Origami Doll: New & Collected Shirley McClure

Arlen House 2019

Origami Doll: New & Collected Shirley McClure – Arlen House 2019

After poet, Shirley McClure’s untimely death from cancer in September 2016 her publisher, Alan Hayes of Arlen House, invited her friend, Jane Clarke, to edit a New & Collected Shirley McClure. The book includes Shirley’s two published collections, Stone Dress (Arlen House, 2015) and Who’s Counting? (Bradshaw Books, 2010) as well as 31 beautifully poignant new poems, collectively entitled Origami Doll, which Shirley completed shortly before her death, and which are published here in book form for the first time.


Shirley McClure’s first collection, Who’s Counting? was published by Bradshaw Books in 2010 and her second collection, Stone Dress, by Arlen House in 2015. Her poetry was widely published in literary journals and she won numerous awards, including Listowel Writers’ Week Originals Poetry Competition 2014, the PENfro Poetry Competition 2015 and runner-up in the Patrick Kavanagh Award 2009. Shirley also taught creative writing with a particular interest in writing and health.

Review: Quirky and wise, studded with razor-sharp double entendres and droll fantasies, this is a poetry of candour and folly, and ultimately of discovery. Fuelled by a combative curiosity about the underbelly of human relationships, the themes include sexual jealousy, bereavement, and how a woman regards her physical self. From shock to delicate shades of loss, McClure’s harrowing experience of breast cancer is included, in poems where her wry humour remains on call. Here is a poet sure of her craft, ready to share incantations of desire and domesticity with poise and elan. From recitations of deadpan lust to the sensitivities of one who is flying on the margins of mortality, her poems become friends whom we cannot resist revisiting. – Katie Donovan