John O’Donoghue’s literary gifts are all the more powerful from having been wrested out of a series of forced interruptions.
Periods spent in foster homes, halfway houses and bleak mental institutions number among the episodes recounted in his memoir
Sectioned: A Life Interrupted (2009), and have given O’Donoghue’s words a steely authority in matters of the
human spirit as well as an inimitable eye for the richness and variety of the human character.
Stylistically, much of O’Donoghue’s work operates with the bouyant whimsy of the rancounteur, but his first-hand
experience of the desperate poverty of 1980s Britain has left a profound ethical streak running through his work: his Letter to
Lord Rochester (2004) embodies a poet’s sense of duty to stand up as a witness to human atrocity.
His hometown of Brighton is a key locale in all of O’Donoghue’s work and The Beach Generation (2007) and his full collection Brunch Poems (2009) provide gloriously vivid treatments of the town and its artistic milieu. O’Donoghue lectures in Creative Writing for the Open University and the University of Westminster.