Clasp is award-winning poet Doireann Ní Ghríofa’s first English-language collection of poems. In three sections entitled ‘Clasp’, ‘Cleave’ and ‘Clench’, Ní Ghríofa engages in a strikingly physical way with the world of her subject matter. The result is by times what one poem calls ‘A History in Hearts’, among other things an intimate exploration of love, childbirth and motherhood, and simultaneously a place of separation and anxiety. In one poem set in the boys’ home in Letterfrack, a place of undeniable terror, we see how, in the name of religion, “The earth holds small skulls like seeds”.
The final section of the book comprises a single poem, Seven Views of Cork City, which, swooping in and out of personal history, paints a convincing if sometimes unsettling portrait of the poet’s adopted city, and of urban life’s ubiquitous restraints on “our dream of speed”.