Now that we have moved into the new year, perhaps it’s the right time to think of signing up for some workshops. I’ve been facilitating this series for Macha Productions over the last couple of years via zoom and have had some great feedback from participants. If you would like to jump start your poetry and develop new work, this is an opportunity to do that in the company of other poets. Designed to be both supportive and encouraging – the link is below – or if you would like some more information – just get in touch

.https://www.machaproductions.com/booking-now-developing…

It is always lovely to have a poem in an anthology. To see a piece of work in the context of others on the same theme. I’ve been lucky enough to have poems in two new anthologies from Dedalus Press. A Different Eden is a gorgeous book, containing Ecopoetry from Ireland and Galicia, edited by Keith Payne, Lorna Shaughnessy and Martin Veiga. It reflects a growing awareness of the fragility of the ecosystems we inhabit and a vision of a better future.

Local Wonders is an anthology of new poems from poets all over Ireland, recording and celebrating precious place and things, with a focus on what we love in these uncertain times.

I have attached a link below if anyone would like to purchase either of these books. I think they would make great Christmas presents – or is it too early to use the C word!

https://www.dedaluspress.com/

Three days ago, news reverberated through the equestrian community that four horses had been killed in a horrific road accident in Scotland. The lorry they were travelling in had broken down, just half an hour away from its destination at Blair where the horses were due to be competing this weekend. Sitting on the grass bank at the side of the road, the owners watched helplessly as a truck slammed into the back of the horse lorry. Two of the horses were killed outright and two had to be euthanised at the scene.

As someone who has loved horses my entire life, I could only too easily imagine the devastation the owners of these horses must be feeling. The close bond that a rider feels to the horses they ride is very special. These riders and horses had been working together for years, building trust and a common purpose – trying their hearts out for each other. There is something innocent about a horse, something pure. The thought of their suffering is unbearable to those of us who know and love them. I can’t get the images and imagined sounds of this accident out of my mind. It has moved me to tears. At the same time I’m watching images on the news of the horrific events and terrible suffering of people in Afghanistan. So many awful things in the world – I question if the death of four horses should be taking any of my attention in the face of our human losses and global horrors. But somehow it does.

This poem from Ada Limon came to mind. A poem that I first read during lockdown, when I was feeling jaded about poetry. It gave me the same feeling I had as a teenager when I found a poem that cut through to my heart. Maybe it’s ok to cry about horses.

Downhearted

May 20, 2014

Six horses died in a tractor-trailer fire. 
There. That’s the hard part. I wanted
to tell you straight away so we could
grieve together. So many sad things, 
that’s just one on a long recent list
that loops and elongates in the chest, 
in the diaphragm, in the alveoli. What
is it they say, heart-sick or downhearted? 
I picture a heart lying down on the floor
of the torso, pulling up the blankets
over its head, thinking the pain will
go on forever (even though it won’t). 
The heart is watching Lifetime movies
and wishing, and missing all the good
parts of her that she has forgotten. 
The heart is so tired of beating
herself up, she wants to stop it still, 
but also she wants the blood to return, 
wants to bring in the thrill and wind of the ride, 
the fast pull of life driving underneath her. 
What the heart wants? The heart wants
her horses back. 

When I was invited by Open House Festival to take part in their Court House Sessions alongside poet Amy Wyatt, I was both excited and nervous. Like a lot of people, I haven’t been out in company for a year now and the invitation was to go along to the old Court House in Bangor, recently acquired by Open House to function as an arts venue for the town and film a short piece.

Work hasn’t started yet on the conversion and the Festival organisers wanted to record some sessions, not only to showcase local artists, but also to give the public a glimpse into the building. Would I remember how to talk to people in real life and not through a screen? How would it feel to actually be in the same room as other people?

It turned out to be a lovely occasion. All the covid protocols in place meant we felt very safe, the building was atmospheric and the people so friendly and welcoming. I would like to especially thank Lesley Allen of Open House (and herself an excellent novelist), for making it all so easy and smooth. Amy and I had a great chat that felt just like conversation over coffee. Among other things we were chatting about the launch of Amy’s debut collection, A Language I Understand, from Indigo Dreams and about Bone House, my forthcoming collection from Doire Press.

Here is the link if you would like to have a listen