A celebration of women’s poetry for International Women’s Day 2017

Featured image from “The Infinite Body Of Sensation” by Salma Caller

 

salmacallerSalma Ahmad Caller is an artist and a hybrid of cultures and faiths. She is drawn to hybrid and ornamental forms, and to how the body expresses itself in the mind to create an embodied ‘image’. UK based, she was born in Iraq to an Egyptian father and a British mother and grew up in Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. With a background in art history and theory, medicine and pharmacology, and several years teaching cross-cultural ways of seeing via non-Western artefacts at Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, she now works as an independent artist and teacher.

salma caller artists statement [PDF]

“In the Glass Coffin” by Kim Myeong-sun

Today, I withstood agony again,
Because my life is still lingering,
Trapped in scarcely visible sorrow.
If my body is trapped
Like the life of a dinky, dinky thing,
What is with all this sorrow, this pain?
Like the bygone prince,
Who had loved the forbidden woman,
I believed I would live if I danced in the glass coffin;
I heard I would live with joy
Even in this dim sorrow,
If I worked, studied, and loved.
And so I have lived in this untrustworthy world.
Now, what shall I do with this suffocating feeling
That is burgeoning in this scarcely visible sorrow?
Stupid I! Stupid I!

In The Glass Coffin by © Kim Myeong-sun, these translations are © Sean Jido Ahn

.
2016102000105_0Kim Myeong-sun was born in 1896 in Pyongyang, Korea. She debuted in 1917 when her short story A Girl in Doubt appeared in Youth [Chungchun]. In 1919, while she was studying abroad in Tokyo, she joined Korea’s first literary circle Creation [Changjo], which is reputed as the harbinger of modern Korean literary style. She published her first book of poems The Fruit of Life in 1925, which is also the first book of poems published by a Korean woman. Kim was known as quinti-lingual, and she introduced works of Edgar Allan Poe and Charles Baudelaire to Korean readers for the first time.

Along with a literary movement, Kim was also a central figure in feminism movement of her time. She argued that the world would achieve peace rather than war if women could play a major role in sociopolitics. Moreover, she openly supported free love, and her practice of free love subjected Kim to severe criticism. The fact she was a date rape victim and a daughter of a courtesan hardened the criticism, even among the writers who were close to her. After she fled to Tokyo in 1939, her mental health exacerbated due to extreme financial hardship, failed relationship, and ongoing criticism, and Kim spent rest of her life in Aoyama psychiatric hospital in Tokyo. While her year of death is known to be 1951, this date is not officially verified.

A note about the translator

Sean Jido Ahn is a literature student and a translator residing in Massachusetts, USA. His main focus is Korean to English translation, and he has translated a documentary, interviews, journal articles, and literary pieces. Currently, he runs a poetry translation blog AhnTranslation and plans to publish the first edition of a literary translation quarterly for Korean literature in fall 2017.

“Closet” by Lisa Lowther

Ivory Solid Wooden door –
Unbreakable
Shining gold handle
Protected by two
One on either side
Admittance – Speaks quietly
The other will decide
As you attempt to open
Not just anyone is welcome

White Backless gowns
On shining skin
Chiffon, Encrusted diamonds
Heels that can match any
Elegant Masquerade masks
Green eyes of foreign waters
Pearls, bright & round as the moon
Reflected
To only the celebrant

By Invitation – The other
Vintage lace
Some roses too
For Your entrance
Not an exit of mine, this time
Do close the door on leaving
The two shall rest awhile
A little like my own

Even I did not feel invited into this poem

Closet is © Lisa Lowther
.
Lisa Lowther lives in Cork City. She is a mother to one daughter. She has written poetry intermittently and increasingly over the years, previously not submitting any of her work. She has a passion for reciting poetry as well as reading. She holds a Business qualification & has previously worked in the University College of Cork for a number of years as well as other companies within the Business sector. She subsequently trained in sexual health and was involved in the promoting of sex education on various topics including sexuality awareness. This is Lisa’s first published work. She is presently dedicating time to her love of writing poetry and she is working on her first collection.

I. Am. Straight. Are You ? & other poems by Lisa Lowther

“Faoi Ghlas” by Doireann Ní Ghríofa

Faoi Ghlas 

Tá sí faoi ghlas ann          fós, sa teach          tréigthe, 
cé go bhfuil          aigéin idir í          agus an teach 
	a d’fhág sí          ina diaidh. 

I mbrat uaine          a cuid cniotála,          samhlaíonn sí 
	sraitheanna, ciseal glasa          péinte 
ag scamhadh ón mballa          sa teach inar chaith sí — 

	— inar chas sí          eochair, blianta
ó shin,          an teach atá          fós ag fanacht uirthi, 
	ag amharc          amach thar an bhfarraige mhór. 

Tá an eochair ar shlabhra          aici, crochta óna muineál 
	agus filleann sí          ann, scaití,          nuair 
a mhothaíonn sí          cloíte.          Lámh léi 

ar eochair an tslabhra, dúnann sí         a súile agus samhlaíonn 
	sí an teach úd          cois cladaigh, an dath céanna 
lena cuid olla cniotála, na ballaí          gorm-ghlas, 

teach          tógtha ón uisce,          teach tógtha       as uisce 
	agus an radharc          ann: 
citeal ag crónán,          gal scaipthe,          scaoilte 

ó fhuinneog an pharlúis, na toir          i mbladhm, 
	tinte ag scaipeadh          ar an aiteann 
agus éan ceoil a máthair ag portaireacht          ina chliabhán, 

ach cuireann na smaointe sin ceangal          ar a cliabhrach 
	agus filleann sí arís          ar a seomra néata, ar lá néata 
eile           sa teach 

altranais,          teanga na mbanaltraí dearmadta          aici, 
	seachas please agus please agus please, 
tá sí cinnte de          nach          dtuigeann siad          cumha

	ná tonnta ná glas. Timpeall a muiníl, 
ualach          an eochair          do doras a shamhlaíonn         sí 
faoi ghlas fós, ach          ní aontaíonn an eochair          sin 

leis an nglas níos mó     tá an chomhla dá hinsí     i ngan fhios di 
	an tinteán líonta          le brosna          préacháin 
fós, fáisceann sí an chniotáil          chuig a croí 

ansin baineann sí dá dealgáin          í, á roiseadh go mall arís, 
arís, na línte scaoilte          ina ceann          agus ina gceann 
	snáth roiste:          gorm-ghlas gorm-ghlas gorm-ghlas

gorm-ghlas gorm-ghlas gorm-ghlas          amhail cuilithíní 
	cois cladaigh      nó roiseanna farraige móire.     Sracann sí 
go dtí go bhfuil sí          féin          faoi 

ghlas         le snáth         á chlúdach         ó mhuineál go hucht. 
	Ansin,      ceanglaíonn sí      snaidhm úr, snaidhm      docht, 
ardaíonn sí na dealgáin          agus tosaíonn sí          arís.


                              ∇

	Under Lock and Green

She is locked there 	still, in the empty 	house, 	
despite 	   	 the ocean between her	and this house, 
	the one	she left 		behind her.

In the green sweep 	of her knitting	 she imagines
	layers, green layers			of paint
a wall peeling 		in the house where she spent –

– where she turned 		a key, years
	ago, before, 	the house that is 	still waiting for her
gazing 			over a vast ocean.

She wears the key on a chain 	that hangs at her throat
	and she returns 		there, sometimes, 	when 
she feels 	weak.		With one hand

over that chained key, she closes 	her eyes and daydreams
	that house 	by the beach, the same colour
as her wool, the walls 		blue-green, 

a house		from water, a house 	of water
	and the view 	there:
a fretting kettle, 	its steam loose, 		leaving

through the parlour window, where the furze is 		aflame,
	fires swelling 		through the gorse,
and her mother’s songbird chirping 		in its cage,

but thoughts like these bind 	her chest too tightly
so she lets go, and returns  	to this neat little room, this neat little day
another		in this home

this home for the elderly	where she forgot the nurses’ words years ago
	except please 	and please 		and please, and she’s certain
that they		understand neither cumha 		

	nor tonnta 	nor the glas		at her throat,
the weight of a key	   for a door 	she imagines	
	still locked, but 		the key won’t slot 

into her remembered lock the door has fallen from its hinges in her absence 
	the hearth fills			with the kindling of crows
still, she nestles her knitting 	in near her heart

then lifts it from the needles, 		unravels it slowly again,
again, the lines released		one		by one
	unravelled, the thread:		blue-green blue-green blue-green 

blue-green blue-green blue-green 		like little ripples 
	scribbling on the shore 		or immense ripping oceans. She tears
until 		she is		under

lock and green again, 	with wool 	covering her	neck and chest.
	Then, 	a breath, and then,		she ties	a new knot,
lifts the needles 			and begins 		again.
doireann-bwDoireann Ní Ghríofa is a bilingual writer working both in Irish and English. Among her awards are the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, the Michael Hartnett Prize, and the Ireland Chair of Poetry bursary. She frequently participates in cross-disciplinary collaborations, fusing poetry with film, dance, music, and visual art. Doireann’s writing has appeared widely, including in The Irish Times, The Irish Examiner, The Stinging Fly, and Poetry, and has been translated into many languages, most recently to French, Greek, Dutch, Macedonian, Gujarati, and English. Recent or forthcoming commissions include work for The Poetry Society (UK), RTÉ Radio 1, Cork City Council & Libraries, The Arts Council/Crash Ensemble, and UCC. Her most recent book is Oighear (Coiscéim, 2017)

faoi-ghlas-le-doireann-ni-ghriofa-1

“Rajm” by Müesser Yeniay

Rajm

Outside is night
inside is separation

this must be the last day
of the world 
          -I think of him-

love ends (…)

the heart 
remains as a woman who was stoned to death
in the middle of reality

my heart is the biggest
stone that God threw 
at me

© Müesser Yeniay, translated into english by Müesser Yeniay

muesserMÜESSER YENİAY was born in İzmir, 1984; she graduated from Ege University, with a degree in English Language and Literature. She took her M.A on Turkish Literature at Bilkent University. She has won several prizes in Turkey including Yunus Emre (2006), Homeros Attila İlhan (2007), Ali Riza Ertan (2009), Enver Gökçe (2013) poetry prizes. She was also nominated for a Pushcart Prize by Muse Pie Press in USA. Her first book Darkness Also Falls Ground was published in 2009 and her second book I Founded My Home in the Mountains a collection of translation from world poetry. Her second poetry book I Drew the Sky Again was published in 2011. She has translated the poems of Persian poet Behruz Kia as Requiem to Tulips. She has translated the Selected Poems of Gerard Augustin together with Eray Canberk, Başak Aydınalp, Metin Cengiz (2011). She has also translated the Personal Anthology of Michel Cassir together with Eray Canberk and Metin Cengiz (2011). Lately, she has published a Contemporary Spanish Anthology with Metin Cengiz and Jaime B. Rosa. She also translated the poetry of Israeli poet Ronny Someck (2014) and Hungarian poet Attila F. Balazs (2015). She has published a book on modern Turkish Avant-garde poetry The Other Consciousness: Surrealism and The Second New (2013). Her latest poetry book Before Me There Were Deserts was published in 2014 in İstanbul. Her poems were published in Hungarian by AB-Art Press by the name A Rozsaszedes Szertartasa (2015).
Her poems have appeared in the following magazines abroad: Actualitatea Literară (Romania), The Voices Project, The Bakery, Sentinel Poetry, Yellow Medicine Review, Shot Glass Journal, Poesy, Shampoo, Los Angeles Review of Books, Apalachee Review (USA & England); Kritya, Shaikshik Dakhal (India); Casa Della Poesia, Libere Luci, I poeti di Europe in Versi e il lago di Como (Italy); Poeticanet, Poiein (Greece); Revue Ayna, Souffle, L’oiseau de feu du Garlaban (France); Al Doha (Qatar); Poethead (Ireland)Tema (Croatia); Dargah (Persia).
The Anthologies her poetry appeared: With Our Eyes Wide Open; Aspiring to Inspire, 2014 Women Writers Anthology; 2014 Poetry Anthology- Words of Fire and Ice (USA) Poesia Contemporanea de la Republica de Turquie (Spain); Voix Vives de Mediterranee en Mediterranee, Anthologie Sete 2013 ve Poetique Insurrection 2015 (France); One Yet Many- The Cadence of Diversity ve ayrıca Shaikshik Dakhal (India); Come Cerchi Sull’acqua (Italy).
Her poems have been translated into Vietnamese, Hungarian, Croatian, English, Persian, French, Serbian, Arabic, Hebrew, Italian, Greek, Hindi, Spanish and Romanian. Her book in Hungarian was published in 2015 by AB-Art Publishing by the name A Rozsaszedes Szertartasa She has participated in the poetry festivals like Sarajevo International Poetry Festival, September 2010 (Bosnia-Herzegovina); Nisan International Poetry Festival, May 2011 (Israel); Belgrad International Poetry Festival, September 2012 (Serbia); Voix Vives International Poetry Festival (Sete), July 2013 (France); Kritya International Poetry Festival, September 2013 (India), Galati/Antares International Poetry Festival, June 2014 (Romania), Medellin International Poetry Festival, July 2014 (Colombia); 2nd Asia Pacific Poetry Festival 2015 (Vietnam).
Müesser is the editor of the literature magazine Şiirden (of Poetry). She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Turkish literature at Bilkent University, Ankara, and is also a member of PEN and the Writers Syndicate of Turkey. 

Three Poems by Müesser Yeniay
An Index of Women Poets

“We did not choose the sea” by Philo Ikonya

philo 6.1.2014

When we found them washed ashore
they were barely alive but still breathing
We spoke for the voiceless they
said, many times, and now speak to us
and for us and with us share this breath

We shuddered at life’s turns and twists
when the madding crowd kicked them hard
They slave them again, they do, their voices
deadly drilling the stones so alone intone

downloadPhilo Ikonya is a writer, lecturer and human rights activist. She is the President of PEN Kenya. She taught semiotics at Tangaza College and Spanish at the United States International University in Nairobi. She graduated in Literature and Linguistics (The University of Nairobi) before reading philosophy in Spain and Italy. She worked as an editor for Oxford University Press (Eastern Africa). Born in Kenya, Philo speaks Kiswahili, Gikuyu, English, Spanish and some Norsk. She has a grasp of Italian and French. Philo is a mother of one. She is currently living in exile in Norway.

Her fiction includes two novels, Leading the Night and Kenya, will you marry me? She has published three poetry anthologies including: This Bread of Peace, (Lapwing) Belfast, Ireland, and Out of Prison- Love Songs translated into German (Aus dem Gefangnis Liebesgesange). Philo is a Pan-Africanist.

Poetry for International Women’s Day 2016

Both a page and performance poet, Anne Tannam’s work has appeared in literary journals and magazines in Ireland and abroad. Her first book of poetry Take This Life was published by WordOnTheStreet in 2011 and her second collection Tides Shifting Across My Sitting Room Floor will be published by Salmon Poetry in Spring 2017. She has performed her work at Lingo, Electric Picnic, Blackwater & Cúirt Literary Festival. Anne is co-founder of the Dublin Writers’ Forum.
  

“The World Reduced to Sound” by Anne Tannam

 
Lying in my single bed
a childhood illness for company
the world reduced to sound.
 
Behind my eyes the darkness echoed
inside my chest uneven notes
rattled and wheezed.
Beyond my room a floorboard creaked
a muffled cough across the landing
grew faint and faded away
 
My hot ear pressed against the pillow
tuned into the gallop of tiny hooves
then blessed sleepy silence.
In the morning
steady maternal footsteps
sang on the stairs.
I loved that song.
 
The World Reduced to a Sound is © Anne Tannam and was published in ‘Take This Life’ (WordOnTheStreet 2011)

Nicki Griffin grew up in Cheshire but has lived in East Clare since 1997. Her debut collection of poetry, Unbelonging, was published by Salmon Poetry in 2013 and was shortlisted for the Shine/Strong Award 2014 for best debut collection. The Skipper and Her Mate (non-fiction) was published by New Island in 2013. She won the 2010Over the Edge New Poet of the Year prize, was awarded anArts Council Literature Bursary in 2012 and has an MA in Writing from National University of Ireland, Galway. She is co-editor of poetry newspaper Skylight 47.
  

“Nantwich Dusk” by Nicki Griffin

 
The canopy of dark stars
stretches low across the rooftops,
half a million
tiny heartbeats.
 
We watch from the bay window,
my father and I,
as church bells ring
for evensong
and darkness closes.
 
Starlings tighten,
fold into clouds,
shapes of smoke
convulse and change
 
as though a magician,
wand attached
to the tail of the flock,
has flicked her wrist.
 
Across the road
birds break rank,
funnel into trees,
a diving platoon
of black handkerchiefs.
 
Nantwich Dusk is © Nicki Griffin

Lorna Shaughnessy was born in Belfast and lives in Co. Galway, Ireland. She has published three poetry collections, Torching the Brown River, Witness Trees, and Anchored (Salmon Poetry, 2008 and 2011 and 2015), and her work was selected for the Forward Book of Poetry, 2009. Her poems have been published in The Recorder, The North, La Jornada (Mexico) and Prometeo (Colombia), as well as Irish journals such as Poetry Ireland, The SHop and The Stinging Fly. She is also a translator of Spanish and South American Poetry. Her most recent translation was of poetry by Galician writer Manuel Rivas, The Disappearance of Snow (Shearsman Press, 2012), which was shortlisted for the UK Poetry Society’s 2013 Popescu Prize for translation.
 

“Moving Like Anemones” by Lorna Shaughnessy

 

(Belfast, 1975)
 
I
 
I cannot recall if you met me off the school bus
but it was winter, and dark in the Botanic Gardens
as we walked hand in hand to the museum.
Too young for the pub, in a city of few neutral spaces
this was safe, at least, and warm.
The stuffed wolfhound and polar-bear were no strangers,
nor the small turtles that swam across the shallow pool
where we tossed pennies that shattered our reflected faces.
We took the stairs to see the mummy
but I saw nothing, nothing at all, alive
only to the touch of your fingers seeking mine,
moving like anemones in the blind depths.
 
II
 
Disco-lights wheeled overhead,
we moved in the dark.
Samba pa ti, a birthday request,
the guitar sang pa mí, pa ti
and the world melted away:
the boys who stoned school buses,
the Head Nun’s raised eyebrow.
Neither ignorant nor wise,
we had no time to figure out
which caused more offence,
our religions or the four-year gap between us.
I was dizzy with high-altitude drowning,
that mixture of ether and salt,
fourteen and out of my depth.
 
III
 
The day was still hot when we stepped
into cool, velvet-draped darkness.
I wore a skirt of my sister’s from the year before
that swung inches above cork-wedged sandals.
You were all cheesecloth and love-beads.
I closed my eyes in surrender
to the weight of your arm on my shoulders,
the tentative brush of your fingers
that tingled on my arm, already flushed
by early summer sun.
Outside the cinema I squinted,
strained to adjust to the light
while you stretched your long limbs like a cat.
You were ripe for love and knew it;
I blushed and feared its burning touch.
 
“Moving Like Anemones” Is © Lorna O’Shaugnessy

Maria Wallace (Maria Teresa Mir Ros) was born in Catalonia, but lived her teenage years in Chile. She later came to Ireland where she has now settled. She has a BA in English and Spanish Literature, 2004, an MA in Anglo-Irish Literature, 2005. She won the Hennessy Literary Awards, Poetry Section, 2006. Her work has been published widely in Ireland, England, Italy, Australia and Catalonia. Winner of The Scottish International Poetry Competition, The Oliver Goldsmith Competition, Cecil Day Lewis Awards, Moore Literary Convention, Cavan Crystal Awards, William Allingham Festival. She participated in the ISLA Festival (Ireland, Spain and Latin America), 2015, and has published Second Shadow, 2010, and The blue of distance, 2014, two bilingual collections (English – Catalan), a third one to come out within the year. She has taught Spanish, French, Art and Creative Writing. She facilitates Virginia House Creative Writers,’ a group she founded in 1996, and has edited three volumes of their work.
 

“Under the shadow of birds” by Maria Wallace

 
Black birds,
she thinks they are ravens,
hover over her
for the past eighteen years.
Their coarse croaking cries
drown all other sounds;
dark plumage shines
as they circle around
ready to destroy
the little she still has:
a neat house for two. Neat.
For two. Even under attack.
Not a speck of dust –
the aroma of fresh baking
rejoicing through the house,
though, the birds’ shadows stab,
their long bills tear her innards.
 
One May afternoon in the cul-de-sac.
Her toddler son in a group
playing Simon Says,
and Hop, Skip and Jump
a few feet from them.
 
A screech of tyres always tells a story.
 
Her doctor said
another baby would help the healing.
The first flock of black birds swooped down
when her husband said:
Another baby?
No way! You couldn’t look after
the one you had!

Kimberly Campanello was born in Elkhart, Indiana. She now lives in Dublin and London. She was the featured poet in the Summer 2010 issue of The Stinging Fly, and her pamphlet Spinning Cities was published by Wurm Press in 2011 . Her poems have appeared in magazines in the US, UK, and Ireland, including nthposition , Burning Bush II, Abridged , and The Irish Left Review . Her books are Consent published by Doire Press, and Strange Country Published by Penny Dreadful (2015) ZimZalla will publish MOTHERBABYHOME, a book of conceptual poetry in 2016.

Poems from “Strange Country” by Kimberly Campanello

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Katie Donovan has published four books of poetry, all with Bloodaxe Books, UK. Her first, Watermelon Man appeared in 1993. Her second, Entering the Mare, was published in 1997; and her third, Day of the Dead, in 2002. Her most recent book, Rootling: New and Selected Poems appeared in 2010. Katie Donovan’s fifth collection of poetry, Off Duty will be published by Bloodaxe Books in September 2016. She is currently working on a novel for children.

She is co-editor, with Brendan Kennelly and A. Norman Jeffares, of the anthology, Ireland’s Women: Writings Past and Present (Gill and Macmillan, Ireland; Kyle Cathie, UK, 1994; Norton & Norton, US, 1996). She is the author of Irish Women Writers: Marginalised by Whom? (Raven Arts Press, 1988, 1991). With Brendan Kennelly she is the co-editor of Dublines (Bloodaxe, 1996), an anthology of writings about Dublin.

Her poems have appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies in Ireland, the UK and the US. She has given readings of her work in many venues in Ireland, England, Belgium, Denmark, Portugal, the US and Canada. She has read her work on RTÉ Radio One and on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 3. Her short fiction has appeared in The Sunday Tribune and The Cork Literary Review.

 

“Off Duty” by Katie Donovan

 
Is my face just right,
am I looking as a widow should?
I pass the funeral parlour
where four weeks ago
the ceremony unfurled.
Now I’m laughing with the children.
The director of the solemn place
is lolling out front, sucking on a cigarette.
We exchange hellos,
and I blush, remembering
how I still haven’t paid the bill,
how I nearly left that day
with someone else’s flowers.
 
Off Duty is © Katie Donovan first published in The Irish Times, 2014, by Poetry Editor Gerry Smyth

1456039_316415438541653_2773727763533986971_nAlice Kinsella is a young writer living in Dublin. She writes both poetry and fiction and has been published in a variety of publications, including Headspace magazine and The Sunday Independent. She is in her final year of English Literature at Trinity College Dublin and currently working on her first novel.
 

“Pillars” by Alice Kinsella

 
There were seven
if I recall correctly
in our townland
When we were young
three now
or there were anyway
last time I was home.
 
You’ll find them in any house
round those parts
with the leaky roof and the mongrel
who tore open the postman’s leg.
 
There’s Paig who lives by the sun
after the ESB charged him too much
ao he ripped the wires out
of his six generation old shell of stone.
Whose rippled forehead
and bloody eyes gestured
as we flew by on our rusty bikes.
We never stopped
so’s not to be a bother.
 
There’s Jon Joe then with the single glazing
and the tractor older than any child
he might have had
would be now
had he had one.
He’s the one we all know has the punts
stuffed under the mattress.
The one that never sponsored our sports days.
 
And then there’s Tom.
Old Tom not as old as you may think.
who lost his namesake
to a kick of the big blue bull.
They weren’t talking
at the time
but he sold the bull afterwards
and the money went on the bachelor pad
because She kept the house.
 
You’ll find them anywhere around those parts
at the right time
once you know the right time
that is.
 
They’re the shadows of the women
these men.
 
They’re the welcome and g’afternoon
at the church doors
holding up the walls
later holding up the bar
(Neither in nor out)
 
You’ll know them by the cut of their turf
and the cut of their jip
by the stretch of their land
and the hunch in their backs.
There’s the grit in their voice
and the light in the eye.
 
And when they die
they’ll be called pillars
of the community
but we didn’t notice them crumble
and we’ll soon forget they’re gone.
 
“Pillars” is © Alice Kinsella

An Index of Women Poets
Contemporary Irish Women Poets

“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

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.


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.

‘The Mermaid in the Hospital’ by Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill

 
She awoke
to find her fishtail
clean gone
but in the bed with her
were two long, cold thingammies.
You’d have thought they were tangles of kelp
or collops of ham.
 
‘They’re no doubt
taking the piss,
it being New Year’s Eve.
Half the staff legless
with drink
and the other half
playing pranks.
Still, this is taking it
a bit far.’
And with that she hurled
the two thingammies out of the room.
 
But here’s the thing
she still doesn’t get —
why she tumbled out after them
arse-over-tip . . .
How she was connected
to those two thingammies
and how they were connected
to her.
 
It was the sister who gave her the wink
and let her know what was what.
‘You have one leg attached to you there
and another one underneath that.
One leg, two legs . . .
A-one and a-two . . .
 
Now you have to learn
what they can do.’
 
In the long months
that followed
I wonder if her heart fell
the way her arches fell,
her instep arches.
 
© by Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, all rights reserved. from The Fifty Minute Mermaid (Gallery Books, 2007) The Irish language  original is here.

Thank you to Suella Holland from Gallery Press for allowing me to use this poem to celebrate Irish Women’s Poetry and translation on International Women’s Day 2012.

Clonfert Cathedral Mermaid by Andreas F. Borchert

‘An Mhurúch san Ospidéal’ by Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill

 

An Mhurúch san Ospidéal

Dhúisigh sí
agus ní raibh a heireaball éisc ann
níos mó
ach istigh sa leaba léi
bhí an dá rud fada fuar seo.
Ba dhóigh leat gur gaid mhara iad
nó slaimicí feola.

‘Mar mhagadh atá siad
ní foláir,
Oíche na Coda Móire.
Tá leath na foirne as a meabhair
le deoch
is an leath eile acu
róthugtha do jokeanna.
Mar sin féin is leor an méid seo,’
is do chaith sí an dá rud
amach as an seomra.

Ach seo í an chuid
ná tuigeann sí —
conas a thit sí féin ina ndiaidh
‘cocs-um-bo-head’.
Cén bhaint a bhí
ag an dá rud léi
nó cén bhaint a bhí aici
leosan?

An bhanaltra a thug an nod di
is a chuir í i dtreo an eolais —
‘Cos í seo atá ceangailte díot
agus ceann eile acu anseo thíos fút.
Cos, cos eile,
a haon, a dó.

Caithfidh tú foghlaim
conas siúl leo.’

Ins na míosa fada
a lean
n’fheadar ar thit a croí
de réir mar a thit
trácht na coise uirthi,
a háirsí?

© by Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, all rights reserved. from The Fifty Minute Mermaid (Gallery Books, 2007)

Thank you to Gallery Press for allowing me to use this poem to celebrate Irish Women’s Poetry and translation on International Women’s Day 2012. The English translation of the poem is here.

Clonfert Cathedral mermaid by Andreas F. Borchert