Today dear readers I am reviewing Odd as F*ck (Published 14th May 2021) By Anne Walsh Donnelly. Happy Publication Day! A big thank you to the publishers Fly On The Wall Press for sending me a copy to read and review, always appreciated. This is not the first time I have reviewed Donnelly’s work, check out my last review here.
Odd as F*ck
In this collection, the author loses, finds and redefines herself, in poems that are sometimes visceral and often humorous. She ultimately shows how meaningful life can become after a period of darkness and how transformative those experiences can be.
About the Author
Anne Walsh Donnelly lives in the west of Ireland. She writes poetry, prose and plays. She was shortlisted for the Hennessy/Irish Times New Irish Writing Award for her poetry in 2019 and selected for the Poetry Ireland Introduction Series. In 2020 she was awarded a Words Ireland Mentorship and a bursary from the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival. She is the author of the poetry chapbook, “The Woman With An Owl Tattoo” (Fly On The Wall Poetry Press, 2019.) It was awarded second prize in the International Poetry Book Awards in 2020.
Donnelly throws herself into her poetry as she loses, finds and rediscovers herself. These poems show the reader how wonderful life can truly be after the dark clouds of depression and suicide begin to slowly drift away. She shows the reader how her experiences changed and transformed her. I have always admired how vulnerable Donnelly’s poetry is. She stands naked for all to see, showing her scars. These poems speak of the relationship with her mother, her own children, the breakdown of her marriage, rediscovering her sexuality, the changes that menopause bring, therapy and questions her faith.
I was intrigued by Donnelly’s journey with her faith when I read Days Like Today. The reader follows memories of her as a child praying to god before graduating with an honours degree, leaving Ireland to travel and then slowly starting to lose her connection to god. She becomes jealous of other’s devotion to their god and grieves her loss. When she leaves her marriage she realises that it is the first time she has put herself first and it is empowering. She questions why has god stayed silent as she wishes to bleed out the depression. Then she has a moment of clarity where she says he has come back to her and he answers, “I never left”. It’s a fascinating poem to read with many layers as you can feel the confusion and anger that Donnelly is experiencing.
This collection is dedicated to mothers who have lost children and children who have lost mothers. There are strong themes of not only a mother’s love but a child’s love for their mother with poems such as Conversations and Soon. I felt emotionally torn when I read Mother’s Day, 2020. The past year has changed the world and forced us to interact physically less with one another. We have not been able to see family without glass or a screen in the way. A simple hug, something so normal for a mother to give to their child was no longer allowed. Donnelly captures all of this in her poem, expressing her pain and wanting to be with her loved ones. We can all strongly relate and can only hope it’s not too long before some form of normality is restored.
I felt my heart twinge when I read Wrench. I know that someday my own children will go off into this world and I will be left behind, watching and worrying. Donnelly remembers her son playing with his toy tool box and now he is no longer pretend playing. It reminded me to make the most of the time I have with my children, that this time goes so fast. Blink and I will miss it. Never wish it away.
I give Odd as F*ck’ By Anne Walsh Donnelly a Four out of Five paw rating.
Donnelly not only rips back the plaster exposing the wound in her poetry but she prods and investigates its purpose. She is done hiding and covering up who she is. She shows strength and an inspiring determination to continue to battle through life, clawing her way out of the misery and despair that try to pull her back down. She is determined to live, live her life the way she chooses; age, sexuality, she proves to others that once you accept yourself for who you truly are then life can begin. She is her own person and doesn’t wish to convert to the stereotype of how she should act, dress or even love. Her poems show that she’s been down that road before and all it did was make her unhappy and lost. She challenges her inner demons and pushes the boundaries, refusing to go back. It’s remarkable to read as you see that once you become honest with yourself you will begin to see the beauty that is all around.
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