Yearly Archives: 2019

A Telling Week: 50 Years On

This is a week of momentous anniversaries, of the Moon Landing and also of a significant escalation of unrest in Northern Ireland, including two deaths in controversial circumstances.

The call-out for poetry for Issue 2 of Black Bough Poetry, for Imagist poems on the theme of the Apollo mission, prompted me to write three poems (one in Ulster Scots). One of these, ‘Moon, Landing’, is in the issue and another  is here below. I wanted to consider the context in which I experienced the Moon Landing, and anniversaries which make us reflect on progress and also how we deal with memories, and with events, resolved or unresolved. Continue reading A Telling Week: 50 Years On

Poetry: A Year’s Mentoring from Glen Wilson

I am so thrilled that the poet, Glen Wilson has chosen to mentor me for a year. The aim is to compile a collection.

Glen’s collection An Experience on the Tongue has just come out from Doire Press. He won the Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing in 2017.

This amazingly generous initiative was sparked by Matthew C. Smith of Black Bough Poetry.

Words at the Seamus Heaney Home Place

I’m particularly pleased that it is a poet from Northern Ireland and a poet from Wales who have been instrumental in giving me this wonderful gift as I have a project on Writing in Wales and Northern Ireland with the Centre for the Study of Media and Culture in Small Nations at the University of South Wales.

Reading at the Belfast Book Festival

On June 9th, at the Belfast Book Festival, I had the great pleasure of reading at the Northern Irish launch of The North issue 61, devoted to contemporary Irish poets. It was edited by Nessa O’Mahony and Jane Clarke. I read my poem A Northern Irish Wife to a Northern Irish Catholic Priest. Continue reading Reading at the Belfast Book Festival

A Welsh Novelist of Northern Ireland

March 18th 2019 is the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Welsh novelist, Menna Gallie. She wrote one of the very first novels to engage with the Troubles: You’re Welcome To Ulster.

Set in 1969, it was published by Victor Gollancz in 1970. It is a fascinating double perspective on political agitation in both Wales and Northern Ireland written by a Welsh-speaker who had swiftly got under the skin of Northern Irish society.

Honno Press has re-issued four of Gallie’s novels and this month there is a 25% reduction on their price , using the code mg100.

Continue reading A Welsh Novelist of Northern Ireland

The North at The Irish Literary Society

The Irish Literary Society hosted the London launch of  issue 61 of The North magazine on February 25th. Published by The Poetry Business it is devoted to contemporary Irish poetry:

“119 poems by 106 fantastic poets”.

The Irish Literary Society is a child of the Irish Literary Revival of the late nineteenth century. Among its founders were WB Yeats and Douglas Hyde. Since 1892 it has championed and promoted Irish literature and facilitated discussion of and engagement with it. Continue reading The North at The Irish Literary Society

Poem in the Winter edition of the Bangor Literary Journal

SHOOT

Winter came early for that girl
When the unreturning brother –
The endlessly prevented youth –
Was thrown first in a ditch
And then a grave.

She was the Winter’s girl,
Wearing its icy dress,
So when she saw one parent
Smash the other’s face into a wall
She wasn’t fazed. She understood how well
The rounded skull fits to the palm;
How deep the need to make pain visible since he
Had been hooded when they tortured him.

But she − to Mammy and Daddy both −
She had become
As faint as frost on glass.
Then even the mirrors emptied.

A neighbour, meaning to be kind,
Had asked her to help him set December bulbs,
Late possibilities. She’d cupped a Winter White,
A cranium, papery-skinned and primed,
But when his back was turned
She’d plunged the bulb in upside down,
Cursing it to torment itself
In growing towards the dark.

Since she was a murderer too
She sentenced herself to drink till she was sick
On school-nights out beyond the playing fields.
Thirteen,
And only the cold would do.

But a long dormancy
Can keep something alive.
Forty years on, even the Winter tired
Of cold. It dis-adopted her,
Heading for Spring
When she shouldered her dying mother
And felt how well that heavy head
Fitted the hollow below her collar-bone,
In that embrace sensing
A possibility, though late.

 

Image: Claire Loader