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What's what - Julie O'Callaghan

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What's what
Julie O'Callaghan
Paperback / softback
Bloodaxe Books
UK Publication Date

Julie O'Callaghan observes life with a sharp wit and a wicked gift for mimicry. Her characters vent strong feelings and betray revealing weaknesses in their own colourful words. What's What includes a second helping of her incisive monologues - a delicious form she made her own in her first book, Edible Anecdotes - as well as a series of original, tantalising and sometimes bizarre mini-dramas. The book ends with a wide-ranging section of poems in which she evokes people and places, often in a distinctively personal voice. What's What is an unusually entertaining and accessible book of poems. Poetry Book Society Choice.

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Born in Chicago in 1954, Julie O'Callaghan has lived in Ireland since 1974. Her collections of poetry include Edible Anecdotes (Dolmen Press, 1983), a Poetry Book Society Recommendation; What's What (Bloodaxe Books, 1991), a Poetry Book Society Choice; No Can Do (Bloodaxe Books, 2000), a Poetry Book Society Recommendation; Tell Me This Is Normal: New & Selected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2008), a Poetry Book Society Recommendation; and Magnum Mysterium, is published by Bloodaxe in 2020. Her books of poetry for older children include Taking My Pen for a Walk (Orchard Books, 1988), Two Barks (Bloodaxe Books, 1998) and The Book of Whispers (Faber & Faber, 2006). She has received the Michael Hartnett Award for poetry and is a member of the Irish academy of arts, Aosdna.

The voice of the mid-West on vacation - crude, colloquial and demonstrative. It is the brash voice of the American salesman ('what da ya think') promoting freedom, free enterprise and enterprising garbage. It is the voice of returned emigrants, lament-ing their loss. It is the mixed voice of Irish people at tea-break overheard in snatches of conversation. All these voices are captured in dramatic moments or demotic monologues, and their vibrancy sings out clearly.
Poetry Review - Conor Kelly

Reading What's What, Julie O'Callaghan's second collection, is like ?nding oneself in the company of the best kind of wit and raconteuse on a long, long journey.a writer's and reader's antidote to despair.
Poetry Ireland Review - Mary O'Donnell

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