|It was with great sadness that I learnt of the death of Dr. Muireann Ní Bhrolcháin, Senior Lecturer of Early Irish (Sean-Ghaeilge), at the Centre for Irish Cultural Heritage at Maynooth University. Obituaries and remembrances are too formal a way to encapsulate the energies of the person who has passed away. What we may say about her on paper; on her authorship, her survivors, and her activities, pale in comparison to the ball of energy that she was. Muireann had a huge and warmly generous physical presence despite her tiny size. She was quite literally a ball of energy.
I first met Muireann Ní Bhrolcháin at the Four Courts, as one did during the campaigns that dominated the Celtic Tiger era. Protestors would be in and out of courts fighting on issues related to the complete destruction of any and all heritage laws by the Fianna Fáil Party who came up with new planning bills even as they tore down and scrapped institutions that were charged with the preservation of our natural and built heritage. News media would jostle to get near the government ministers who thought up new and ingenious ways to fast-track planning laws and ramming their tastelessness into property bubbles, bad housing, dublin satellites, and the ephemera of trash that can only be described as garbage politics. People like Muireann were almost criminalised for objecting to the fact that in the 13 years of political dominance by Fianna Fáil and it’s motley collection of political props, not one of them actually bothered to bring in a single heritage preservation bill. The media never asked why there were no heritage bills, they were busy selling houses for the government.
Muireann asked the awkward questions like why Dúchas was abolished by Martin Cullen TD, Why Bertie Ahern was so intent on a leadership that passed endless fast-track and Strategic Infrastructure Bills, and why successive Environment Ministers could not pass The Aarhus Convention into Irish law, they still haven’t. Why above all were we demolishing (‘Preservation by Record’) unique sites at Tara (39 sites were demolished) in the Gabhra Valley to allow for the M3 Toll Road. Decentralisation of protections like the OPW, and the defunding of existent preservation programmes were policies that ensured cheap housing and good profit to companies like the NRA (who also managed to take on the majority of archaeology programmes nationally) The media not alone did not trace these issues but they deliberately ignored or obfuscated them within a sugary silence that disallowed anything negative or challenging to emerge that might effect the status quo. There was no joining of dots, just a lot of quangoes and silence in the Tiger Era.
Despite this juggernaut of profiteering and short-termism, Muireann for the most part kept her temper and went into the courts, or she stood out on the Hill Of Tara in all weathers, or she waved orders into the faces of the Gardaí. She never cried in front of me but she witnessed a scarring and vicious tragedy that seems to encapsulate the appalling recklessness and greed of the Tiger Era. It was a devastation that was fuelled by greed and lack of education: bulldoze everything and make some cheap tract housing , extend the Dublin suburbs into Meath and while we are at it make a tidy little profit from unhooking all laws that preserve our unique heritage. Gombeenism is not the word for it.
Muireann’s gentler side emerged when she involved herself in cultural events like the Feis Teamhair where poets like Peter Fallon, Seamus Heaney, Paul Muldoon, Susan McKeown and more came yearly to Tara to raise cultural voice and to sing their protest. It was probably at Feis Teamhair that I last saw her turn back toward someone who grabbed her arm and asked her a question or greeted her warmly.
We make public poets, great men and women who are imprisoned in the media glare. We want them to represent all that is good in Ireland, and we consign the irritating questioners to the margins. Muireann was an irritating questioner, a restless and enthusiastic spirit, a friend and colleague of great poets, she defended and embraced our literary and poetic heritage with all her health and drive.
She has not lived as long as those she opposed, but her name is inscribed in the history of Tara, a visual sign that people will battle great odds to illuminate truths that politicians and their wordless and grey supporters ignore. Dr. Muireann Ní Bhrolcháin has died a respected and feisty woman, unlike the liars she challenged daily and I will miss her big heart.
Rest in Peace Muireann x
Christine Murray (published at The Bogman’s Cannon )
Once Upon A Time
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
View From Afar is © 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
Shakila 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 first edition of SHE was published by Oneiros Books in 2014.
The cover painting image is © Anastasia Kashian, with great thanks to David Mitchell for design, and to Michael McAloran for accepting the book on behalf of Oneiros Books.
Two poems from The Island Sequence of ‘She’
sea is a womb
sea is a womb
rock and rock,
gold lace a-glitter
beneath the carved wave
black the inky waves lap to
black the inky waves lap to and black they suck the shale and if birds swoop they are the mere shadows of birds there are hands there to disembark you to hold you over the rocky black those hands that will arc you onto the comfort of stone this is the sea/ this inky black it does not smell of sea the gap between the boat and the shore is awesome the wood laps the water dragging it out / and bobbing it back again the chasm at the heel and one step forward to land to stone comfort.
Poems from The Island Sequence of ‘She‘ are © C. Murray
black the inky waves lap to was published in The Burning Bush VI
(i) A letter found in the box that contained this narrative, being addressed to the cousin of former patient, Miss Constance Byrne.
(ii) A note attached to the file of Miss Constance Byrne (now deceased).
|Cousin – ,
The narrative that follows here is a faithful rendering of my wanderings from the time of my retirement to the dawn. It is always the same. 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 wholly in her company. I do not know what my encounter with this lady means, I intend to find out. In my exploratory times there I have never yet met another person. Although there were signs of life (or of creaturely habitation).This landscape seemed to me to be ruined by war and by heat. What else could make marble of glass shards?
It is bleak there. At every dawn there occurs a throb of colour and I know that somehow I am back here in this world. I do not believe that my nightly explorations are a dream, for I have found tears upon my slippers, and a rend in the lace of my dress.She wants to show me something. She has indicated for me a bridge. I intend to cross over it, and thereby to continue to explore the geography of its unknown terrain.
I travel now alone. I am unencumbered by family, nor by tradition. I leave to you this letter and some small tokens of my esteem. Know that I am safe, and although I undertake this journey with trepidation, I remain always your,
…vertigo ice/ what said/ yes/ said/ it follows/ the clasp-knife breath that lingers/ in the rat deep of vermin obsolete/ of the night’s claim/ shadowed by meat/ in the presence of the none/ a blind man’s cane tracing the brail sheets of nothing left to be/ inherent dice of the unknown/ till failure/ terror of/ asking then of the what till else/ semblant/ dissipatory/ click-clack and the roundelay of ashen promises/ so speaks the silence filled with a grandeur of displaced light/ in the laughter of confrontation with the hope that never was/ as so swings the light bulb in a deserted room filled with scarlet dust with scarlet vapours/ till a-dream in sun lights/ hence the spectacle/ the a-breeze block smashing out the remnants of the ongoing/ here alack/ vibratory tone/ perhaps/ else/ till foreign once again/ [we all fall down]/ drag of the pelt of skinned longing/ here or there a vibrant echoing/ voices/ the voice grasping for nothing/ vagrant the ice subtle as the dawn growing upon the unearth-ed flesh/ breath no/ violet no/ synergy/ some distance of/ collapse of/ said without spoken/ glacial the tide consumes the lack of air/ lung-lack/ spitting out the teeth of pissoir abnegation/ furtive/ in the silence of ever having been/ as if…sudden as if…back then to fall upon the crest the wave of it/ oceanic as a cadaver’s wonderment…
…undone/ travail yes or no/ till absentee/ a colourless distance to bear/ as if the given speech were other than/ spit polish and the ashen weight of never having been/ the silence of never having been/ in retrospect/ hard pushed/ give or take a day or naught/ settling/ settling/ throughout the given dissipate of the mock sun’s spun/ in havoc lights where claim is disrepute/ scarred the air melds in a circus dislocation/ given yes to fall/ here or there a rhythm/ a calking of features marred by ongoing finality/ snap-snap the fingers cracking/ through the delve into/ of the fragrance of/ silenced by night/ one step to take above all others/ it says/ it murmurs/ as if some encore were possible in the bleak thin air of some foreign beginning/ given to task of/ all around/ beyond/ step non-step then back to the outset of commence/ here a ruptured breathing/ such is/ what known/ nothing of/ the fingers search the lie/ a mercury tear/ given to speeches unheard/ in the collapse of all/ where mimicry shadows break upon cylindrical walls/ unearthed prayers of the dead/ none to follow/ merely to gaze upon/ through cataract eyes bound by ennui/ hence the laughter never ceases to be/ and the rot of light or vapours/ posits and henceforth yet of the given lapse in each motion of the un-primed/ and so/ step/ retrace/ trace yet following on from the none that came before/ yet still the breathless pace of haven lest to fall/ sudden then to ask/ as if the voice were never more silent…
…no shelter from the ragged taste/ of excrement/ till trace composed/ figment or no/ haggard blood set till ember of/ scuttle of dead vermin tears/ this is sun light’s breath/ stillness of cadaver’s shine// head buried in the glimmer of the eye/ till obsolete passage/ imprint of none/ mocked spun of passage in the depths of silence/ echo of veranda/ cleft yes/ subtle yes to fall/ and so the emptiness of boned meat/ a meat hook stylus and the caress of nothing/ sneer speech/ absent speech/ traces yet to divulge/ (echoing laughter)/ the skyline it mocks it does not mock/ the earth sucks upon dead bodies/ and so in this/ the earth mocks the frozen words/ graceful to trace lies all lies it echoes/ and so forth/ breathe/ inhalations of razors and the spit of blood/ of cum/ vibrant the nocturne makes nothing of/ the eyeball sliced/ caressed by tongue/ what wounds/ effortless/ salient/ nocturne of spit speeches/ prayers to the none of/ from the none of/ walls paper walls and the skeletal starched/ back-light of a room filled with nooses/ give or take an inch/ enough to go around/ these are the dead lands/ these are the cactus lands/ spread out like a patient/ etherised upon an operating table/ in the skull of there ever having been/ stone knocked upon this is the salvage/ the nerve struck/ till dark/ all is dark/ the bone break of winter fathom and the blood struck fathomless/ given as if to cross the passage inwardly/ the voice is forever embers of what is no longer imminent/ unless/ and so the light fades/ so it burns let it go/ scraps torn away in a dressage of sight/ petals to dust/ nothing ever touched upon…
…swaying meat/ an overture of silenced/ the dried blood of wounds and the clasp of nothing/ vibration/ yes/ as if it once/ the syringe beauty of the skulled ice/ vermin air/ the asking of as if it were other than/ null/ void/ pennies upon the eyes/ time’s passing/ absence of time/ the stain of bloody words in sands the sands of which devoured/ yet of/ so it is said/ hands dead the virus effigy/ and so it carries/ there is breath through the sneer of teeth what matter what have you/ in an elixir of silence/ (only then/ only there)/ ah the grace is enough it is not enough/ skeletal signs/ the traces of the seen/ bring out your dead your living/ nothing is all// …the fingers bite the skyline/ hence bled there is no other laughter/ collapsed/ collapsed/ head-struck the distance traced/ life no answer/ and yet the burn is this/ given to replicate/ repeat/ echo yes there will be echoes/ such is the lie of having been/ as if recalling were to recall/ in-step/ (laughter)/ the bare foot skeletal skinned of flesh makes impart in dirt// vacancy all/ dead spaces/ the hands absent the voice absent/ the shiv cannot collect the dawning/ drunkenly the whispers of teeth skin the collective waste/ there is none/ naught/ dispersed the collapsed longing for/ in the haven of desire/ till drag of obsolete returns/ voices/ voices/ the hiddeness thronged/ blinded by something that can never be spat out/ will never trickle away like piss/ and so …
These previews are © Michael McAloran , from In Havoc Lights
|“The conference’s main host will be Trinity College Dublin, Ireland’s oldest university institution, founded in 1592 and located in the city centre. Our second host and other conference site on Thursday, July 11, will be Mater Dei Institute, the college close to what was Leopold Bloom’s residence at 7 Eccles Street.
The 2013 EPIC will open at Trinity College Dublin on 10 July with a Welcoming Address by the Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney. Individual plenary talks by distinguished scholars throughout the week will be on such topics as Pound and Irish Poetry, Pound and other writers (Beckett, Coleridge, Joyce, and Yeats), The Cantos Project, New Translations of Pound’s poetry into German and Italian, the Drafts & Fragments Notebooks, and Doing Justice to Pound. There will also be four days of paper sessions and discussions on a wide range of topics related to Pound’s works, life, and influence.”