Anthony T O’Neill’s new collection of poetry, Reason for Being is a wonderful addition to what might be called the small standing army of poetry activists who keep the words to the forefront of literary and artistic Waterford.
Down through the years Anthony T O’Neill has directed plays for Waterford Dramatic society, organised world poetry readings and numerous workshops. I fondly remember a series of readings from Australian poetry. He has richly earned the admiration and this 90 page collection lives up to its brave title – Reason for Being – laid out in four sections.
His opening Raison D’Etre asks the direct question – Did you ever really touch another human being? The section – To See With A curious Eye – is the poet as inquisitive to fault lines, ocean roars, love beyond all knowing, joggers, counting the stars, laughter and excitement, garrulous surf and will anyone care?
To Listen With The Mind is a more cerebral and darker place of drugs, drink and a boy of seven who cannot talk, of sharing pain and memories of where the music goes when the song is ended. Here there is theatre and drama, Shylock, Kant, Luther and strangely, universal bitterness.
In the section – To Remember With The Heart – there is the story of two special loves of life and death and the autobiographical Telegramatic that is much much more than a lesson in grammar or question marks.
The concluding section And Then To Dream is as hopeful as any lover’s dream.
I love the poem Actors about the ritual of preparation, the whys and hows of what we are but freshly minted. That is what an actor does, he manages to convey time and time again the words unchanged, unchangeable but freshly minted. Godot, brings back such a rush and torrent of memory – is there nothing at all.
T S Eliot would understand what Anthony T O’Neill is saying in Wake Up Call – a blast of fury and frustration and readers will relish the beauty of the last poem in a remarkable book – When The Future Comes.