Shirley McClure

Origami Doll: New and Collected Poems

Jane Clarke, Editor

ISBN: 9781851322107

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Like the Shipwreck Bag in her poem ‘Shipwrecked’, ‘a sack of supplies every Sunday –/ bullseyes, fake cigarettes and spicy liquorice pipes …’ Shirley McClure’s Origami Doll is a most satisfying assortment of beautifully wrought surprises. In here are poems by turns clear-eyed, poignant, unsparing, sexy and often just plain funny – and not an ounce of sentimentality in the carefully-weighed-out mix. McClure has a gift for close observation and a quietly mordant, ironising sense of humour. But these poems are not just clever. Here too are exquisite love poems and deeply moving poems of grief, illness and loss, captured unerringly in the minutiae of immediately recognisable, but rarely recorded, detail. Running through it all is a homage to the female body, to its strengths and vulnerabilities, its beauty and its blemishes, so deftly captured in ‘Stone Dress’, the title poem of her second collection, which ends:

‘This was where she felt safest,
in the landscape of their folds and scars;

no jokes about her hard neck, thick skin,
here in the stone circle of her friends.’

– Geraldine Mitchell


Quirky and wise, studded with razor-sharp double entendres and droll fantasies, this is a poetry of candour and folly, and ultimately of discovery. Fuelled by a combative curiosity about the underbelly of human relationships, the themes include sexual jealousy, bereavement, and how a woman regards her physical self. From shock to delicate shades of loss, McClure’s harrowing experience of breast cancer is included, in poems where her wry humour remains on call. Here is a poet sure of her craft, ready to share incantations of desire and domesticity with poise and elan. From recitations of deadpan lust to the sensitivities of one who is flying on the margins of mortality, her poems become friends whom we cannot resist revisiting.

– Katie Donovan


I love McClure’s very particular combination of qualities – the ebullience, the wit, the honesty and insight, the strength and tenderness. Also, her generosity to the reader – who is welcomed in with such grace and openness.

– Mimi Khalvati


Shirley McClure’s work is of great distinction and merit. She has a particularly ironic ‘take’ on modern Irish reality and is a rare and necessary antidote to all the navel-gazing that is going on in this country at the moment.

– Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill