Thursday, December 31, 2015

Letting go of the old

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
'Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.'
Minnie Louise Haskins (1876 -1957)

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Poem as Haw Chutney

Twenty-one years ago, on the shortest day of the year, our house arrived on a lorry from somewhere in Sweden. By that evening there was a roof on and lights in all the windows. We had moved from Dublin and while we were planning the house I lived with the children in a tiny mobile on my sister and her husband’s land in Moycullen, Co Galway. 

My beloved commuted from the big smoke to our little home at the weekend. Our biggest treat was to go to Drimcong to feast on the beautiful food cooked by Gerry Galvin, a fantastic chef and a fine writer to boot. One of his cookbooks had a recipe for Haw Chutney, which took so long to make that it put me in mind of the similar effort involved in the crafting of a poem.

The poem was recently published in CrannĂ³g #40 which is a most handsome journal. I was thrilled to see that Eamonn Lynskey has just given it a very positive review on his blog.

Crannog 40 Cover by Robert Ballagh: 'Bloom on the Diamond Stone'

Many times when I read a poem by Geraldine Mills I feel like throwing in the thesaurus as a poet myself because she is so good. ‘Poem as Haw Chutney’ (p.26) is a marvellous creation:
‘Dump all you’ve plucked into the pot of possibility / with tart of vinegar, the wages of salt / raisins dried down to size.’

I’m not saying one could produce a poem using her recipe but the comparison of the skills of preservative-making and poetry making is strangely apposite. The last stanza is particularly applicable to both ‘disciplines’:
‘… and pour into a clean jar of page/ before hiding it in the dark larder of promise, / to mellow, settle, become its own name.’

Here is the complete poem. Thank you Eamonn.

Poem as Haw Chutney
i.m. Gerry Galvin

First, scour the hedges for word fruit,
vessels crammed to overspill
with scarlet letters, blazing vowels.

Dump all you’ve plucked into the pot of possibility
with tart of vinegar, the wages of salt,
raisins dried down to size.

Add spices that blood was spilt for:
clove, ginger, nutmeg
and simmer in liquids, mutes,

until the kitchen steams
with hissing fricatives
and each thing loses all semblance of itself.

Press the boiling mess through the waiting sieve,
the pulp that’s left behind − metaphor, enjamb
ment − is only fit for compost worms.

Bitter-sweeten the paltry trickle
that finds its way
through the pinhole of mesh

and pour into a clean jar of page
before hiding it in the dark larder of promise,
to mellow, settle, become its own name.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

In the Space Between by Gerry Boland

Congratulations to Gerry Boland on the recent launch of his poetry collection,  In the Space Between published by Arlen House.  

The following poem is taken from it.   


like a magician he kept his cards up his sleeve
and like an illusionist he was unreadable

he lived in an exercise yard of the mind
bending occasionally to pick up a shard
of ancient pleasure, hold it up to the light

no one who knew him claimed to know him
beyond that smile he would let hang in the air
like a 19th century levitator practicing his craft
before an awe-struck audience, only to deflate
their wonder in a neatly choreographed collapse

at such times
– his mischievous smile wrong-footing us –
we would be complete again
the rabbit back in the hat

once when we were abandoned for a year
the air that he left behind all but suffocated us –
his absence more poisonous than his presence
we breathed him in
spent poets walking towards the cliff face

we didn’t know it then but he was the black cards
in the deck, who shuffled our small lives
as we played fearlessly aboard the wreck

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Des Kenny reads my poem Snail Pals on Galway Bay FM

Des Kenny did a wonderful reading of my poem 'Snail Pals' on the Keith Finnegan Show last Friday, 4 December at 11:00am. This poem is included in that exceptional book Once Upon a Place children's anthology recently published by Little Island, edited by Eoin Colfer and illustrated by P.J. Lynch. Thrilled to be part of it. A perfect gift for the children in all of us.


 You can hear him read it about 57 minutes into the programme at:

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Launch of Circle and Square by Eileen Casey

All sorts of reasons prevented me from attending the launch of Circle and Square in the Shopping  Centre, Tallaght recently so I want to take this opportunity to welcome another fine book into the literary world. Edited by, and the brainchild of, the indefatigable, Eileen Casey, it is an anthology of poetry and fiction to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Square Shopping Centre. Having lived in South County Dublin when there was only the village shop, the arrival of the Pyramid changed all lives. It is fitting therefore, to have such a  collection of vibrant voices to paint its many faces through the looking glass of  new and established writers, with contributions from Platform One Writing Group and guests. The Tallaght Photographic Society brings the whole book together with its interpretations of the work. I am delighted to be part of such great company. Thank you Eileen.