Poetry dear reader is a rare delicacy to indulge in. One that should be consumed slowly over a small glass of port. Such a beautiful art that is so often misunderstood. Let me pour you a glass and ignite our tastebuds with literature. Bottoms up.
Today I have the great honour of kicking off the blog tour for The Woman With An Owl Tattoo (Published 30 May 2019) By Anne Walsh Donnelly. A big thank you to the publishers Fly On The Wall Poetry for my copy to review. And as always to the lovely Anne for the invite.
About The Author
Anne Walsh Donnelly lives in the west of Ireland. Originally from Carlow she moved to Mayo, twenty-four years ago. Her work has appeared in several publications including The Irish Times, Cránnog, Boyne Berries, The Blue Nib, Writers Forum and Dodging the Rain.
Her short stories have been shortlisted in many competitions including the Over the Edge New Writer of the Year Award (2014, 2016), the Fish International Prize (2015) and the RTE Radio One Frances Mac Manus competition (2014 & 2015). She won the 2018 Over the Edge Fiction Slam.
Her poems were highly commended in the Over the Edge New Writer of the Year Award (2017 & 2018). She won the Winter/Spring 2017/2018 Blue Nib poetry chapbook competition and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2018. She was also nominated for the Hennessy Irish Literary Award in 2019 for her poetry.
Her debut short story collection “Demise of the Undertaker’s Wife” will be published in September 2019
The Woman With An Owl Tattoo
This life-affirming poetry collection reflects on the author’s growth since the ending of her marriage and what it means to unearth one’s true sexual orientation, in mid-life. Anne Walsh Donnelly’s intimate exploration of sexuality and identity is both brave and touching, marking this debut collection as a triumph.
Donnelly’s writing style is personal and intimate. I felt as though I was watching pivotal parts of her life through a spy-hole and could strongly relate to the depression that negative mental health brings. She has a gentle strong voice that is a pleasure to read. These poems reflect on Donnelly’s journey since the ending of her marriage. It is inspiring poetry as she rediscovers her sexuality and identity. The further into the book I read the more I could feel the ongoing struggle and battle Donnelly had with coming to terms with her new sexual desires. The realisation that she was attracted to women and shouldn’t be ashamed of it. It’s brave and takes a lot of courage to write such personal poetry for all the world to see.
I can’t begin to imagine how Donnelly felt when telling her family about her sexuality. I could feel the tension and let out huge sighs of relief when they showed their support, all in their own unique way. Donnelly also realises she has to come out to herself, accept who she really is. It’s captivating as it demonstrates to the reader that it’s never too late to unearth your identity. Never too late.
I felt all the intensity Donnelly poured into each one of her poems. They made me laugh, cry and reminded me to always be honest with myself. My heart broke when I read Tawny Owl. I admired her use of dramatic metaphors for the death of her marriage and herself. Donnelly uses simple but striking images to startle the reader and it is immensely effective.
One November morning
I found my owl,
her limp body,
floating face down
in the duck pond.
I cawed like an old crow.
Another image that stood out for me representing the demise of Donnelly’s marriage was in the poem Hamster. The bold picture she paints of her hamster not giving up and continuing to run on her wheel until it broke was difficult to read. It’s emotional and raw poetry at it’s most vulnerable.
My hamster was not one
for giving up. Her little legs
kept running on that bloody
treadmill, until it broke.
Donnelly brings the readers’ senses alive with tastes, textures and smells. I adore poetry that does this as you can envision yourself there with the author experiencing their creative world hand in hand. It engrosses you to the point you are sad to leave when your reading escapade has finished.
Being in love at fifty
makes me wonder if Eros will crumble
like Wensleydale cheese
or taste like Blue Stilton, after a year or two,
or if it can be transformed
into the perfect soufflé.
I give The Woman With An Owl Tattoo By Anne Walsh Donnelly a Five out of Five paw rating.
Raw, honest poetry at its finest. These poems are brave and I highly respect Donnelly for sharing such personal thoughts and feelings with her readers. A strong woman who is an inspiration to us all to be true to ourselves, no matter what age you are. Life begins when you start living it, so go live it! What are you waiting for? Go!
Don’t forget to follow the rest of the blog tour, dates below. Enjoy!
Hop hop wiggle wiggle