Hare Soup Paperback – 19 Feb 2004
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About the Author
Dorothy Molloy was born in Ballina, County Mayo, in 1942, and grew up in County Dublin. She studied languages at University College, Dublin, before going to Barcelona where she worked as a historical researcher, journalist and painter. She returned to Dublin in 1979, where she lived with her husband. Dorothy Molloy died in 2004.
Top customer reviews
Strong meat and just a little indigestible, these poems, plus they read oddly like exercises. '[B]lood and excrement glow/on my palaeolithic walls'? I'd rather reread Plath or, possibly, Selima Hill (though she, too, can overegg). Molloy was a painter. Paintings aren't like poems, they're really not. (And the Pre-Raphaelite poets were bad poets - yes, even the sainted Christina! - aping bad painters.) I liked second best Molloy's solitary stab at rhyme Playing the Bones, though it's somewhat slight and the last line sounds awfully derivative. Best of all was the very last, hauntingly brief 'married life' poem. (Compare and contrast the writing-exercisy French Hotel.) 'You did your cathedral thing..' It could almost be Lorraine Mariner!
Molloy died, sadly, in the year of publication. There were two posthumous collections.
I can't get this blasted thing off:
the ring set with stones that eats into
my flesh. I've tried fretsaws and slashers
and pneumatic drills, Fatima
butter and soap. Lard.
I rode a tank over my knuckles,
I dropped a bomb onto my hand.
The ring is still grand.
Marvellous, bitter, grim. But then, It can't be the last word, there is so much more. One poem has particular resonance for anyone of a certain age. Why do so many of us never cease to mourn our mothers? In a sense we never stop - she gives us voice in Looking for Mother "... I fling myself / down on the bed that she that she made / of dirt from the Catacombs, blood / of the saints. Under the counterpane / nettles, goose-feathers, a torc."
(It's the alternative spelling of torque, by the way, for those, like me who haven't come across the word before in this incarnation.) She speaks (try Ventriloquist's Dummy) for women who feel the artificiality of much human intercourse, in both senses of the word. I love her bravery, but feel myself falter at some of her anger ("You lever my jaws, make your claptrap / shoot from my mouth"). I'm keeping this book to read again. It's incantations, the delight of its enjambments and it's clear, icy tones are like a bath of freezing water that I need to dip my head in, gladly, often.
The blurb calls it her `startling debut'. A massive understatement! It's quite simply the greatest collection of poems I've ever read! It's short (55 pages) and the poems rarely stretch to more than a page, but it is an intensely rich and satisfying collection. Here you'll find an often very dark, razor-sharp humour, gut wrenching pathos, staggering lyrical profundity and a great deal of beauty, (and in the poem `Ice Maiden', the greatest image of tragic futility since Sisyphus!)
What amazes me, perhaps more than anything about these poems, is Dorothy Molloy's ability to write such readily accessible masterpieces. There are no impenetrable allusions to obscure texts, no extraneous journeys into the bowels of the Thesaurus. Just plenty of instantly touching, provocative, hilarious poems.
Honestly, I challenge anyone to read Hare Soup and not mourn the loss of one of the finest poets ever to make it into print.
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