Santiago Sketches is a book of short, imagistic poems entirely set in Santiago de Compostela, where the small and the local are revealed to be universal, mirroring the process whereby this small city near Finis Terrae became central to human patrimony and declared a world heritage site by UNESCO. Since the 12th-century Codex Calixtinus—the first Camino de Santiago guidebook—many books have been written about the paths to Santiago. Santiago Sketches is one of the first books in English about living in that city to which millions have travelled, but which most arriving pilgrims depart after a brief stay. Here, McLoghlin uses his fluency in Spanish and galego, and his background as a Hispanist, to capture what Virginia Woolf called “moments of being”, and translate them to us.
"Santiago Sketches has the immediacy of a diary kept on the go, and the colour, grace and formal definition of poetry. It’s full of youth, the readiness to explore, learn and play, and the life lived in public spaces that young people share with the “stumbling camp followers” of history. David McLoghlin writes of a church bell, “You can hear the real / rope pull in the ringing”, and his book too is real—like time and place, like near and far and long ago."
Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin
"Santiago Sketches is brimming with sensory snapshots: whether “the richness of reused olive oil” issuing from cheap restaurants or a baker suggesting his customer crunch on the saint’s sugary bone or noting “high heels on marble [clicking past] confession boxes.” David McLoghlin reminds the reader of the marvelous reasons to be a tourist, that is, not to merely observe, but experience with all one’s senses. His poetry pulls us out of familiar routine and into a radiant one. By way of affecting detail and pensive tone, these poems are not mere souvenirs: join McLoghlin in his walk down avenues and alleys."
“Santiago Sketches is a gift box brimming with luminous local details of a loved place through which—over a space of nine months—the poet moves like a pilgrim of the senses, offering in poem after poem what’s been seen, felt, smelled, heard; what’s been touched, tasted, and understood: “Flap of a pigeon’s wing. / A dark-eyed girl in purple slippers...” “an angel raises a star / among the horses…” “At the fountain, the junkies / washing their needles.” What McLoghlin has composed in this adventurous new collection is a scrupulously tolerant anatomy of Santiago, a religious, secular, open-eyed, warts-and-all love letter to a city where he—a stranger—managed for a little, unforgettable while to make himself at home.”
Guggenheim Fellow and author of ten poetry collections
More Praise for David McLoghlin
“As an avid reader of Irish literature, I found David McLoghlin’s work… to be fresh and unexpected, yet still worthy of inclusion in the great canon of poetry that is produced by his nation.”
Mark Shaw, Natural Bridge
“Its own heroic achievement.”
Billy Collins, US Poet Laureate, 2001-2003
“These are big, ambitious, sometimes sprawling poems, rich in narrative and in detail.”
Moya Cannon & Theo Dorgan
Judges’ Citation, The Patrick Kavanagh Awards, 2008
“David McLoghlin’s debut collection Waiting for Saint Brendan and Other Poems proves strong on first reading and grows richer… with each subsequent rereading. …The poems are rhetorically baroque, inward-looking and taut with imagery, and his complex metaphors unfold, slow and origami-like, often across multiple stanzas. …This is a necessary book, one well worth reading and returning to.”
Eric Bliman, Birmingham Poetry Review