Tony O’Neill, Buddha In A Hat. Book Review.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *

It could be considered one of the hardest aspects of writing poetry, to deliver a series of poems with an incredible thought, a deftness of the well placed word, whether it rhymes or not, bulging with humour and with the ability to make a reader understand that the poem is asking you to be scathing of a world that seems to have no time for the craft and also demands that you must question the wound that appears. It is a hard task to pull off, many a great, perhaps arguably legendary poet fails at the attempt but for Tony O’ Neill and his recently published collection of poems under the title of Buddha in a Hat, all these demands that a poet places upon their mental agility are met.

Why anybody would be surprised at the achievement is up for long debate but for the man who was People’s Poet in Liverpool during 2009, Buddha in a Hat represents a realisation, a test of nerve that he has conquered and the poems inside are an enjoyable accomplishment and one that pushes him further in the Liverpool poets and its fans’ mind sets.

The collection is full of wit, of pathos humour and a sharp incisiveness, the peculiar incision that combines a great deal of fun but also says please see where the real point of this seriousness is because both aspects drive the poems along a track which can go in two directions.

There are not many poets that would perhaps praise the virtue of the man who spent most of his life trying to perfect a way in which the male members of society can safely go to the toilet without the fear of a series of tasks which involve taking apart buttons that are more deadly than bringing back the Krypton Factor to the small screen but in Praise of Whitcomb L Judson, Tony O’ Neill brings history and the modern age together and indeed makes that leap of faith into the unknown territory of learning facts through humour such a clever use of time.

Other poems in the collection which sparkle like a diamond surrounding its self in belly button fluff of the outside world are Goal, in which the latent dreams of a school headmaster come baring fruit, the beautiful Taller Than Me, the look at one of Liverpool’s renowned street artists in On Church Street and the outstanding The Very Idea.

This is a collection in which smiling, beaming broadly, as you read it becomes a habit that will be hard to let go, it will bring the readers thoughts to the reality that poetry in Liverpool is one of richness and depth, bold, joyfully, subtlety demanding but with the coolness of an autumn day spent in the park listening to nothing but the sounds of a city and witnessing the quietness of single bird in flight.

Buddha in a Hat is available from the bookshop Literally in New Brighton. Contact via website

Ian D. Hall