Poems by Denise Blake


A hand rests at your forehead
as if pondering a deep problem.
Your arm hides the strong heartbeat
but it is there, quietly reassuring.
A bent knee that will soon straighten
and kick out. Imaging your world,
the place of safety for ten more weeks.
Can you hear the noises, the daily rhythms
of your parents voices? Can you tell
how new they are to this whole experience?
In the distance, at a lower pitch are the elders,
and the soft echo of uncles, aunts and cousins.
This has been the strangest of summers.
You may never learn of the pressures
that buffeted your parents, or ever know
how each scan showing clenched fingers,
stretching limbs, held them both above
the rise and falling waves of anxieties.
How each image sent the frequency of hope.


The saucepan is full of leftover potatoes
and I keep cooking too much rice or pasta.
Three placemats still sit on our dining table.
Silence has become a strong presence.
Our hall light stays on all through the night
after years of not sleeping in total darkness.
I keep expecting a four o’clock return from school,
while our youngest settles into Halls in Dublin.
While our youngest settles into Halls in Dublin,
I keep expecting a four o’clock return from school.
After years of not sleeping in total darkness
our hall light stays on all through the night.
Silence has become a strong presence.
Three placemats still sit on our dining table
and I keep cooking too much rice or pasta.
The saucepan is full of leftover potatoes.

Beyond the Front Door

It happens here, in our front porch
when your Dad and I have been away.
Moving towards the door, keys in hand,
I fall into some other family dimension.
When I turn the key in the lock, press down
on the handle, the door creaking open,
I imagine things within our home will be altered.
The tidy house we had left behind will be lived-in.
Any mail will be lifted from the mat, thrown
on the stairs, clothes strewn across the banister.
The hall light that we kept on for security
will be off. The rooms will be humid warm.
Cold pizza slices in a cardboard box, an empty
coke can lying on the table. And instead of being
away at university, you’ll be laid back on a sofa
singing a head-phoned song joyously loud.
It is not that I would wish student days differently
for you, the youngest of our away-flung brood.
But after a lifetime parenting, space and time
and my maternal senses need to be re-aligned.
Our living space has been changed by your absence.
And Ian, as you stand outside your apartment door,
is there a moment that you wish; when I turn the key
I want to smell cheese melting on Mum’s lasagne.
Ultrasound , Adjusting , and Beyond The Front Door are © Denise Blake

Denise Blake

Denise Blake

Denise Blake has two collections, Take a Deep Breath (2004) How to Spin Without Getting Dizzy (2010) published by Summer Palace Press She is a regular contributor to RTE radio 1’s show, Sunday Miscellany . Denise read as part of the Poetry Ireland’s Lunchtime Series and at ÓBhéal as well as many other readings around the country. She is on the Poetry Ireland directory for Writers in Schools and has wide experience facilitating workshops for adults.

2012 Poets and Poetry Sites

'Life or Theatre ?' Charlotte Salomon

I wanted to read or hear the narrative of someone else – a woman and a poet – who has gone here and been there. Who had lifted the kettle to a gas-stove. Who had set her skirt out over a chair, near to the clothes dryer, to have it without  creases for the morning. Who had made the life meet the work and had set it down.

Eavan Boland , from Object Lessons. publ. Carcanet 1995.

As ever, thanks to my readers who keep coming back to read, to make suggestions, and to send poems. My feeling is that overall 2012 has been a good year for women poets. There have been the usual scant begrudging reviews, there is still a visibility issue in terms of how many women are published, but poets like Alice Oswald, Ros Barber, Carol Ann Duffy, Eavan Boland, and all the women here published have most definitely placed the woman-poet in her room, on the street, and in the bookshop where young women and upcoming poets may find her if they care to look.

I have added a list of blogs, journals, reviews and interesting sites to the end this post. I often link to my favourite blogs and sites directly in the posts. This year, I mention in particular Bone Orchard Poetry, CanCan, and WurminApfel. My perennial favourite websites are Jacket2, Guernica, The Harriet Blog (Poetry Foundation), Lemon Hound  and Poetry Ireland

The easiest way to do this is to link the poets and translators published this year of 2012 as they were published. There is a handy monthly (2008-2012) archive to your right (and up the page a wee bit)

2012 Poets; their poetry

Journals, Blogs and Websites

I had recommended some online poetry journals in my opening paragraph. and I thought to link them here. I am particularly fond of Bone-Orchard Poetry where I have (almost) published two sequences. Michael McAloran has an excellent list of working poets who he publishes on a rolling basis.

Good Online Poetry Journals/Blogs
Irish Poetry Imprints and Websites

Those Irish Publishers, people involved in evolving tech to increase poetry readership, and poets who blog are listed in the sidebar of this blog. if I have neglected anyone, just contact me. I repeat the list here :

The image is  ‘Life or Theatre’ by Charlotte Salomon

2011 poetry news, and online information for poets.

Given that the Irish Times Books of the Year did not make mention of poetry books for 2011, I thought to add some links to Irish poetry  presses and imprints for those readers of poetry who are not catered for in the list-system. I have to say that I do not think of such ephemera as dates when I approach a book of poetry and my reading included some 2010 volumes (and earlier).  The beauty of poetry is that it is timeless and  poetry books are always relevant. I am going to add links for some poetry publishers, and then some good online resources for readers and writers of poetry. I wonder how many of the books at link will survive the test of time ? (or even taste,  ” So good, so funny, so real, so very, very sad” , is what amounts to review in the article).

Irish presses and poetry journals.

I can add to this list Poetry Ireland , The SHOp Magazine , Moth (Little Editions) , Post (DCU) , Crannóg , Burning Bush , The Munster Literature Centre ( and SouthWord), The Western Writers Centre, Over the Edge, Tigh Filí , and The Irish Writer’s Centre . Online Poetry concerns include Writing.ie , Emerging Writer , Wurm in Apfel , Nuala Ní Chonchúir, and all of the above mentioned presses that use online as a source of income and connection for writers.

2011 bits and pieces.

I reviewed a few books this year and I have blogged these over the past twelve months, I liked Jeet Thayil‘s edition of Contemporary Indian Poetry and told him too, The moth magazine ‘Little Editions’  , Susan Lindsay’s ‘Whispering the Secrets, John Walsh’s ‘Chopping Wood with T.S Eliot, Human Chain by Seamus Heaney. I intend to get Memorial, by Alice Oswald and I  will probably blog that too. AND this year 2011, I published some almost lost Doris Lessing Poems Here , in all a wonderful poetic year for me as a reader and writer.

This year saw the cutting of funds to Poetry Now ! and barely a whisper of protest in the media, and there was some controversy at the T.S Eliot Prize . My  favourite story of the year had to be the restoration of  Sue Hubbard’s ‘Eurydice’.  The fourth annual Turn at Tara occurred, although some newspapers would rather not look at the wound created by rampant planning unbalanced by a single heritage and conservation bill in over a decade!  Poetry happens in the most wonderful places , although these places are generally  not full of  literary liggers. Two wonderful editors had a spat, although Irish media coverage of same was void ,empty. I really do wonder if poetry loses importance due to the glitter and tinsel of PR management, and souped-up interest in disposable tales (the type that makes it to the charity-shops within  three-four week periods of publication and sells for 1-2 Euros ?).

As is usual , I have to say that good poetry discussion occurs at  Jacket2, UBUWEB, The Poetry Foundation , Salt , Anon. Pierre Joris’  Nomadics is an interesting site for those interested in translation and outsider poetics.

Other newspapers have published poetry lists for 2011.

Poet-Bloggers, a new category introduction for Poethead.

This post is about poet-bloggers, the vehicles they use, and how online journals are using web and social-media to increase the profile of poetics. The area is huge, as I found out when I began compiling this Google+ list.  There are multiple groups and individuals connecting across Twitter, and Facebook also. The emphasis here will be on the individual writer, and the journals that are emergent, or already fully developed.

I thought to begin with some of the artists who have caught my eye through consistent use of online resources to bring their poetry to the public eye, these writers include, Aíne Mac Aodha, Nuala Ni ChonchúirRon Silliman, Charles Bernstein, Al Filreis Mick RooneyPierre Joris , Elizabeth Kate Switaj and Robert Peake.

There are many more poets and writers using online and social-media, but the above in particular have a great online presence. They regularly and consistently post about poetry through PENN Sound, personal websites, journals and Facebook.  Publishers such as Salt, Poetry IrelandPoetry London ,Over the Edge , Munster Literature, Jacket2  , Women Writers Women Books , use online media in a very effective manner also. There are also The Dublin Poetry Review, The Western Writers Centre, Anon Poetry , the Arvon Foundation  The Paris ReviewPoet’s Pages, Crannóg and Caper Literary Journals.

Any other poet will name a score more reviews ,  journals or poetry-centred blogs. These are the ones that I know and enjoy reading. Last week I added a new category called Poet-bloggers. This short piece along with its related links serves as an introduction to what is currently happening online for poets.

Related Poethead Links.


Poetry and digitisation; how derivatives occur.

The meaning of collaborative work in Poetry and Literature.

The author is entitled to ownership of their work. In poetic terms derivatives do occur , mostly in music and in translations. As stated before on this blog, derivatives are seen as adding to the original works, once attribution is established. The fact that there are appalling non-collaborative translations online of  great poets is irritating. The issue of copyright and fair use has been linked here Via the Poetry Foundation and it really is a most important text.

Digitising bodies of works  and  how  derivatives occur

Digitisation is widespread , many authors will need to learn to establish their rights on blogging platforms, and indeed how to use such services as Scribd. Not all original works are necessarily confined to publishing contracts.  Thus we have  access to licensing  services  like Creative Commons.

Literary and poetic work is meant to be shared and to be accessible , for that reason innovating is necessary , but there are conventions and respects for authorship in place , which take cognisance of  the rights of ownership to original works. Some issues in the GBS row which were not fully discussed were  concerned in the area of pictorial, collaborative translation, and forewords ! A book or piece of digital-work does not come in snippets and it is really up to the author if they wish snippets to be made available to online communities.  Using CC is one way of doing so .

Libraries are mostly works of collaboration and are already digitising at that level !

The ideality of a library making original works available online is a wonderful one in many ways, everyone has seen how vulnerable libraries are to attack, to cuts and to censorship. The idea of building up a digital library should be based in the highest understanding of the merits of literary and artistic works, and to the best in copyright law which takes cognisance of the author’s rights to ownership. This would mean involving authors at a level of understanding which is evinced in my first link above,  to the Poetry Foundation.

Code of Best practices in Fair-use for Poetry, Centre for Social-media.

Poetry is more than a body of writings or a typology of forms; first and foremost, it is an evolving set of practices that engage, and are engaged by, the creative work of others. During the extensive conversations leading up to this document, a few central themes about poetic practice emerged. The first was that poets generally (though not universally) want their poetry to be as widely available to potential audiences as possible, both during their lifetimes and beyond. However, poets, especially those not working in and for new media formats, expressed anxiety about how new media might affect their ability to make money from their work and to establish and advance academic careers. And they were concerned about the ease with which new media enable others to distribute and alter their poems without permission. At the same time, poets urgently expressed their need to use material derived from the poems of others (including twentieth and twenty-first century writers) in their own work, and their desire to do so in ways that were both ethically and legally appropriate.”

Poetry Ireland Discussion Doc. on The Google Book Settlement (GBS)

To spread awareness about the Google Book Settlement, Poetry Ireland and the Irish Copyright Licencing Agency have joined resources to provide rights-holders with the most up-to-date, unbiased, and clear-cut information available.*

A number of seminars on the settlement have taken place around the country. One of the most important messages that emerged from these meetings was that whether or not the settlement stands, digital publishing is part of the future, and similar digitalisation projects are in progress. Rights-holders need to decide how to deal with Google and other such projects.

With the advice and help of Samantha Holman (Director of ICLA), Poetry Ireland has put together a compact, but in no way comprehensive, fact-sheet on the settlement.”

You may want to begin at the end: the last page is a very useful set of questions that should help to put the dizzying complexities of the settlement into perspective and will direct rights-holders on what their next steps may be.

March 22nd Judgement on Google Books Settlement digitisation.

While the digitization of books and the creation of a universal digital library would benefit many, the ASA would simply go too far.  It would permit this class action – –  which was brought against defendant Google Inc. (“GoogleI1) to challenge its scanning of books and display of  “snippets” for on-line searching – –   to implement a forward-looking business arrangement that would grant Google significant rights to exploit entire -2-books, without permission of the copyright owners.  Indeed, the ASA would give Google a significant advantage over competitors,rewarding it for engaging in wholesale copying of copyrighted works without permission, while releasing claims well beyond those presented in the case.”