Dennis O’Driscoll died too young, and before the US publication of his new book of poems, on Christmas Eve 2012. Dear Life represents the work of a truly international poet who spoke far beyond his native Ireland. A longing-filled recognition of the preciousness of existence, Dear Life draws upon the most contemporary of issues—the internet era, compensation culture, global warming—to address the timeless topics of working and aging, loving and dying, God and mammon. As Seamus Heaney writes in his foreword, O’Driscoll’s “work was a new growth ring in the old tree of Irish poetry, and while his life was spent in passionate devotion to the art it was also—given his distinguished career in the civil service—devoted to Ireland.” O’Driscoll’s poems give voice to a nation, with its twenty-first-century attitudes toward religion, economics, and nationality, its immigration, poverty, and consumerism, while his ambitious title sequence attempts a rigorous and unflinchingly personal exploration of the purpose of human life.
“While [O’Driscoll’s] poems seem to affirm that, linguistically, there is nothing new under the sun, that every phrase is a well-worn one, their insistent recycling [of language] calls on us to reassess the known, to rethink the implications of the language we use every day.” —Fran Brearton, The Guardian
“Dear Life… contains free and meditative poems about age and the only end of age; the poet characteristically plays with the jargon of the office in a way that sometimes seems like parody, but is just as often a straightforward reflection of how O’Driscoll saw the world.” —From O’Driscoll’s obituary, The Telegraph
“O’Driscoll’s conversational, trustworthy style, wry attention to contemporary life, and work on behalf of other poets, made him a widely beloved figure in Ireland.” —Publishers Weekly
“Dennis O’Driscoll’s last book of poetry, Dear Life, is his finest, so honest and unadorned that it is painful reading, particularly for those who knew this gifted and dedicated man.” —New Criterion