‘Nightmare’ and ‘The Fall’ by Eleanor Hooker


A cobalt night in blue relief
and the hunt begins.
The green grass black
and the talking baby frightens me.
Bug eyed horrors hover in
our shadows, lingering, carnivorous.
Wailing now to let him stay,
He stumbles after, the talking baby.
Drop under the yickety yackety
picket fence. A treacherous fork
in the road. I know well the dangers.
Where I go the baby follows. I urge him
back to the black green grass, behind the
 yickety yackety picket fence.
“You’ll be safer there” I promise.
He crawls back under with pleas
to follow. We neither saw the pit
that he fell in, in velvet silence. A
small hand held the edge but
slipped away beneath my grip.
A cobalt night in blue relief and
And the hunt begins.

Nightmare is © Eleanor Hooker

First published in The Stinging Fly and subsequently The Shadow Owner’s Companion

The Fall

Oh she bared her soul alright; it fell from a star cloud
Reigned by Canis Major. They knew it was authentic,
It whimpered like an unknown set loose inside a crowd
Of urban predators: fierce curs and savage sceptics
That roamed in packs. A few select gave shelter in
The telling, clad the naked soul in their protection,
Made suspect bargains to house her in a harlequin
that masked and silenced looked like her, even wore her skin.
But being undressed is like an honest thought, it cannot
Lie with dogs; it is the thing in itself, nothing more.
The truth is beastly but does not wag the tale. No, that
Is the subplot tellers invent when they call her whore.
And though her flesh is marked by canines, they strain to blame
Her first fall; judging original sin her true shame.

The Fall is © Eleanor Hooker

First published in The Shadow Owner’s Companion, February 2012

shadowEleanor Hooker’s debut collection of poems The Shadow Owner’s Companion, published by the Dedalus Press in February 2012, has been shortlisted for the Mountains to Sea dlr Strong/Shine award for best first collection in 2012. Her poem A Rite won the Trocaire/Poetry Ireland competition in June 2013.
Her poetry has been published in The Irish Times, Poetry Ireland Review, The Stinging Fly, The SHOp, Agenda, POEM: International English Language Quarterly, Southword (forthcoming), CanCan, Wordlegs, And Other Poems, ink sweat and tears (forthcoming).
 She is a founder member and Programme Curator for the Dromineer Literary Festival. She is a helm and Press Officer for Lough Derg RNLI Lifeboat.

‘Calling a halt to killings in Syria’: Irish Times 28/04/2012.

Calling a halt to killings in Syria

  • Sir, – Credible reports that Syrian security forces have murdered people who have had contact with UN monitors represent a challenge to all of us. The United Nations acts in our name. If silence represents complicity in the face of crimes against humanity, allowing the UN to be used to select people for summary execution makes us even more culpable, unless we take action to stop the killing.The UN Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, even before these most recent crimes, had called for the referral of the Assad regime to the International Criminal Court.In the light of the string of recent atrocities, that makes a mockery of efforts to secure peace in Syria, surely the Dáil and Seanad will demand such action in an urgent resolution, and request the Minister for Foreign Affairs to seek to lobby the Security Council to act.Thousands have died as tanks and artillery have indiscriminately shelled besieged cities and snipers have targeted peaceful protesters. But the most egregious aspect of the Assad regime’s response has been the callous and indiscriminate targeting of children.

    Lois Whitman, children’s rights director at Human Rights Watch, has stated: “Syrian security forces have killed, arrested, and tortured children in their homes, their schools, or on the streets. In many cases, security forces have targeted children just as they have targeted adults.. It’s clear from the brutal methods used against children that Syrian security forces show child detainees no mercy . . . We fear that children will continue to face horrendous punishment in detention until Syrian officials understand they will pay a price for such abuse.”

    If we fail to act, we may condemn thousands, including who knows how many children, to torture and death. The heart-rending memorial on April 6th in Sarajevo commemorating the outbreak of war, and which highlighted the deaths of more than 1,000 children in the indiscriminate slaughter of the siege, is a compelling reminder of how real that threat is in Syria. – Yours, etc,

    RONAN TYNAN; RANA KABBANI (Syrian Writer Broadcaster); CHRISTINE MURRAY (Web Master – Irish Pen); VALERIE HUGHES; Dr BRONAGH CATIBUSIC; MIRZA CATIBUSIC; BRENDAN SIMMS, (Author, Unfinest Hour: Britain and the Destruction of Bosnia); GERALDINE MITCHELL; MICHAEL McLOUGHLIN (International Sec., Labour Party); GARRET TANKOSIC-KELLY (Former UN Resident Representative); FARUK KLEPO; PETER WALSH; ELVEDINA DIZDAREVIC and JOHN FEIGHERY.

    (from ,  The Irish Times , 28/04/2012)

    The following two links are about Tal Al-Mallouhi and are related to campaigns by PEN International to raise awareness of her plight  and her ongoing imprisonment..

Regular readers of this blog will know that I have mentioned Tal Al-Mallouhi in two posts recently. Tal is a poet imprisoned in Syria. I am adding a link to the PEN International appeal on her behalf, along with a link to her poem , You will remain an example .

I thought to edit one of these existent posts to include a letter published in today’s Irish Times (28/04/2012) which details the plight of those victims of the Assad regime , and the need for U.N intervention in increasing violences against the people of Syria.

Cutting the cloth to fit the wearer, recent press about women poets.

This post is a short form critique based on recent media coverage of those women poets who had not alone dared to hoist their poetic-petards, but to have achieved a popularity which is altogether more meaty than winsome domestic. Last week, I alluded in my Tweets and indeed in this blog to the issue of poetic critique. I am taking the idea of critique a step further now, and examining the acreage of press devoted to a negative representation of women poets that somehow manages to generate column inches but ignores the actual material :  the poems that the women write.

Unlike Rita Dove,  Helen Vendler, and Alice Oswald, Carol Ann Duffy has (this time) escaped the pariah-like status conferred on women poets by a media more interested in looking for gossip than adequately reviewing their books. The recent rows between Dove and Vendler, have, I believe, been generated by a bored media that needs to play fire with the writers rather than examine the middle ground in what has become a race row. Very few editors looked at the Dove/Vendler row in its proper context; anthologies nearly always involve controversial choices. Nope! Far better to  have a bit of mud-wrestling between two women editors of great merit, than to question the limits on their editorship, or why indeed so few women attain the level of literary acceptance to achieve an editorship in the first place. It is all about the row between the women, and not the relative merit of the two women’s work and what they both have contributed to literary America.

Alice Oswald had the temerity to withdraw from the T.S Eliot prize, and for this acres of column were devoted to examining the finances of poets and the perceived silliness of her principles. The issue of her withdrawal even made it into a paragraph in the Loose Leaves column of the Irish Times. The book itself, Memorial, has not achieved a critique within some of the very papers that reported her  withdrawal from the T.S Eliot prize. Memorial apparently has no merit for the poet critic, but the row is highly important to the people who collate the gossip inches. Of course I thought to add in here the link to the poet’s protest about the ACE 2011 funding cuts.

Is this is what it is about ?

Women’s poetry becomes a reductio ad absurdum in terms of what editors consider to be marketable variety, whilst also ignoring the books, the work and their devotion to their medium? Where is the discussion on the Iliadthe discussion on the merit of editors like both Vendler and Dove ? I am only glad that commissioning editors in these cases actually mentioned the books, I’ll do my own reviews and reading rather than be led by low gossip mongers and silly headlines.

The question of the visibility of women writers raised by Boland in God’s Make their Own Importance can indeed be qualified with ‘maybe sometime they will actually review the books  of those authors that they so casually traduce in their (er) newspapers‘.

Edit January 20/01/2012: More incisive critique in the London independent today by Boyd-Tonkin, using a stock-image of Alice Oswald, and of course reminding the reader that T.S Eliot was a banker (as the Telegraph did in December 2011)

EDIT January 31st 2012 : Some incisive Sir Geoffrey Hill nonsense, courtesy of the Telegraph http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/booknews/9050038/Poet-Laureate-compared-to-writers-of-Mills-and-Boon.html

Women Poets from the Blog (page) 

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Cutting the cloth to fit the wearer, recent press about women-poets. by C Murray is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Mick Heaney , Arts vs politics: We haven’t got the balance right

This brief post comprises a link to Mick Heaney’s article ( Irish Times ,  18/11/2011 )  regarding a symbiotic relation between the politics of the State and Irish Arts in Ireland.

I have decided to link the article here,  as blogging is a way of retaining record of items of interest that might otherwise be subsumed beneath current issues. I was unsure whether I should provide excerpts from  the Heaney article , or to try and create a contextualisation for my reaction to the piece in terms of previous arts posts that are collected here on Poethead.

In the end I decided that the issue of Arts vs Politics is too important against any attempt of mine to extract pithy comment from it for readers. I have decided to limit this post to a full link to the piece, and some relevant links to what I consider to be a deep and unchallenged cultural ossification that was set in motion in 2003 by the De Valeresque Arts Act introduced by Seán O Donoghue T.D (Fianna Fáil), that not alone remains on our statute but was unchallenged by the current government in a single party manifesto in the run up to the last Irish general election.

It seems that our current politicians do not have any ideas about art in its cultural context save their continued financing through the flawed 2003 Act, and the realisation of the arts as an extension of the business of government, which was the main thrust of that Act. A symbiotic relationship between the narrative of the state and the work of the artist can only lead to one thing , the lessening of the independence of the arts rather than the ennobling of the State: State Art , or art as an expression  or extension of the concerns of state. (an equation for disaster if ever I saw one)

Related links for Mick Heaney ‘Arts vs Politics ‘ : 

Do Arts Cuts hit the right note? Irish Times

‘This week’s Budget, of course, represents the Coalition Government’s thinking on the role of the arts. Both Fine Gael and Labour, who are likely to form the next government, are due to issue cultural policy documents in coming weeks. The fact that they are putting the arts on their pre-election agenda indicates that both parties have taken note of the case that has been made for the relevance of the arts in any recovery programme – both economically and in the re-establishment of national identity.’
By Gerry Smith (Irish Times 10/12/2010)

This is the ultimate paragraph of The Irish Times article Do arts cuts hit the right note? I am adding it in here , along with a link to my post on Fianna Fáil Arts policy, Scribbling in the Margins. It’s my opinion that something other than attrition is what is required in terms of cultural support, including a review of the 2003 Arts Act, which has brought the work of Government too close to what should be a naturally evolving area of concern. I am looking forward to seeing oppositional party  papers on the issues of arts, conservation and heritage over the coming weeks, and I will of course link them in these pages.

‘in only a few years Culture Ireland has become something of cornerstone of arts policy and it would appear that into the future, the potential for a company or artist to represent Ireland abroad could become a consideration in how well they are funded.

If such a criterion were to be cast in stone, the danger is the formation of an elite with advantaged access to State support and a loss of the risk-taking that is needed in the case of those who are only beginning their careers.’

The Full Irish Times article link is attached, along with my critique of Fianna Fáil’s policy in this area since the 2003 Arts Act.

Campaign for Arts