Sudden Thaw

By: Peggy O’Brien

Publication Date: April 2004


Sudden Thaw by Peggy O’Brien

‘My alarm clock is gasping for air.

One by one the minutes bop up

To the surface.’

-From “Insomnia”

A book of poetry by highly acclaimed writer Peggy O’Brien.

‘Puts words on exactly the kind of emotions that censors fear most: subtle, elusive and tinged with erotic intensity.’ The Irish Times, ‘Books of the Year’

‘Peggy O’Brien’s first collection Sudden Thaw opens with a taut sonnet sequence that laments her father, and close with an intrepid examination of what she calls “the gauze of mother-daughter/Love, that knit of wills.” Between these impressive and affecting suites she treats us to a man-angled account of her discovery of herself as an artist. There’s anger and agitation, sorrow and grievance in these poems, but also an erotic tinge, humour and delight. Although she writes from her nerve-ends, O’Brien never takes her eye off the evolving shape of her poems. Receptive to “The noise of other people’s lives, /The silence of your own”, rapturous and disgruntled by turns, this gifted poet communicates a sacerdotal appreciation of life while never losing her agnostic inflection. “Sweet mutiny/And power” are Peggy O’Brien’s reward, and ours.’Michael Longley

‘Sudden Thaw, a first book, surprises us with the bracing pleasure of an already mature poet… and in these poems – particularly in the long sequences in memory of her parents – we find the distinctive signature of a writer who can weave fisherman’s line, her mother’s clothes lines, her tailor-father’s spools of thread, into magical fabrics of poetry. Wit and heartbreak in equal measure, felicity of imagery and sureness of tone, make Peggy O”Brien a discovery to re-read with deepening admiration.’Mary Jo Salter


PEGGY O’BRIEN grew up in western Massachusetts, where she now lives with her husband. She teaches at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. After graduating from Mount Holyoke College, she moved to Ireland and studied at University College Dublin and Trinity College, where she taught for the better part of twenty years. Her poems have appeared in publications on both sides of the Atlantic, including The Yale Review, The Southwest Review and Poetry Ireland Review. As well as being the editor of The Wake Forest Book of Irish Women’s Poetry 1967-2000, she is the author of Writing Lough Derg: from Carleton to Heaney. She travels often in Ireland, where she has a daughter and three granddaughters.



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Weight 0.25 kg
Dimensions 136 × 215 mm
Publication Date

April 2004


Paperback, 176pp