Observations: Visible and Poetic

Donal Keohane

Publisher: Trafford Pages: 99 Price: (paperback) $33 ISBN: 9781466968875 Reviewed: March, 2013 Author Website: Visit »

In this collection, author and artist Donal Keohane presents reproductions of art pieces on the verso pages and poetry written from a strong Christian point of view on the recto pages.

Keohane establishes his faith-based theme from the start. The second poem, for example, is titled “Comet Thoughts,” referring to Comet Hale-Bopp. The comet, the author writes, is “just a speck propelled by/Forces greater than itself./It’s presence calls for cause and reason why,” to which “Honest minds cry out ‘How mighty are your works o God.’”

Other subjects range from tragic events, such as 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, to whimsical topics such as “Ads” and “Home Depot,” to the beauty of the earth. Most, though not all, end on notes of faith. In “Nine Eleven,” for example, Keohane writes that “A terrible anger is born/ . . . Theaters dark, arenas stilled;/Altar candles in shrines are lit,/As people anguished kneel in prayer.” In “Katrina,” Keohane places readers “amid the teeming throng/Bereft of home and way of life/ . . . A thousand dead, my friends are gone/ . . . ‘The Lord has given, now he takes away;/I still will bless the Lord’…”

Much of the poetry features well-worn language devoid of vivid imagery, and the themes and thoughts are often predictable. Unfortunately, Keohane does not present information about the medium of the art pieces. The prints appear to include soft pastel landscapes, bronze sculptures, black-and-white drawings, watercolors, woodcarvings and more. While the reproductions of black-and-white, two-dimensional pieces and wood-carved statues are impressive, many of the prints lack graphic crispness, singularity in execution, and significance beyond a clichéd ideal. It’s also disappointing that the verses don’t seem to reflect the art images and vice versa.

Overall, this book is an eclectic collection of personal expression in which the artwork is slightly more accomplished than the verse. Despite the collection’s lack of freshness, it may appeal to Christian readers.

Also available as an ebook.

Author's Current Residence
Los Angeles, California
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