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Tall Lighthouse
Stark Gallery
384-386 Lee High Road
SE12 8RW
ISBN 978 1 904551 33 1

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This page last updated: 14th December 2007.

Very worthily this poet, in probably a late first collection has been supported and it is refreshing to see new work which takes no refuge in clipped lines or personal vulgarities. With a scholarship to study under Andrew Motion at the University of London, where he was awarded the inaugural Peters Fraser and Dunlop prize and in 2006 a writer's award from the Arts Council there is more than enough dynamite behind the current small collection of 16 poems.

The title takes life from MANCHESTER, his birth-place:

	Queen of the cotton cities
	nightly I piece you back into existence:
The poem ends attractively with strategic alliteration or unobtrusive half-rhyme:
	In the small hours I remake you and remake you,
	until you grow faint as a footfall on a fever ward

	and I wake from my imagination's gas-lit parlour
	and whatever I seek to have or hold or harbour

	is pure curio  a wreath of feathers, seashells
	or human hair, a taxidermist's diorama.
As in many other poems, DRESSING shows that maximal effects are produced by gentle handling of brilliant similes. Word sequences ripple delicately. There is never emotional explosion but instead a contemplative attitude:
	Our blinds half lowered like eyelids before a kiss,
	as if this room strains to reconstruct you
	between the white walls of its memory.
O'Riordan's SOLOMON is one poem I found off-beam in description:
	Set between the Preacher and the Prophet,
	this is the hissing bootleg for the fanatic,
	this is the one hit on the concept album,
	never the same after the frontman left.
The poet questions:
	Who wrote this song
continuing with one of his excellent metaphors
	Who, unaccompanied,
	recorded the tender geometry of lovers
	that to this day remains on tracing paper pages
	in bedside tables
Many theologians would plump for Solomon himself, relating the love of the girl for the shepherd, in that kind of innocent poetic language which existed before the uncivil advent of civilisation which discouraged the purity of poetic lines from the heart.

Other poems are as variable in subject as HEELS, commencing with its connection with fetishism for perverts, from THE LONG COUNT showing the influence of a videotape shaping the childhood of Mike Tyson.

There is no evidence that QUEEN OF THE COTTON CITIES is other than a first collection,and with just 16 poems one might conclude that the poet's output of this kind of valuable poems is small or else the publishers intend a follow-up to this 'pilot' volume. In any case I strongly support more exposure to the public of O'Riordan's work.

reviewer: Eric Ratcliffe.