Published by Arlen House and edited by James Martyn Joyce, Noir by Noir West is new short fiction by 30 of Ireland's best established and emerging writers; stories filled with menace and intrigue. Local author Pat Mullan says “I am very pleased to be one of the writers chosen for this superb new work.”
We invite you into this dark, dark world to hear Hugo Kelly, Aideen Henry, Pat Mullen and myself read from the collection. Your life will never be the same again.
Here is a new poem that has just been published in Human Journal.Thank you to Susan and Mustafa for inviting me to submit. The link below will let you see the amazing work of all the other contributors. The Missing Link The head-hunters came to the wildness of Mayo, eighteen nineties, with callipers and camera, to prove our nigrescence, our blackness. They lined up full face and side view: measured to a fraction of an inch − forehead to crown, temple to temple the jut of the bone from ear to ear: Seán ‘the common noun’ Daly, The schoolmaster at Ballycroy, The King of North Iniskea or my great-grandmother milling grain in the quern the purse of her full bottom lip, the protruding lower jaw. If it wasn’t for the white of her skin she’d be the living proof. Note: Mayo is a county in the north west of Ireland (http://humanjournal.org/index.php/issues/current-issue)
How random our lives are. How we can be born on a whim of chance, a
loneliness in the heart, a hunger to be somewhere else. I have become very
aware of this as I try to attune myself to the cold fact that my husband and I
will be long-distance grandparents.Before the summer is over our first and only grandchild will have moved
to the United States
with her Irish mother and American father to start her new little life. And so
it puts me in mind of my own lineage. How this precious part of us would never
have been born if my forebears hadn’t crossed the Atlantic.
At a time when the Erris peninsula was anything but
‘the best place to go wild in’ as it has just been voted, my great-grandparents
and six of their children emigrated from the shores of Belmullet in June, 1883
on the SS Waldensian, bound for Boston.
This was the third steamer that year to leave BlacksodBay
under the assisted Emigration Arrears Act.
The project was funded by the Tuke Fund, named after a
Yorkshire Quaker, James Hack Tuke who spent most of his life trying to relieve
the starvation and poverty in the west of Ireland. His scheme granted passage
to large numbers of tenant farmers and their families from the most deprived
areas of Ireland
willing to seek a new life beyond the pinched existence of post-Famine Mayo. My
great-grandparents chose to do this, handing their hungry piece of grass back
to the landlord, packing up whatever little possessions they had and set their
sights on America.
In all, 3,300 people left those shores between 1883−84.
A fine morning by all accounts. Late June, the weather clement as they
followed the winding road down to the sea, the S.S. Waldensian waiting for them
in the calm waters of EllyBay.No need for tears, they were going as a unit
and it was still too early for anyone to wave them off.
And maybe they were glad to see the back of it all,
the smell of rotting, the wind-crippled trees, the last smoor of a cold fire.
For their passage was paid; they had clothes on their backs. The women given a
second set of petticoats, dress, a bonnet, a brush and comb; the men an
overcoat, two shirts, a muffler, six pounds in their pockets: landing money. The anchor was raised and the SS Waldensian set sail.
According to the passenger list they landed in BostonHarbour
on 4th July 1883. What a New World
celebration they would have arrived into: flags flying, brass bands, speeches,
fanfares, How delighted they would have been to think it was for them alone, a
welcome to the land of plenty where the streets were paved with gold, no
comparison with the scatter of stones that they had abandoned.
They moved to Rhode
Island where my great-grandfather was given work in a
manufacturing company. A swanky home by their standards, steady work, a school
for the children, another baby born, a child christened.
But after the first flush of excitement, they couldn’t
settle. And who is to say what brought them back? Whether it was all those
factory chimney stacks blocking out the sky, no burnished sand of Elly Bay,
no sight of geese on Iniskea, no curlew.
Either way, against the tide they bought a return passage on a ship still
marked with famine and headed back, one of the young girls dying onboard. She
was kept hidden in her mother’s shawl until they landed in Cobh
where they buried her. Which road they took to find their way back to Belmullet
is lost with them but they started over; picked up the pieces.
different this life narrative would have been if they had stayed. Who would
have married who? Who would have begotten who? Only that my grandmother would
not have met her husband at the August Fair Day in Belmullet, my mother, I, my
daughter, and now our granddaughter would not have entered this earth.
so the story repeats itself. Not a boat but a plane, not famine but
opportunity, not my ancestors but my own, daughter, her husband, their child,
our granddaughter.Beginning a new life.
Albuquerque,just before dawn preparations are already under way to see the sun rise from the hot air balloon. There is a balloon ride in a scene of my latest story so I'm all for making my writing authentic.
Propane gas lights up the sky
Keith checks it all out to see that the balloon is filling properly with air
Is my life worth more than three paltry sentences?
No time to change my mind for we are up,up and away
Having left North Dakota for New Mexico I have gone from a world of badlands and buffalo, longhorn cattle and flax fields to the land of mesas and roadrunners, Georgia O' Keeffe and Route 66. These dramatic landforms (above) are created when the top layer of the plateau resists the natural weathering process. As the softer soil around the harder cap-rock is eroded a mesa forms.
The Kimo Theatre is on Route 66,and was built in 1927 as a Pueblo Deco picture palace which was a very flamboyant short-lived architectural style that combined the spirit of the Native American cultures with art moderne that was popular in the 1920s. Its elaborate interior of colourful Indian symbols, air vents designed as Navajo rugs and buffalo skulls with red, glowing eyes it's a jewel in the Albuquerque cityscape.
Kelly and Pamela with Cinnebar
It's the first time that I've had a horse come to my reading but Cinnabar was most attentive when I read at Jacqueline Loring's home with a number of her friends who came to meet me. We had a wonderful reading in the garden, the sun shining and everything right with the world. Other animals that dropped by were Thumper and Cuddles, the road runner and a two hummingbirds. The bull snake and the raptors stayed at home.
As well as new work, Jacqueline also read from her award-winning collection The History of Bearing Children. The following poem was recently selected to be part of an exhibition at the Museum of the American Military Family which has been curated by Caroline Le Blanc.