Shirley McClure

Stone Dress

ISBN: 9781851321377

Like the Shipwreck Bag in her poem ‘Shipwrecked’, ‘a sack of supplies every Sunday –/ bullseyes, fake cigarettes and spicy liquorice pipes …’ Shirley McClure’s eagerly awaited second collection 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. And 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, 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

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