A Celebration of Irish Women Poets on Bloomsday 2014

Eleanor Hooker

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

eleEleanor 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.

Fiona Bolger

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

fb5Fiona 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.

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

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).

Máire Mhac an tSaoi

Ceathrúintí Mháire Ní Ógáin

 
I
 
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.
 
II
 
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.
 
III
 
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.
 
IV
 
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.
 
V
 
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.
 
VI
 
‘Ní chodlaím istoíche’ –
Beag an rá, ach an bhfionnfar choíche
Ar shúile oscailte
Ualach na hoíche?
 
VII
 
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
 
I
 
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.
 
II
 
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.
 
III
 
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.
 
IV
 
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.
 
V
 
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.
 
VI
 
‘I do not sleep at night’ –
Of no account, but will we ever know
With open eyes
The burden of the night?
 
VII
 
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.

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)

Deborah Watkins

Missing

 
Hour by hour you lie hidden under forest light
as it rises and falls dimly through the trees.
Year by year you slip a few more degrees
into the earth while you wait and yet
your ending clings, like the lingering sound of an old tune.
 
Each season breeds cool abeyance -
wood sorrel drifts ivory white
while chard green ivy creeps.
Dog roses run wild. They root in your place,
parade their disdain but your bones
 
remain constant and strong – poised
silent cymbals in the theatre’s gloam -
they wait for the musician to stand,
take them in his arms and ring
out a crash of sound that cries
 
I’m here, I’m here!
 
Missing is © Deborah Watkins

Profile picDeborah Watkins is a painter and a writer who also worked for many years making decorative ceramics. She grew up in Dublin and studied craft design at the National College of Art and Design. Deborah moved to Connemara in 1991 where she now lives with her three young daughters and her husband Gavin Lavelle, who is also an artist. They run the family business together in Clifden – The Lavelle Art Gallery which showcases painting and sculpture by local and nationally renowned artists.
Deborah began to paint more or less full time in 2008. She writes a blog about her painting processes and the natural landscape in Connemara, which reached the final of the 2012 Irish Blog Awards. Deborah began writing poetry in 2013 and she attends a poetry workshop run by Galway poet and essayist Kevin Higgins. Two of her poems have been published in Skylight 47, the Galway poetry newspaper, one in the forthcoming Summer issue. Deborah is also a feature writer in her local newspaper the Connemara Journal

Doireann Ní Ghríofa

Recovery Room, Maternity Ward

 
(for Savita Halappanavar)
 
The procedure complete,
I awaken
alone, weak beneath starched sheets.
As the hospital sleeps, my fingers fumble
over the sutured scar, a jagged map
of mourning stitched into my skin —
empty without and empty within.
Beyond these white curtains,
stars shine bright as Diwali
in a cold night sky.
Someday, within these walls,
I will hear my baby cry.
Cradling my hollowed womb,
I trace this new wound and weep.
The only sound I hear now is the fading retreat
of a doctor’s footsteps, echoing my heartbeat.
 
Recovery Room, Maternity Ward is © Doireann Ní Ghríofa

doireann
Doireann Ní Ghríofa’s poems have appeared in literary journals in Ireland and internationally. Her Irish language collections Résheoid and Dúlasair are both published by Coiscéim. The Arts Council of Ireland has twice awarded her literature bursaries (2011 and 2013). In 2012, she was a winner of Wigtown Gaelic poetry contest— the Scottish National Poetry Prize. Her short collection of poems in English Ouroboros was recently longlisted for The Venture Award (UK).
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13 thoughts on “A Celebration of Irish Women Poets on Bloomsday 2014

  1. It is wonderful to see the many poets of Ireland. The music, the art, the poetry has all been a beautiful part of the tapestry of Irish culture for thousands of years. The poetry of a soul enlightened by Christ is the most beautiful gift the Irish or any people have ever seen. Erin go bragh

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