Kitchen Hymns

Pádraig Ó Tuama

Forthcoming January 2025

Pádraig Ó Tuama’s Kitchen Hymns opens with a question: “Do You Believe in God?” — but the bee, “gone extinct,” cannot answer, and the grass calls believe “a poor verb.” This collection trades belief for language, and philosophy is grounded in form and narrative. Kitchen Hymns is structured like a ghost mass, where even if God is a “favorite emptiness,” longing still has things to say: Jesus and Persephone meet at Hell’s exit and discuss survival; someone believes more in birds than belief; hares carry messages from the overworld to the underworld. A study in lyric address, Kitchen Hymns speaks to a shifting “you”: an unknown you; the strange you; a lover, a hated other; the you of erotic desire; the you of creation and destruction. Large themes are informed by and contained in a poetics of observation, humor, trauma, dialogics, lament, rage and praise. Delivered in finely honed melodies, shaped with force and conviction, Kitchen Hymns “reckon[s] with the empty,” and becomes “busy with a body / not a question.”

ISBN: 9781556597107

Format: Paperback

Do You Believe in God?

I turn to you,
not because I trust you,
or believe in you,
but because I need a direction for my need. You—
the space between me and death; you—
the hum at the heart of an atom; you—
nothing; you—my favorite emptiness; you—
what I turned away from and will turn to; you—
my ache made manifest in address; you,
silent you, what my friends saw as they died; you
contain what’s not containable; you
are the shape of my desire—

About the Author

Pádraig Ó Tuama is an Irish poet born in 1975. He hosts On Being’s Poetry Unbound, and has written the accompanying (and forthcoming) volume to that podcast. With publications in the Kenyon Review, the New England Review, Poetry Ireland, Harvard Review and others, he’s also a seasoned broadcaster, having appeared on national radio stations in Ireland, the UK, the US, Australia and New Zealand. With three volumes of poetry published previously, he is joining Copper Canyon Press in 2024. 

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