Books for Independent Thinkers

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Much of Brendan Kennelly's poetry gives voice to others and otherness. Whether through masks or personae, dramatic monologues or riddles, his poems inhabit other lives, other beings and other ways of being in the world.

The riddling poems of Reservoir Voices add a further dimension to these explorations, inspired by an autumn sojourn in America where he would sit by the edge of a reservoir, trying to cope with loneliness by contemplating black swans, blue waves, seagulls, trees and rocks:

'It was in that state of fascinated dislocation, of almost mesmerised emptiness, that the voices came with suggestions, images, memories, delights, horrors, rhythms, insights and calm, irrefutable insistence that it was they who were speaking, not me. To surrender to loneliness is to admit new presences, new voices into that abject emptiness. So I wrote down what I heard the voices say and, at moments, sing.'

"With considerable honesty and bravery Kennelly enters and becomes others in order to perceive, understand and suffer…always moving, probing and doubting, never willing or able to settle on any one certainty… There is clash and conflict, cruelty and irony, sardonic wit, passion."
Aidan Murphy, Sunday Press

"His poems shine with the wisdom of somebody who has thought deeply about the paradoxical strangeness and familiarity and wonder of life."
Sister Stanislaus Kennedy

"He is the people's poet. He spends his life wondering and thinking and daring to think and see differently. He also asks impossible questions and suggests unthinkable answers about the things that really matter. And he refuses to be precious or out of touch with the rest of us… a serious contribution to the nation's mental and spiritual well-being."
Jim Farrelly, Editor-in-Chief, Sunday Tribune

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