In Pathogens Love A Patsy, Rita Ann Higgins bears witness to a moment in Irish life unlike any seen in a century: the Covid-19 crisis. Many of these pandemic poems, broadcast on Brendan O’Connor’s RTÉ Radio 1 radio show, were composed weekly in direct response to the emerging crisis.
At the centre of the collection, a devastating sequence celebrates the memory of Hanna Greally, wrongfully incarcerated in an Irish psychiatric hospital for almost two decades. Then, completing an informal triptych, a selection of work written before the emergency marks the point when everything changed.
Rita Ann Higgins’s wry, conversational style serves a serious purpose: to tell it like it is. Together, the poems in Pathogens Love a Patsy form a narrative that spans eighty years, from a past that is still being addressed, to a present moment that is still unfolding.