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Exemplary Damages

Dennis O'Driscoll

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Imprint: Anvil Press Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (88 pages)
(Pub. Nov 2002)
Out of Stock
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    No, Thanks

    No, I don’t want to drop over for a meal
           on my way home from work.
    No, I’d much prefer you didn’t feel obliged
           to honour me by crashing overnight.
    No, I haven’t the slightest curiosity about seeing
           how your attic conversion finally turned out.
    No, I’m not the least bit interested to hear
           the low-down on your Florida holiday.
    No way am I going to blow a Friday night’s freedom
           just to round out numbers at your dinner table.
    No, I’m simply not able for the excitement
           of your school-term coffee mornings.
    No, strange though it may seem, your dream kitchen
           holds no fascination whatsoever for me.
    No, there’s nothing I’d like less than to get
           together at your product launch reception.
    No, I regret I can’t squeeze your brunch into my schedule
           – you’ll be notified should an opening occur.
    No, I don’t appear to have received an invitation
           to your barbecue – it must have gone astray.
    No, my cellphone was out of range, my e-mail caught a virus,
           I had run out of notepads, parchment, discs, papyrus.
    No, you can take No for an answer, without bothering
           your head to pop the question.
    No, even Yes means No in my tongue, under my breath:
           No, absolutely not, not a snowball’s chance, not a hope.

    Exemplary Damages is as fine and varied a collection as its five predecessors. It captures contemporary attitudes towards life, love and God with unfaltering accuracy in styles which range from the richly sensuous to the mercilessly mordant. Whether depicting a group of middle-aged ‘lads’ at tea break or struggling to comprehend the English spoken at an EU seminar, Dennis O’Driscoll’s skill in observation and metaphor succeeds in conveying humour and pathos with an unsentimental robustness.

    Dennis O’Driscoll (1954–2012) was born in Thurles, Co. Tipperary. Apart from nine collections of poetry, books published during his lifetime included a selection of essays and reviews, Troubled Thoughts, Majestic Dreams (2001), two collections of literary quotations and Stepping Stones: Interviews with Seamus Heaney (2008). Among his awards were a Lannan ... read more
    Awards won by Dennis O'Driscoll Short-listed, 2001 Irish Times Literary Prize,Irish Poetry (Weather Permitting) Winner, 2013 Irish Times Literary Prize,Irish Poetry (Dear Life) Winner, 2013 Irish Times Literary Prize,Irish Poetry (Dear Life)
    Praise for Dennis O'Driscoll 'Carcanet has done a great job in collating work from his various collections with some revised and new poems... O'Driscoll's work should be read and re-read, as a sort of 'life' of a poet and scholar who worked outside academe and literary theory, deep in the bowels of the everyday, where flesh-and-blood experiences strive to make their own poetry.'
    John Wakeman, Books Ireland
      ''To rinse the world in rose water before you write is to bear false witness''. This is the challenge that O'Driscoll took on board - to face the workaday world we might have thought we'd risen above. He, and his discerning overview, are much missed. His Collected Poems are welcomed.'
    Dundee University Review of the Arts
       'His voice is one of the most distinctive of his generation.'
    John McAuliffe, The Irish Times
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