Thursday, 3 May 2018 9:32am
Published simultaneously in Ireland by Salmon Poetry, Majella Cullinane’s remarkable second collection, Whisper of a Crow’s Wing, is the work of a poet with a distinct and powerful voice. These poems weigh and examine oppositions – the distance of time and place, the balance of life and death, the poet’s New Zealand home and her Irish heritage. Cullinane conjures the ghosts that haunt places and objects; our inner and outer world, with rich, physical language:
‘barter the night for the whorl of a wave’s tongue,
the relish of brine. Know what it is to untangle
light from the tooth of a roving tide.’
She writes with lyrical intensity about motherhood and family life, including the experience of miscarriage, and the process of moving through grief and loss to a place of acceptance and healing. This is a profound collection from a poet alive to the hidden world of memory and imagination, of the sublime in the everyday, tempered always by a shadow of the fragility of life and love.
There is an elegance and poise and care in the language of these poems, an unobtrusive mastery and ease in their cadences and rhythms. Here is writing so close to the sound of how our speech usually arranges itself, and yet set with a hard delicacy that makes it quite something else – memorable, direct, focused to the movement of how the poems present both thought and feeling.
– Vincent O’Sullivan
Originally from Ireland, Majella Cullinane has lived in New Zealand since 2008. With an MLitt. in Creative Writing from St Andrew’s University, Scotland, in 2011 she published her first poetry collection, Guarding the Flame, with Salmon Poetry in Ireland. In 2014 she was awarded the Robert Burns Fellowship at Otago University, and in 2017 was the Sir James Wallace Trust/Otago University Writer in Residence at the Pah Homestead in Auckland. She won the 2017 Caselberg International Prize for Poetry, and has been shortlisted for the Strokestown and Bridport International Poetry Prizes. Majella is a PhD candidate at the Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies, Otago University. She lives in Port Chalmers with her partner Andrew and their son Robbie.
Paperback, 150 x 230 mm, 88 pp, ISBN 978-1-98-853122-9, $27.50