Poetry by Shakila Azizzada

With thanks to Sarah Maguire director of The Poetry Translation Centre for facilitating my selection of poems by Shakila Azizzada.
The poems were translated by Mimi Khalvati and Zuzanna Olszewska for the Poetry Translation Centre

Once Upon A Time

in memory of Leila Sarahat Roshani
Granny used to say
always keep your magic sack
tucked inside your ribcage.
Don’t say the sun’s worn out,
don’t say it’s gone astray.
Say, I’m coming back.
May the White Demon
protect and watch over you.
Oh, daughter of the dawn,
perhaps this sorry tale,
stuck in the mud,
was of your doing.
Take the comb from the sack,
throw it in the Black Demon’s path:
seven jungles will grow at his feet.
Don’t say heaven’s too far,
earth’s too hard. Don’t throw the mirror
if you fear the sea and her nymphs.
Don’t say there was, don’t say there wasn’t,
trust in the god of fairytales.
May Granny’s soul rest in peace.
Give the mirror to Golnar’s mother
who, down by the charred vineyards,
dreams of birds and fish.
Don’t say the rooftop’s sun’s too brief.
Say, I’m coming and this time,
forget love’s foolish griefs.
Shake out the sack.
In the name of the White Demon,
burn that strand of hair.
Wasn’t there,
once upon a time …?
Once upon a time there was
a girl in whose long, endless dreams,
an old woman with white braids,
forever telling beads, would pray:
‘May the Shomali Plain still fill with song
and through the ceilings
of its ruined homes, let light pour in.’
Once Upon A Time is © Shakila Azizzada.

The literal translation of this poem was made by Zuzanna Olszewska.The final translated version of the poem is by Mimi Khalvati

Once Upon A Time: this poem refers to a fairytale in which the hero sets off to fight the Black Demon, aided by the White Demon and the magic powers of a sack with a mirror, a comb and a strand of hair. Fairytales traditionally start with the refrain, ‘There was one, there wasn’t one, apart from God, there was no one.’

View from Afar

I’m left again with no one standing behind me,
ground pulled from under my feet.
Even the sun’s shoulders are beyond my reach.
My navel chord was tied
to the apron strings of custom,
my hair first cut over a basin of edicts.
In my ear, a prayer was whispered:
‘May the earth behind and beneath you
be forever empty’.
However, just a little higher,
there’ll always be a land
purer than any land Satan could wish on me.
With the sun’s hand on my shoulder,
I tear my feet away, a thousand and one times,
from the things I leave behind me.

View From Afar is © Shakila Azizzada
Translated by Zuzanna Olszewska and Mimi Khalvati.

Haft Seen

If it weren’t for the clouds,
I could
pick the stars
one by one
from this brief sky,
hang them
in your ever ruffled hair
and hear
you saying:
‘I’m like a silk rug -
the older it gets,
the lovelier it grows,
even if
two or three naughty kids
did pee on it.’
Am I finally here?
Then let me spread
the Haft Seen tablecloth
in the middle of Dam Platz.
Even if it rains,
The Unknown Soldier
and a flock of pigeons
will be my guests.
Haft Seen is © Shakila Azizzada.
The literal translation of this poem was made by Zuzanna Olszewska.
The final translated version of the poem is by Mimi Khalvati.

from The Poetry Translation Centre


shakilaShakila Azizzada is a poet from Afghanistan who writes in Dari.

Shakila Azizzada was born in Kabul in Afghanistan in 1964. During her middle school and university years in Kabul, she started writing stories and poems, many of which were published in magazines. Her poems are unusual in their frankness and delicacy, particularly in the way she approaches intimacy and female desire, subjects which are rarely adressed by women poets writing in Dari.

After studying Law at Kabul University, Shakila read Oriental Languages and Cultures at Utrecht University in The Netherlands, where she now lives. She regularly publishes tales, short stories, plays and poems. Her first collection of poems, Herinnering aan niets (Memories About Nothing), was published in Dutch and Dari and her second collection will be published in 2012. Several of her plays have been both published and performed, including De geur van verlangen (The Scent of Desire). She frequently performs her poems at well-established forums in The Netherlands and abroad.


The Geometry of Love Between the Elements by Fióna Bolger

Caught in the Cross Hairs

I bury my face in the thickness of your hair
the darkness, the softness, the smell
raw brain sweat, your innermost thoughts
desire become scent
beneath the softness
the hard skull skin
a barrier you need
and I want to penetrate
to enter see the wiring
observe my image
upside down in the back of your head
then turn and peer through your eyes
I’d see the world as you

You’ve stolen my tongue

I thought I had the power
in dreams I knelt at the chopping board
an awkward sacrificial lamb
I brought the cleaver down
silencing my babble
but you held the knife
and while I slept you forced
my lips apart and cut
at the roots
ever the skilled operator
you stitched me up
needling the thread
to connect the severed ends
I can still make sounds
some almost words
they think they understand
but my tongue is in your hands

'Blue' by Vani Vemparala

‘Blue’ by Vani Vemparala

From The Geometry of Love Between the Elements by Fióna Bolger. A Grimoire published by Poetry Bus Magazine.

cure for a sharp shock

it’s that moment
when you trust
let go the balloon
your hope floats
up into the air
it’s beautiful and red
it bursts
empty rubber pieces
a shade darker
float to earth
I read somewhere
if you take these shreds
put them between broken
pieces of pottery
and blow
they’ll sound beautiful
I’m not sure
I read it

cure poem for the lovelorn

a woman sits alone
her eyes are on the swan feathers
dropped by the moon upon the sea
she sees no-one on the horizon
but who can walk on water
dance on down
by day she weaves her stinging sadness
into nettle shirts, by night she waits
for her lover – the one who needs
to wear those painful clothes
to be fully human again
no longer trapped
on a cold moon
dropping feathers
on the sea
Cure Poems are © Fióna Bolger


Fiona Bolger’s work has appeared in Headspace, Southword, The Brown Critique, Can Can, Boyne Berries, Poetry Bus, The Chattahoochee Review, Bare Hands Poetry Anthology and others. Her poems first appeared in print on placards tied to lamp posts (UpStart 2011 General Election Campaign). They’ve also been on coffee cups (The Ash Sessions). Her grimoire, The Geometry of Love between the Elements, was published by Poetry Bus Press. She is of Dublin and Chennai and is a member of Dublin Writers’ Forum and Airfield Writers.


From Poetry Bus  A Grimoire is a book of magic and what is more magical than poetry? So instead of producing a series of chapbooks we’ve opted to create something a bit more special. Our first poet is Fíona Bolger and her Grimoire is called ‘The Geometry of Love between the Elements’
A beautiful book of poems illustrated by Vani Vemparala and featuring translations into Irish, Polish and Tamil by Antain Mac Lochlainn, Aleksandra Kubiak and R.Vatsala respectively.

Poems by Mary Noonan

The Card

What goes by the name of love is banishment,
with now and then a postcard from the homeland.
– Samuel Beckett, First Love

I’m looking for a card,
one that holds the oriole
on the black pear tree –
will it be brazen or sweet,
junebug or whippoorwill,
Tupelo or Baton Rouge?
I drape myself in maps,
drift in colours and signs,
sleep on my seven books
of owls, frogs, alligators.
I want a card that quickens
codes, spills the secrets
of words, sends letters flying.
We used to name things,
now we travel the lines
past ghost-shack and scrub,
sun-bothered lizards skittering
under creosote and cocotillo.
This card must distil the frenzy
of the firefly as it waltzes
with its own blazing corpse.
The Card is © Mary Noonan


To clear my head of talk, I walked the beach
and found a pebble, a cuckoo’s egg,
held it and saw it was a map.
An oval stone striated with slate-grey markings,
one side bore tracings that arced and criss-crossed:
polka of narrow roads,
sandpipers darting in bleached grasses,
contours of a shoreline, the lines on my palm.
A gate opening into a small field.
The curve of the stone offered concentric swirls,
a talisman you carry to ward off the evil eye,
or the nipple of a breast.
Here it is – an amulet, runes and traces
to light and guard you, a cuckoo’s egg
in the wrong nest, a gate opening
into a small field, a circle ploughed
round a lone hawthorn tree, a map
of the way between us. I carry it.

carry is © Mary Noonan

No Direction Home

i.m. Gregory O’Donoghue 1951-2005
I wrote that the final days of August would find me
washed up, propped in a place where the light of day
is tight and mean. You approved, gently tending –
even poems lamenting summer’s end were safe with you,
lines too concerned with the small ambit of seasons
to encompass the impact of a true ending.
And so it was that August swept you off your feet,
quenched your breath with ease as she dragged
hurricanes and swollen waters in her train.
In the middle of your fifty-fourth year –
one of the bald facts mourners swapped at the grave,
suddenly aware that they did not know you.
I knew only the grace of your yellowed fingers,
that elegant pen, your hand feathering its tender script
across a page, your hooded eyes, your mug of gin,
the small room where we met once a week.
I saw you sometimes, walking lopsidedly in the street;
once, at a launch, we talked about Bob Dylan
but in the moment I heard of your death I knew
that you had guided me to a place – a room, a page –
where limping and stammering come into their own,
a vast, airy space inviting me to stand my ground,
to bellow in tantrum, to rampage, to thrive
in my brokenness.

No Direction Home is © Mary Noonan

mnMary Noonan lives in Cork. Her poems have been published in The Dark Horse, The North, Poetry Review, Poetry London, The Threepenny Review, Cyphers, The Stinging Fly, Wasafiri and Best of Irish Poetry 2010. She won the Listowel Poetry Collection Prize in 2010. Her first collection – The Fado House (Dedalus Press, 2012) – was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre Prize for a First Collection (2013) and the Strong/Shine Award (2013).

Mary Noonan at Dedalus Press



Poems from ‘Signature’


thistle roll
thistle roll
twig sphere
scatters a
thicket clump
looks alive, its
red-tipped a
bag blown to
a bird-corpse let lie
its throat opened out
purple the thistle-roll
and hue,
purple the cry

a field of ewes, their winter wool loose
blown down to the rusted gate.
a flower clock banks each moment to the birthing,
their mothering.
their rich milk a wellspring. spring now and
a breeze tickles the white cloud
their winter coat shed, wind still barbs her cries
they ignore her labouring

Thistle Roll and Tear are © C. Murray

Signature is published by Bone Orchard Press, and edited by Michael McAloran. It is my second chapbook, and it can be bought via LULU. If you are into freebies, and not supportive paying for your arts, a sample of my writing, a chapbook called Three Red Things is available here.

ssignatureignature is a beautifully wrought collection of short/ imagistic/ surrealistic-impressionistic poems…ISBN 9781291797046

Copyright Christine Murray

Edition First

Publisher Bone Orchard Press

Published 23 March 2014
Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

‘Lament’ Recorded at the Smock Alley Theatre

I received this morning the sound files for a performance of Lament that occurred at the Smock Alley Theatre, as part of the 2012 Béal Festival. My thanks to Elizabeth Hilliard and David Bremner for programming the piece.

Friday Afternoon – part 3.wav


Christine Murray: Lament (for three female voices) (performed by Dove Curpen, Réiltín Ní Charthaigh Dúill and Emilie Champenois; also with thanks to Rita Barror for organising and reading-through) (first performance)




A black feather from her black feather tree


A black feather
From her
Black feather tree

Sways down

She has spread
Her red and blacks out
For carrion lovers

Lace their moons with trawling nets

Bird-pecked crabbed and sweet apple

Roll them into grass
Bamboo worms a curve into flared ground

Black feather sways down

Through dream
To this waking place
Of stones

A black feather from her black feather tree is the opening poem of SHE, published 12th March 2013.
© C. Murray

she-painting“I do not expect anyone will believe me, but I know that my dreaming life is as real as my waking life. Indeed, I have learnt not to call these sleeping narratives anything other than a different part of my reality.

When I first encountered the entity that appears on the towpath I was afraid for She seemed hardly human to me. I had gone little by little into this dreaming place over the course of twenty years, and I had explored it almost wholly. I do not know what my encounter with this lady means, I intend to find out.”

With She Christine Murray explores the spaces between waking and dreaming, that we all inhabit yet are so rarely revealed to us in this day and age. Part shaman part Sybil,she takes us on a Jungian odyssey to meet the archetype that stands at the crossroads of birth and death, one whom we are all destined to encounter sooner or later.

Thanks to Dave Mitchell at Oneiros Books, To Michael McAloran, and to Anastasia Kashian who painted her beautiful cover.

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

‘Ceathrúintí Mháire Ní Ógáin’ and ‘A fhir dar fhulaingeas’ by Máire Mhac an tSaoi

Máire Mhac an tSaoi poetry Original Irish versions followed by English translations

Ceathrúintí Mháire Ní Ógáin
A fhir dár fhulaingeas…

Ceathrúintí Mháire Ní Ógáin


Ach a mbead gafa as an líon so –
Is nár lige Dia gur fada san –
B’fhéidir go bhfónfaidh cuimhneamh
Ar a bhfuaireas de shuaimhneas id bhaclainn

Nuair a bheidh arm o chumas guíochtaint,
Comaoine is éiteacht Aifrinn,
Cé déarfaidh ansan nach cuí dhom
Ar ‘shonsa is arm o shon féin achaine?

Ach comhairle idir dhá linn duit,
Ná téir ródhílis in achrann,
Mar go bhfuilimse meáite ar scaoileadh
Pé cuibhreann a snaidhmfear eadrainn.


Beagbheann ar amhras daoine,
Beagbheann ar chros na sagart,
Ar gach ní ach bheith sínte
Idir tú agus falla –

Neamhshuim liom fuacht na hoíche,
Neamhshuim liom scríb is fearthainn,
Sa domhan cúng rúin teolaí seo
Ná téann thar fhaobhar na leapan –

Ar a bhfuil romhainn ní smaoinfeam,
Ar a bhfuil déanta cheana,
Linne an uain, a chroí istigh,
Is mairfidh sí go maidin.


Achar bliana atáim
Ag luí farat id chlúid,
Deacair anois a rá
Cad leis a raibh mo shúil!

Ghabhais de chosaibh i gcion
A tugadh go fial ar dtúis,
Gan aithint féin féd throigh
Fulaing na feola a bhrúigh!

Is fós tá an creat umhal
Ar mhaithe le seanagheallúint,
Ach ó thost cantain an chroí
Tránn áthas an phléisiúir.


Tá naí an éada ag deol mo chíchse
Is mé ag tál air de ló is d’oíche;
An garlach gránna ag cur na bhfiacal,
Is de nimh a ghreama mo chuisle líonta.

A ghrá, ná maireadh an trú beag eadrainn,
Is a fholláine, shláine a bhí ár n-aithne;
Barántas cnis a chloígh lem chneas airsin,
Is séala láimhe a raibh gach cead aici.

Féach nach meáite mé ar chion a shéanadh,
Cé gur sháigh an t-amhras go doimhin a phréa’chas;
Ar lair dheá-tharraic ná déan éigean,
Is díolfaidh sí an comhar leat ina séasúr féinig.


Is éachtach an rud í an phian,
Mar chaitheann an cliabh,
Is ná tugann faoiseamh ná spás
Ná sánas de ló ná d’oíche’ –

An té atá i bpéin mar táim
Ní raibh uaigneach ná ina aonar riamh,
Ach ag iompar cuileachtan de shíor
Mar bhean gin féna coim.


‘Ní chodlaím istoíche’ –
Beag an rá, ach an bhfionnfar choíche
Ar shúile oscailte
Ualach na hoíche?


Fada liom anocht!
Do bhí ann oíche
Nárbh fhada faratsa –
Dá leomhfainn cuimhneamh.

Go deimhin níor dheacair san.
An ród a d’fhillfinn –
Dá mba cheadaithe
Tréis aithrí ann.

Luí chun suilt
Is éirí chun aoibhnis
Siúd ba cheachtadh dhúinn –
Dá bhfaigheann dul siar air.

Cathrúintí Mháire Ní Ógáin from, Margadh na Saoire. Dublin: Sairseal agus Dill, 1956, 1971.

Mary Hogan’s quatrains


O to be disentangled from this net –
And may God not let that be long –
Perhaps the memory will help
Of all the ease I had in your arms.

When I shall have the ability to pray,
Take communion and hear Mass,
Who will say then that it is not seemly
To intercede on yours and on my behalf?

But meanwhile my advice to you,
Don’t get too firmly enmeshed,
For I am determined to let loose
Whatever bond between us is tied.


I care little for people’s suspicions,
I care little for priests’ prohibitions,
For anything save to lie stretched
Between you and the wall –

I am indifferent to the night’s cold,
I am indifferent to the squall or rain,
When in this warm narrow secret world
Which does not go beyond the edge of the bed –

We shall not contemplate what lies before us,
What has already been done,
Time is on our side, my dearest,
And it will last til morning.


For the space of a year I have been
Lying with you in your embrace,
Hard to say now
What I was hoping for!

You trampled on love,
That was freely given at first,
Unaware of the suffering
Of the flesh you crushed under foot.

And yet the flesh is willing
For the sake of an old familiar pledge,
But since the heart’s singing has ceased
The joy of pleasure ebbs.


The child of jealousy is sucking my breast,
While I nurse it day and night;
The ugly brat is cutting teeth,
My veins throb with the venom of its bite.

My love, may the little wretch not remain between us,
Seeing how healthy and full was our knowledge of each other;
It was a skin warranty that kept us together,
And a seal of hand that knew no bounds.

See how I am not determined to deny love,
Though doubt has plunged its roots deep;
Do not force a willing mare,
And she will recompense you in her own season.


Pain is a powerful thing,
How it consumes the breast,
It gives no respite day or night,
It gives no peace or rest –

Anyone who feels pain like me,
Has never been lonely or alone,
But is ever bearing company
Like a pregnant woman, in her womb.


‘I do not sleep at night’ –
Of no account, but will we ever know
With open eyes
The burden of the night?


Tonight seems never-ending!
There was once such a night
Which with you was not long –
Dare I call to mind.

That would not be hard, for sure,
The road on which I would return –
If it were permitted
After repentance.

Lying down for joy
And rising to pleasure
That is what we practised –
If only I could return to it.

Translation by James Gleasure.

Cathrúintí Mháire Ní Ógáin from, Margadh na Saoire. Dublin: Sairseal agus Dill, 1956, 1971.

A fhir dar fhulaingeas…

A fhir dar fhulaingeas grá fé rún,
Feasta fógraím an clabhsúr:
Dóthanach den damhsa táim,
Leor mo bhabhta mar bhantráill

Tuig gur toil liom éirí as,
Comhraím eadrainn an costas:
‘Fhaid atáim gan codladh oíche
Daorphráinn orchra mh’osnaíle

Goin mo chroí, gad mo gháire,
Cuimhnigh, a mhic mhínáire,
An phian, an phláigh, a chráigh mé,
Mo dhíol gan ádh gan áille.

Conas a d’agróinnse ort
Claochló gréine ach t’amharc,
Duí gach lae fé scailp dhaoirse –
Malairt bhaoth an bhréagshaoirse!

Cruaidh an cás mo bheith let ais,
Measa arís bheith it éagmais;
Margadh bocht ó thaobh ar bith
Mo chaidreamh ortsa, a óigfhir.

Man for whom I endured…

Man, for whom I suffered love
In secret, I now call a halt.
I’ll no longer dance in step.
Far too long I’ve been enthralled.

Know that I desire surcease,
Reckon up what love has cost
In racking sighs, in blighted nights
When every hope of sleep is lost.

Harrowed heart, strangled laughter;
Though you’re dead to shame, I charge you
With my luckless graceless plight
And pain that plagues me sorely.

Yet, can I blame you that the sun
Darkens when you are in sight?
Until I’m free each day is dark –
False freedom to swap day for night!

Cruel my fate, if by your side.
Crueller still, if set apart.
A bad bargain either way
To love you or to love you not.

Translated by Biddy Jenkinson.

maireMáire Mhac an tSaoi (born 4 April 1922) is one of the most acclaimed and respected Irish language scholars, poets, writers and academics of modern literature in Irish. Along with Seán Ó Ríordáin and Máirtín Ó Direáin she is, in the words of Louis de Paor, ‘one of a trinity of poets who revolutionised Irish language poetry in the 1940s and 50s. (Wiki)

These poems are published courtesy of Micheal O’Conghaile at Cló Iar-Chonnachta. My thanks to The O’Brien Press for dealing so swiftly with my queries regarding sharing some poetry and translations by Máire Mhac an tSaoi.

Thanks to Bridget Bhreathnach at Cló Iar-Chonnachta for providing the physical copies of Mhac an tSaoi’s poetry, and to translators  James Gleasure and Biddy Jenkinson.

Bone Orchard Poetry has re-opened for submissions

An experimental blogzine of the Bleak/the Surreal/the Dark/Absurd and the Experimental…


Submissions Guidelines

Please submit 3-6 poems or 1-3 short prose/ prose poetry/ flash fiction pieces for consideration. NO ATTACHMENTS, they will be deleted automatically. Publication is on a rolling basis. A bio is optional but please keep it short. All submissions to: boneorchardpoetry[at]gmail[dot]com

Submit 3-6 poems or 1-3 short prose/prose poetry/flash fiction pieces for consideration to boneorchardpoetry[at]gmail[dot]com

Notes on the half-hidden, Thimblerig by Annette Skade


Thimblerig by Annette Skade

Bradshaw Books 2013

63 pages

Notes on the half-hidden

Annette Skade’s debut collection Thimblerig was published by Bradshaw Books in 2013. Thimblerig is a collection of some 53 poems on themes of family, familial history, and on the poetic striving for voice. Skade’s sub-thematic flow, her buried themes, are brought out using the symbolism of light,  and of the natural world that surrounds her.

Skade is at her best as a writer and recorder of history and tale, her preoccupations are carried through the text as light-maps. She uses the symbols of the caul, the moth, and the cord (as rope, umbilicus, even as muscle ). Her symbols often denote boundary both in the  physical and in the emotional sense.  

Women play an important role in Skade’s familial tracery, her bloodline. Thimblerig is dedicated to Skade’s mother and to her daughter. In Thimblerig Skade’s grandmother forms the apex of the matrilineal pyramid, appearing in The Caul

The Caul

She was born with a caul on her face.
The mid-wife said it was good luck,
cut away the membrane,
examined its milky translucence
and placed it in tissue to be kept.
Her father sold it to a sailor
as a charm against drowning.

All her life she loved chiffon scarves.
Its my belief she missed
part of herself sold away.

p 11 Thimblerig

Family tales are held together with fine wisps of poetry which will transmogrify into light. Annette Skade uses light to map her history and to create boundaries of safety in which to enclose and keep family safe. There is an element of ephemeral about her use of light which she has developed into a fine sense in the beautiful Oak Grove,

Oak Grove

I draw a ring
around this house:

snail shell

Strophe, antistrophe:
from oak to oak,
bin to bench,
winter green to herb,
washing line, shed.

Tread the seasons,
serve the sickle moon,
observe it spring,
orange, low on a dark sea.

A rope of days, twined strong,
to ward off the stranger,
the letter come to dispossess.

Oak Grove answers to A Map of My House In Terms Of Light, where the poet shows her reader the physical interior of the home traced with light: as impermanent, subject to deep loss and to necessary change. The exterior ring of protection and enclosure traced by the poet belies the move to drift of the lives of those she means to protect and to keep. those that are within the home:

To plot all changes
from dawn to dusk
and through each season,
I need many such maps
an atlas of light.

from  A Map of My House In Terms Of Light, Thimblerig.

Skade is always striving to make her meaning through her use of symbol. In one poem here she has capped a false tail onto the work Papyrus Fragment forcing her ending too soon. Skade deserves a broader canvas for her imaginative play, which she will follow through with in her next collection.

Two moth poems occupy the ground where the poets strives to examine the vulnerability of her existence. I wanted to look at these closer because they form the penates and laertes of the collection and of the poet’s thematic concerns. These are Papyrus Fragment and Restless.


A hundred moths made a lattice
on blue-black window pane,
some the size of wrens
others torn corners of paper:
a nightly frantic race of wings.

Papyrus Fragment

It darts, bares a blaze
of underwing to plain sight;
this endless fragile need
to make a mark,
to come to light.

Skade’s investigation of nature is where she triumphs as in Solstice Rose. This poem and Oak Grove in particular show a poet who is  an imagist. A perfect image is accomplished in thirteen brief words,

Solstice Rose

Thorn switches
a single yellow bud,
against wind whips:
a sundrop.

Poems from ‘The Blind’

These series, published at A New Ulster #10, Ditch Poetry, and The Southword Journal are from my book The Blind (Oneiros Books, 2013)



it is all ceremony
it is all the cloths
all gathered-in

it is white tailor’s chalk
in a neat triangle
it is the blanket-stitch
before the machine

it is the neighbour woman
with her bone-pick
pulling stitches
one by one
from the curtain lining

the [bone-pick] is ivory coloured
a little larger than a [tooth-pick]
nubbed to cradle under the silks

and lift them up
so she can snip it at the ties


the little knot hidden in back of the material stretched out across her knees is silver
the thread is doubled-to

the material is some floral-stuff on white laid onto a cream skirting
she will rinse it out in cold water later

and hang it on the monday line the blue-blue rope of the monday line
the length of material

is clean / sweaty from her handiwork
she will hang it over the gauze of her nets which are always immaculate

her effort is blind/
she does not need eyes to feel her work her gathering-to of the pleats

‘Sans’ published The Southword Journal


outside the ragged bird tears
dead flies from window nets

and it is not clothed right
– it claws the glass

suspend I

from the mirror architrave
float down silken threads
they are not blackened yet

from the branches they reach down
laden with fruit
out on the limb
birds beat them for desiccated meat

making sweetmeats for desperate bills
a man is clipping the edges with steel
season’s treachery

suspend I

from the mirror architrave
float down silken threads
they are not blackened yet

from the ceiling hooks
float down wisps of
red thread – almost

cobweb light she is
arched back unsure
whether to suspend

burnt orange silks
cover the shutters
there are children in the street

she is nonetheless
quite bound-up
in red ropes

from loop at nape
and length of torso
it is peaceful

being spider-rolled
webbed-in and arched
as if a

bird swoops down
behind the orange silks


suspend I

as if
she were an exotic fruit
a seed caught in breeze

from the mirror architrave
float down silken threads
they are not blackened yet

cobweb light she is
arched back unsure
whether to suspend

in the red threads
that loop at her nape
down the length
of her torso

dividing and opening
her out achingly
if she moves the
threads will tighten

the harpies are perched in the suicide-trees

Hunger, published Ditch Poetry


a hook for an eye
this ribbon for a slip

there’s a pigeon in the pot
and tree makes the room

your foot on the boards
your head in the sky

no mind if your stockings snag
are splinter-caught

the red thread
frayed or snag

walk now on swollen feet
on feet that are bound-in

with red and orange
with stocking threads

these can be mended
these can be made whole again

you wouldn’t even
notice the tear

we are so good
at what we do

neat and tight
no pain no gain

for the ragged flower


gauze dries into the stitched wound
where the tender-care of hands tug
to redress to change to douse stitches
with a brown liquid stuff

it dyes the skin a type of clinical colour
but with so tender a care -

the split wound of vaginal mutilation
is less easy to care for
no gauze can be safe at depth of
and thus submersion-in salt baths

whilst the jagged edges gather to
as mended sails, as canvas-stuff
as linen-stuff

you can tell at a distance that
a woman has a scar that snakes up
by the cast of her foot
the heel-down look

those stitches are insoluble
the birth passage
for the next opening


the feather-hook is a seed spiralling in the breeze,
a false signal

it mocks the mayhem of the caught moth down to
its nub stone

its plane is a shell network of dried skin, veined even
– it has a spine of sorts

it mocks the mayhem of the caught moth down to
its nub stone

Hooks’ published in ANU #10

The Blind is a contemporary poem-tale about The Furies. The themes and symbols of The Blind are entirely interdependent from beginning to end. The Blind is set out as a tale and employs experimental poetic methods throughout, including cut-up, repetition, symbol and internal rhyme. I did not make use of poetic prose, as I felt that it would be a challenge to tell a tale poetically. I am delighted that the book is now available. I have found it easier to employ these methods in conceiving book-length poem-tales since I began working in this manner, and to this end I have initiated another project in a similar vein.

Christine Murray is a City and Guilds Stonecutter. Her chapbook, Three Red Things was published on June 4th 2013 by Smithereens Press, Dublin, Ireland. Her collection, Cycles was published by Lapwing Press (Belfast) in August 2013. THE BLIND is her latest collection.


ISBN 9781291577105

Purchase Link for The Blind
Previews of The Blind at Ditch Poetry

Publications acknowledgements for The Blind

Thanks to David Mitchell , publisher at Oneiros Books and to poetry editor Michael McAloran, who guided me through publishing my second poetry collection, The Blind.

  • Thanks to Amos Gideon Grieg , publisher at A New Ulster Magazine, who previewed some of the poems from The Blind this past summer. The series published at A New Ulster was entitled Hooks, Ceremony and Hunger.
  • Thanks to Ditch Poetry, who featured Suspend I from The Blind in their magazine.
  • Thank you to the editor of Southword Literary Journal (Munster Literature Centre) who will publish poems from The Blind in the Winter 2013 issue of Southword.

Cup by C. Murray


nest rests
her cup

(heart, feather)

into wood

In air (above)
sky is a heart caught
red, its amber spilling

nest stills
her dust
and moss

breathe out 

underground, wet roots stir
the sleeping house up

     the softening rain

my veins answer tree


Cup is © C. Murray


New Trees,

there are three -
two crows dance 
steel-beaking the mounds round

New Trees is © C. Murray

Image is © Mick McAloran

Image is © Mick McAloran

The Co. Durham Miner’s Granddaughter’s Farewell to the Harlan County Miner’s Grandson

screenshot201310aThe Co. Durham Miner’s Granddaughter’s Farewell to the Harlan County Miner’s Grandson by Kit Fryatt


Published 2013 Knives Forks and Spoons Press
Pages 61

New Words to the Tailor’s Air

Rome, you barely inveigh
when governments settle
traders’ gaming debts
with money stolen
from the sick and children.
Instead you spew sermons
on the evils of condoms
to AIDS victims:
better die holy, Joe Slim
than fill a rubber
with a drachm of sperm.

Rome, your hypocrites
cant their pro-life spiel
(what touching pride
in avoiding homicide!)
but they’ll skewer
any born soul ever.
Life is a fig-leaf
Rome, for your kink:
convincing people
their desires & bodies stink
as bad as your shit


Rome, if I thought
you’d got a tithe
of your due, I’d lay off
you poison pit, werewolf
in faux-lambskin
black widow of a viper
I’d not take your pardon
if it came baked in
all your dough. Go home,
Rome, seek consolation
where the devil knows his own.

Excerpt from New Words to the Tailor’s Air © Kit Fryatt

A loose adaptation of Guilhem Figuera’s ‘D’un sirventes far composed in 1229, during the siege of Toulouse by papal crusaders. Guilhem’s original attacks not just the recent crusade but clerical corruption and the avaricious imperialism of the papacy.


In The Co. Durham Miner’s Granddaughter’s Farewell & Kit Fryatt is a musical Ariadne who weaves her learning into her coat. She jauntily engages her reader with her major themes of exile, loss, camaraderie, and she throws in some linguistic cardiovascular workouts for good measure too. The basic structure of The Co. Durham Miner’s Granddaughter’s Farewell & is conveniently bipartite. The poems are read aloud for the most part, and you can hear some of them performed here.


Here or there in Section I glints a word originating in the Anglo-Saxon. Fryatt eventually and wholeheartedly gives way and devotes the entire of Section II to an exploration of her themes through adaptations of medieval, Early Irish, and Anglo-Saxon poetic forms. Fryatt uses lament, polemic, and subtly provocative pieces on contemporaneous corruption remodelled on 13th century texts, as in New Words to the Tailor’s Air adapted from Guilhem Figuera’sD’un sirventes far‘. I suppose that corrupt practice and its effect has  an unchanging quality.


Fryatt weaves the universal themes of camaraderie and exile into Sections I and II of The Co. Durham Miner’s Granddaughter’s Farewell &. Exile is written as a full and complete isolation from a former life, a season in hell. Be the protagonist the wife of The Wife’s Lament (here written as a youth), or even The Wanderer. To lose one’s thane (or lord) who functioned as the hierarchical leader of a group, is to lose one’s very life and the meaning derived therefrom. These themes are borne lightly into our modern consciousness by Fryatt’s subtle approach to her writing, and no academic sense of the era is necessary to the understanding of the general reader.

The Wife’s Lament is a well know text from The Exeter Book. Its author is unidentified , but the exile is likely written from the perspective of the sinning woman. She may or not be speaking from the realms of death, lamenting her earthly loss and her exile. 

from The Wife’s Lament 

While at dawn, alone, I crawl miserably down
Under the oak growing out of my cave.
There I must squat the summer-long day,
There I can water the earth with weeping
For exile and sorrow, for sadness that can never
Find rest from grief nor from the famished
Desires that leap at unquenched life.

by Unidentified

Three From The Exeter Book

(ii) Coneycote

As I was told I stay in this brakebrush holt
bunkered beneath an oak
old earthwork. I am taken up with longing.
Shadow valley unswept moor
bitter pale of briars my houseless home.’

Coneycote is © Kit Fryatt

Fryatt writes coneycote as a boy or youth who is honouring the wishes of his thane. There is a type of equality inherent in Fryatts treatment of the theme which she achieves by reducing the high-tone of the language in the original (Exeter Book) to a more robust vernacular. This poem is a jewel in the book.  It sits well in Section II,  whilst picking up and re-threading the theme of exile  inherent in the language of Section I.

I have excerpted a small section of Three From The Exeter book above, and I  refer the  interested reader to Burton Raffel’s Poems And Prose From The Old English.

Fryatt well knows how to use her symbols,  Vis her reference  to the use of the oak  as symbol of a place of exile or punishment. The tree was associated with death, in the very least it was associated with societal disgrace, and a rabbit hole image refers to the disgrace of adultery. Interestingly the symbol play also ties in with the story of the women in the wall , or to the burial of women alive in regeneration myths such as in Sophocles Antigone or the story of Demeter. One supposes the pain of exile, or indeed the death of the individual to be necessary to their symbolic rejuvenation.

The voice of  lamenting is present in this book , yet one feels a powerful energy in Fryatt’s use  of  words that belie any sense of weakness. The preview section of KFS Press includes an excerpt of the first section of the book.

The eponymous title-poem of The Co. Durham Miner’s Granddaughter’s Farewell & sets the tone for the entire text, which is playfully vicious. Fryatt doesn’t seem interested in the issue of gendering,  she inhabits a poetic world of boyish and delighted charm along with a unique acerbically infused sweetness.

from, The Co. Durham Miner’s Granddaughter’s Farewell to the Harlan County Miner’s Grandson

Swiftly, my chancer, to the temple they danced you

dead leaves in your pocket and a mouthful of vine.

I thought I should slight you, but go where you might you

will come back to green grass, air and sunshine.


Darling, my hazard boy, I thought to have you

your body as straight and keen as a blade,

your mouth soft as eiderdown, stay you or hie you,

you’re bloodsworn to Fortune’s helpless parade.

Regarding the void through the lens of The Zero Eye



In the realm of suffering, affliction is something apart, specific, and irreducible.’

                                                                                  Simone Weil.

I equate Michael McAloran’s use of imaging in The Zero Eye with the concept of necessity propounded in Weil’s essay on affliction which I have quoted above here. There occurs a layering of image in The Zero Eye which explores at once the dissipation of language and the voidal space wherein a voice explores the themes of perception and the stripping down of conscience. In typical McAloran fashion a structural element is inserted into the book which undermines the preceding text,  in this instance he uses a coda at #10.


the zero eye fails/ cannot/ can or cannot only in/ barren vice of obsolete/ of film upon eye in glimmer tide/ of cataract projectile upon/ itches to be gone in eye of/ absurd of/ zero else of black/ no nothing of/ zero eye not feel/ unblinking black/ gallows none/ razor none/ (+0)/ skeletal as if/ no not infinite/ yes infinite

Weil describes affliction through her construction of the image of a hammer hitting the nail in the exact dead centre of the wood, that the reverberating echo would traverse all space and time. McAloran’s dead-centre is the black lens of the death-eye, over which pass worlds. Eye’s monologue occurs in a space peripheral to where voice’s bodily humanity lies.


crafted in absence of voice/ here or there a nothing of/ claimed yet ever-fading/ yet silenced ever/ still yet/ breakage upon rock of night’s forever distance/ motion of which feeds flame of/ yet ever to rage against/ shift unto/ remnants in midst/ shadowed by final yes/ once absence births/ hands cold/ search through weight of cold/ silhouettes of/ cannot lacks cannot or cannot/ hence proliferation of/ sound upon distance/ and of echoing/ undoing…

The Zero Eye is 24 pages long and it represents a step away from the grief-scape that McAloran created through his recent books, none is closer (or further) from his present  intent than the Lapwing Press published ‘The Non Herein-’. The created space developed in that book has given way to intimate space, be it a shack,  a room, or the artificial space of the stage.


in shed of flame that was never light/ better yes never of it/ bite down upon edge-solace of/ trade anguish for oblivion/ yet naught as ever/ final as/ less or more/ ever was/ remnants of then or nothing left to/ no/ no breaking forth/ no never again/ let it/ decline of/ yes death of/ yet will not/ clings unto/ as if to say/ the zero eye/ un-scattered none/ falls unto or not/ utters without pause for/

McAloran’s instinct as a writer is to bring the reader into the created space, and then to turn their expectation on the head by radically altering the pace of the piece,  which he achieves in his coda.

The major carrying image of this book is the eye/I. The eye/I occurs as symbol throughout McAloran’s work, but in this case it represents a shift in focus from the universal to the particular, or the intimate.


the zero eye will ever be/ shape without form/ density of rind branded by sting of inescapable/ rots through unto/ until/ yet given to silence/ scatters breath of nocturne/ clasp of weight/ says nothing more of I/ clean break/ subtlety of design/ crafted in absence of voice/ here or there a nothing of/ claimed yet ever-fading/ yet silenced ever/ still yet/ breakage upon rock of night’s forever distance

There is a subtextual violence throughout The Zero Eye, which I read as lament. Words occur and re-occur, they voice a violent out-rooting of the sense of moment, spliced, rixt , marrow of spliced, ….translucent carrion ,  density of rind, deformed, empty, shadowless, rupture.


zero black pupil of/ of what/ (question once in text/ believed)/ no matter/ erase/ recommence where there is naught/ raging blindly/ hop-scotch…

Here voice, or voice’s echo is knitting together themes in a manner that prepares the reader for the coda, where a nihilist rejection of the almost sweet lament that occurred in the preceding ten pieces is shot through with a clownish repetition and cut-up technique turning the book onto its head and abruptly ending it.


(…text no/ this is not a/ this is not/ not this/ is/ a text not/ not this a/ this/ this is not text/ not a text/ text not this is not/ a/ this/ not a/ text no this is a/ not a text this/ this is not a/ this not a text is/ this not a/ not a this a text is not/ not/ not this/ a text/ not a/ text not this is a/ this is not a text this is not a text this is not a text this is not a text this is not a text this is not a text/ text no this is not a/ text no/ a text not this/ not a/ text not this is not a…ad infinitum).

Kicking to the kerb of the subtle beauty of the lament, McAloran forces the reader to remove herself from the hypnosis of the previous text, and address the worthlessness of human-suffering. The Zero Eye represents a culmination point and a watershed in McAloran’s work as a writer. His use of structure and symbol is highly developed in all his recent books, yet inherent in this book is a cool limpidity not heretofore noticed by me.

McAloran’s excavation of his psychic depth in books like All Stepped/Undone and The Non Herein- led to the creation of a huge internal landscape. Here there occurs a reduction of the claustrophobic element of  his previous books, and a movement towards a smaller and more intimate space, wherein voice in the form of soliloquy or monologue is given freer reign.

Small Press Poetry and Indies

A moveable feast of blogs and websites dedicated to poetry as literary form necessarily lacks an authoritative critical hub, which is an excellent thing. Current literary critique lends weight to fictional work and celebrity biography as ‘cultural’, thus levelling newspaper inches at some phantasmagoric hybrid audience of child/woman now perceived as the Irish  literary market.

Those of us who have left the nursery and have achieved literacy may require less saccharine fare. The following is a list of some indys and small-press publishers that caught my eye in 2013.

Indies for working poets fit well alongside small press publishers

pickled bodysouthwordstingingPIcrannogbb2pbsAnnette-Cover-1-212x300

Left to Right

Poets that are much missed 2012-2013

The-Outnumbered-Poet (2) 150px-Human_Chaindkofi

Talking about Books Ireland losing its Arts Council grant  is unseemly

Talk about Books Ireland losing its Arts Council grant

Talk about Books Ireland losing its Arts Council grant

Commentators are employed by newspaper editors, they all talk about the same books in one form or another across multiple newspapers, which I no longer care to buy. Heaven forfend that an editor would employ someone to review, edit and discuss poetry. Newspaper editors and list-contributors play their part here by blurring the lines between culture and entertainment, coming out with some type of lifestyle fiction based in the simple and unchallenging precepts of accessibility, simplicity and passivity.

Books Ireland lost its Arts Council grant and was threatened with closure, as this is Ireland, protest was confined to a few letters in the paper and a Facebook group. Well done to those who protested, many just sat down and counted their lottery cash, not thinking of Irish writing as a diversity. Books Ireland has a new publisher and will recommence publishing in January 2014.

Poetry that caught my little eye in 2013


Left to Right

mick1 meehankfszinger

Left to Right

Disposable crap sells Newspapers , fact

couchPoetry is clearly not a disposable form, like so much semi-literate fiction destined for B movies or for chat-couches on daily tv. It is a literary form that requires the reader to drop off their passivity and complacency. This presents a difficulty to the general editor, who relies on passive consumption as many of us rely on oxygen.

The drop-off in newspaper purchases is only matched by the immense growth in blogs and websites that fill the void left by this magnetic pull to homogeneity expressed in an approach to arts that is based in arts as entertainment/arts as product.

Anti-poetry is now culture in Ireland’s market-driven media.


The issues of the day provide fodder for the chattering classes in much the same manner as fast-food fills an endless hole and thereby generates obesity. Fiction and gossip are the disposable trans-fat of the entertainment world. But like trans-fats they glut, and end up distorting the shape of the body, in this instance the body of Irish literature. The shape of literature in Ireland is becoming simplistic and disposable and indistinguishable indeed from Hello Magazine! It has morphed into fiction and chick-lit comestibles, the easy hitters.

Contemporary Irish Arts : anyone can get an artist exemption

rosannaI suppose that someone has to pimp poetry and to blog about what goes on at the nether end of the literary spectrum, whilst awaiting for decent reviews and discussion on arts , as opposed to fashionable edutainment. Literally anyone can apply for and get tax exemptions for their artwork, go on and apply.

Poetry Ireland deleted the PI Forum from their servers in 2013

PISince I started blogging about poetry in 2008, I have noted more international poetry editors opening out magazines and writing spaces to the committed poet. Although in Ireland, Poetry Ireland has been busily closing down their 2000-2013 poetry forum which housed an area for peer-review of original work. Poetry Ireland announced this in short-form and then proceeded to delete a lot of original work from their servers. I await with bated breath their new web-development ideas.

In the meantime, I suppose that Irish poets can use groups on Facebook or Linkedin and consign their copyrights to Mark Zuckerberg who may be more sensitive to the provision of working spaces than PI. The Irish editor appears to be less generous about creating accessible archives and working-spaces to the emergent writer than his international counterparts.

revivalRevival Literary Journal ceased operation this year of 2013, as did Doghouse Books in Kerry. Books Ireland was recently threatened with closure after the Irish Arts Council pulled their grant. Books Ireland has a new publisher, but these issues go largely undiscussed as really there is no place where poetry is discussed in Ireland. Just as we, a poetic nation (apparently), have no Poetry Foundation. Our colleges do not adequately index our poetry history, or provide accessible archives to the reading public.

Poetry in Ireland is paltry feast left to the wit and wisdom of individual publishers and bloggers who must construct a cloak of holes and moths to illuminate Irish poetic work. There is no provision made or the poetry reader that is centred in a semblance of respect for poetic form, or for its growing variety.

Avant-garde is a dirty word in Ireland, like grief, sex, or poverty

kate and mollyskylight 471 frontmickagain

anuirish pagesmickeyegillian

Left to right

Irish Poetry Imprints and Websites


Apparently Poetry has little significance to those who collate end of years lists. Poetry tokenism is become a joke. I would rather not read some attempts at poetry book review unless they are in poetry journals. Having often wondered at newspaper editors’ tendency to dislike poetry , I came to the conclusion that it is down to two issues, money and ignorance.

When the literary arts are approached as product, as opposed to artistic process, a whole lot of crap floats up. Poethead is about poetry as process, and likes to show poets working.

The Salted Woman, poems by Chris Allen

Root Stock

After P.W. Joyce

I am the Little Bush of the Dancing
near to the Little Village of the Whortleberries
not far from the Speckled Mountain
if you go by the Stepping Stones of Shadow
you find the Old Tree of the Cave
lying just beyond the Castle of the Wind
where a path on the Raven’s Mother
leads to the Shrubbery of the Streamlet
take the River Holm of the Buck Goat
when you meet the Round Hill of the Worms
in the Oak Grove of the Milk
as the trees skirt the Chalky Mountain
and just before Slipping to Hell
you arrive on a White Little Hill
after the Hill of Truth
where you see the Little Mountain of the Wind.

The Snuff Box

After Chekov

Every importance occupies your silence
No more than when I heard it yesterday
There is not a word for the same silence -
The snuff box is thrown from the stage
The ear attends far in excess of reason
To prove reality is constant in the wing -
Still we have not heard the trinket fall
While still the act portrays the sequent
Words rolled out to mingle into logic -
There is no mention of an errant force
So must we assume the catcher’s hand
And absent worlds exist to haunt us.


The Salted Woman

“Rohecrad do gemmaib glainib, gním ronglen-ón;
ba samail trá adaig ocus lá ‘na medón.
– Flann Manistrech
To dwell in a house so brightly gleaming
It was as if day and night were the same
Reality as history reduces to a pale script
With ordinary characters forgetting that
Well branched more ways feeding water
In its undisputed tides sweet and salted
Running clear until the lakes and rivers
Streamed in whole and mystical floods
The legendary abundance of oak and elk
Trout and salmon fed in the imagination
Wings folded over her thatched palaces
Now kept safe her quartered provinces
And a Holy Scripture in a riotous tongue
Curled about the names of the forgotten
Rings eerily in the psyche as real as want
Paced forgivingly for the old pagan flaws
Like a Sheela na Gig engorged in sub text
As a salty woman found before real gods
Her primordial salinity keeps to beginnings
The anonymous introspection of its muse
Her dividing cell among the hybrid script
Of curious constructions in historical lots
The bony exoskeleton invites the sweet
Vermillion of a stave and its divided line
Hoists a portal shadow on two outcast feet
Where the deft squat delivers of its people.

Root Stock, The Snuff Box, and The Salted Woman are © Chris Allen.

These poems are from a forthcoming collection, The Salted Woman by Chris Allen. The poems are orphans from a forum once maintained by Poetry Ireland, until a decision to delete the forum was taken recently. I am delighted that these root poems from Allen’s collection have been rehomed with me on Poethead.  My thanks to Chris Allen for her generous gift. I am adding here a link to Forms; A Sampler by the poet.

Poetry Ireland Forum 2000-2013 

Image , Woman at a Window , by Caspar David Friedrich

A Rough Wooing , by C. Murray

great dawn stretches his golden fingers
into and about slumbering Danae
slowly she viviates / rounds him about
 ‘Fuck off
(declares she)
 I need my kip’
A Rough Wooing is © Chris Murray

Recours au Poème: Poésies & Mondes Poétiques

My thanks to Matthieu Baumier, editor at Recours au Poème , and to Elizabeth Brunazzi, who published and translated four poems from my collection, Cycles (Lapwing Publications, 2013).
I am adding here Elizabeth’s translation of i and the village (after Marc Chagall)

moi et le Village

(d’après Marc Chagall)
Version française, Elizabeth Brunazzi
La rosée découle en jade une lune aux trois quarts
L’Amour O l’amour! Ta fleur arrachée embaume
De son parfarm ma main, bientôt
bientôt me rappelant une certaine musique-
Mon destin a toujours été de quitter le lieu
où la lune dansait avec la subtile Neptune!
Tout se dissout-
sauf le souvenir de ton visage,
ton rire en pleine rue et ta danse pour la lune!
Tes bagues de jade et ta fleur sont mes bijoux,
nuançant toutes choses d’une teinte de vert, de pourpre, d’un bleu profond.
La rosée découle en jade une lune ornée comme un bijou,
Sa fleur blanche fond sous le bleu.
Je me souviens d’un visage, maintenant fixé en lumière,
maintenant un ton, une bague ornée de bijoux, une certaine nuance brillante.



(after Marc Chagall)

Dew drops into jade a three-quarter moon.
Love O love ! Your uprooted flower dissipates

Its scentedness onto my hand, soon
soon recalling to me a certain music -

My fate was always to leave the place
where moon danced with subtle Neptune!

All dissolves -
save your remembered face,
your laughing in the street and your dancing for the moon!

Your jade rings and your flower are my jewel,
shading everything green, and purple, a rich blue.

Dew drops into jade a jewelled moon,
Her white flower dissolves under blue.

I remember a face, now caught into light,
now a tone, a jewelled ring, a certain bright hue –

Recours au Poème: Poésies & Mondes Poétiques

Orphans from Poetry Ireland’s Forum

Some years ago poets and emergent writers used a forum on Poetry Ireland for discussion, testing poetry, and commenting on the work of others. The idea was good, although the tech wasn’t so hot. After some discussion with the then Admin it was decided to have a place (not online) where poems could be published with a view to later submissions. This was a generous extension of your basic discussion forum, and geared to the need of the emergent writer. Poems that appear online are not published by many magazines, so the space had to be a closed one.

Many at the Poetry Ireland Forum went on to publish these works. Unfortunately, the forum is to be closed and while there is no announcement on the forum pages, there is brief note there on the closure and deletion of the forum available to members. There was an email :


Dear C Murray


Over the past few weeks, Poetry Ireland has been engaged in an in-depth review of all its online resources, including the Poetry Ireland Forum.

After careful deliberation, we have decided to close down the Poetry Ireland Forum, with effect from Friday 8th November 2013. We strongly advise all members to make copies of their posts by midnight Thursday 7th November, as after this date the Forum and all its contents will be permanently deleted from our servers.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all Forum members for their participation over the past few years.


I believe that this deadline for removal of works has been extended, though not indefinitely, and that an archive has been made available to members of the PI Forum. The type of tech used does not allow for portability, so files must be manually taken off and uploaded elsewhere. This is a huge and upsetting inconvenience.
I have been in and out removing drafts of poems, the majority of them later published. I am linking them below this brief post. The conversations and encouragement on a place dedicated to poetic interests is to be expediently dumped down the tubes and some of that loss is irretrievable for me (and others)
I hope when PI finish their deliberations on their online facilities that they will find a way to extend their space to emergent writers in a manner that includes data liberation tools and a stated ethos regarding intellectual rights.


Dear C. Murray,

There is an archive of the Forum, which is currently available to all registered Forum members at 


Unfortunately, we no longer have the resources to host and moderate the Forum. We strongly recommend that members make copies of any posts/original work they wish to keep.

Ingeborg Bachmann’s Poetry in translation by Mary O’Donnell


Summer’s great cargo is loaded,
the sun-freight lies ready in the dock,
even if a gull cries and plunges behind you.
Summer’s great cargo is loaded.
The sun-freight lies ready in the dock,
the smiles of lemurs are unveiled
on the lips of those on the galley.
The sun-freight lies ready in the dock.
Even if a gull cries and plunges behind you,
the command to go down comes from the West;
wide-eyed, you’ll drown in light nonetheless,
even if a gull cries and plunges behind you.
Freight is © Ingeborg Bachmann. This translation is © Mary O’Donnell


In winter my lover thrives
among the forest creatures.
The laughing fox knows I must return
before morning.
How the clouds tremble! And a layer
of broken ice falls on me
from the snow craters.
In winter my lover
is a tree among trees inviting
the melancholic crows
to its lovely branches. She knows
that at dusk, the wind will raise
her stiff adorned evening gown
and chase me home.
In winter my lover
swims mute among the fish.
On the bank, I stand in thrall to waters,
caressed from within
by the stroke of her fins.
I watch as she dips and turns,
till banished by the floes.
And warned once more by the shriek
of the bird that arcs stiffly
above, I head for the open field: there
she plucks the hens bald,
throws me a white collarbone.
I wield it to my throat,
make my way through the scattered plumage.
A faithless lover, as well I know,
at times she sweeps into town
in her high-heels,
she parades herself in bars, the straw
from her glass deep in her mouth,
the mot juste tripping from her lips.
I do not understand this language.
I have seen fog-land,
I have eaten the smoke-screened heart.
from Anrufen des Großen Bären/Invoking the Great Bear by Ingeborg Bachmann ©. This translation is © Mary O’Donnell

Mary O' Donnellbachmann

feast of figs by Candi V. Auchterlonie

feast of figs

ravens are rare here
I find when I fumble stumble across one
should I be so lucky
I fall onto my knees searching for
the stars, Corvus!
I think of the greeks and Babylonians
the hydras tail, the raven and adad
the story of apollo’s raven
and the feast of figs, the punishment
of being stuck in the sky, thirsty for all time.
the cost was high, I recoil.

I immediately search for headstones
marble carved eyes
that’s where the stars live these days
onyx forms
perched and crooning over
named and muted pale stones
under storms of rusty steel wool.

 feast of figs is © Candi V. Auchterlonie from Impress. Published Punk Hostage Press 2012.150633_526856954005512_453758761_n

Vinca Haiku by Virginie Colline

Vinca Haiku

she grazes her scar
old blood the color of rust
on her maiden lace
charcoal and red smudge
nothing can make up the pain
the dark trudge quickens
tiny wallflower
you cannot hold a candle
you, periwinkle
Vinca Haiku is © Virginie Colline

The Spanish Girl Haiku

she follows the clouds
the breath of the summer wind
gently down her throat
explosion of light
the world was but a shadow
the minute before
vociferous sky
she walks through the bead curtain
the storm in her wake
suddenly the sun
the Sevillian girl rises
in a hiss of silk
The Spanish Girl Haiku is © Virginie Colline

Virginie Colline lives and writes in Paris. Her poems have appeared in The Scrambler, Notes from the Gean, Prune Juice, Frostwriting, Prick of the Spindle, Mouse Tales Press, StepAway Magazine, BRICKrhetoric, Overpass Books, Dagda Publishing, Silver Birch Press and Yes, Poetry, among others.

Poems by Eleanor Hooker


A cobalt night in blue relief
and the hunt begins.
The green grass black
and the talking baby frightens me.
Bug eyed horrors hover in
our shadows, lingering, carnivorous.
Wailing now to let him stay,
He stumbles after, the talking baby.
Drop under the yickety yackety
picket fence. A treacherous fork
in the road. I know well the dangers.
Where I go the baby follows. I urge him
back to the black green grass, behind the
 yickety yackety picket fence.
“You’ll be safer there” I promise.
He crawls back under with pleas
to follow. We neither saw the pit
that he fell in, in velvet silence. A
small hand held the edge but
slipped away beneath my grip.
A cobalt night in blue relief and
And the hunt begins.

Nightmare is © Eleanor Hooker

First published in The Stinging Fly and subsequently The Shadow Owner’s Companion

The Fall

Oh she bared her soul alright; it fell from a star cloud
Reigned by Canis Major. They knew it was authentic,
It whimpered like an unknown set loose inside a crowd
Of urban predators: fierce curs and savage sceptics
That roamed in packs. A few select gave shelter in
The telling, clad the naked soul in their protection,
Made suspect bargains to house her in a harlequin
that masked and silenced looked like her, even wore her skin.
But being undressed is like an honest thought, it cannot
Lie with dogs; it is the thing in itself, nothing more.
The truth is beastly but does not wag the tale. No, that
Is the subplot tellers invent when they call her whore.
And though her flesh is marked by canines, they strain to blame
Her first fall; judging original sin her true shame.

The Fall is © Eleanor Hooker

First published in The Shadow Owner’s Companion, February 2012

shadowEleanor Hooker’s debut collection of poems The Shadow Owner’s Companion, published by the Dedalus Press in February 2012, has been shortlisted for the Mountains to Sea dlr Strong/Shine award for best first collection in 2012. Her poem A Rite won the Trocaire/Poetry Ireland competition in June 2013.
Her poetry has been published in The Irish Times, Poetry Ireland Review, The Stinging Fly, The SHOp, Agenda, POEM: International English Language Quarterly, Southword (forthcoming), CanCan, Wordlegs, And Other Poems, ink sweat and tears (forthcoming).
 She is a founder member and Programme Curator for the Dromineer Literary Festival. She is a helm and Press Officer for Lough Derg RNLI Lifeboat.

Poems from ‘We’ll Sing Blackbird’, by Rebecca O’Connor

Domestic Bliss

I place a jug of lavender on the table
to mask the smell of mould from under the fridge
while you draw nails to hammer with your fist.
Then I draw a hammer , and watch
as you try to lift it from the page.
by day it’s Mr Men, Mad Men, by night,
your father and I wishing we could be so bold.
you have no such wants, though sometimes I wonder
as you try to peer into Jack and Jill’s well
or climb the tiny ladder of your toy farm
to mend the roof of your miniature barn.’

Life After Death

My thoughts are all opposed to that streak of red fox in the field,
black clods of thought that cling to the spade that lifts them
to throw them back into the hole they made.
The fox is an apposite thing, lived in without reluctance,
as is the greenfinch, even as it hits the window
and knocks itself out cold.
My child knows this. He won’t allow himself forget
his father warming the bird’s wings with his breath,
its sudden swift flight
as two foxes
trot through Fayre’s Field ahead of the hearse.

Domestic Bliss and Life After Death are © Rebecca O’Connor. Published in We’ll Sing Blackbird A Moth Edition 2012.

images (1)

Rebecca O’Connor edits The Moth Magazine and organises the Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize. She worked as a commissioning editor of literary fiction at Telegram Books in London before returning to Ireland with her family in 2008. She won a Geoffrey Dearmer Prize in 2004 and her chapbook Poems was published by the Wordsworth Trust, where she was a writer in residence in 2005. Her poetry has been published in, among other places, The Guardian, Poetry Review and The Spectator.

Glendalough, at Iseult Gonne’s grave


subside the rocks
silica of bird leans into

a granite stylus
a grave bed
green sea-bed of flowering heads.

shatter of tree hacked-through/
windmills beside an sruthán geal
gold coins in-stream-glitter out to me.

a small a cloud there
her gulfstream ruffles my feathering (toll the …)

blood-thickener sloughs blood against
let her eat the disease

                     a gelid-thaw
clysters the blooms

all that glisters is not white / and
not laden with small-griefs

Glendalough is © C. Murray

‘Seed’, by Paula Meehan

The first warm day of spring
and I step out into the garden from the gloom
of a house where hope had died
to tally the storm damage, to seek what may
have survived. And finding some forgotten
lupins I’d sown from seed last autumn
holding in their fingers a raindrop each
like a peace offering, or a promise,
I am suddenly grateful and would
offer a prayer if I believed in God.
But not believing, I bless the power of seed,
its casual, useful persistence,
and bless the power of sun,
its conspiracy with the underground,
and thank my stars the winter’s ended.

‘Seed’ is © Paula Meehan, all rights reserved.

‘Seed’ is taken from  Mysteries of the Home by Paula Meehan, which will be re-issued in February 2013 by Dedalus Press. Dedalus release notes for Mysteries of the Home are added here. Mysteries Of The Home was first published in 1996 by Bloodaxe Books. It will be re-issued under the Dedalus Press imprint in February 2013.

Mysteries of the Home cover

Thanks to Paula Meehan for suggesting the poems and to Dedalus editor, Pat Boran, for facilitating my queries regarding having a poem by Paula on Poethead. I had wanted one for some time and I am delighted to add Paula Meehan to my Index of Women Poets.


‘Roxy’ and ‘Nanna Slut’s Long Close Summer’ by Kit Fryatt

Kit Fryatt


“Bonny Sandy breaks my heart
no coming to couch the night
& his blade red wine
 & his thrapplejammer white wine
bonny Sandy brooks my hurt
this ae night
 ilka night
& the horns of young green wine
 bonny Sandy brakes his hart.
 Love whinges & crines. The bonny knight
in ague sweat & his ain shite, unhurt.”

© Kit Fryatt , all rights reserved.

 nanna slut’s long close summer

Dance the lamb
                             & ra-ra
mutton hunks
It’s a shame the way we carry on 

The streets stink tonight; my skullpan’s pounding
for rain or riot, I’m not so young, scarred from mound
to sternum, childless pale citadel of bravado and competence;
though if it gets too tasty I’ll hitch my mobile home
and flit this meatpacking warehouse district
but for now I’m hanging in there, for a sniff at the grinding bliss
 the brazen looter children have, this year’s corn kings─
with sordid cold, blanket, galvanise tray, comes the morning in.

Dress the lamb
                          & rare-rare
mutton bird
It’s a shame the way we carry on

Come sisters, these Lammas shiftless we could use, straw
 men to our hags, the blintering braggarts will fight our wars
and decorate our palaces, symbolize in their dying
everything that comforts people, and stupefies.
The estate we lost thirty grand years ago, tonight we take
 ground, we rise, inhale, we’re scary cunts, tonight we tear
spoil through locked wards, mindless, knowing that
our chicken limbs may splinter, falter; like, a freedom act
like, do whatever you want
                                   .the mutton flap
It’s a shame ‘

© Kit Fryatt , all rights reserved.

Kit Fryatt writes and performs poems at Spoke, Wurm in Apfel and Can Can. I met her at the Mater Dei launch of Post III Magazine and being well-impressed with a card-carrying poet, I begged some poems for my Saturday Woman Poet blog. I got three unpublished poems , which would be considered over-generous, so I am publishing two of them today and returning the third with the proviso that if they are published online, they are Published work. Thanks to Kit for her generous contribution to Poethead. Copyright of the above poems remains with the author.

Creative Commons Licence
Two Poems by Kit Fryatt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at wurmimapfel.net.

‘I have come to ask certain disrespectful questions of the tradition’; Boland on poetry’s ‘lesser-space’

‘I am an Irish poet. A woman poet. In the first category I enter the tradition of the English language at an angle. In the second, I enter my own tradition at an even more steep angle. I need to be candid about this because, of course, these two identities shape and re-shape what I have to say today. The authority of the poet – that broad and challenging theme – is really, in my case, a series of instincts and hunches. The difference in my case, is that while many poets look to the past for the story of that authority, I no longer do so. I have stopped listening to the story which grants automatic authority to the poet and automatic importance to the poem. Instead, I have come to see a suppressed narrative.’

I have often wondered at the angle that Eavan Boland speaks of in this excerpted speech from the PN Review. The speech entitled Gods Make Their Own Importance was delivered  in 1994 under the auspices of the Poetry Book Society. Eavan Boland revisited a variation on this theme  in 2007 when she interviewed with the Boston Globe. I know that its a bit impertinent to extract a blog post from the two linked pieces, but I thought to examine the idea of contemporary women poets taking on larger themes, rather than those small and domestic things so indicative of the lesser-space which Eavan Boland discussed.

The Boston Globe article,  Exploring Poetry’s Lesser Space (2007) is as relevant now as it was at the time and maybe more so.  Critical review of poetry  is either absent or confined to particular little corners here in Ireland. I can take some recent examples of  this absence  which I have published here on the blog, the Irish Times Books of 2011 did not allow for a single poetry publication, for instance . I have (to date) not seen a review of Oswald’s Memorial in our papers of note, or indeed in any of the Irish newspapers. Lucky then that good reviews are available elsewhere to lovers of poetry and non-fiction, by those who take the idea of a non-fiction readership seriously, and cater then to a less-limited spectrum of reading tastes and experiences. I am linking Michael Listas National Post Review of  Oswald’s Memorial here .

If a male-author of our small writing establishment had stripped down The Iliad and had written a powerful dirge as Oswald  has undoubtedly achieved in Memorial,  would it have made it to the end of year book lists ? I do not think that the issue regarding the provision of  space for readers of non-fiction and poetry is the problem, it appears to be based on the marketing of  books. Oswald’s withdrawal from the T.S Eliot prize was noted in the Irish Times and indeed in the Irish Independent, but there is as far as I can see no review of the actual book on either website. Is it considered unladylike for women poets to take on vast themes that are decidedly not domestic-celebratory, and thus not interesting to reviewers?

In 2010 VIDA  (Women in the Literary Arts) published The Count, which showed a truly abysmal lack in critical review of women literary writers and poets. I feel that 2011 has been better for women in literature, although there are as yet no published figures available.  I have to wonder if lack of critical and intellectual  reviews of poets like Alice  Oswald  are based within the same confined dogmatic parameters that Boland alluded to in the linked lecture and interview . The small poems of the domestic, the novels,  and some genres seem open to review  and discussion but the larger themes are passed over and ignored. There appears to be a lack of balance inherent in how certain genres are presented to readers of literature, which reflects a small coterie of male-writers and their special interests.

Of course it could be simply a matter of impatience on my part to see what reviewers make of books by women writers that exist outside of the poetic lesser-space and its artificial confines. I do not see contemporary women reviewers or women critics asking the questions that Eavan Boland did in 2007, so my assumption that the issue of how we look at women literary writers and poets in Ireland must have been resolved satisfactorily without my noting it.


It could be entirely  presumed that women reviewers really do not give much of a fuck about Irish literature unless it exists within a cut-out pattern that they are entirely comfortable with , the same consistent group of books reviewed within the same confining parameters that please their bosses, and indeed that small group of writers who accept a formulaic critique as a matter of course.

Related Links

‘Fable’, and ‘Oh Cherry Trees You are Too White For My Heart’, two poems by Doris Lessing


When I look back I seem to remember singing.
Yet it was always silent in that long warm room.

Impenetrable , those walls , we thought,
Dark with ancient shields.  The light
Shone on the head of a girl or young limbs
Spread carelessly. And the low voices
Rose in the silence and were lost as in water.

Yet, for all it was quiet and warm as a hand,
If one of us drew the curtains
A threaded rain blew carelessly outside.
Sometimes a wind crept, swaying the flames,
And set shadows crouching on the walls,
Or a wolf howled in the wide night outside,
And feeling our flesh chilled we drew together.

But for a while the dance went on -
That is how it seems to me now:
Slow forms moving calm through
Pools of light like gold net on the floor.
It might have gone on, dream-like, for ever.

But between one year and the next – a new wind blew ?
The rain rotted the walls at last ?
Wolves’ snouts came thrusting at the fallen beams ?

It  is so long ago.
But sometimes I remember the curtained room
And hear the far-off youthful voices singing.

 Fable  from Fourteen Poems by Doris Lessing


Oh Cherry trees you are too white for my heart

Oh Cherry trees you are too white for my heart,
And all the ground is whitened with your dying,
And all your boughs go dipping towards the river,
And every drop is falling from my heart.’

Now if there is justice in the angel with the bright eyes
He will say ‘Stop!’ and hand me a bough of cherry.
The bearded angel, four-square and straight like a goat
Lifts a ruminant head and slowly chews at the snow.

Goat, must you stand here?
Must you stand here still?
Is it that you will always stand here,
Proof against faith, proof against innocence ?

Oh Cherry Trees You Are too White For My Heart, from Fourteen Poems , by Doris Lessing.

Oh Cherry Trees You Are Too White For My Heart and Fable, two Poems 1959 are Copyright Doris Lessing, are reprinted by kind permission of Jonathan Clowes Ltd., London , on behalf of Doris Lessing. Olivia Guest from Jonathan Clowes Ltd. has informed me this morning that the licence for transmitting these poems has been extended for the period of one year  !


Author and Poet Doris Lessing

‘Necessity’ by Simone Weil

The cycle of days in the deserted sky turning
In silence watched by mortal eyes
Gaping mouth here below, where each hour is burning
So many cruel and beseeching cries;
All the stars slow in the steps of their dance,
The only fixed dance, mute brilliance on high,
In spite of us formless, nameless, without cadence,
Too perfect, no fault to belie;
Toward them, suspended our anger is vain.
Quench our thirst if you must break our hearts.
Clamoring and desiring, their circle draws us in their train;
Our brilliant masters, were forever victors.
Tear flesh apart, chains of pure clarity.
Nailed without a cry to the fixed point of the North,
Naked soul exposed to all injury,
May we obey you unto death. 
Simone Weils : Necessity
The cycle of days in the deserted sky turning
In silence watched by mortal eyes
Gaping mouth here below, where each hour is burning
So many cruel and beseeching cries;
All the stars slow in the steps of their dance,
The only fixed dance, mute brilliance on high,
In spite of us formless,nameless, without cadence
Too perfect, no fault to belie;
Toward them, suspended our anger is vain.
Quench our thirst if you must break our hearts.
Clamoring and desiring, their circle draws us in their train
Our brilliant masters were forever victors.
Tear flesh apart, chains of pure clarity
Nailed without a cry to the fixed point of the North,
Naked soul exposed to all injury,
May we obey you unto death.

This poem from Poetry and Poetics ed Joan Dargan, Simone Weil; Thinking Poetically SUNY, 1999 was first published on Poethead on March 8th 2008 to celebrate International Women’s Day and is republished here to mark the nearing end of Weil’s Centenary year.

I will look at the images in notes attached to comments but just want it read by those inclined to poetics. There is a 180 degree turn from Verse 1 to Verse 3 (line 3, V3.3) . I will look at it in relation to a poem by Paul Celan in notes.