Reading Deirdre O’Connor’s poems can feel like watching a sunset from a darkening forest where you are not quite sure if you are lost. There is that kind of sublime in them: an intimate, luminous lyric voice acknowledging a world in which we can never be sure we are oriented as we think we are. Written with great compassion, precision, and nuance, these gorgeously made poems face into the heartbreaks of time and loss, of selves and ex-selves. They loosen vision from its nostalgias, and “shake/ the cobbled order of ground,/ so silence [can] be heard/ clearly again.”
—Mary Szybist, author of Incarnadine
The Cupped Field shares with us the experience of loss, while also reminding us of the anniversaries we might celebrate of the days when those we love did not die. Here is a poet who knows that the mind is complex, a map of many countries, in some of which people are starving. The poet tells us that the mind resides in the brain, which is held in the skull, “the darkest place in the body,” yet it is “buoyant inside,/ thinking it swims/ in regions beyond itself.”
—Marilyn Nelson, 2018 Able Muse Book Award judge, author of Faster Than Light
The Cupped Field is a highly accomplished, powerful collection, one in which poem after poem astonishes with its clarity of language, thought, and feeling. I am in awe of this poet for many reasons but especially the way she charts a direct line between the mind that takes in the world, in all its beauty and tragedy, and the ethical voice that speaks out of that witness.
—Shara McCallum, author of Madwoman
These are not just good poems. They are spells. How is she able to do it? Perhaps because she knows that loneliness, for a lyric poet, is not just a state of being; it comes with a purpose. What is that purpose? To hear among “mind’s countries” the music. What kind of music? That of mystery. Deirdre O’Connor is an exquisite lyric poet.
—Ilya Kaminsky, author of Deaf Republic