I've written about Jenni Doherty before on this blog when she read from Rain Spill at the Dublin Book Festival last month (http://dublinduchess.blogspot.ie/2012/11/come-celebrate-launch-of-rain-spill-by.html). Jenni kindly sent me a copy of Rain Spill so now I can review it in total.
From Greencastle, Co.Donegal and living in Derry, Jenni Doherty has a broad background covering publishing, journalism, book selling and library service. Running a bookshop, Little Acorns Bookstore, this is her first collection of work.
Rain Spill is a lovely collection. Using the weather, in particular water, as metaphors and inspiration, Jenni recognises how we let the weather control how we go about our lives. She feels that it is also part of her language, which she illustrates through the collection with Irish proverbs. Under the titles 'Rain', 'Ocean', 'Mist', 'Fog', 'Frost', 'Storm', 'Snow' and 'Rainbow', this is a generous collection of over seventy pieces of work, 'a spill of thought, imagination, fiction, ideas and realities'.
Many poems and writings reflect on her youthful experiences. In 'Sunday Ribbons', Doherty states with clever word play, "Aye, I was bold then./ Bowled over then./ It was the music, the mood, the company, the world;".
Jenni's work is emotive and passionate. It's not 'arty-farty' but about real people in a real world; drinking, smoking, loving and living. It's about women and it's often full of humour, but at other times it's angry and hard. In a funny prose piece 'My Funny Valentine (Or April Fool)' she extols the value of humour in a man. She doesn't want a celebrity, "Paul [Newman] (too old), Brad (too taken), Jim [Morrison] (too buried)," but one who makes her laugh, "A funny guy gets in your system (where a beautiful one gets in your bathroom and steals your face packs) and he stays put". This collection is just peppered with great lines like that that either take you aback, make you snigger or in some cases just make your lips curl with a smile at her obvious joy in life.
Once you have heard Jenni's husky accent you can't help but hear her voice in your head as you read this collection. The nature of the book, poems, soundbites, prose pieces, means that it doesn't have to be read in one sitting but can be dipped into at leisure for a burst of the very real Jenni Doherty.
Rain Spill is published by Guildhall Press.