Katie Donovan

1962- ; grew up in a Co. Wexford farm; ed. Trinity College, Dublin (English); afterwards at Univ. of California, Berkeley (UCSF); taught English in Hungary for a year; became an Irish Times journalist; collections incl. Watermelon Man (Bloodaxe 1993); issued Irish Women Writers: Marginalised by Whom? (Raven Arts Press 1988), pamphlet; ed,. with Brendan Kennelly and A.Norman Jeffares, Ireland’s Women, Writings Past and Present (1994); co-ed. with Brendan Kennelly, of Dublines (1995), anthology of writings about Dublin; poetry collection, Entering the Mare (1997); Day of the Dead (2002); also Rootling: New and Selected Poems (2010); m. Stephen Sensbach, an American cellist, with whom two children (Phoebe and Felix); teaches Amatsu in Dun Laoghaire; suffered the death of Sensbach, from throat cancer; issued Off Duty (2016), a new poetry collection featuring poems about her husband; winner of  Lawrence O'Shaughnessy Award for Poetry of the University of St. Thomas Center for Irish Studies (USA), Feb. 2017.

[ top ]

Poetry, Watermelon Man (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Bloodaxe 1993), 64pp.; Entering the Mare (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Bloodaxe 1997). 80pp.; Day of the Dead (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Bloodaxe), 80pp.; Katie Donovan, Rootling: New and Selected Poems (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Bloodaxe Books 2010), 192pp.; Off Duty (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Bloodaxe 2016), 96pp.

Miscellaneous, with A. Norman Jeffares & Brendan Kennelly, Ireland’s Women: Writings Past and Present (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1994), 576pp.; With Brendan Kennelly, Dublines (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Bloodaxe 1996) 320pp.;

[ top ]

Fred Johnston, reviewing Day of the Dead (Bloodaxe), 80pp. in Books Ireland [q.d.], quotes: ‘My morning hips are full of you / as I lurch through traffic / in a taxi to the train […]’ (“What men are For”); ‘In the pink embrace / of the icy sunset, / the hills arching / their ark backs / to the last blue / and peach caress (“Sunset”); is critical of ‘words like “subversive” on the back cover’. (p.17.)

Bernard O’Donoghue, review of Day of the Dead (Bloodaxe), in The Irish Times, Weekend (21 Dec. 2002), wtites: Katie Donovan covers a remarkable range in Day of the Dead, extending from the powerful elegies and international death-rituals of the opening poems to smart human parables in poems such as “The Visit”, in which the surgeon’s visit to the anaesthetised woman is imagined as a sexual approach to the sleeping lover. There is a lot of sex here, handled with brio and wit; if Germaine Greer is still wondering “What Men Are For” she need look no further than the manual provided by the poem of that title. [... &c.]’

i.m. Savita Halappanavar, died 28th October, 2012, in University College Hospital Galway  

Lying on my back,
because the midwife said,
I nearly turned myself
inside out, like a wrong sock,
pushing, in a panic.
Not ’til the second baby’s time
did I clue in to gravity,
the anarchic success
of stride and swing.

I was biddable,
except when they began
to wheedle me
with talk of an episiotomy,
to scold and wither
when I refused the knife.
The small tear she made
shouldering out
was nothing
compared to their plan
of slicing me
like some vegetal pod.

They prefer the regimental
recline and push, it fits
their schedule, followed
by the slitting knife, and after –
the ward too busy for the breast –
whispering to our insecurities:
“Just use the bottle.”

Tell us when and how
it suits the hospital
to do our work.
Lay us down, so you can see,
and we can’t push.
Cut us so our yells
hiss out as air,
dismiss our fears
and cover up
the damage and mistakes,
that leave us hurting,
ashamed, incapable
or dead.

Posted on Facebook, 17.05.2018.

[ top ]

Dufour Press (Spring 1998): ‘… leads the reader into a world both mythic and contemporary, where the female principle is raped, defiled, destroyed, and devoured, only to rise again throght he insistence of living folklore and the depth of the poet’s need to find and recreate the goddes in all her aspects: triumphant, cruel, passive, fertile, and ever resilent.’

[ top ]