Ireland. Night. A grotto the 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 café. Irish women revolutionaries march towards their future. Tigers prowl through County Leitrim’s rural townlands, whose names emerge like neon signposts through the dark: Red Marsh, Small Watery Place, Round Hill of the Boys.
Róisín 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.
‘Róisín 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
‘Kelly’s poetry is at once tender and savage, steeped in tradition yet brave in expression’ —Los Angeles Review of Books
‘Fierce and mysterious, beautiful and compelling’ —Leanne O’Sullivan
‘These are expansive poems, rich in pictures and space, frequently evocative… Her delicate patterning of rhyme, controlling carefully the full and the half, offers a shape and texture to these poems which makes reading, and re-reading, a great joy.’ —Dundee University Review of the Arts