"Louise C. Callaghan's poetry is rich with the sad wisdom of a mother, and pulsing with the passions of a lover. The poems in her first collection, The Puzzle-Heart, range from poignant accounts of adult children leaving home, Moving Out and Letters to America ("I feel lost in the house, empty/as the old gutters that cling/to the edge of our roof") to reflections on the birth of a granddaughter and those heart searing poems which map the geography of love -- loneliness, desire, loss. ("I choose you/heart that never heals/nest of pleasure/ bright, world-calling rose" - Rosa Mundi).
These poems resonate with passion, "she kindles your voice/the unspeakable joy in your deep roar" (Poetry) and sorrow "My waterfall face mossy/with half-green leaves" (To Tears). They face quietly but bravely, and on occasion almost fiercely, into loneliness and "into this slow movement--/the death of love." But here also are poems of simple pleasure, of joy in the changing of the seasons, "Calm, lovely May/of the hawthorns ... listen/mother-of-all-months/to the invisible love--/the soft-wooing woodpigeon" (May Altar) and the company of women, as in the long and accomplished poem, Vally De La Luna with which the collection ends.
Crafted with sparseness and rigour, Callaghan's poetry shares something with her Palatine daughter -- a stoicism in the face of life's intrinsic sorrow and absurdity, and an unyielding integrity and commitment to truth-telling.
Yes, I will let you come to me
I am all yours, only don't expect
me to talk of love, even in my sleep,
nor honour your people's oppositions
when there is no safe haven
for settler or dispossessed
(The Palatine Daughter Marries a Catholic)."
"The Palatine Daughter Marries a Catholic is a crisp and elegant treatment of dissidence and perseverance, expressed with a precise lyricism: 'Now I have not the least sense of place,/ never wear the same colour twice." The rhythm is rooted in an half-articulated resistance which marks Callaghan's most engaging poems."
Kathy Cremin, The Irish Times, Feb. 14th 2000