Review for The Tellings and Mad Sweeney
from Eleanor Wilner, translator Medea

It seems the perfect vehicle for your work, and especially for “The Tellings”, which feel like an ancient, oral and lyrical storytelling tradition reborn, and depend on (and flower in) the spoken voice. . . . while I, as in Roethke’s poem, “wake to sleep, and take my waking slow . . .” – in short, I was enchanted, and drawn into that voice which took its tellings from the water and the wind. Quite magical it was! And, of course, I loved hearing the Sweeney poems, . . .
from Adrian Shuman, Music Archivist, CBC Radio

Your compact disk is absolutely delightful! The stories are truly wonderful and I loved listening to your voice. I’ve accessioned this recording into the CBC Music Library. . . . this recording – an extremely fine effort.

In The Toronto Irish News
from Steven Laird

Lucy Brennan is a canny bird of an Irishwoman with a voice as rich as a deep wooden chime. . . . In these poems she is a storyteller, offering two collections on this CD, The Tellings and Mad Sweeney. In The Tellings, Ms. Brennan engages and delights with strange tales of love and longing. They are stories that are simply yet richly told, of those who have “lived, and loved, and been loved,” and each story is introduced by the tale of how the storyteller herself learned of it. . . . Apart from the delight of Brennan’s voice, and the music of her words, what is enchanting in each of 14 “tellings” is the way the thread of the story is picked up from the middle of the tale. In “A Story That Has a Middle,” she says, “. . . no one knows the beginning of a story, and certainly not the end, so I will try and remember a story that has a middle” leaving us, in the of good storytellers everywhere, to imagine”what went before, and what comes after.” I can imagine as Brennan tells us in The Fisherman’s Story, listening to her spin her yarns “on quiet summer evenings/ on the edge of the water.”

In Mad Sweeney, Brennan changes her pace and style, and it is a good idea not to listen to these poems right after The Tellings. Where the tales in The Tellings are smooth and seamless, the Sweeney poems are full of loose threads and broken stitches; where the poems in The Tellings work as stories, set apart from the storyteller, the Sweeney poems are almost private meditations on the poet’s very spirit and source of vitality. Ms Brennan asks, “Where is there space for a soul” and finds that space to be haunted by the legend of a madman who lives in trees and is thought to be a bird. These poems are a dialogue between the poet and her muse, and a “search in the hollow centre” for whatever it is that hovers outside the window of a commuter train, or chats about love while walking along a country road. These are poems that vary between singing and discourse . . . when the lilt of Ms Brennan’s voice carries the rhythm of the poem, it sends shivers down the spine. My favourite is “Sweeney per se.” Done as a traditional ancient “who am I” riddling poem – “I am a scarecrow a warlock a heathen fellow” this poem should be listened to on a dark night in a shadowy room, with the wind howling and the rain lashing the windows.

Whitby This Week
from Will McGuirk,

This spoken-word compilation from Whitby poet Lucy Brennan takes a free-range association approach to a tale of a 7th century character loose in the modern world. Brennan relates the travals and travails of Sweeney through time and space.

Set up in short formats, the stories can be dipped into tentatively or plunged into deeply. Either way produces. Her lilting brogue adds a welcoming warmth to the experience. She manages to create a whole world of words without visuals. Give your eyes a rest. See with your ears.

At Home in Durham
from Ruth Walker

. . . Listening to Brennan’s spoken word CD is a delight, . . . “The Tellings” work very much like free-ranging stories, and Brennan balances her contemporary themes with a strong sense of the traditional. The last half of the CD contains more structured poems inspired by Brennan’s muse, Mad Sweeney . . . Adept at language and structure, Brennan has an unerring ability to reproduce haunting poetic visions “that fall/into light,/into dream,/into sight,/into song.” . . . this professional recording’s quality is so good, that if you close your eyes, it isn’t hard to imagine Lucy Brennan in the room with you. And, if you listen closely, you might also detect the rustlings of Mad Sweeney, hovering just off to your left.