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Ireland. Night. A grotto to the Virgin Mary illuminates a deserted road. Overhead, the soundless roar of the Milky Way's glittering traffic reminds us of a past that runs parallel to our own uncertain times. Olives ripen in a Portuguese valley. The sound of gunfire approaches a Paris cafe. Irish women revolutionaries march towards their future. Tigers prowl through County Leitrim's rural townlands, whose old names emerge like neon signposts from the dark: Red Marsh, Small Watery Place, Round Hill of the Boys. Roisin Kelly's Mercy is an attempt to reconcile her Catholic background with her pagan heritage, transcending the limits of a world in which everything is connected. Both intimate and political, this powerful debut collection combines a passionate exploration of self with an awestruck confrontation of wilderness. Roisin Kelly was born in west Belfast, raised in Leitrim, and now lives in Cork. Her pamphlet Rapture (Southword, 2016) was described by Leanne O'Sullivan as 'fierce and mysterious, beautiful and compelling'.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 64 pages
  • 138 x 216 x 10.16mm | 113.4g
  • Tyne and Wear, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 178037500X
  • 9781780375007
  • 681,293

Table of contents

9 Mercy
10 Leave
11 Mars in Retrograde
12 Tom Barry
13 Chameleon
15 Penelope
16 Dominio Vale do Mondego
18 Guarda
20 A Massage Room in West Cork
21 Rapture
22 In America
23 Mary Anne MacLeod
25 Mar-a-Lago
27 La Chalupa
28 At a Photography Exhibition in New York Public Library
29 Rose
30 Glenveagh
31 Storm Warnings
32 Paris, 13 November 2015
34 Tropical Ravine House in Belfast Botanic Gardens
35 Eden
37 The Cave of Melassini
39 Ithaca
41 Oranges
43 Easter
44 Miracle at Standing Rock
46 The Unicorn Children
47 Tigers in Leitrim
48 Poem for a Friend's Unborn Baby
50 Northern Lights
51 Cosmic Latte
52 irish coffee
53 Mercury in Retrograde
54 Ophelia
56 Amongst Women
59 Wedding Below the Perseid Meteor Shower
60 Tuam
62 Granuaile
64 Notes
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Review quote

Roisin Kelly hauls the mythological up into the contemporary world in this fiercely tender collection. Love and loss are laid bare again and again under constellations new and old, in skies above Greece, Portugal, America, France, and Ireland. Kelly's intelligence and wisdom ignite each of these poems, whether funeral pyre or beacon in the dark light. Mercy burns with ruthless beauty. -- Zsuzsi Gartner * author of Better Living Through Plastic Explosives * What is striking about Kelly's writing is that she intentionally situates herself within Ireland's literary tradition, frequently drawing on Yeatsian images like the rose. She is unswerving, however, in her desire to draw romance and realism together, and Kelly revives the symbols of old so that they might be re-spoken in a brazen, drunken voice... Kelly's poetry is at once tender and savage, steeped in tradition yet brave in expression - she takes readers where they don't want to go, a feat that most writers attempt, but few achieve. -- James O'Sullivan * Los Angeles Review of Books * Unafraid of sentiment, these twenty poems meditate on lost love, longing, and the tendency of intimacy to arrive as an utter surprise, and dissolve just as swiftly. -- Grace Wilentz * Poetry Ireland Review (on Rapture) * This brief collection shows remarkable emotional range. Kelly leaves the reader afloat on a tide of colour.' -- Alison Brackenbury * PN Review (on Rapture) *
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About Roisin Kelly

Roisin Kelly was born in west Belfast and raised in the rural Irish county of Leitrim. After a year as a handweaver on Clare Island and a Masters in Writing at NUI Galway, she now calls Cork City home. Her first chapbook of poetry, Rapture, was published by Southword Editions in 2016. Publications in which her work has appeared in Ireland, the US and UK include Poetry, Magma, Ambit, The Stinging Fly, Poetry Ireland Review and Winter Papers. In 2017 she won the Fish Poetry Prize. Her first full-length collection, Mercy, was published by Bloodaxe in 2020.
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