CaitrÌona O'Reilly's poetry is remarkable for its precise observation of the natural world. Her second collection, The Sea Cabinet, broadens that clear-sighted vision in poems also haunted by history, consolidating the achievement of her prizewinning dÈbut volume, The Nowhere Birds.
Her title-poem conjures the vanished world of the whaling industry, and serves as a starting-point for other acute meditations on natural and cultural obsolescence. Yet the habitual concerns of the lyric self are present too, in poems which enact the dilemmas and anxieties of the individual amidst a rapidly changing environment.
CaitrÌona O'Reilly's first collection The Nowhere Birds won the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, given for the best book by any new Irish writer published in 2001:
"The most startlingly accomplished dÈbut collection by any Irish poet since Paul Muldoon's New Weather in 1973."
Patrick Crotty, Irish Times
"Whether enthralled or appalled, she beholds and magnifies the world and its strange creatures (including ourselves) in poems that are formally versatile and linguistically copious."
"Although this book moves from childhood through adolescence and student travels to adult relationships, it charts this journey through a dream-world filled with natural imagery that either terrifies and repels, or that expresses libidinal desires intimately understood. At times eerie in their invocation of spiders, bats, and the claws of birds, these poems are drawn through such witch-like details to the edge of the known world, where they lift off into a surrealist vision of exemplary lyricism."
Selina Guinness, The New Irish Poets