Living Published Women Poets in the UK
Caitriona O’Reilly
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Caitriona O'Reilly poet

Caitriona O’Reilly was born in Dublin and spends her time between Wicklow and Dublin.


The Sea Cabinet (Bloodaxe, 2006)

Three-Legged Dog with David Wheatley (Wild Honey Press, 2002)

The Nowhere Birds (Bloodaxe, 2001)

Caitriona O’Reilly studied Archaeology and English at Trinity College Dublin, where she wrote a doctoral thesis on American Literature. She has held the Harper-Wood Studentship from St John’s College,  Cambridge. Caitriona O’Reilly is a freelance writer and critic. She has written for BBC Radio 4, collaborated with artist Isabel Nolan, was contributing editor for Metre and is editor of Poetry Ireland Review.

Caitriona O’Reilly’s first collection The Nowhere Birds won the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature in 2002 after being shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection in 2001. The Sea Cabinet was shortlisted for the Irish Times Poetry Now Award in 2007.

“Structural concerns dominate O’Reilly’s poetic however such formal resources are used subtly. O’ Reilly, having studied Plath’s poetry closely has recognized for herself the danger of over-reliance on such devices: ‘Plath’s early lyrics are rather stilted and self-conscious, demonstrating how heavily, at first, she relied on the formal poetic resources of rhyme and meter.’ Reflecting on her own use of poetic forms, such as the sonnet or sestina, O’Reilly has said how ‘it acts as a stimulus to the poem. It’s a test of how you can think within boundaries.’ These boundaries, enclosures, confinements mirror O’Reilly’s thematic concerns with the self and the structures it is contained by under duress of entrapment, disintegration or obsolescence. O’Reilly resembles Plath in her use of free verse stanza patterns, and just as Plath, after her strictly formal and imitative beginnings grew into a poet of real originality and formal daring, O’Reilly is a poet who deftly handles her poetic resources while also sounding a unique, assured voice. She is sure to reach even further heights in the future.,” Maria Johnston (Contemporary Poetry Review)

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