‘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

Containing:

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)


Beal2012

Opening

Opening

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
Windfalls

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.

Notes on the half-hidden, Thimblerig by Annette Skade

Annette-Cover-1-212x300

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
harbour
omphalos

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.

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
cage
a single yellow bud,
clenched
against wind whips:
a sundrop.


Crown Of Thorns by Bethany W Pope


Crown of Thorns by Bethany W. Pope

Oneiros Books 2013

Crown Of Thorns by Bethany W. Pope is published under the Oneiros Books imprint. This is not an easy book to read. Ultimately it is a tale of triumph against war, where  war is child sexual abuse, rejection, and alienation. Throughout Crown Of Thorns there is a sense of profound hope and strong unshakeable faith.

Bethany Pope uses an imagery and symbolism in Crown of Thorns that is bloody, battered, estranged, and sometimes terrifying. Corridors, umbilici, and torn flesh form the vast part of the imagery, with water and earth less spoken but always present. Crown Of Thorns is a testament of survival and endurance sited in a complex construction that requires some explanation.

Divisions in Crown Of Thorns

There are four major divisions in Crown Of Thorns, Crown of Thorns, House Of Masks, Rabbit Trap, and Bloodlines: An Emperor’s Crown. Within each division are series of poems excavating both familial and personal history. The series are broken into sonnet groups, some of which are acrostic.

The opening section of the book eponymously titled Crown Of Thorns comprises two separate threads (or cords) Joy and John. The section is 15 sonnets long, alternating between two groups of seven sonnets under each heading that become entwined in Sonnet #15. Crown Of Thorns forms the foundation of the book proper. The major themes of survival and abuse are herein introduced.

The themes of this opening section of the book are taken up throughout the other previously named divisions, House of Masks,  Rabbit Trap and Bloodlines. Pope maintains a careful balance in the foundational and introductory parts of her book. She explores and ultimately accepts the damage of war on the body, and its survival in the final part of the book Bloodlines: An Emperor’s Crown.

Pope has intricately embroidered her major themes throughout the fabric of the book. She will pick up and repeat phrases in different sonnets, most especially in  Bloodlines: An Emperor’s Crown, which is more assured and deftly handled than the earlier sections. Bloodlines is cumulative, thus the most difficult set of themes to render poetically.

The achievement of this book is for the writer, who has honed her craft to attain her mature poetic voice. This, she achieves through her use of structure, structural underpinning in the form of acrostic sonnets, and a developed use of symbolism that interweaves its way through each titled or numbered section. The use of  the symbolism of the umbilicus, the corridor, the tunnel, the eye , and water is very evident in the final section of the book through Crown 2: The Ancestors, Crown 3: Alchemy, and Blood Jewels. These named sections form the final part of the book, titled Bloodlines, An Emperor’s Crown.

Symbols In Crown of Thorns

Crown Of Thorns is set out as a Bildungsroman, or more properly a pilgrimage. The book is confessional, as it is a testament of victory over war. War is the torn body and soul of the victim of child abuse, war in the experience of neglect and poverty. The deepest victory is in Pope’s admittance to herself that the battle is never entirely won. It begins anew each day with the ‘Dream that bursts when eyelids open.’

Some of Pope’s material is traumatic to read and to think about. Her most intense victory therefore is in how she has achieved compression of her traumatic themes through her use of poetic form, and in how she has explored and set out those themes through sure use of symbol.

Soil, earth, water and the dark blood of birthing mingle their acids into an existence that is always questing for right and truth. The umbilicus, that dark binding cord of ancestry binds the victims of family through change of place and of time,

13.

‘The corridors run, binding us together
out of glistening blue and red wires.’

Crown 3: Alchemy (Bloodlines)

Bloodlines makes liberal use of the acrostic form spelling out a history, which I read as an SOS. Bethany is born, only purity is my tough refusal to, sell my poor soul, and so on. It is a morse-code of distress hammered into sonnets of sure structure and strong voice. I found myself trying to avoid the acrostics as much as possible to get to the meat of the work, although the acrostic sonnets form the tough outer skin of the poetry- the rind.

Joy: Thorns

Growing flesh around the darkened hole death springs from,
the bark hardens around the hollow in the bole,
the secret place you love for no known reason.
Dressed in a chiton, playing the role of nymphic
servant to unseen Pan, you slide into the loamy darkness,
your wood-rot scented hide. Adolescent haunches
squat in soft soil. You have a shepherd’s pie you bought
with two week’s allowance. Treated bamboo and garish
dyed bands, producing a sound your mind makes melodious.
The tree speaks with the borrowed breath of a wounded girl.
Saturday is for hiding, drawing strength from the earth.
Sundays still belong to grampy, his evil, elderly
entitlement; right of patriarchy to penetrate
beyond the heart of innocence, which grows no armor-bark.

by Bethany W Pope

Cup by C. Murray

Cup


nest rests
her cup

(heart, feather)

into wood
winds
capillary

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

soften
     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