Nathanael O’Reilly is an Irish-Australian poet; he is Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Texas at Arlington. His books include (Un)belonging (Recent Work Press, 2020); BLUE (above/ground press, 2020); Preparations for Departure (UWAP, 2017); Distance (Ginninderra Press, 2015); Suburban Exile (Picaro Press, 2011); and Symptoms of Homesickness (Picaro Press, 2010). His poetry has appeared in journals & anthologies published in fourteen countries, including Anthropocene, Bealtaine Magazine, Beir Bua Journal, Cordite Poetry Review, The Elevation Review, fourW, Headstuff, In Parentheses: New Modernisms, Mascara Literary Review, The Quarantine Review, Skylight 47, Strukturriss and Westerly. He is the poetry editor for Antipodes: A Global Journal of Australian/New Zealand Literature. Twitter @Nathanael_o
About his collection Boulevard with Beir Bua Press
Boulevard is a product of the Covid-19 pandemic. Unable to travel to Australia and Ireland (my homelands), and forced to work from home for almost a year, I turned my attention to the hyperlocal. Boulevard is a book-length poem in 76 sections. Or maybe it’s a collection of 76 numbered poems that can each be read as stand-alone works. That’s not for me to decide. The work belongs to the reader now. Boulevard explores the life of a street and neighbourhood over the course of a year during the pandemic. I forced myself to write about events happening in front of my house, in nearby backyards, a couple of blocks to the east and west along the boulevard. Instead of travelling in search of subject matter, poetry came to me. Surprising, beautiful and sometimes shocking events took place outside my window. I focused on my immediate surroundings, rather than my distant homelands, my past, my loved ones overseas. I took inspiration from Basil Bunting’s Briggflatts and Alex Lemon’s Another Last Day (written and set just a few blocks to my west), both book-length poems devoted to the local. I found the poetry in the everyday, the seemingly normal and ordinary. I came to know the birds, squirrels, cats, dogs and trees. I learnt the rhythms of the days, detailed the changing of the seasons, experienced the unexpected. And yet I always did so as an immigrant, a foreigner, an exile, bestriding the boundary between insider and outsider.
Praise for the Author
“Nathanael O’Reilly’s Boulevard achieves a poet’s holy mission to elevate and preserve the times one lives in with starkly rich, elegant, Hopper-like vignettes unfolding over time in the micro-view outside his window of one stretch of an American street while hunkering down during the initial period of the Covid-19 pandemic. The everyday is made new and unusual; the seemingly mundane, extraordinary. O’Reilly reminds us that poetry is the alchemy that gives us light, even from the darkest moments in the human experience.”
Matt Hohner, author of Thresholds and Other Poems (Apprentice House, 2018)
“Highly attentive and closely focused, Boulevard is a superbly crafted and questing poeticization of the hyperlocal—exploring the daily and seasonal tempi of the suburban and the quotidian. In haunting and entropic turns, home and identity are newly inflected as both the experience of an ‘exile trapped in the wrong hemisphere’ and the observations of an engaged outsider; an eloquent COVID flaneur who views life as simultaneously connected and detached, enduring and fleeting. Boulevard is razor sharp; it is testimony, celebration and elegy.”
Cassandra Atherton; poet and critic, Professor of Writing and Literature, Deakin University
“A new and peaceful observation on life as the witness shared with us
from the noted bliss and unquiet of daily life. American life is shared with
us without the drama, fake news, and hyperbole. An innovate work.”
Michelle Moloney King; experimental poet, visual poet, and publishing editor of Beir Bua Press.
Preview of Boulevard
1. live oaks cast shadows across manicured lawns, carefully- edged curbs, asphalt-filled potholes brown metal water meter covers, cracked concrete driveways parked late-model SUVs leaf-strewn gutters, wooden powerline poles, overgrown alleys, cedar paling fences stone retaining walls, wrought iron gates & railings, black metal mailboxes, NO PARKING, SPEED HUMPS AHEAD & STOP signs recycling bins, air conditioning units, interrupted sidewalks trimmed hedges, flowerbeds garages & garage apartments backyard swimming pools, hot tubs garden sheds, BBQs, patio furniture, firepits, crushed quartz red Adirondack chairs, paved pathways, fenced-in dogs, hammocks vegetable gardens, palm trees a rack of deer antlers attached to a backyard garage, magnolias beeches & crepe myrtles, al fresco dining zones, potted herbs, sunbeds American flags, beer-pong tables Buffalo & Bermuda grass, squirrels cats, horned frogs and geckos 43. a blue & white Mini Cooper parked beneath the live oak gathers pollen & dust. a red Kia Soul hatchback reflects the summer sun, casts a shadow on the cracked concrete driveway while a white Lexus SUV prowls the boulevard. a white Jeep Cherokee & grey Audi A4 rest in a student house driveway. a white van with a green logo & text proclaiming Growth Solutions cruises the boulevard turns right. a brand-new white Chevy Malibu breaks suddenly at the speed hump, trunk rising, hood dipping