The new collection from Sean O'Brien is a book of halves. The first half, IT SAYS HERE, is a series of poems on memory, time, and recurrence; shorter, viciously focused pieces on the current political nightmare (there are some utterly scabrous political sketches); other pieces lay bare the current trials of mind like Sean’s – expert, wise and literate – trying to navigate a world gone post-content and post-intellectual. As usual, all this is done through Sean’s trademark lyricism, his subversion of folk-tale and folksong, and allegory.
All this forms a lovely acoustic anteroom to the long poem HAMMERSMITH – a psychogeographic journey through the haunted landscapes of London, very shadowy and cinematic; it’s a gripping – and at times semi-novelistic– navigation of the labyrinth of memory, with the contemporary political/climate apocalypses looming over it to make it even creepier. All in all, it has the feel and grandeur of a contemporary version of a Blake prophetic poem.