These poems report on worlds both robust and delicate, from boisterous pub-bluff to the oxygen bubble of an exquisite underwater spider. Whether situated in the quiet lanes of his native Co Cork or amid the bustle of his adopted London, Riordan’s poems exist between many states, poised at once in the grip of both activity and stillness, concerned with speaking and listening to what he hauntingly describes as ‘the unwonted quiet’. There are tributes to the departed and the living, the befriended and the estranged; there are also conversations with poets, in memory and in translation, from the Spanish and from the Irish.
The collection concludes with ‘The Pilgrim’ – that hovers eerily ‘in patrol of the edges’, wherever they may be located. But just as these poems can be sage, they are also mischievous, fun-loving, gregarious creatures who like nothing better than to sing or to joke at your ear. The Water Stealer is a book full of invention and delight, whose hypnotic stories remind us of the variousness and the enchantment of the world.