My Wall Poem as Gailege

I posted some pictures of the poem of mine that was projected in Krakow as part of the Multipoetry Project on Twitter last night. People responded to it very positively, and translator Dennis King suggested that an Irish version might be a very nice thing too. The very talented Doireann Ní Ghríofa kindly obliged, with Dennis’s help, and here’s the result:

San uair ghairid
atá curtha dínn againn sa teach tábhairne
rinne an bháisteach an tsráid a ní,
déanadh as an nua í; ligimís orainn
gurb amhlaidh dúinn.

My Irish is not the best, but I was easily able to read this version and I think Doireann has been very faithful to the original while finding a new music in it. It sounds very different to the English version when I read it aloud; much more fluid.

So thanks to the serendipity of Twitter encounters and the generosity of Doireann and Dennis, I now have my first Irish translation. I’m delighted, and would like to thank them both.

As mentioned, Doireann is a wonderful poet who writes in both English and Irish. You can find one of her recent poems here, a very haunting recreation of the voice of Emily Dickinson’s maid that was recently published in the Irish Times:

Valise of Memories by Doireann Ní Ghríofa

And here also is a link to Dennis King’s blog:

Nótaí Imill

Do take a look at both.

Wall Poems – Krakow City of Literature

A few months ago I was asked by Dublin City Libraries to submit some poems for consideration for inclusion as part of the Multipoetry Project that’s taking place this year in Krakow. Here’s the info from the website:

‘During the first week of every month, on the wall of the Potocki building, poems from the members of the Creative Cities Network’s literary cities: Dublin, Edinburgh, Iowa City, Krakow, Melbourne, Norwich, and Reykjavik will be projected. Everyday a poem from a different city is presented in Polish and English.’

I thought that this sounded like a gorgeous project, but there were some challenges involved: the poems submitted could only be five lines long, and a maximum of 30 characters including spaces. That’s less than a third of a tweet. I rifled through my notebooks to see if there were any short poems I could chop up and reconfigure, or any fragments that might seem to hold their own as a very short statement. Although I generally write short poems and really enjoy the challenge of intensive editing, it was very difficult to come up with something that felt both clear and weighty. I settled on this particular fragment, written after a quick drink with a friend last summer:

Neary’s, June Evening

In the short hour we’ve spent in the pub

the rain has washed the street’s many faces,

making them new; let’s pretend that they are.

I’d left this alone as a  fragment and hadn’t planned to do anything with it. I’d written it down as one of those happy moments that you feel must be recorded but not necessarily shared. And immediately looking back on it I noticed all the flab – a 25 word fragment with the word ‘the’ appearing four times is not good. However, I thought I might be able to hack it into something suitable and so ended up with the following:

Krakow poem - english

Looking at it now, I notice two remaining definite articles (isn’t it odd you have to use the definite article to define the definite article?)  but I still think what I’ve ended up with is an improvement. The ‘new’ and ‘too’ rhyme is something I would usually avoid, but it seemed to earn its keep here. Here’s the poem again, in Polish:

Krakow poem - Polish

I’d love to know how it sounds and whether the translation works well. It’s great to have the poem featured among works by so many international poets. Check out the website here to see more of the poems. I think there’s also the opportunity for open submissions:

Multipoetry Project