Monday 22 January 2024

Review by Jon Wilkins of "Undisclosed" by Ruth O'Callaghan

This is a beautifully written series of poems, broken up into four parts. Each section invites the reader into a world of love, loss, the past and a search for freedom. We meet a variety of characters, ideas, images and reflections on life. There are myriad displays of different formats, each teasing us into O’Callaghan’s world - a world full of colour and provocations.

O'Callaghan's poetry seeks answers to questions that are at times unanswerable in a real sense, a rhetorical device that plays with the readers' emotions, taunting them to find a path to the world that O’Callaghan describes. Is it real or a fantasy? You have to decide for yourself. You are given all the tools you need in the form of delightfully constructed lines of verse: it is up to you, the reader, to decipher them and make of them what you will.

The poet is not trying to trick us, far from it. But she does challenge us. She challenges us to read between her lines and make a truth out of her words. This is a delightful process for the reader as we enter worlds full of colour and imagination, images that shock and suggest that her world, our world is not as straightforward as it seems.

Read this with an open mind and an open heart. The poems are alluring and engaging, encouraging us to read on and on until alas, we come to the end of the book. The only good thing about finishing it is that we can re-read and find something new in the poems as we confront them again. This is what makes the collection so accessible, so inspirational, we are always seeing something new, something different in each and every poem.

The poems are wonderful as every reading gives a new interpretation, a new way inside the poet's mind, into the poet's world and isn’t that everything that being a poet is?

About the reviewer
Jon Wilkins is 68. He is married to the gorgeous Annie with two wonderful sons. He was a teacher for twenty years, a Waterstones bookseller and coached women’s basketball for over thirty years before taking up writing seriously. Nowadays he takes notes for students with Special Needs at Leicester University. He has had a work commissioned by the UK Arts Council and several pieces published traditionally as well as on-line. He has had poems in magazines and anthologies, art galleries, studios, museums and at Huddersfield Railway Station. He loves writing poetry. For his MA, he wrote a crime novel, Utrecht Snow. He followed it up with Utrecht Rain, and is now writing a third part. He is currently writing a crime series, Poppy Knows Best, set at the end of the Great War and into the early 1920s. Next year he takes up the UEA Crime Fiction Creative Writing MA. The game's afoot! 

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