‘Mar-a-Lago’ and ‘Ophelia’ in the Mascara Literary Review

Screen Shot 2018-02-22 at 12.49.17It is an honour to have two of my poems published in the latest issue of the Mascara Literary Review.

‘Mar-a-Lago’ takes its inspiration from Beyonce’s visual album
Lemonade, in particular its imagery of black women’s reclamation of colonial spaces in America like the plantation house.

While ‘Ophelia’ is on the surface about the storm of the same name that hit Ireland in autumn 2017, it is also concerned with a political situation–the amendment to our constitution that gives the unborn rights equal to that of a living woman.

The referendum in which people will vote to repeal this amendment will be held in Ireland on May 25.

‘Mar-a-Lago’ and ‘Ophelia’ are available to read here.

Poem of the Day: ‘The Hay-Carrier’ by Paul Durcan

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The Hay-Carrier by Paul Durcan

Have you ever saved hay in Mayo in the rain?
Have you ever saved hay in Mayo in the sun?
Have you ever carried above your head a haycock on a pitchfork:
Have you ever slept in a haybarn on the road from mayo to Egypt?
I am a hay-carrier.
My father was a hay-carrier.
My mother was a hay-carrier.
My brothers were hay-carriers.
My sisters were hay-carriers.
My wife is a hay-carrrier.
My son is a hay-carrier.
His sons are hay-carriers.
His daughters are hay-carriers.
We were always all hay-carriers.
We will always be hay-carriers.
For the great gate of night stands painted red—
And all of heaven lies waiting to be fed.

‘A Master of Endings’: Poetry Ireland Review Critiques Rapture

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I am grateful to Poetry Ireland Review for including a review of Rapture in the latest issue of their literary pamphlet Trumpet. Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 10.24.39

The text concerning Rapture, which Grace Wilentz reviews alongside chapbooks by Ellen Cranitch, Julie Morrisey, Pardraig Regan, Victor Tapner, and Michael Naghten Shanks, is featured below. The Winter 2017/18 issue of Trumpet is available here.

Rapture, by Roisin Kelly, the first pamphlet in Southword’s New Irish Voices series, is as concerned with the transcendent pleasure of love as the pamphlet’s title would lead you to believe. 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.

In ‘A Massage Room in West Cork’, Kelly draws her reader into an expertly rendered scene, as surprising as it is beautiful:

and all night we keep on the orange
crystal lamp to soften four panes
of glass-hard darkness at the window.

Kelly is a master of endings, saving the ‘poetic crossing’ until the last possible moment. The closing of ‘Leave’ opens unpredictably into a wider, more mysterious world through the soft, hushed music of Kelly’s lines:

For now, the runway stretches into darkness.
In the cellars, barrelled apples sleep
and dream their short lives in reverse.

 

‘Aroi’ Appears in The London Magazine

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I’ve been in Portugal for the last two weeks, helping with the olive harvest on the banks of the Mondego River, so it was a lovely surprise to come home and find my contributor’s copy of The London Magazine waiting for me.

My poem ‘Aroi’ appears in its pages, and won second place in The London Magazine Poetry Prize 2017.

The December/January 2018 issue is available to purchase here.

London & Literature

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Warmest thanks to The London Magazine for making me feel so welcome at their prize giving ceremony this week, and to meet first and third place winners Sarah Westcott and Michael Henry James.

My poem ‘Aroi’ was second in the London Magazine Poetry Prize 2017 and is due to be published in an upcoming issue.

 

Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award

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I was delighted to hear that my first full collection of poetry (tentatively titled In America) was one of three runners-up for the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award 2017.

Warmest congratulations to the winner Ruth Timmons, and to my fellow runners-up Victoria Kennefick and Ben McGuire.

Previous winners of the award have included Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Paul Durcan, and Sinéad Morrissey.

London Magazine Poetry Prize 2017

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Last month brought one of the best pieces of news I’ve received all year: my poem ‘Aroi’ winning second place in The London Magazine Poetry Prize 2017.

Writers who have appeared over the centuries within its pages include William Wordsworth, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Paul Muldoon, but what really excites me is that Sylvia Plath had poems published in The London Magazine both during and after her lifetime.

Plath has been one of the greatest influences on my own work, so to appear in the same publication that featured her poetry is a huge honour.

Sarah Westcott is the winner of The London Magazine Poetry Prize 2017, with third place going to Andrew Henry James.

I’ll conclude this post with a poem of Plath’s–probably her most famous one. ‘Ariel’ has never made as strong an impact on me as some of her others (such as ‘The Colossus’, ‘Daddy’, ‘Lady Lazarus’) but nevertheless I find myself returning to it again and again, eternally intrigued.

 

Ariel by Sylvia Plath

Stasis in darkness.
Then the substanceless blue
Pour of tor and distances.

God’s lioness,
How one we grow,
Pivot of heels and knees!—The furrow

Splits and passes, sister to
The brown arc
Of the neck I cannot catch,

Nigger-eye
Berries cast dark
Hooks—

Black sweet blood mouthfuls,
Shadows.
Something else

Hauls me through air—
Thighs, hair;
Flakes from my heels.

White
Godiva, I unpeel—
Dead hands, dead stringencies.

And now I
Foam to wheat, a glitter of seas.
The child’s cry

Melts in the wall.
And I
Am the arrow,

The dew that flies
Suicidal, at one with the drive
Into the red

Eye, the cauldron of morning.