This Thursday sees the official launch of my debut poetry collection Eat the Storms, from The Hedgehog Poetry Press & available to buy here on the website for signed copies & extra treats like limited edition postcards or bookmarks. Leading up to Thursday, when I will do a Facebook (partly live) Live event at 8pm GMT (all are welcome), I will be sharing the blurbs from the collection from three incredible poets who very kindly said yes when I asked them to give the collection an early read. They might even feature on this week’s podcast #EatTheStorms on Spotify, Google, Anchor and many more podcast platforms.

Today I’m sharing the response I received from Catherine Ann Cullen, poet, singer/song writer, inspirational poetic light on Twitter during lockdown and continuing right now with her daily poetry prompts in connection with her Poet In Residence appointment at PoetryIreland, a prompt series which is ongoing and has now been replaced by one weekly prompt for adults and another for kids and, most recently, her #ABCDublin poetry prompt where we are inspired to write a rhyming couplet about the capital city as each week moves along the alphabet. I had the honour of meeting Catherine Ann for the first time in Dublin in 2018 where we both read at a live poetry event in the Phoenix Park created by surrealist Kevin Bateman and available on You Tube at KevinBatemanPresents I Can Dream And You Can Love, Knockmareen Dolmen.

If you are somehow new to Catherine Ann Cullen, here is just a little recognition she has received…she won the Francis Ledwidge Award in 2009 and 2016, was a recipient of the Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh Fellowship for Poetry 2018/19, the joint winner of Poetry Ireland’s Joyce-Cycle Poetry Prize 2019 and won the Dublin City Council Camac Song Contest 2018.

She has three poetry collections; The Other Now (Dedalus Press 2016), Strange Familiar (Doghouse 2013) and A Bone in My Throat (Doghouse 2007) and three collections for kids called The Magical, Mystical, Marvelous Coat (2001) Thirsty Baby (2003) and, her most recent, All Better! (2019)

Catherine Ann Cullen on Eat The Storms…

Damien Donnelly is the archduke of alliteration and a poet in love with colour and sensuality. The poems in this first collection pop with blinding whites, rich reds and purples, and the yellow of Van Gogh sunflowers. They are jazz riffs on journeys, prisms chasing and catching the light. There is darkness too, in lines such as “Father ate all the flowers/in the back garden”, and there are slower poems of self-assessment, including this finely achieved passage in “Red Ink”:

“I am looking
to find a new shape; turning back, returning,
recalling that first mark, to measure how far
from it I ran, to see what was left behind…”

Above all, there is a sweeping positive energy, a welcoming of all that the world has to offer, and a certainty that “dark doors open often into hopeful”.

Go raibh míle maith agat, Catherine Ann.

Find Catherine Ann here…

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