“Blackjack” a bilingual volume of twenty contemporary Irish poets published by Singur Publishing

13428358_997240710371254_7518484138141013605_n

Blackjack; A Contemporary Volume of Irish Poetry (Singur Publishing, 2016)

Cover painted by Sorin Anca
Coordinated by Dorina Șișu and Viorel Ploeșteanu


The twenty Irish poets translated into Romanian for this volume are: Afric McGlinchey, Billy Ramsell, Breda Wall Ryan, Christine Murray, Damian Smyth, David Butler, Dean Browne, Edward O’Dwyer, Eileen Sheehan, Eleanor Hooker, Eugene O’Connell, John W. Sexton, Leeanne Quinn, Maeve O’Sullivan, Mary O’Donnell, Nessa O’Mahony, Noel Duffy, Paul Casey, and Roisin Kelly.
 
The Blackjack translators are: Dr. Isabel Lazãr, Maria Liana Chibacu, Margento, Elena Daniela Radu, Mãdãlina Dãncus, Mihaela Ionitã, and Oana Lungu.

I would like to thank Dorina Șișu and Viorel Ploeșteanu for including my poems, Delicate, Pretty Useless Things and Descent From Croagh Patrick in this edition. Thank you for a lovely launch evening, and I would like to expand the Index at Poethead to include more Romanian poets.

The online edition of Blackjack.
Revisita – Itaca
 

“Cuween Chambered Cairn” and other poems by Tim Miller

Cuween Chambered Cairn

 
I should go on my hands and knees to you,
you farmers from five thousand years ago.
Even though your skulls are no longer here
or the small skulls of your two dozen dogs,
in retrospect I realize how wise
I was, dipping in and out of your dark
—the familiar main chamber and three rooms—
to never pause in all my picture-taking
to never stop and extinguish the light
to have found you at the end of the day,
so that we were tired and a bit rushed.
Something like the terror at what went on here
would have overwhelmed me in the moment,
the seriousness of generations
which I only became aware of later:
like an ancient fireplace still smudged with smoke,
our shoulders were soiled from the gloom on your hands.
 

Horses on Orkney

 
Horses curled in the flaming spiral of sleep,
the huge immensity of their bodies
 
belied by the blankets they wear, or the
tight scroll they twist themselves into on the ground,
 
an enormity suddenly made small
or at least passive, compact, the coiled braid
 
of body closer to tree or landscape,
the tilted, chiseled head nearer to stone
 
or steel or something pulled from the fire,
some monument to just how this place works
 
that you do not escape the wind, but dream in it.
 

Dedalus & Icarus

 
The old craftsman came to Cumae after
a long life of art and flight, love and theft,
came alone to the Sibyl’s Italian shore
wasted with age and reputation
 
to the one who knew every alphabet,
the seeress who saw the future in driven leaves.
And warped with the same old age as him,
she asked that he carve her sanctuary.
 
His bent wrinkled body covered in dust,
he hammers and carves and polishes away
all of the horrors let loose from his hands:
his dead nephew; the bull-impregnated
 
woman and its awful issue; the youths
brought from Mycenae for its food; the slave
girl’s love that bore him a son, and the love
he took pity on that imprisoned them both—
 
he strikes them away and leaves them on the wall,
all of them and so much more envy and
revenge and awe at his talents, hammered
forgotten. But not his son. Twice he’s tried
 
to let him go, as the sky did before
the sea took him; twice he’s tried to fashion
his face or his descent or his youthful limbs
or just his eyes, and twice he’s stopped in tears.
 

Skara Brae

 
Follow the alley of flagstones
to a slab door of wood or rock,
locked with a shaped bar of whalebone.
Inside, opposite the door, a
dresser stacked with pottery, wool,
beads of bone and shell, or pendants
of whale’s teeth or the ivory tusks
of walrus or boar. The hearth is
central, the hearth is heat and light
and the cooking of all that’s caught:
mutton and venison, gannet
and golden plover and lobster,
eel and salmon and mussel, cod
and crab and pork, gull and scallop.
Wild berries fill the belly too,
wild cherries, hazelnut, honey,
some form of fermented plant for beer,
or the richness of cows and goats.
Near the hearth, a tank for fish bait,
while beds and shelves curl around,
around the fire fueled by seaweed,
and beneath the rafters of whale ribs.
 

There’s one building with no bedding,
but still a hearth, always a hearth,
no metal yet and only stone,
only wood and bone: blades, mattocks,
whistles, fine points or polishers,
all undertaken so near the sea
(but not so near as the sea is now),
generations of food-waste, ash,
dung, bones, broken pottery, shells,
or rope of crowberries—centuries
of families, layers of houses
stacked like rock atop each other,
farmers farming, hunters hunting,
a nameless North Sea and a still
nameless wind giving sound and flavor
to the landscape and the prized lives
that prompted those circles of stone,
that made an occasion of a
hill or loch, coast or height or isthmus.
 
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
we found the village and the bay
another excuse for green and blue,
five thousand years to our first world,
having flown far to propitiate
those who may have sailed from the south
to this true north, treeless and edged like a blade.
 

Robert Oppenheimer

 
Now I come to write in light and fire,
in a language of power we all know,
beyond every letter and poetry
and all the dithering of philosophy,
all the prevarication of politics.
The physicists have known sin, it’s true,
but also the brilliance of a burden
overcome in the brittle mountains,
a foul display that was beyond awesome,
beyond my conscience but still atop it:
in less than a second tens of thousands
turned to piles of boiled organs and black char,
the burnt but still living running for the
cisterns or the boiled, dead-crowded rivers.
 
News of a flood or an earthquake makes me
think of myself, since the questions usually
given to heaven are now tendered to me,
and its silence is something like my own:
any remorse is just ridiculous
and any warning is usefully late,
since I’ve already handled God’s fuel.
I cannot keep from swagger, or from mourning:
this knowledge a weight you will never know,
and with it a satisfaction, a pride:
numbers and elements resolved into
a thing that worked, but never should again.
 

⊕ Bone Antler Stone (Museum Pieces) by Tim Miller

Cuween Chambered Cairn” and other poems are © Tim Miller

IMG_4352Tim Miller’s most recent book is the long narrative poem, To the House of the Sun (S4N Books). His novel Bearing the Names of Many is forthcoming from Pelekinesis, and he also write about poetry, history and religion at www.wordandsilence.com.

Poems from “Barefoot Souls” by Maram al-Masri

Sara

Daughter of Sana
Age 9

 
Why does my father
beat my mother ?
 
She does not know
how to iron his shirts properly.
 
Me, when I am grown up
I will iron the shirts
very well.
 

FAÂdi

Son of Sonia
Age: 7

 
You know, Mother
if the giant comes
during the night
to beat you,
You can come
sleep in my bed.
 
I ate up all my soup
and all my spinach
so that
I can grow up quickly
and protect you.
 

Salma

Son of Leila
Age: 12

 
Why don’t you go to the doctor
and have him give back your smile,
Mother,
your lovely smile?
 

Samir

Son of Magda
Age: 13

 
I do not remember her face,
I was very small when my father
carried me off to my grandmother’s house
far,
far away.
 
My grandmother did not like
the one who had brought me into the world,
with every prayer she would demand that God
would punish her.
 
She would say, hers is the blood of the devil.
she would say, she abandoned you
for the cats to eat you up.
 
Eighteen months old … that’s very young
for a child
to have to defend himself.
 

Clément and Romain

Children of Florence
Age 12 and 9

 
Don’t forget, Mother
to pack me and brother
in your baggage.
 
We won’t annoy you
we’ll behave this time.
 

Chloë

Daughter of Suzanne
Age: 11

 
I have often
seen my father
drag my mother by the hair
into the bathroom.
I’d hide myself
in the cupboard
and wait until he’d calm down.
 
On the wall in the sitting room
there’s a photo of a crocodile.
myself and my brother,
we used to call it
‘Papa’.
 
from II, The Scream, Barefoot Souls
 

VI

 
Look, look
at all the wounds I have received
in your wars.
 
This wound, deep and dark,
I got it at 18,
the first time you injured me.
I bled until I thought I might die,
swore I would never again
get into a fight.
 
But every time you return,
smiling that smile,
promising paradise and eternity,
 
back I come again
without helmet or armour
and you lunge at me with your words,
stabbing as hard as you can,
as if, truly,
you wished me dead.
 
I do not know by what miracle
I survive,
nor by what miracle
I fall back into your arena.
 
Look, look,
this one is still fresh,
still bleeding.
Be gentle, this time …
 
You see,
I cannot bear another wound,
At the very least, do it nicely ..
 

There are Women

 
There are women
who carried you
who offered their blood and their wombs
who brought you into the world
who bathed you
who breastfed you
 
There are women
who cherished you
when you were small
until you grew up,
when you were weak
until you became strong
 
There are women
who desired you
who entwined you in their arms
who welcomed you in their wombs
who gave you their mouths
who gave you to drink of their water
 
There are women
who betrayed you
and there are women who
abandoned you.
 
These poems are © Maram al-Masri

Maram Al-Masri

Maram Al-Masri is from Lattakia in Syria, now settled in Paris. She studied English Literature at Damascus University before starting publishing her poetry in Arab magazines in the 1970s. Today she is considered one of the most renowned and captivating feminine voices of her generation. Besides numerous poems published in literary journals, in several Arab anthologies and in various international anthologies, she has published several collections of poems. Thus far her work has been translated into eight languages. Maram al-Masri has participated in many international festivals of poetry in France and abroad. She has been awarded the “Adonis Prize” of the Lebanese Cultural Forum for the best creative work in Arabic in 1998, the “Premio Citta di Calopezzati” for the section “Poesie de la Mediterranee” and the “Prix d’Automne 2007” of the Societe des gens de letters. Her poetry collections include “Karra humra’ ala bilat abyad” (Red Cherry on the White Floor) and “Undhur Ilayk” (I look at you). (Source: Arc Publications)

Barefoot Souls by Maram Al-Masri (Source: Arc Publications)


“Barefoot Souls” was translated by Theo Dorgan

TheoDorganTheo Dorgan is a poet, novelist, prose writer, documentary screenwriter, editor, translator and broadcaster.

His poetry collections are The Ordinary House of Love (Galway, Salmon Poetry, 1991); Rosa Mundi (Salmon Poetry, 1995); and Sappho’s Daughter (Dublin, wave Train Press 1998). In 2008 Dedalus Press published What This Earth Cost Us, reprinting Dorgan’s first two collections with some amendments. After Greek(Dublin, Dedalus Press, 2010), his most recent collection is Nine Bright Shiners(Dedalus Press 2014). Songs of Earth and Light, his versions from the Slovenian of Barbara Korun, appeared in 2005 (Cork, Southword Editions). In 2015 his translations from the French of the Syrian poet Maral al-Masri, BAREFOOT SOULS, appeared from ARC Publications, UK.

He has also published a selected poems in Italian, La Case ai Margini del Mundo, (Faenza, Moby Dick, 1999), and a Spanish translation of Sappho’s Daughter La Hija de Safo, (Madrid, Poesía Hiperión, 2001). Ellenica, an Italian translation of Greek, appeared in 2011 from Edizioni Kolibris in Italy. (Source: Aosdána)

 

mc_9781910345375Barefoot Souls by Maram al-Masri
Translated by Theo Dorgan
From |  Arc Translations Series

About Barefoot Souls by Maram al-Masri Detailing the lives of Syrian women living in Paris, these poems, capturing the unheard voices of women whose lives are suppressed in unimaginable ways, allow us to explore moments never mentioned in the news reports. Potent and never failing to capture the essence of the feminine experience with a remarkable amount of insight.
978-1910345-37-5 pbk
978-1910345-38-2 hbk
978-1910345-39-9 ebk
120pp
Published September 2015

Arena Interview on Barefoot Souls by Maram al-Masri

 

“Water Memory” and other poems by Jackie Gorman

Water Memory

 
The bottom untouched by sunlight,
heart shrinking down
as though the future isn’t real.
Nothing to hold on to.
Musty smell of the lake,
fish and forgotten hooks.
Boats on the horizon.
Just the water before thought.
My hook snagged in the want of this world.
A silent urge to be like water,
flowing yet strong enough to hold a ship.
I draw a fish in my notebook.
 

The Hare

 
Barney stopped the mower and looked down.
Full-grown, it was twitching in its soft fur.
I twitched when he mumbled “kinder to kill it.”
 
With a mossy stone, he crushed it.
Its liquid eyes and long ears
stayed with me for weeks.
 
I dreamt of it dancing in the callow,
when the moon was out.
Threading the faint light
between dusk and dawn,
thresholds of transition.
 
Barney limped,
next time I saw him
climb out of the tractor.
 

The Hedgehog

 
My father lifted him up on a spade
and put him down in the back field.
Years later,
I watched my mother looking out the window.
From where she stood,
she watched him scurrying away.
I remembered his tired eyes and shedding spines.
He looked back at her,
as though he knew she was following him
with her wide innocent eyes.
 

The Stag

 
Near Cloonark, I step out of my skin and follow him through the trees.
Tawny antlers rising above the grass, like church spires in a town.
Spell of velvet coat, soft wet muzzle and deep brown eyes.
I know I’d go anywhere with him, following the hazy scent of memory.
I’m drinking pure silence as he crosses the stream.
 
He is doing what he must do to survive,
stripping the bark off ash and birch trees.
He may take something that doesn’t belong to him,
kale or winter wheat, potatoes or rye.
Or perhaps what I want, another chance, another life.
 
He shows me how to wait without waiting,
to be careless of nothing and to see what I see.
Digging up the soil with his cloven hooves.
The translation of something felt,
the expanse between love and not touching.
The dark deep silence, where we dream ourselves human.
 
My life reflected in his eyes, until I see I am him,
watching him slink towards my slough,
assuming its empty folds and creases.
I found a skin like this before and hastily cast it aside ;
a thin membrane of an old reality.
I should have treated it with kindness and not disdain.
 
I walk out of the woods and the clearing gleams.
Water and words, the trail I leave behind.
He’s breathing behind me, shallow and fast.
My breath whispers like a remembered undertow ;
“here, see me as I am, dark venison flesh, warm and solid.”
 

Water Memory and other poems is © Jackie Gorman

IMG_2805Jackie Gorman is from Westmeath. Her work has featured in Bare Hands, Wordlegs, The Honest Ulsterman and later this year, her work will feature in Poetry Ireland Review, The Sentinel Literary Quarterly and Obsessed by Pipework. She has been highly commended in the Patrick Kavanagh Award and the Goldsmith Poetry Competition. She was a prize winner in the 2015 Golden Pen Poetry Competition and her work has appeared in creative writing collections, edited by Noel Monahan, Alan McMonagle and Rita Ann Higgins.

“Treatise on Uselessness” by Kevin Higgins

Treatise on Uselessness

after Rosita Boland

Throughout my truly enormous life,
I’ve never found a use for
gypsies.

When one decides to spend the night
searching online
for a worse deal
on one’s house insurance,
there’s never
a gypsy about to help.

Or when one advertises a vacancy
for Associate Professor of English at Trinity
there’s hardly ever a gypsy
around to fill it.

Or when the wedding
of an Eritrean goatherd and his beloved
is in crying need of a cruise missile,
there’s never a gypsy available
to press the required buttons
and later tell the inquiry
it was all a terrible
misunderstanding.

Despite millions ingested
by social programmes, we’ve mostly
failed to submerge gypsies
in the internationally agreed system
of an indecent day’s pay
for a decent week’s work.

Yet the state insists
on making gypsies compulsory
for those who’d rather never
have to speak to one.

What practical purpose does it serve
for us to continue to try to absorb
gypsies into what my late Popsicle
-a one time Viceroy of Upper Munster- used
to call society,

when all but a few fanatics know it’s futile
as trying to teach a Latvian cage dancer
how to speak Irish?

© KEVIN HIGGINS

kevin-author-photo-december-2013-1Kevin Higgins facilitates poetry workshops at Galway Arts Centre and teaches creative writing at Galway Technical Institute. He is also Writer-in-Residence at Merlin Park Hospital and the poetry critic of the Galway Advertiser. He was a founding co-editor of The Burning Bush literary magazine and is co-organiser of over the edge literary events in Galway City. His first collection of poems The Boy With No Face was published by Salmon in February 2005 and was short-listed for the 2006 Strong Award. His second collection, Time Gentlemen, Please, was published in March 2008 by Salmon. His work also features in the generation defining anthology Identity Parade – New British and Irish Poets (ed roddy lumsden, Bloodaxe, 2010). Frightening New Furniture, his third collection of poems, was published in 2010 by Salmon Poetry. Kevin has read his work at most of the major literary festivals in Ireland and at arts Council and Culture Ireland supported poetry events in Kansas City, USA (2006), Los Angeles, USA (2007), London, UK (2007), New York, USA (2008), Athens, Greece (2008); St. Louis, USA (2008), Chicago, USA (2009), Denver, USA (2010), Washington D.C (2011), Huntington, West Virginia, USA (2011), Geelong, Australia (2011), Canberra, Australia (2011), St. Louis, USA (2013), Boston, USA (2013) & Amherst, Massachusetts (2013). Mentioning The War, a collection of his essays and reviews was published in april 2012 by Salmon. (SALMON)

It Was For This by Kevin Higgins