The Blue Cocktail

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Resonant and luminous, Audrey Molloy’s The Blue Cocktail (Gallery Press, €12.95) considers bodies and their politics beside bodies of water, home and abroad, ‘where the water is brackish,/not one thing nor another — the emigrant’s curse’. — Stephen Sexton, Books of the Year, The Irish Times

In cinematic clarity Audrey Molloy’s second collection probes ideas of home across her native Ireland and Australia where she now lives. The ‘pure sheen’ of a horse chestnut makes way for the ‘minty scent’ of gumtrees in her adopted home where plants are often not what they seem: ‘You are my ocean — / blue cocktail of salt and sediment — / but you are not my leaf.’ While exploring ‘a closer understanding of what it means / to be a woman’ she displays a constant consciousness of the body and its desires. One part memory, two parts love letter to the sea, with dashes of longing, sass, and a nip of melancholia, The Blue Cocktail is strange, sexy and intoxicating. In a dazzling variety of forms here are poems alert to imagination and alive to language itself. If The Important Things was a book of promise The Blue Cocktail demonstrates that guarantee has been honoured.

‘Audrey Molloy’s curious sensuality makes even the difficult moments deeply pleasurable.’ — Martina Evans, The Irish Times

The poem ‘A Legacy to Seven Men I’ve Loved’ was shortlisted for the 2023 An Post Irish Book Awards Listowel Writers’ Week Poem of the Year.

Audrey Molloy’s The Blue Cocktail (Gallery Press, €12.95) is full of liquidity: gin, vermouth, Guinness Extra; the waters of lakes, pools, oceans. Across these assured poems water, as is its wont, takes on many forms and spills into many containers. The title’s blue cocktails are those consumed for pleasure and in emergencies – “In the event of being stranded inland”, instructs the first poem’s epigraph, “Scoop half a pint of lake, river, or puddle water […] Add a double shot of Hendrick’s, a nip of Noilly Prat” (Emergency Cocktail). This poem is as much a recipe as it is an instruction for how to read what follows; these are the potions and enchantments of poetry too. “The sea is saltier than blood by far”, Molloy goes on, an echo of the often misapplied and abbreviated “blood is thicker than water”.

Frequently, the poems linger on the notion of origins: “I began in a pool”, Molloy writes in A Schoolgirl Dreams of Ponds, “I never got away”. The condition that motivates the hungers and perils of this book is proximity to water: Molloy’s metaphor for her emigrant experience. “Where the water is brackish, / not one thing nor another — the emigrant’s curse” (At Bottle and Glass Point). The blueness of these poems is as mercurial as one poem suggests: it is vitality and melancholy; an unrootedness both liberating and isolating.

Themes are impressively interwoven, linking water and continents to nativity and womanhood. These poems are elegantly dressed and convivial:

You’re glad you wore the fine black sweater
And your heirloom velvet jacket
Though it doesn’t suit the weather
And pearls are not in fashion
But neither is smoking, not even Gauloises

This is formally adventurous work too: sonnets share space with the Japanese haibun. A quickening, intercontinental book.

— Stephen Sexton, The Irish Times

The Blue Cocktail preview

Audrey Molloy’s poem ‘A Legacy to Seven Men I’ve Loved’ has been shortlisted for the 2023 An Post Irish Book Awards Listowel Writers’ Week Poem of the Year.

Publication date: 1 October 2023
Details: 80pp
ISBN PBK: 978 1 91133 847 5
ISBN HBK: 978 1 91133 848 2

Cover: ‘Voyager 6’ (2011) by Chloe Early, oil on aluminium panel, 18” diameter

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