This powerful new collection combines Katie Donovan's unflinching insight into our human foibles with her exceptional descriptive gift. The years of her husband's throat cancer are charted in poems by turns tender, harsh and darkly humorous. Donovan gives voice to the carer's duty of being the one who watches, and contains, what is both a searing tragedy and a chainlink of domestic chores. Meanwhile the sulky electrician and the garrulous taxi driver are part of a cast of unlikely extras who provide a contextual chorus from the everyday world that inevitably carries on. Donovan grasps talismans of survival: birds foraging in the snow; her daughter's singing - which lights up the hospice in midwinter - and her son's success at soccer. The title-poem resists the classic definition of the grieving widow, instead capturing one of Donovan's enduring motifs - the moment when the mask slips and the true human response is released.
Katie Donovan was educated at Trinity College Dublin and The University of California at Berkeley. She has published five books of poetry, all with Bloodaxe Books: Watermelon Man (1993), Entering the Mare (1997), Day of the Dead (2002), Rootling: New & Selected Poems (2010), and Off Duty (2016), which was shortlisted for the Irish Times-Poetry Now Award. Born in 1962, she spent her childhood on a farm in Co. Wexford before moving to Dun Laoghaire, a suburb of Dublin where she still lives. She has worked as a journalist with The Irish Times, a Creative Writing Teacher at the Institute of Art, Design and Technology (in Dun Laoghaire), and currently teaches Creative Writing at NUI Maynooth. Her work has been widely anthologised, most recently in The Wake Forest Book of Irish Women's Poetry, edited by Peggy O'Brien, and in Bloodaxe's Staying Alive: Real Poems for Unreal Times, edited by Neil Astley. She is the author of Irish Women Writers: Marginalised by Whom? (Raven Arts Press, 1988), and has co-edited two anthologies, Dublines (with Brendan Kennelly), published by Bloodaxe Books in 1996, and Ireland's Women: Writings Past and Present (with A. Norman Jeffares and Brendan Kennelly), published by Kyle Cathie (Britain) and Gill and Macmillan (Ireland) in 1994. In 2017 she was awarded the 21st Lawrence O'Shaughnessy Award for Poetry.