About Afric McGlinchey

I’m the author of a collection of poetry called Ghost of the Fisher Cat (Salmon Poetry, 2016), and another called The lucky star of hidden things (2012), which was also translated into Italian by Lorenzo Mari and published by L’Arcolaio in 2015. A chapbook, titled Invisible, Insane, was published by the surrealist publishing house, SurVision, in 2019. Currently, I’m writing an auto-fictional prose-poetry childhood memoir, with immense gratitude to the Arts Council of Ireland for their support. I am a freelance mentor, editor and reviewer. I facilitate poetry workshops and sometimes judge competitions. I am also a consultant with The Inkwell Group: http://www.inkwellwriters.ie/people/afric-mcglinchey/ I read and write a lot, always circling back to an obsession about migration / dislocation / identity and place, and more recently about the ‘place’ of nature being disrupted or brutalized by us, and how it resists. My work has been translated into five languages and widely anthologized. It has also won several prizes, including the Hennessy poetry award, two Arts bursaries, a Faber Fellowship and selection for an Italo-Irish Literature Exchange, as well as Pushcart and Forward nominations. Recently, I was commissioned to write a poem for the Breast Check Clinic in Cork and also for the Irish Composers' Collective. My work has been broadcast on Lyric FM’s Poetry File, on RTE’s Poetry Programme, Arena, Live FM, Radio Coventry, and on The Poetry Jukebox in Belfast. I have read at the Poetry Africa Festival, and the Harare International Festival of the Arts, as well as numerous other festivals and venues in Italy, France, the USA, England and Ireland. I have an addiction to buying books and half of those in my possession are still unread. There must be a word for that! My twitter handle is @itosha.

My father moved through dooms of love by e.e. cummings

My father moved through dooms of love by e.e. cummings

My  father moved through dooms of love
through sames of am through haves of give
singing each morning out of each night
my father moved through depths of height

this motionless forgetful where
turned at his glance to shining here;
that if(so timid air is firm)
under his eyes would stir and squirm

newly as from unburied which
floats the first who, his april touch

drove sleeping selves to swarm their fates
woke dreamers to their ghostly roots

and should some why completely weep
my father’s fingers brought her sleep:

vainly no smallest voice might cry
for he could feel the mountains grow

Lifting the valleys of the sea
my father moved through griefs of joy;
praising a forehead called the moon
singing desire into begin

joy was his song and joy so pure
a heart of star by him could steer
and pure so now and now so yes
the wrists of twilight would rejoice

keen as midsummer’s keen beyond
conceiving mind of sun will stand
so strictly(over utmost him
so hugely)stood my father’s dream

his flesh was flesh his blood was blood:
no hungry man but wished him food;

no cripple wouldn’t creep one mile
uphill to only see him smile

Scorning the Pomp of must and shall
my father moved through dooms of feel;
his anger was as right as rain
his pity was as green as grain

Septembering arms of year extend
Yes humbly wealth to foe and friend
Than he to foolish and to wise
Offered immeasurable is

Proudly and (by octobering flame
Beckoned) as earth will downward climb

So naked for immortal work
His shoulders marched against the dark

His sorrow was as true as bread:
No liar looked him in the head;
If every friend became his foe
He’d laugh and build a world with snow

My father moved through theys of we
Singing each new leaf out of each tree
(and every child was sure that spring
Danced when she heard my father sing)

Then let men kill which cannot share
Let blood and flesh be mud and mire
Scheming imagine, passion willed
Freedom a drug that’s bought and sold

Giving to steal and cruel kind
A heart to fear, to doubt a mind
To differ a disease of same
Conform the pinnacle of am

Though dull were all we taste as bright
Bitter all utterly things sweet
Maggoty minus and dumb death
All we inherit, all bequeath

And nothing quite so least as truth
–i say though hate were why men breathe–
Because my Father lived his soul
Love is the whole and more than all.

Got this from Genius. To learn more about the poem, check out their site: https://genius.com/E-e-cummings-my-father-moved-through-dooms-of-love-annotated

Thanksgiving by Rachel Long


As if by accident, I find my head
washed up window-side of his bed.
After all that fucking, look!
the sky’s still pinned up.
His nose is longer with his eyes shut.
This whole time, I’ve been holding,
squeezing, wringing, folding,
bending, nodding, thank you,
God, for giving me someone who makes me hold
my breath. I will be so light
upon his life he won’t realise
he’s kept me.
I’ll leave not a mark
on his pillow, papers,
knife, DVDs or wineglass.
What blessing
Only when he is sleeping
can I breathe out. So deep
my ribs come up like a ship.

(First published in Mal.)

Rachel’s work has featured in The London Magazine, Magma, & Filigree: An Anthology of Contemporary Black British Poetry. Co-founder and curator of Octavia, she is also the co-translator of O Martelo/The Hammer by Brazilian poet, artist & activist, Adelaide Ivanova, a collection I have reviewed here: https://sabotagereviews.com/2019/10/09/the-hammer-and-other-poems-by-adelaide-ivanova-translated-by-rachel-long-and-francisco-vilhena/

Home by Warsan Shire

no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well

your neighbors running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won’t let you stay.

no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it’s not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
your neck
and even then you carried the anthem under
your breath
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilet
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.

you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
under trains
beneath carriages
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten

no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
or prison,
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough

go home blacks
dirty immigrants
asylum seekers
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
messed up their country and now they want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs
maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off

or the words are more tender
than fourteen men between
your legs
or the insults are easier
to swallow
than rubble
than bone
than your child body
in pieces.
i want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
be hunger
forget pride
your survival is more important

no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
run away from me now
i dont know what i’ve become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here

In honour of Bloomsday…


(after Molly Bloom in James Joyce’s Ulysses)

Molly Bloom

…yes and then
I touched my finger to his lips
to stroke away the cider,
and put it to mine
and our tongues went plunging
– such a lush sweetness –
the grass so springy-soft on the cliff
and the waves crashing below
and I had to catch my breath
and the night’s perfume drowned
that tang of lamb
and I thought of my first kiss
– what was his name? Johnny? – yes,
his tongue so unexpected,
wriggling like an eel,
but this time it felt different,
and even his silence didn’t matter
when he stared, stared at my breasts
and I let my hair slip loose
like that Cape Town girl,
and you have moonlight in your eyes, he said
so I took him in my hand
and he whispered, would I,
ma petite phalène, he said
and I thought I may as well,
as well him as another,
and the sea was swirling below us in a froth
the sky gorgeous with stars
and I suggested with my eyes
that he ask again
and I knew he would
and I wondered if I’d say yes
and then I urged him down
and he found his way
through all my layers
and I might, I thought, yes
I think I will
say yes.
Yes is © Afric McGlinchey.
First appeared in The Lucky Star Of Hidden Things, published by Salmon (2012). Subsequently published in Poethead.

Image shows Muireann Kelly performing as Molly Bloom in a production of Liberate Ulysses.


Image result for amy acre poet

After David Jones

Mary is blue and turquoise
standing on a hill
geisha cheek and charring
Mary is rain and dusk
planting a bulb with her lips
bare feet in the moss
Mary is doll white
Mary with a lamb
little love
time still before she’ll lose him to the world
the gurning jaws of heaven
spread banquet for the men while she waits outside
but they won’t know his yawn like a baby owl
meerkat snuggle
smell of yeast and balm
Mary blue and brimming
the lamb on her lips
a soft moon
crescent of impossible flesh
Mary gold before the trade-off
before he grew infinite
and how she wore it then
secretly grieving the moon eyes
that would follow her round the room
Mary doesn’t remember what sex with god felt like
only the sting of something snapped
a broken instrument
Joseph’s breath and beard
three men unwrapping
the infant screech of a goat
Mary with thunder that’s worse before the coming
like a week late period
Mary blue immaculate
blanketed boy on her chest
gone and golden
Mary would listen to all his sermons
scan them for in jokes
white smoke
a secret message
but this fucking public man
Mary doesn’t feel holy
stuffing pigskin in bloody knickers
remembers how she bled for weeks after he came
Mary full of wine
not the warm waters of galilee
assistant magi
tipsy and trussed up
leotard shine
Mary and thirteen men on her right hand
Mary with a lamb crackling on a spit
when he blessed her
she wanted to spit in his face
tell him boy
i’m the one who wiped away your shit
when the moon came
she sank her teeth in
praying for the sweet bellied child
she tasted wafer dust
her blue mouth powder stuck
dry as an empty church

First published in Tears in the Fence. Amy Acre is a poet, performer and freelance writer from London, and the editor of Bad Betty Press.

On Platform 3 by Blessing Musariri

Further to the 2018 Harare Literary Festival, this is another of the Zimbabwean poets with whom I’ll be exchanging ideas about Writing and Attention Economy, along with Prof. Etienne van Heerden, Charity Hutete and Sabina Mutangadura, in a panel discussion chaired by Lawrence Hoba.  Blessing and I have quite a bit in common! As well as writing poetry, we both studied journalism at Rhodes University; we both went to Dominican Convents; we worked in advertising agencies as copywriters – and we have the same impulses around trains! Looking forward to meeting Blessing.

On Platform 3

The 3.28 has been cancelled.
I’ve been dropped off and left alone,
no-one likes this side of morning – but I with my love of holiday,
left in singular dread, in a place unusually deserted.
After all, I am not a Lost Boy, wandering through Sudanese nights,
afraid of lions and land-mines. I am in Luton –
well-lit; a target for any passer-by,
who has issues with his mother, but,
it’s the land of CCTV.

They are sorry to announce that
the oh three twenty-eight service to St Pancras
has been cancelled. They should have announced it in my dreams
so I could sleep a little longer.
Time doesn’t tick, but lingers,
drones seamlessly in my ears, bites into skin,
slowing fingers, stiffening limbs,
nibbles at microscopic morsels in my gut until it grumbles.

There’s no one here to answer my questions,
only machines, mouths open for my money.
I’ve walked for miles in tiny circles,
the killer has not come, and still, the tracks are silent.
They don’t announce the loss of the 3.28 anymore,
they are over it now, but I am flying to sea, sun and sand,
I must sit and wait.

I Used to Like Tomatoes by Dambudzo Marechera

Dambudzo Marechera

Getting to know the work of Zimbabwean poets, and of course I have to start with the late Dambudzo Marechera, the most influential poet for the current generation. Here’s one for you:

I Used to Like Tomatoes

I get tired of the blood
and the coughing
and more blood
I get out of that flat real fast
to some cool quarrelling bar
and talk big to bigger comrades
washing down the blood with Castle an’ Label
shaking hands about Tsitsi bombed to heaven
trying to forget I don’t like cooking in dead people’s
pots and pans
I don’t like wearing and looking smart-arse in dead
people’s shirts an’ pants
(They said yoh mama an’ bra been for you
said these are your inheritance)
I’m soon tight as a drum can’t drink no more
It’s back at the flat on my back
swallowing it all red back hard down
I woke up too tired to break out so bright red a bubble.