Leanne O'Sullivan was born in 1983, and comes from the Beara peninsula in West Cork. She received an MA in English in 2006 from University College, Cork, where she now teaches. The winner of several of Ireland's poetry competitions in her early 20s (including the Seacat, Davoren Hanna and RTE Rattlebag Poetry Slam), she has published four collections, all from Bloodaxe, Waiting for My Clothes (2004), Cailleach: The Hag of Beara (2009), winner of the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature in 2010, The Mining Road (2013) and A Quarter of an Hour (2018), winner of the inaugural Farmgate Cafe National Poetry Award 2019. A Quarter of an Hour was also shortlisted for the Irish Times Poetry Now Award 2019 and the Pigott Poetry Prize 2019. She was given the Ireland Chair of Poetry Bursary Award in 2009 and the Lawrence O'Shaughnessy Award for Irish Poetry in 2011, and received a UCC Alumni Award in 2012. Her work has been included in various anthologies, including Selina Guinness's The New Irish Poets (Bloodaxe Books, 2004) and Billy Collins's Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry (Random House, 2003). Residencies and festival readings have taken her to France, India, China and America, amongst other locations.
O'Sullivan shifts away from the kind of "topographical" poetry of place that has become common in Irish writing, choosing instead to locate the place's meaning in "all of us listening". O'Sullivan repeatedly presents us with objects or places, which then act not as statements of arrival or recovery but as points of departure. Things we have seen before, often in other people's poems, come alive again in her hands... The Mining Road is a strong and varied book of poems... slow and concentrated pieces that register with great clarity the mystery of stories and images that exercise power over us, images and stories on which readers will dwell. At a time when historians, novelists and journalists are again revising our national narratives, these thoughtful, ambitious poems bring the past to life, but they also ask if any imagination of the past, no matter how rich and inevitable it feels, can ever be quite enough. -- John McAuliffe * The Irish Times *