Robyn’s previous bi-lingual book This Intimate War Gallipoli/Çanakkale 1915 – İçli Dışlı Bir Savaş: Gelibolu/Çanakkale 1915 (republished, Spinifex Press, Australia, 2018). Turkish trans. Mehmet Ali Çelikel, was embedded in war.
Now the new book looks beyond the idea of ‘enemy’ towards friendship, love and commonality. Travelling through Turkey – Istanbul, Bursa, Kaş, Bozcaada Island, the poet experiences loving friendships emerging out of difference but with a common human thread. Significant poems emerge on Bozcaada, once Tenedos. A small Turkish island of wine growing and red poppies, its village life fits well with a poet who grew up in the small seaside town of Shellharbour in New South Wales Australia.
This is a book of days ‘all the wellingtons left on the island strand / like tree stumps from a sunken forest’ and nights ‘my exhausted head on your lap and you caressing it.’ Here are lyric poems of grace and commemoration, humour, sensuality and sadness. O’Donovan’s poetry binds together the everyday and the mythological, the mountains and the sky, ‘the crevices of the mind’ and the crevices of the body. These are lived poems, worn, made, and touched by daily life. You turn a page and step into grief or wonder, the observations are lit with surprise.