Here’s a piece I wrote about getting lost & wandering into a derelict house. It was a strange and beautiful place. I was especially struck by the vividness of the paint as it fell away from the wall in chunks of plaster. My collaborator, Peter Madden, is currently working on a filmpoem based on [chronosequence]. You can watch some of our previous filmpoem collaborations here.
The poem itself is very much rooted in a specific place, a liminal, border area of Munster where I came across an abandoned home, the form of which functions as sort of container for the questions that arise in this piece. The title, [chronosequence] refers to a term that originates in forest sciences and methods used to study the development of a forest over long periods of time. Chronosequence data is significant in the study of time-dependent forest ecology, particularly in the study of succession and transition in a forest landscape. I felt that this term had sufficient malleability to allow a poetic exploration of linguistic ambivalence.
In this work, I was drawn to give voice to the layers of ambivalence that surround our language. In a country where we live in a landscape layered with language – our place names, street names, our given names, the landscape of our spoken casual language, our lived environment – all bear the indelible fingerprints of a language that many profess to disdain. Despite the ubiquity of Irish, it is inextricably linked with a societal cognitive dissonance of opposing attitudes toward the language.
As a writer who is actively engaged in both languages, I am interested in the dichotomy of Irish as a suppressed language that is simultaneously afforded a measure of official support. In other words, it is sanctioned by the government while being resented by many of its people. The language carries so much of our heritage and history, and is beloved by many, but it also carries an unspoken weight — that of ambivalence, inadequacy, un-belonging. The poem [chronosequence] grew from my contemplation of these issues.
Thanks to the wonderful New Dublin Press for featuring my work.