The Beautiful Librarians by Sean O’Brien is a poetry collection designed to be a celebration of “unsung but central figures in our culture, often overlooked by both capital and official account”. Some lyrical, some thought-provoking, some rather confusing and lacking a proper meaning, O’Brien’s poems are considered to be the embodiment of a lifetime of experience; however, I (mostly) found them difficult to relate to.
I chose The Beautiful Librarians for the particular reason that its title spoke to me and, consequently, my expectations were set too high – needless to say I expected to love the poetry collection. One cannot deny O’Brien’s expertise and capacity, neither can we deny that he has a bewitching way with words; however, his poems are rather difficult to resonate with as I feel they were mostly written for scholars/literary professionals. Whether acceptable or not and regardless of coming off as judgmental, I will always mention accessibility and 21st century poetry in the same context, and this collection was hardly accessible. While I have to admit that the poems are different and his style is quite diverse and everybody can find at least one poem to enjoy, most of the pieces are too obscure and anything but accessible to readers who aren’t literary professionals. So to say, in order for a poetry collection to be worthy of praise, it should contain more accessible pieces anybody can relate to. However, this is also a matter of one’s taste, education and expectations. For me, O’Brien’s volume was certainly intended to be understood only by a handful of people specialized in a certain field of knowledge.
Although I found a couple of intriguing poems, most of them were hard to understand or digest. For those of you who are looking for a rather scientific and abstruse poetry collection, this might be a suitable one. Regardless, one must keep in mind that poetry must be read and if doesn’t fulfill one’s needs, it can serve as a term of comparison. The book was sent to me by Libris, for which I am grateful, and you can find it here.
Title: The Beautiful Librarians
Author: Sean O’Brien
Publication Date: 2015
Publisher: Picador Poetry
Format: Paperback|67 pages