Strange Times

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Mercy, my debut collection of poetry, is now available to buy online from Bloodaxe Books, the Book Depository, and Waterstones.

It feels like a strange time to be publicising my book, especially as it was supposed to be launched today. Screen Shot 2019-06-06 at 13.10.16

 

 

 

I still hope to mark the publication of Mercy some time in the future; for now, I wish only to express my gratitude to Bloodaxe Books and everyone who made this possible.

You can read more about Mercy here.

 

Poem of the Day: ‘Never Again the Same’ by James Tate

Never Again the Same by James Tate

Speaking of sunsets
last night’s was shocking.
I mean, sunsets aren’t supposed to frighten you, are they?
Well, this one was terrifying.
People were screaming in the streets.
Sure, it was beautiful, but far too beautiful.
It wasn’t natural.
One climax followed another and then another
until your knees went weak
and you couldn’t breathe.
The colors were definitely not of this world,
peaches dripping opium,
pandemonium of tangerines,
inferno of irises,
Plutonian emeralds,
all swirling and churning, swabbing,
like it was playing with us,
like we were nothing,
as if our whole lives were a preparation for this,
this for which nothing could have prepared us
and for which we could not have been less prepared.
The mockery of it all stung us bitterly.
And when it was finally over
we whimpered and cried and howled.
And then the streetlights came on as always
and we looked into one another’s eyes?
ancient caves with still pools
and those little transparent fish
who have never seen even one ray of light.
And the calm that returned to us
was not even our own.

Poem of the Day: ‘An Ordinary Morning’ by Philip Levine

An Ordinary Morning by Philip Levine

A man is singing on the bus
coming in from Toledo.
His voice floats over the heads
that bow and sway with each
turn, jolt, and sudden slowing.
A hoarse, quiet voice, it tells
of love that it true, of love
that endures a whole weekend.
The driver answers in a tenor
frayed from cigarettes, coffee,
and original curses thrown
down from his seat of command.
He answers that he has time
on his hands and it’s heavy.
O heavy hangs the head, he
improvises, and the man
back in the very last row,
bouncing now on the cobbles
as we bump down the boulevard,
affirms that it is hanging,
yes, and that it is heavy.
This is what I waken to.
One by one my near neighbors
open their watering eyes
and close their mouths to accept
this bright, sung conversation
on the theme of their morning.
The sun enters from a cloud
and shatters the wide windshield
into seventeen distinct shades
of yellow and fire, the brakes
gasp and take hold, and we are
the living, newly arrived
in Detroit, city of dreams,
each on his own black throne.

MERCY (Bloodaxe Books, 2020)

Just a quick note to say that my first full-length poetry collection will be published by Bloodaxe Books in 2020, and I am very excited and proud–it feels like the culmination of years of work, and what’s next remains to be seen.

The book is called MERCY, and the blurb from the website is below. Here’s the linkScreen Shot 2019-06-06 at 13.10.06.

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Ireland. Night. A grotto to the Virgin Mary illuminates a deserted road. Overhead, the soundless roar of the Milky Way’s glittering traffic reminds us of a past that runs parallel to our own uncertain times. Olives ripen in a Portuguese valley. The sound of gunfire approaches a Paris café. Irish women revolutionaries march towards their future. Tigers prowl through County Leitrim’s rural townlands, whose old names emerge like neon signposts from the dark: Red Marsh, Small Watery Place, Round Hill of the Boys. Róisín Kelly’s Mercy is an attempt to reconcile her Catholic background with her pagan heritage, transcending the limits of a world in which everything is connected. Both intimate and political, this powerful debut collection combines a passionate exploration of self with an awestruck confrontation of wilderness.


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Róisín Kelly was born in west Belfast, raised in Leitrim, and now lives in Cork. Her pamphlet Rapture (Southword, 2016) was described by Leanne O’Sullivan as ‘fierce and mysterious, beautiful and compelling’.

‘What is striking about Kelly’s writing is that she intentionally situates herself within Ireland’s literary tradition, frequently drawing on Yeatsian images like the rose. She is unswerving, however, in her desire to draw romance and realism together, and Kelly revives the symbols of old so that they might be re-spoken in a brazen, drunken voice… Kelly’s poetry is at once tender and savage, steeped in tradition yet brave in expression — she takes readers where they don’t want to go, a feat that most writers attempt, but few achieve.’ – James O’Sullivan, Los Angeles Review of Books

‘This brief collection shows remarkable emotional range. Kelly leaves the reader afloat on a tide of colour.’ – Alison Brackenbury, PN Review

‘Unafraid of sentiment, these twenty poems meditate on lost love, longing, and the tendency of intimacy to arrive as an utter surprise, and dissolve just as swiftly.’ – Grace Wilentz, Poetry Ireland Review

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RTE Poem of the Week

Screen Shot 2019-02-27 at 11.11.28After its publication in Poetry Ireland Review, I was very happy to see ‘Dominío Vale do Mondego’ chosen as RTE’s Poem of the Week.

It’s available to read here.

Featured Poet in Poetry Ireland Review

Many thanks to Poetry Ireland Review for having me as featured poet in their latest issue, and to editor Eavan Boland for selecting my work ‘In America’ and ‘Dominio Vale do Mondego’ for inclusion. You can buy the issue here.

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RTE Poetry Programme

 

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I had a great time chatting and reading poems on the RTE Poetry Programme recently. The episode, which aired on RTE Radio 1 on October 7, 2018, is available to listen back to here. With many thanks to my fellow poets Sarah Byrne and James O’Leary, and presenter Olivia O’Leary.