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A Celebration of Women’s Poetry on International Women’s Day 2019

Image: Srilata Krishnan Poethead has been celebrating the achievements of women writers, editors and translators for over a decade. International Women’s Day 2019 is no exception. This year I have decided to highlight the work of women poets from my international index and to introduce my readers to some new Irish poets. I am very grateful to all the poets who submit to the site, especially for their patience. I do not think we would be heading into eleven years this March 2019 without the generous support and uplift that comes from my daily correspondence. Thank you, C. Murray, March 2019 ‘Birth Mother’ by Srilata Krishnan   We are standing in front of the mirror, my daughter and I, brushing our hair and being vain when I think of the doctor’s question: “What was her birth cry like?” I don’t know and never will. She is fine, or will be, I know. But looking in the mirror and into her almond eyes, I wonder what she is like – her birth mother – if she …

‘Fire relies on the leaves of gum trees’ and other poems by Dominique Hecq

Hushed   Light pours down the unrelenting sky to earth ribbed and ridged with the tough stroke of Drysdale’s brush I track down words for hues and shades in books envy the skill of artist-explorers who forged new ways of seeing The cries of crows fall Through blues onto rusty ochres pulsing with raven dust This place stills my tongue Pulse   1   Somewhere in this night lives a light that turns in the open throat of time.  2   When the sky waits for rain birds squat in silence and longing is but one great sweeping movement that makes the earth quake. 3   The clock stands still in the heat, and I fear the mimicry of clichés— like a comma usurping all punctuation.   4   No, I don’t believe in the silence drying up on your lips.   5   I dream the wish that inhabits you is a space opening up a gap into the night.   6   What I write gleams like the moon pulsing in a sea …

My Report from the Field at VIDA; Women in the Literary Arts

  There is a cruel lie in Ireland, that women poets’ and writers’ absence from our cultural narrative, and by extension from the imaginative creation of the state, is based on their invisibility within the literary canon. That lie is based in the failure of academia to contextualize and historicize the place of women literary artists within the development of an Irish literature that has focused its effort on the authoritative male voice, the heroic and triumphant post-colonial narrative that is taught in schools and universities throughout the island of Ireland. We’re now taking a pledge to fight for equitable gender representation.   “We see the Cambridge Companion as a single stark iteration of a much wider problem” (Preamble To The Pledge)   In fact, since we proposed a pledge of withdrawal of participation in readings, events, reviews, books, and conferences that do not adequately represent the contribution of women in literature, many people have contacted us with increasingly stark figures of taught texts that absent women poets including, The Rattle Bag (edited by Heaney …

‘Aleph to Taf’ and other poems by Emma McKervey

Aleph to Taf The magpie uses a rudder to steer by. I watch the long feathers of its tail turn according to its needs. The women here swear they see them singly for weeks before a death, but that is only said after the fact and I know you can see as many as you wish wherever you look. Now there are seven moving about this field; I think nothing of it. I hunker the tip of the long drill which runs to the North and is ghosted by frost in winter’s milky light. The dibber is in hand. It is not a strong name but I know it carries force, carries the moment of force in its twist. Torque it is called and the dibber forms the T of that turn. It is a brand in my hand which separates death from life, beginning from end, from Aleph to Taf as the Hebrews say and I rotate the taf, the true cross, opening the ground with its shaft and turning the raw soil with …

‘The Maze’ and other poems by Sarah Al-Haddad

  In The Ocean’s Company The ocean converses with my soul, Its waves constantly break at the shore, With such delicacy that it calms my very core. The composure of the waves Against the conflict coming from within Poses a pronounced contrast. I tremble and agonize with self-doubt, “Will I ever be as healthy as the others? What about all that I’ve been blessed with?” The ocean’s waves continue to break. I envision the future in black or white, And I am convinced that it is not right, So I attempt to dismiss my concerns outright. The ocean’s waves nod in agreement. Exasperating anxiety and dark depression Subsist on my debilitating thoughts, Leaving me depleted of ambition and drive. The color of the ocean fills my soul with hope. The waves gently pat my feet in succession, Grains of sand lightly tickle my toes, And my unfavorable thoughts leave in regression. Just beginning to apprehend my potential, Yet I am certain I possess power that is As challenging to fathom as the depth of the …