In this vivid new collection, Theo Dorgan reaches deep into his Cork childhood to examine, among other things, the wellsprings of what would become a life in poetry. At times with the forensic detachment of adult distance, at other times given over to reliving a child’s conscious attention to his own life, these poems explore a past where everything is new in the living moment and yet, somehow, “everything will go on forever”.
If the family is where we learn to understand feelings and affections, school is the hard place where we meet the powers of the world, where we encounter and learn to deal with both the liberating and the oppressive powers of language. School, as the growing boy experiences it, is the place where we learn either to surrender or to stand free in the world, and freedom comes with embracing, understanding, the weight and responsibility of choosing your words, of speaking for yourself.
Poet Theo Dorgan’s beloved native city is a ghostly, sustaining, presence throughout — city familiar and mysterious, cradle of possibilities the young boy dreams of, gazing longingly through the classroom window. In that place, in those days, Dorgan made certain promises to himself. Once Was a Boy asks if those promises were kept.
Once Was a Boy
13 November 2023
82 pp. 140 x 216 mm
ISBN 9781915629135 paperback, €12.50
Cover image by Gaetano Tranchino, by kind permission of the artist. www.gaetanotranchino.com