Here’s my poem The Writer’s House, which was recently featured in issue seven of One from Jacar Press. This is an excellent, eclectic online journal which features great poetry from all over the world. I’d recommend reading and submitting.
The Writer’s House
I’m there again, the basement room,
this catacomb disturbed
by passing ghosts, by the turn
of pages on an unseen breeze.
His family peer from photos –
faces like ossuary skulls.
I hear him and his woman above me,
and though the stairs have vanished,
know they might at any minute
come tumbling through a cupboard door,
or appear crouched in the cold hearth.
I hear their noises in the air. I trespass.
Outside, if I were to look, I would see him,
hands black from the earth of a grave,
holding, root-side-up, a stripling tree.
You can read the whole issue here
It’s been a busy month leading up to Christmas (as always), but this year I’ve had a few lovely experiences promoting Liffey Swim. The first was reading at Bray Arts earlier this month to a really engaged and responsive audience. Have a look at their website for upcoming events.
The second week in December, I went to London for the launch of Other Countries: Contemporary Poets Rewiring History, edited by Gareth Prior and Claire Trévien. this is a really fantastic anthology in which a number of poets respond to historical events. This is exactly the kind of poetry I like to write, and I was very pleasantly surprised to be included in such great company. I think many of the poems included really stand up in their own right, even without immediate knowledge of the various historical contexts involved, so I’d really recommend picking up a copy, which you can do here.
Earlier this month, I also paid a flying visit to RTE’s Arena, where I recorded an essay on personal Christmas experiences which will be broadcast on Christmas Eve. At the same time, I recorded a few more poems from Liffey Swim, which Arena have been dotting throughout their broadcasts over the past few weeks. It’s always lovely to get a text from someone saying ‘Did you know you’re on the radio??’ My poem From the Diary of Doctor Jekyll can be heard at here, and The Water Table can be heard here.
Finally, I read as part of the Big Smoke Winter Literary Café, along with Michael Naghten Shanks, Mia Gallagher, Michelle Read, Dave Lordan, Raven and more. I’ve been writing lots of new stuff since the book was published and it was nice to have the opportunity to try out a new poem (although, as with the Doctor Jekyll poem above, it was a bit off-season. I’m going to have to publish a purely Halloween themed book next time around.) At least I got the Christmas jumper right.
Delighted to see my poetry book’s first review in last weekend’s Irish Times. It’s great to be reviewed in such good company too, along with new collections by Kerry Hardie, Gerald Dawe, Nessa O’Mahony and Theo Dorgan. Here’s my mention:
Although Jessica Traynor’s first collection, Liffey Swim (Dedalus, €11.50), is not grounded in elegy, one of its successes is the surreal reversal of (the bravely titled) The Dead, whose deathbed scene is clamorous with ghosts: “I didn’t want to leave her with them, / so I stayed and they promised to behave – / though they were already into the whiskey. / In the small hours she called for them / and, when her life escaped her, // it shook out its legs like a newborn foal.”
The book shows her care with form as she negotiates public and private spaces: eBay, street scenes, the Liffey swim of its title, an archaeological dig. Others imagine an animal world clearly, as when Egrets in the Tolka “becomes an aerial show // by a bird that looks through me, / seeking only the shadows / of slow-moving fish.”
You can read the full round up of reviews here
I’m looking forward to doing some readings next week in Dublin and London, more updates to follow soon.
I’ll be teaching a six week Beginning to Write Poetry course for Big Smoke Writing Factory, starting on the 6th November.
This is the perfect course for those who’ve been dabbling in poetry, and would like to take the next step. It’s also great for those who may have written poetry in the past and who’d like to get back into it. I really enjoyed giving a version of this class earlier this year and am looking forward to getting back into it.
More info and booking here: http://www.bigsmokewritingfactory.com/Courses_btwpoetry.php
And if any of you are poetry fans, you might be interested to know that I’ve just launched my own collection of poetry, Liffey Swim. It’s available in Books Upstairs and also online from the Dedalus Press website:
I’ve a number of poems from Liffey Swim featured on Christine Murray’s Poethead blog today, and I’m delighted to also be featured on her index of Irish women poets. You could get happily lost in both, so do have a look around if you have a free moment.
Here’s the link to Poethead, which regularly features great contemporary poetry:
And here’s the link to the index of Irish women poets, an excellent online resource: