "The Nowhere Birds." Her title-poem conjures the vanished world of the whaling industry, and serves as a starting-point for other acute meditations on natural and cultural obsolescence. Yet, the habitual concerns of the lyric self are present too, in poems which enact the dilemmas and anxieties of the individual amidst a rapidly changing environment. Caitriona O'Reilly's first collection "The Nowhere Birds" won the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, given for the best book by any new Irish writer published in 2001: 'The most startlingly accomplished debut collection by any Irish poet since Paul Muldoon's "New Weather" in 1973' - Patrick Crotty, "Irish Times". 'Whether enthralled or appalled, she beholds and magnifies the world and its strange creatures (including ourselves) in poems that are formally versatile and linguistically copious' - Michael Longley.
'Although this book moves from childhood through adolescence and student travels to adult relationships, it charts this journey through a dream-world filled with natural imagery that either terrifies and repels, or that expresses libidinal desires intimately understood. At times eerie in their invocation of spiders, bats, and the claws of birds, these poems are drawn through such witch-like details to the edge of the known world, where they lift off into a surrealist vision of exemplary lyricism' - Selina Guinness, "The New Irish Poets".
CAITRIONA O'REILLY was born Dublin in 1973, and lives in Wicklow and Hull. She studied at Trinity College Dublin, where she wrote a doctoral thesis on American literature. She received a major bursary from the Arts Council of Ireland in 1999. The Nowhere Birds was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection in 2001, and won the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature in 2002 (given to the best new book by any Irish writer).