Book Review The Woman with an Owl Tattoo by Anne Walsh Donnelly.

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.

“Anne Walsh Donnelly is by far the most daring poet to emerge in Ireland of late. The starkly honest and overt sexuality which pervades Anne’s poetry make the work of pretty much all her contemporaries appear repressed and backward-looking in comparison. This publication would certainly have been banned in the Ireland of the past. Indeed, she is one of the few poets around whose work has the glorious ability to get moralistic, supposedly liberal eyebrows twitching. Anne’s poems are pretty perfectly formed hand grenades which she tosses about the place with abandon while maintaining a deadpan face. I think this publication is the beginning of something great.” Kevin Higgins, author of Song of Songs 2.0: New & Selected Poems (Salmon Poetry, 2017).

TWWAOT is an astonishing collection of poetry by Anne Walsh Donnelly. The poems talk of the end of a marriage, to a discovery of sexuality and identity. Animals feature in a few of the poems, with the setting being a farm.  I loved the imagery in poems Tawny Owl and Metamorphosis, After Franz Kafka. There are a series of poems in TWWAOT, with a range of different scenarios, titled Coming out to my therapist, myself, my son, my daughter, mother, and father. They have the varying reactions to the narrator coming out as a lesbian. They also have dialogue. I love dialogue in poems.

Lava formed sills on my surface,

flushed my cheeks, just as my plates

were supposed to settle and glide into old age

a woman’s touch smashed my crust

The Woman with an Owl Tattoo by Anne Walsh Donnelly

I like TWWAOT is a voice from an older woman. I think it is important to have visible LGBTQ + voices from people of all ages, to be able to talk about the different challenges we all face, and to appreciate being our true selves is a brave act.

photo credit Kate Lewington

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