Monday, March 21, 2022

John O’Donnell

John O’Donnell is a Dublin barrister, poet and writer whose most recent collection is his Sunlight: New and Selected Poems (2018, Dedalus Press) which includes poetry from his three previous collections. His awards include the Hennessy Award for Poetry, the Ireland Funds Prize, and the SeaCat National Poetry Prize. O’Donnell’s short fiction has also garnered awards, and has been gathered into his first fiction collection Almost the Same Blue (2020, Doire Press).

He has written several poems from the perspective of various characters who encountered Jesus in the gospels, including: “Jairus” whose daughter Christ raised from the dead, “A Wedding Guest” about the marriage at Cana, and “Some Other Country” which is from the perspective of Pilate.

The following poem which first appeared in Poetry Ireland Review is another written as an expression of a story from the life of Christ.

The Storm

We should have seen it coming, I suppose,
but we were dog-tired when we left, and skies
seemed clear, the sun’s work done, sinking astern.
He’d flaked out down below, missing his turn
to steer ― and who could blame him wanting peace
from days of heat and dust, and everywhere
excited hordes, clamouring for a piece
of him. A shame to wake him, but we were
in real trouble, too late to shorten sail,
heaving waves swamping the decks, the boom of gale
enough to raise the dead. I slapped his face:
‘We’re going down! Don’t you care?’ He blinked, then stared
as if he’d come back from another place
to wind and water, waiting for his word.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the author of five poetry collections including Angelicus (2021, Cascade) ― a book of poems written from the point-of-view of angels. His books are available through Wipf & Stock.