Few first collections receive the critical praise accorded to Conor O’Callaghan’s The History of Rain. Seatown, its remarkable successor, centres around a cluster of poems which draws upon the oldest section of the poet’s home town, Dundalk. They offer at once an unblinkered view of the everyday reality of that place and an unqualified hymn to its rundown charms.
But Seatown also becomes a place of the mind and a vantage point from which to meditate on his family’s seafaring history. Other poems range from the tongue-in-cheek polemics of ‘East’ to the more expansive lyricism of ‘Slip’. Whether obliquely narrative, formally innovative or sensually explicit, Seatown more than justifies that early praise.
‘. . . an extraordinarily mature and exact voice which promises really great things . . .’
— Adam Thorpe, The Observer
‘There is good humour… as well as a sly intelligence, and the whole package of wit has a musicality which makes it memorable . . . ‘
— Robert Nye, The Times (London)
‘Seatown is deft, intelligent, a masterpiece of moody atmospherics. O’Callaghan has painstakingly assembled a faultless body of poems that haunt and persist.’
– Sinéad Morrissey, PN Review
‘O’Callaghan’s poetry is marvelously his own. . . . [Its] bewitching obliquity . . . obviates neat conclusions. What is evident from Seatown and its predecessor is that Conor O’Callaghan is a gifted poet.’ – Stephen Knight, The Literary Supplement