POETRY

Andalusian Hours: Poems from the Porch of Flannery O’Connor

Paraclete. Apr. 2020. 96p. ISBN 9781640603530. pap. $19. POETRY
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Both poet and scholar, Fordham university professor O’Donnell has addressed the great American fiction writer Flannery O’Connor in several works of prose (e.g., Radical Ambivalence). Her latest poetry collection (after Still Pilgrim) is a variant sonnet sequence that with few exceptions inhabits O’Connor’s own voice in a touching re-creation of O’Connor’s work and history. (Andalusia was the fanciful name of the family home and farm.) O’Connor made the best possible creative use of her own experience: she suffered (and eventually died) from lupus and possessed a kind of tragic conviction about her own Catholicism in the vehemently Protestant South. O’Donnell’s ventriloquism is a bold choice, given O’Connor’s calm mastery of a demotic and brilliant American prose, but it works to bring us back to the mystery of O’Connor’s life, which is perhaps the point.
VERDICT O’Donnell’s sonnet sequence is brave and witty and just the thing for ardent readers of O’Connor herself.

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