The Wrong Miracle by Liz Gallagher

The Wrong Miracle by Liz Gallagher uses tongue twisting phrases and juxtaposition to shed light on and deal with the expectations of family and society.  Wrong miracles occur everyday in Gallagher’s world from the cat that drags in a poem it found to a breeze that cracks the narrator open.  Gallagher’s playful phrases will have readers smiling in amusement, and she enjoys turning cliches upside down.

“I still have not

bought the doghouse — a real one, not

the metaphorical one where husbands some

times hang out while wives are belt loosening

or just simply giving things a twirl.”  (From “Prelude to Getting One’s Act Together,” Page 15)

In many cases, Gallagher is whimsical with her imagery even when her poems deal with serious events, such as paying for the best and getting something unexpected and disappointing.  In “Woman in a Redhead,” she seeks a new look, cappuccino hair that ends up being red and having to deal with the result.

“On my way home, I fake a swagger and ants

in my pants.  I am singularly impressed by the rife

humour that is making its way down the broad of my

back.  I will be back to get my cappuccino-chocolate hair,

I think.  Sometimes we don’t get what we pay for and blood

does curdle.”  (Page 3)

But beneath the whimsy of her verse lies a dark anger and disappointment that simmers and bursts forth. Can you talk yourself into doing anything?  Can you justify waterboarding like you can justify jumping out of an airplane with a parachute as a hobby?  Is the unthinkable a norm that we haven’t gotten used to yet?  Gallagher asks these questions and more, but she also examines fatherly love and forgiveness.

A Poem That Thinks It Has Joined a Circus (Page 10)

A handkerchief is not an emotional holdall.

A cup of tea does not eradicate all-smothering sensations.

A hands-on approach is not the same as a hand-on-a-shoulder

willing a chin to lift and an upper lip to stiffen.

A forehead resting on fingers does not imply that the grains

of sand in an hourglass have filtered through.

A set of eyes staring into space is not an indictment that the sun

came crashing down in the middle of the night.

A sigh that causes trembling and wobbly knees should be

henceforth and without warning trapped in a bell jar and retrained

to come out tinkling ivories with every gasp.

A poem trying to turn a sad feeling on its head does not constitute

a real poem, it is a cancan poem, dancing on a pinhead

and walking a tightrope with arms pressed tightly by its sides.

Readers just starting out with poetry will find this collection needs to be read aloud and more than once because some of the lines are dense with imagery, double-speak, and juxtapositions.  However, the poems do exude a song-like quality as tongue-twisters roll off the tongue, which will have readers repeating Gallagher’s lines over and over again.  The Wrong Miracle by Liz Gallagher is a buzz worthy collection.

***Please check out my previous two-part interview with Liz Gallagher.  Also, proceeds from the sale of her book, The Wrong Miracle, will go to support Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death society.***

Thanks to Liz for sending me a copy of her book for review.

About the Poet: (Photo Credit: Vladi Valido)

Liz Gallagher was born and brought up in Donegal, Ireland. She has been living in Gran Canary Island for the past 14 years. She has an Education degree where she specialised in Irish language. She also has a Computer Science degree. She is at present doing research into online debating for her PhD. She began writing about 5 years ago and has won a variety of awards in both Ireland and the US: Best New Poet 2007 (Meridian Press, Virginia University) First Prize in The Listowel Writers’ Single Poem Competition 2009 and she was selected by Poetry Ireland for their 2009 Introductions Series in recognition of her status as an emerging poet.

This is my 6th book for the Clover Bee & Reverie Poetry Challenge.

This is my 35th book for the 2010 New Authors Reading Challenge.


  1. Beth Hoffman says

    Taanks, Serena! I’m going to order it right now.

  2. I usually don’t read poetry, but the pieces you’ve included in this review read well. Thanks for the suggestion.

  3. Beth Hoffman says

    Oh, Serena, I loved your review of this collection of poems. I’m hooked. I’d sooooo love to buy this book, but thus far I can’t find it anywhere here in the States.

    • Beth, you have to buy it through the link I provided to the title, which translates to about $14 in US dollars after the conversion. It wasn’t too bad. I hope you do purchase the collection. It’s a good cause and an excellent collection.

  4. blodeuedd says

    Me and poetry..well why do I not read more?! I mean I loved some 19th century poetry, and the WWI ones

  5. I believe that this is too much for me…poetry at times totally stumps me! 😀

  6. Lovely review, Serena! You’re going to have me reading poetry before it’s all over with.

  7. This is one collection that I’ll definitely have to borrow from you!

  8. I like the excerpts you included!