Reviews for A Taste For Hemlock:
This is a book of consequences, but it is also a book of consequence, it matters.
Martin Egan (multi-platinum selling songwriter)
By far the best and most challenging collection of poems by a poet issued in 2011 is Michele Vassal's, 'A Taste For Hemlock' (Salmon Poetry), with a cover by the author. Here is a European sensibility charging through the conventional staidness of much Irish contemporary work. It is richly to be hoped that this book receives the critical attention and promotion that it deserves; a book without decent promotion behind it by its publisher can often sadly wither and die. Ask for this book in bookshops or chase it up online.
Fred Johnston, Western Writers' Centre
The author of A Taste for Hemlock is not just sensual but uninhibitedly sensuous, as anyone who has plucked les fleurs du mal must be…Sharp, clever, funny, wonderfully evocative and with more hard-won wisdom than most, this is one of the 2011’s best collections of poetry....There’s a Baudelairean sensibility and aesthetic at work in A Taste for Hemlock, a delight in and of the senses, a savouring and appreciation of all that the wide world has to offer, and the bitter flavour attendant on wisdom. There’s also an understanding that the brightest moment of an object’s life, whether that be an animal, plant or fruit, or even a human, is just before the turning point of decay or a bruise; but that this is cyclical and to be anticipated is one of our consolations for loss…
Alan Garvey, Gloom Cupboard
A Taste for Hemlock, is a mystical journey of transmutation birthed in the crucible of cultural dichotomy. Grounded in myths and storytelling, Michèle Vassal’s vision is uncompromising, incisive, and laden with a rich painterly sensuality. In this book, she unravels, with honesty and sensitivity, the golden thread that runs through personal and collective memory, honouring both the frailties and beauty of our humanity. Each section, indeed each poem is like a way-station in the development of the human spirit enduring and then emerging from incredible adversity into true identity and ability in all its different guises. It has been said that beauty has nothing to do with being pretty. This book bears that out completely. And it still manages to be mythic, absorbing and beautiful.
Michele Vassal has the rare gift of turning poetry into music. Each elegant, spare, melodic verse lingers in the mind like a beautiful song.
Ferdia McAnna (Writer and Film Director)
The title poem “A Taste for Hemlock” is a flawless sequence of short verse. It distils the complex, the communal drive to inevitable death at the end of a systemic melancholy thread. “Defining desire and death,” a conceptual, moveable verse, disperses its acquired wisdom beyond the dull ache of long pain, above the throb of ritualistic grief. The verdant background of the book cover, the glistening cerulean undertones understate pure, passionate, pleasure.
Nadine Sellers, Last Known Nest