Ghost Dogs, Dion O'Reilly's fine first poetry collection, will haunt you the way art should. Bristling with pain, wit, desire, and tenderness, these poems investigate not only "the daily harms" of an abusive childhood, but the deep solace non-human animals can offer. In vivid, sensual detail, O'Reilly conjures her companions: mastiffs with "sad, sagging faces," a beloved chestnut mare's "glowing coat," a green parrot who has managed to "fill a space in the chaos." She doesn't sugarcoat or flinch from suffering--her own or others'--she transforms it. Line by crackling line, image by unforgettable image. Contemplating her bruised knees in the poem "Given," she asks, "Is there a way to make it wonderful?" Ghost Dogs provides us an answer, a resounding yes. --Ellen Bass
Dion O'Reilly has lived most of her life on a small farm in the Soquel Valley of California. She has studied with Ellen Bass and Danusha Laméris and received her MFA from Pacific University. For over thirty years, she worked as a school teacher, also leading private groups for her high school students. Her poetry and essays have appeared in The Massachusetts Review, New Letters, Sugar House Review, Rattle, The Sun, Bellingham Review, Tupelo Quarterly, Catamaran, SWWIM, Grist, and other literary journals and anthologies. She is a member of The Hive Poetry Collective which produces podcasts highlighting poets from the Monterey Bay and around the world. She hosts classes for adults on her farm. Ghost Dogs is her debut full-length collection.