I’ve spent a lot of time blogging this week, not really blogging but reading poems submitted to And Other Poems for an open call I put out for “poems about Ireland”. Eighty-three people sent in emails, most with two poems in their content, so I spent time reading the poems, drawing up a shortlist, uploading and formatting the poems to WordPress, then contacting poets to say if I had or hadn’t selected their work. You can read all of the 19 poems I selected over at And Other Poems. They are all listed on the Index page.
Victoria Kennefick put it much better than me, when she said on Twitter that the poems were a good selection to mark St Patrick’s Day, the light and the dark. Poets didn’t shy away from current events in Ireland with writers like Angela Carr addressing the constitutional ban on abortion in Ireland and David Atkinson reflecting on the discovery of 800 bodies of babies and children at a home for unmarried mothers in Tuam, County Galway. Mary Noonan recounts the true story of 14 year old Ann Lovett died giving birth in a grotto to the Virgin Mary in Granard, County Longford.
Victoria Kennefick and Beth McDonough address the Easter Rising in 1916. Maggie Sawkins and Mike Gallagher tell stories of the Irish diaspora. Ann Leahy acknowledges the difficulties of learning Irish while David Butler offers us a poem in Irish, with an English translation. Eleanor Hooker, who as well as being a poet works as volunteer helm and Press Officer for Lough Derg RNLI, incorporates an ancient Celtic hymn to the sea into her pantoum.
Carol Caffrey gives us a poem in memory of Seamus Heaney, Adam Wyeth provides a poem in the shape of a harp. Jean O’Brien vividly relates a tale of skinny dipping in the Irish sea. David Cooke recalls singing in pubs on childhood visits back to Ireland from his home in England, Aoife Lyall writes about modern-day Dublin, Laura McKee relates a legend of Finn MacCool, and Fiona Larkin reprises Yeats in the tale of a visiting midwife.
I hope you find something to enjoy in the selections I’ve made. Perhaps someone will offer a similar selection for the days of St David, St George and St Andrew – perhaps you!