Conor O’Callaghan was born in Newry, County Down, in 1968, and grew up in Dundalk. The History of Rain (The Gallery Press, 1993) was shortlisted for the Forward ‘Best First Collection’ Prize and won the Patrick Kavanagh Award. He has been writer-in-residence at University College Dublin and Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, and co-holder of the Heimbold Chair in Irish Studies, Villanova University. From 2005-2010 he was poet-in-residence at Wake Forest University in North Carolina.
Poems in The Sun King, Conor O’Callaghan’s fourth collection, happen in the spaces between parallel realities: virtual and pastoral; North Carolina, Ireland, and Manchester’s Chinatown district; loss and desire. His wit and virtuosity match his devotion to ‘the carnal surface’ of things (woodstoves, voicemail codes, sprinklers, money) and of the copious words we have for them.
The book centres on a handful of longer poems: a spell, part memory and part hallucination, in a derelict farmhouse by the Irish Sea; an elegy for the Celtic Tiger’s all-consuming boom; a less than faithful translation of Lorca’s beautiful tale of infidelity, and a magnificent reconfiguring of the server room of an office building as a site of pilgrimage. The collection ends with a series of couplets, ‘The Pearl Works’, an improvisation on Twitter, that achieves an improbable mysticism via a succession of invocations of the sun and the given life’s ‘astronomical fluke’.The Sun King