Friday, November 6, 2020

Celebrating Live Encounters

Congratulations to the online Journal Live Encounters which is now celebrating its eleventh year. Founded by Mark Ulyseas, it never fails to bring joy to my heart when I read the wonderful poetry there. It is further enhanced by Mark's stunning photography. A huge amount of work has gone into the present editions, featuring 130 poets and totalling 768 pages.The guest editors are Terry McDonagh and Mary McDonnell and I am so delighted to to have my poem 'All Hallows' included in it. The cover by Emma Barone celebrates the uniqueness of the journal as you will see here:
There are so many of Mark's images that deserve a wider audience. I was particularly taken by the photo of nutmeg, wrapped in its mace armour. I am producing it here by kind permission.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Corona Cinquain Sequence

Corona Cinquain Sequence

Droplets deadly
Lurking there in the breath
Unknown enemy replicates

Blue tit
Pecks at the windowpane
Opens the morning into our day
Bright bird

Useless senseless
Piling trolleys mile high
Toilet rolls the new currency

Hope-giving days
Recharge the sky all round
Hearts expanding in the light of it
A gift

Cleaning painting baking
A time for every purpose now

Gives the birds space
To fill their day with song
Each branch their Roman balcony
Heart time

Locked in no friends
Supports taken from them
Parents alone at their wits’ end

            Young hare
Colour of soil
Bounds into our night world
Sits on the ridge while dark falls down
Saves us

The next fashion
Catching the sneeze sickly cough
Makes us all look like aliens

            Take to the air
            Falling like snow on grass
Land like birds onto fresh turned clay
Tree birth       

Heart-breaking counts
Families grieve alone
Coffins crowd high in parking lots
More deaths

            New ways to live
            Gardens become the way
            To bring us closer to ourselves
Slow time

Glorious news
Letting us out at last
Hopefuls running into the streets
To live

            White deer
            In the forest
Glimpse beyond the trees
Miracle on our day’s walk
A path.

Photographs courtesy of Peter Moore 2020

This sequence of cinquains was first published in the July edition of Live Encounters

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Launch of Belmullet Heritage and Historical Society

When my poetry collection Bone Road was published by Arlen House last year, my greatest wish was to read in Belmullet. This was where the story started of my great-grandparents  who emigrated from Elly Bay to the US in 1883 with their six children as part of the Tuke Emigration Scheme. This verse memoir charts the course of their leavetaking and homecoming  and I wanted to acknowledge where my ancestors left from.

I couldn't have been more delighted when an invitation came from the Belmullet Heritage and Historical Society (Coiste Oidreachta Iorrais) to be part of their launch night with researcher Rosemarie Geraghty on 18 January. Rosemarie is an expert in this field and has done tremendous work bringing the past and the present together through recording the passenger lists of all the ships and  and contacting as many of the descendants as possible.

Ian McAndrew Photo: Peter Moore
Belmullet will be 200 years old in 2024 and the launch of the society was a very positive  and successful step towards  its celebrations.  I would like to thank the committee,
Ian McAndrew, Katherine Mangan, Mary Barrett, and Rosemarie Geraghty for their wonderful hospitality. Check out Blacksod Bay emigration for more information on this great work.

Here are three poems from the collection
Hunger for Somewhere Else

They’re glad to see the back of
all the wind-crippled whins,
turn their heads from
the rain over Achill head,
smoor the final fire.

They’ve had their bellyful
of stinking haulms,
grateful now to hand back
their hungry piece of grass to the landlord

and watch the dog on a scatter of stone,
a fetch in the tumbled-down scailp,
a fling of dunlins on sand
waiting for the boat to sail.
Rosemarie Geraghty Photo: Peter Moore


The longest day still lighting up their dawn,
they follow the carts of hopefuls,
along the famished track
down to the sea.

Beyond the calm waters of Elly Bay,
the S.S. Waldensian lies anchored,
brighter than any golden hoard
offered to ManannĂ¡n, the sea god.

There are scant tears,
for their passage is paid;
new clothes on their backs,
landing money promised.

The whole family going:
my great-grandparents, six children,
ten-year-old Brigid, my grandmother
– that’s Tuke’s deal –
Geraldine Mills Photo: Peter Moore

Waiting for high-water
the chosen clusters
are ferried by the blue jackets
on the Seahorse gunboat.

They leave the bay

then out through
the Narrows of Achill,
where the water runs
with unmerciful force.

They climb aboard the steamer,
men in forward, women aft.

Outfitted with a straw bed,
a pillow to lay their heads,
enough marine soap
to wash the whole of Erris
out of them.

A swell builds mid-Atlantic.
Through spume and spindrift they sail,
fog too thick for soupers,
they sight an iceberg.