A Celebration of Irish Women Poets on Bloomsday 2017

“Canal Walk Home” by Gillian Hamill

 
What is it
About the power
of the water
To heal hurts
 
Three lads sit on the boardwalk
They hardly look like delicate sorts.
And yet they gaze out
Contemplate
The rushing rippling mottles of the
Undulating lake
Can soothe souls.
 
Car lights are reflected in
Striking streaks, always dappling
Buzzy thrill of
Modern pyrotechnics
In the most basic of
Science laws.
 
Edged by banking sycamore leaves
I took one and put it in my pocket
To describe it better.
The smell of its earthy salt and bark
Present.
And the bare elegance
Of stripped black branches
Spearing themselves into the night air
Soldered into the genesis
Of life
And yes they are
Wild quiet.
 
A little further on
There’s a piece of street art says
Only the river runs free
And maybe that’s the attraction
Of this portal into liberty.
 
And then to gaze down the row
Through Camden Street from Portobello
The multi-potted chimney tops
Sophisticated lego bricks
Pricked by the Edwardian arc
Of ornate street lights.
 
The red car lights more dense
The further in you go
Speeding up into
A crescendo
Of urban adrenalin
As if in a movie
And the cameras were moving in
Drawing you in
Crackle.
 
Crackle
Quick, quick slow
Travelling
Boom
in.
 
For all your talk
Of dalliances with the dark
Don’t you know that they are
One and the same.
 
The splendour of the curvature of the
veins in a leaf’s skin
Echoed with variations
Of trickled threads of gold.
Are as a naked woman’s
Crystallised spine
Waiting for your touch
Nymph and nature
They are one and the same.
 
But purity
Glorying in freedom
In liberated breeze
There is no need for
Shame.
 
“Canal Walk Home” is © Gillian Hamill

Originally from the village of Eglinton in Derry, Gillian Hamill has lived in Dublin for the past 12 years (intermingled with stints in Galway, Waterford and Nice). She has a BA in English Studies from Trinity College, Dublin and a MA in Journalism from NUI Galway. She is currently the editor of trade publication, ShelfLife magazine and has acted in a number of theatre productions. Gillian started writing poetry in late 2014.
 
⊗ Gillian’s Website

 


 

“The Welcome” by Freda Laughton

 
Awaits no solar quadriga,
But a musty cab,
Whose wheels revolving spiders scare
Pigeons from plump pavanes among the cobbles.
 
Past the green and yellow grins
Of bold advertisements
On the walls of the Temple of Arrivals and Departures,
(Due homage to the puffing goddesses
 
Stout, butting with iron bosoms),
We drive, and watch
The geometry of the Dublin houses
Circle and square themselves; march orderly;
 
Past the waterfalls of lace dripping
Elegantly in tall windows;
Under a sun oblique above the streets’
Ravines; and past the river,
 
Like the slippery eel of Time,
Eluding us; eight miles clopping
Behind the horses rump to where
The mouth of Dublin gulps at the sea.
 
And there beside the harbour
And the Castle,
And the yellow rocks and the black-beaked gulls,
The piebald oyster-catchers, limpets, lobster-pots,
 
There is a house with a child in it,
Two cats like ebony
(Or liquorice); and a kitten with a face
Like a black pansy, a bunch of fronded paws;
 
And a dog brighter than a chestnut, –
A house with a bed
Like an emperor’s in it, –
It is late. Let us pay the cabman and go in.
 

“The Welcome” is © Freda Laughton

Freda Laughton was born in Bristol in 1907 and moved to Co. Down after her marriage. She published one collection of poetry, A Transitory House (1945) but little else is known about her life and work. She may have lived in Dublin for sometime, as her poem The Welcome details the textures of Dublin City and its suburbs, and suggests she knows the city by heart. Her date of death is unknown. Freda Laughton’s poems were submitted by Emma Penney, a graduate of the Oscar Wilde Centre, Trinity College Dublin. Her thesis, Now I am a Tower of Darkness: A Critical History of Poetry by Women in Ireland, challenges the critical reception of Eavan Boland and the restrictive criteria, developed in the 1970’s, under which poetry by women in Ireland has been assessed. She considers the subversive nature of women’s poetry written between 1921 and 1950, and calls into question the critical assumption that Eavan Boland represents “the first serious attempt in Ireland to make a body of poems that arise out of the contemporary female consciousness”. In Object Lessons, Boland concluded that there were no women poets before her who communicated “an expressed poetic life” in their work. Emma’s thesis reveals how this view has permeated the critical landscape of women’s poetry, facilitating an absurd privation of the history of poetry by women in Ireland and simplifying it in the process.

Interview with Emma Penney
Dear Freda, Your Poems are being discussed on Jacket2 Magazine

 


 

“Nurture” by Liz Quirke

 
In the nine months I didn’t nourish you,
I made notes, I studied the seasons
for ingredients to encourage your growth.
Scraps of paper, post-its hidden
in case anyone would view my thoughts,
pity my trivia of leaves and berries.
 
A mom yet not a mother,
a woman yet not a woman.
My preparation took place in private,
not in maternity wards or hospital corridors,
but in the hallways of my mind
where I could put up pictures, time lines,
fill cork boards with plans.
 
As the folic acid built your brain stem
I collated ideas to stimulate it further,
mapped journeys for us,
paths we could walk together,
a staggered relay to start
when your other mother
passed your tiny form to me.
 
And I could see myself holding your hand,
using my limbs to scaffold the structure
your mother put so beautifully in place.
I am your mom without the biology of mothering.
All I have for you is my heart, my brain, my lists of things,
all but those nine months when I was waiting.
 
(first published in New Irish Writing in The Irish Times)

“Nurture” is © Liz Quirke

Originally from Tralee, Co. Kerry, Liz Quirke lives in Spiddal, Co Galway with her wife and daughters. Her poetry has appeared in various publications, including New Irish Writing in the The Irish Times, Southword, Crannóg, The Stony Thursday Book and Eyewear Publishing’s The Best New British and Irish Poets 2016. She was the winner of the 2015 Poems for Patience competition and in the last few years has been shortlisted for the Cúirt New Writing Prize and a Hennessy Literary Award. Her debut collection Biology of Mothering will be published by Salmon Poetry in Spring 2018.
 
https://bogmanscannon.com/2016/04/02/fall-at-33-weeks-by-liz-quirke/

 


 

“Detail” by Rachel Coventry

 
The world is full stretched,
and sick with possibility.
You find yourself in a gallery
ill with heat and standing.
Waiting for some man
to play his ridiculous hand.
So bored of art, but then
forced into wakefulness
by the feet of Diego Velazquez’
Cristo Crucificado. All suffering
now upon you and you
bear it because you have to.
 
First published in the Stony Thursday Book

“Detail” is © Rachel Coventry

Rachel Coventry’s poetry has appeared in many journals including Poetry Ireland Review, The SHop, Cyphers, The Honest Ulsterman and The Stony Thursday Book. She was selected for the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series in 2014. In 2016 she won the Galway University Hospitals Arts Trust Annual Poetry Competition and was short-listed for the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award. She is currently writing a PhD on Heidegger’s poetics at NUIG. Her debut collection is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry.

“Going Dutch” by Seanín Hughes

 
I cut my teeth on you;
let enamel tear
through the warm pink tissue
of adolescence.
 
I bared my legs, but
bent them inward,
dressed them in angles
in case you found them
too soft, too fleshy.
You didn’t (they weren’t).
 
I kept my hair down
so subtle shadows fell
where cheekbones might be,
stolen symmetry, in case
you realised I wasn’t
pretty enough. You didn’t (I was).
 
We’d play pool –
I never won (I never cared) –
and eat chips on the way home;
you paid your way and
I paid mine, and I never needed
to wear my coat (I did), until
 
that one night when
you didn’t walk me home,
the night I fell asleep and
you cut your teeth on me,
the ones you lied through (you did),
and I paid in full.
 

“Going Dutch” is © Seanín Hughes

Seanín Hughes is an emerging poet and writer from Cookstown, Northern Ireland, where she lives with her partner and four children. Despite writing for most of her life, Seanín only began to share her work in late 2016 after penning a number of poems for her children. Prior to this, she hadn’t written in a number of years following the diagnosis of her daughter Aoife with a rare disease. Drawing from her varied life experiences, Seanín is attracted to challenging themes and seeks to explore issues including mental health, trauma, death and the sense of feeling at odds with oneself and the world.

“Hypothesis” by Clodagh Beresford Dunne

 
So the editor wants to know why
people are killing
themselves. I’ll tell you why –
because they are part of a revolution
they know nothing
about. Not a revolution with guns
and knives but one in its strictest
physical sense, the revolution
of the geoid, the planet earth.
We might share it with billions
but these days
we are each on our own
as it sits, upturned on its axis
slowly revolving, shaking off the detritus
until one by one
we cling to the surface
or free-fall into oblivion.
And so we concoct bizarre ways
to dodge our turn –
we are drawn to the oceans to hide
but drown in their deep waters,
we strive to weigh ourselves to the ground,
injecting ourselves like batteries
with liquid lithium.
To defy gravity
we anchor our ankles to balls and chains
or feel the ephemeral
ecstasy of letting
blood from our veins.
While some tie ropes around their necks
as they take their turn,
ready to hang
from the world, like a tarot card I once saw.
 
First published in The Stinging Fly

“Hypothesis” is © Clodagh Beresford Dunne

Clodagh Beresford Dunne was born in Dublin and raised in the harbour town of Dungarvan Co. Waterford, in a local newspaper family. She holds degrees in English and in Law and qualified as a solicitor, in 2001. During her university and training years she was an international debater and public speaker, representing Ireland on three occasions, at the World Universities Debating Championships. Her poems have appeared in publications including The Stinging Fly, The Irish Times, Southword, The Moth, Spontaneity and Pittsburgh Poetry Review. She was the recipient of the Arts Council of Ireland Emerging Writer Award Bursary (2016) and a number of Literature awards and residencies from Waterford City and County Arts Office. In April, 2016 she delivered a series of readings, interviews and lectures, in Carlow University and Robert Morris University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as part of Culture Ireland’s International Programme. In February, 2017, as part of the AWP Conference and Book Fair in Washington, DC, she participated in a reading and discussion panel: “A World of Their Own” (five female poets in cross-cultural conversation) with US poets, Jan Beatty and Tess Barry, Irish poet, Eleanor Hooker, and Lebanese poet, Zeina Hashem Beck. She is a founding member, coordinator and curator of the Dungarvan and West Waterford Writers’ Group. She lives in Dungarvan with her husband and four young children.

 


“Alice and her Stilettoes” by Lorraine Carey

 
We always walked faster
past her little house on the brae.
Every so often she’d scuttle out and
snare us, clutching a plastic bag with
the highest heels, scuffed
and peeling, ready for the cobbler’s vice.
 
Her elfin face powdered,
her fuchsia mouth pursed,
the stain snaked onto her snaggled teeth,
crept over her lips.
She lay in wait,
behind net curtains that twitched.
Her ears hitched to the sound
of the school bus, stalling,
as we stepped off at Charlie Brown’s,
stinking of fags.
 
Once John got three pairs
of spine benders, for repair,
so she had a choice,
for Mass on Sunday.
 

“Alice and her stilettoes” is © Lorraine Carey

Lorraine Carey from Donegal, now lives in Co.Kerry. Her work has been published / is forthcoming in the following journals; The Honest Ulsterman, A New Ulster, Proletarian, Stanzas Limerick, Quail Bell, The Galway Review, Vine Leaves, Poetry Breakfast, Olentangy Review and Live Encounters. Her first collection of poetry will be published this summer.
 

“Market Prayer” and other poems by Annemarie Ní Churreáin

Laundry

 
Here in the Indian foothills,
I share a house with a man from Greece
 
who speaks no English perfectly,
disappears for days on a motorbike,
 
leaves his laundry on the low make-shift line,
grieving an absent sun.
 
Side by side they hang: his shirt, my summer dress
as if they know each other well
 
and when he returns, smelling of engine oil,
monsoon, rolled brown cigarettes,
 
we have no formal language,
to share our separate joy.
 
Drip-drip on the balcony,
a queer, white pool gathers below.
 
He holds at a sleeve, looks to sky.
I open my palm for signs of rain.
 

Market Prayer

 
It is the scent of hanging fruit
more than roots pulled
from lines of parallel dirt
that lingers
after all that has happened.
I touch a pyramid of lemons
and everything is new again.
I pick one, and close my hand around it
as if to test these immutable seeds
glowing in my darkness.
For what, I do not know.
Pomona of Orchards, please:
like the finder of a planet
seeing for the first time
an otherness, I am afraid
the life I dream exists.
 

Protest

 
One cut and the hair worn since childhood
fell upon the floor
dead soft.
 
A spear-thistle;
her new, bald skull
refused order.
 
She belonged to heather
and in tail-streams
cupping frogs,
 
delighting
in the small, green pulse of life
between palms,
 
not here:
at the dark centre of reunions, separations,
starved of air.
 
This was a protest of love, against love
demanding
sun, rain, wilderness.
 
From a finger, she slid a band
placed it underfoot,
pressed down
 
until the stone
made the sound of a gold chestnut
cracking open.
 

The Scandal

 
The villagers did not unite
in outrage
but instead, they set about their days as usual,
posting letters, buying fruit, forming queues in the bank after lunchtime.
 
They said little
but within that little lay much;
little was a gated field in which something extraordinary was buried.
 
They held to their inner selves
resilient
in emergencies of projected light.
 
And yet,
over time, there happened a slow retreat from joyousness;
a packing away of the Emperor’s new clothes, for good.
 
Only the giant oaks
would live to remember imagination.
 

End of Girlhood

 
The first time
a tree called me by name,
I was thirteen and only spoke a weave of ordinary tongues.
 
It started with a leaf and next,
a mist came down from the hills, beating a lone skin drum,
looking for me.
 
Scarlet pimpernels dropped hints
that could not be ignored:
no red is innocent.
 
Badger trails called me aside for a word.
Come underground, they said,
see what we are made of.
 
Market Prayer and other poems are © Annemarie Ni Churreáin

Annemarie Ní Churreáin is a poet and writer from Donegal, Ireland. She has been awarded literary fellowships from Akademie Schloss Solitude (Germany), Jack Kerouac House (Orlando) and Hawthornden Castle (Scotland). In 2016, Annemarie was the recipient of a Next Generation Artists Award from the Arts Council of Ireland. In Autumn 2017, Annemarie’s debut collection ‘BLOODROOT’ is being launched by Doire Press, Galway. For more information, click here.

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

Dedicated to the many people all over the world that cannot live liberally & authentically for reasons of culture or other. May you find a path that frees you to be true to your beautiful intrinsic self, whatever that may be.

Closet

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
only to 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

I. Am. Straight.

Are you ?

Contemplation of what life once was & could have been
momentarily fills my heart with sadness
I could have chosen that path
the superficial comfort of what society states is my success
I now would be dead
a funeral
that I alone would have attended
privately & inside of me
a society that conditioned the belief amongst many
that my ‘type’ would only have a marriage to a ‘He’
that very poison choking the core beauty of some other ‘females’
Thankfully, that wasn’t me

I too could have taken that pride…. in a husband
a free ticket to shield my secret
My.
Secret.
To bury –
present us both as a society success
but Girlfriend, Fiance & Wife
I understand you
Without a judgmental nor a critical weight
for you & I are both the same
We are straight
‘Ssh’traight

A path interrupted by authentic desire
many a beautiful night
sharing a wild & deep embrace
of soft satin skin
& bright white lace
between the sheets with a natural beauty
to wake with the sun filling a room
illuminating the exquisite reality
for the torture of acceptance
to cut the presence of it, her & the sun
as easy as a knife would cut a single green blade of grass
& that torture ?
for simply being ‘Ssh’traight

‘Ssh’ traight
‘Ssh’traight
‘Straight’! – Presumed by many
always followed by
“Who is the lucky man?”
to scream inside
but I am in the sun with ‘her’
where I am alive & feel more like me
not dead to ‘Him’ or worst again
Dead to me
Dead to me
Dead to me!

The morning passes
with the fading sun
let go of my grasp
look deep in her eyes
share a warm kiss
this always suggested our departure
‘Ssh’traight reflection in the mirror
take a breath
rouge lipstick I paint
mascara to darken my lashes
on opening that door
remember to lift my head
clicking my heels into the engulfment of society again

until the next time
I am straight
Are you?

Here

So you’ve left ?
sorrowful mess
alone in mind of how & what
weeping heart
no matter what
full –
yet void of why

So you’ve left
& my heart to love again –
impossible
to what it was
& IS
is rare
is rare

So you’ve left
maybe, once again
for I knew you, before we met
‘a first uniting?,’ the lady asked
to reply ‘No’
simply

Our eyes had met
with a familiar gaze
time stood I’m sure
moved by smiles
to the beauty of ‘Hello’ again
softly.

So you’ve left
from that hello
& in between –
the love
the years
& everything
to this goodbye?
Good bye?!
So you’ve left
well, so you say! –
I see you smiling
in the hallway
to catch a moment of me smiling back
& realise
it’s just

So you’ve left
to hear your song
I tilt my head to hear some more
to recognise myself
with company –
a  sudden silence

So you’ve left
to see you sitting in the sun
& reach toward you
with falling tears
an empty chair

So you’ve left
while your arms hold me
an intersilient cold air
no words spoken
just traffic passing by

So you’ve left.
then tell me
how I hear you call my name?
pause & listen
to hear just the night

So you’ve left
then why visit
when I’m sleeping
& rise to see you smile in bed
to turn
to nothingness,
again

So you’ve left
yet, I see you
look deep in my eyes
With much light &
feel your hand
mind mine

So you’ve left ?
why is it
You’re still here
still here
here.

(LL 2011)

The Wake

Ticking clock
between the silence
 the intermittent noise
TicK – TocK – TicK – TocK
cracked ceiling
splitting view of complete darkness
1 hundred beautiful memories
visit

Moonlit windows
white sheets of warmth
TicK -TocK – TicK – TocK
Remembrance
of patchouli
a beautiful haunting
Still

Vacant presence
to a time of us
TicK – TocK – TicK – TocK
now dead
without attending
buried by us both
separately –
An empty wake

TicK – TocK – TicK- TocK
All the while
Awake

I. Am. Straight.
Are you ? & other poems are © 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.

“Eavan Boland: Inside History” Edited by Nessa O’Mahony and Siobhan Campbell

EAVAN BOLAND
INSIDE HISTORY

(Arlen House, 2016)
download-1

Eavan Boland: Inside History, a new volume of essays and poems in response to the work of the internationally-renowned Irish poet, will be published by Arlen House on 1 December 2016. Edited by poets Siobhan Campbell and Nessa O’Mahony, Eavan Boland: Inside History is a reappraisal of Boland’s influence as a poet and critic in the 21st century and is the first major commissioned collection of essays to be published on Boland.

The volume includes critical essays on, and creative responses to, her work by leading writers, thinkers and scholars in Ireland, the UK, Europe and the US and reappraises Boland’s influence as a poet and critic for the 21st century. The fresh and diverse approaches provide a new frame for a critical engagement which crosses continental and aesthetic boundaries. The book therefore repositions Boland scholarship with a focus on the most important aspect: the poems themselves.

Contributions include a foreword by Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, as well as essays by Jody Allen Randolph, Patricia Boyle Haberstroh, Siobhan Campbell, Lucy Collins, Gerald Dawe, Péter Dolmányos, Thomas McCarthy, Nigel McLoughlin, Christine Murray, Nessa O’Mahony, Gerard Smyth, Colm Tóibín and Eamonn Wall. There are also poems from Dermot Bolger, Moya Cannon, Katie Donovan, Thomas Kinsella, Michael Longley, Paula Meehan, John Montague, Sinead Morrissey, Paul Muldoon, Eileán Ní Chuilleanáin, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Jean O’Brien and Nessa O’Mahony. The volume concludes with A Poet’s Dublin, a reissuing of the conversation that took place between Eavan Boland and Paula Meehan on the occasion of her 70th birthday in 2014.

Eavan Boland worked as an editor with Arlen House in the 1970s and 1980s and did extraordinary work in developing new Irish writing and broadening the boundaries of Irish literature. We are pleased to publish this collection on her work,” said publisher Alan Hayes.

As editors, we’ve been delighted to be part of the conversation that this volume has begun,” said Siobhan Campbell. “It’s been a privilege and an honour to work on this collection particularly as both Nessa and I feel poetically in Eavan Boland’s debt, as do so many of our contemporaries.”

Eavan Boland: Inside History is published on 1 December 2016. It will be launched at Poetry Ireland, 11 Parnell Square, Dublin 1, on Thursday 15 December 2016 at 6.30 with special guests Eavan Boland and Mary Robinson.

978–1–85132–140–7, 368 pages, paperback, €25
978–1–85132–150–6, limited edition numbered and signed hardback, €55

ARLEN HOUSE LTD, 42 Grange Abbey Road, Baldoyle, Dublin 13.
Phone: 086 8360236: Email: arlenhouse@gmail.com

The Light Dancing” and “Lizzie” by Catherine Conlon

The Light Dancing

When I close the door
my father’s coat slow-dances
against the dark wood.
It is old, this coat,
marked by many winters,
labours of a lifetime done.

I imagine him in the front yard
screening sand for the new extension,
coat collar upturned against the breeze,
a cigarette ashing towards his lip.
There’s a light in his eyes
when I stop during play
to prattle and hear him say
“you’re the best woman in the house”

Now coming from the Big Field,
the day’s farming done,
his great hands in deep pockets.
Dark shoulders that bear a darkness coming,
the last of the light
dancing on his wet boots.

(first published in Ropes 2015. Issue 23)

Lizzie

I had a child’s view of her,
black stockinged legs
without shape of calf or ankle
at my grandmother’s hearth,
the fire shining in her laced-up shoes.
Balls of wool from an old shopping bag,
and her tongue like the clappers
as she looped and purled.
Her needles took up the light,
flew like red spokes
in the garment cradling her lap.

She measured me
in the breadth of her childless arms
and grew me a shawl the colour of flame.
Its touch to kindle her memory
to set old fires dancing.

(first published in Skylight 47. Issue 5 )

The Light Dancing” and “Lizzie” are © Catherine Conlon

Catherine Conlon lives in Celbridge, Co. Kildare. She has been shortlisted for the RTE P.J. O’Connor Radio Drama Awards and has had two stage plays performed. Her short stories have been published in Stories for the Ear and Boyne Berries. Her poems have appeared in Poetry Ireland Review, The Irish Times, Books Ireland, The Cuirt Journal, Ropes, Skylight 47 and in various anthologies and newspapers.