Poetry Magazine – Irish Issue

​I’m rereading the special Irish issue of Poetry Magazine today. My copy is much-cherished and a little dog-eared, but you can read it online, here. It includes many, many wonderful poems and is an interesting snapshot of the younger poets writing in Ireland today. I only wish it could be three times as long, with three times as many poets included. ​I’m grateful to editors Patrick Cotter and Don Share for choosing my poem ‘While Bleeding’, a poem which began with a real moment with a real red coat in a real shop, but as I didn’t photograph the original coat, this image will have to do…
red coat

There’s also a generous and thoughtful review by Maya Catherine Popa of several new volumes, including those by three poets whose work I deeply admire – Alan Gillis, Billy Ramsell, Tara Bergin – and my own book, Clasp. Popa writes-

The poems excel in their consideration of motherhood, particularly its paradoxical losses and gains, separation and unity… In Ní Ghríofa’s English debut, what seem to be long-considered obsessions are explored with tenderness and unflinching curiosity. The collection’s section titles, “Clasp,” “Cleave,” “Clench,” suggest the muscularity of attachment to the past, place, and the body that drives the poetic impulse.

I also contributed to Poetry Magazine’s Contributor Reading List, where I touch on the very difficult months that preceded this publication.

“My fourth child was born prematurely earlier this summer and I spent weeks by her incubator in the NICU. In one of the quiet, terrible moments when I was asked to wait in the corridor during yet another horrific procedure, my phone beeped with the daily poem email from poets.org—Idra Novey’s “Still Life with Invisible Canoe.” This poem became a well to which I returned again and again. I still can’t read the text without crying, it brings back all of the anxiety of the NICU and my loneliness for my other children. “Levinas asked if we have the right / To be        the way I ask my sons / If they’d like to be trees” The second poem that sustained me through our time in hospital was “Train Ride” by Ruth Stone—“Release, release; / between cold death and a fever, / send what you will, I will listen. / All things come to an end. / No, they go on forever.” All summer, these two poems nourished me through joy and fear. Now that our daughter is home, I’ve been revisiting my favorite collections. I choose a book a week and dip in and out as I feed the baby. So far I’ve been re-reading work by Natalie Diaz, Sarah Howe, Brenda Shaughnessy, Biddy Jenkinson, Mary Szybist, and Katharine Kilalea. This autumn, I’m very much looking forward to Fur by Grace Wells and Tost agus Allagar by Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh. I’m late to Dorianne Laux, but I ordered Facts about the Moon today and I’m very excited to read that. I’ve been working on translating the poems of Caitlín Maude for the past year and this week I returned to her. My copy of her collected poems is beginning to fall apart but it feels like coming home to an old friend.”

I feel extremely fortunate to have a poem in Poetry Magazine, it’s without doubt a highlight of my writing life!

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