The patient, unhurried assembly of Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin’s first collection resulted in an uncommonly accomplished debut. Poems from Acts and Monuments (1972) have already revealed their lasting power. In this timely retrospective they join generous selections from each of her subsequent books down to The Girl who Married the Reindeer (2001). Selected Poems draws from collections published over thirty years.
In the words of Ruth Padel (Financial Times) ‘Her eerie blend of the legendary and modern sounds utterly natural. A new book from her is a major event.’
‘As a poet, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin casts herself in the role of witness. Her work is characterised by an attentiveness so reverent that it verges on the worshipful; the unwavering intensity of her gaze provides the unifying note in Selected Poems that draws from collections published over nearly three decades. Whether she’s imagining Odysseus, resting on his oar and watching the “ruffled foreheads of the waves / Crocodiling and mincing past”, or painting a stark picture of the aching aftermath of a loved one’s death in which “the dates you marked in the diary come and pass”, the sense of immediacy, of her immersion in and dedication to the moment she’s describing, is the same.
Ní Chuilleanáin’s talent lies in her descriptions. Images flex and crack with revelatory energy; crucially, however, they retain their translucence, electrifying without drawing attention to themselves. Her image of the earth depending from a cherry tree, its leaves “not enough to shield the planet / Hanging there like a fruit” exemplifies her ability to view the everyday in a way that is at once ineffably her own and entirely, instantly recognisable. This is essential poetry.’ — Sarah Crown, The Guardian