Directory of current Irish literary journals

I first compiled this directory of Irish journals in 2016. Since then some journals have become defunct, and others have sprung up, particularly during the lockdown, so I thought it was time to update it. For writers just beginning to submit work, I recommend trying the newer journals first. Those who have already had work published, you know the ones to go for! But even if you’re a more established writer, it might be good karma to support the new journals too. Besides, some of them might go places.  Comments always welcome.

Abridged                                                                                                              http://www.abridged.one                                                                                                                        

Beautiful product. And the themed submission calls are irresistible, poems in themselves. This is an online and also a print journal, based in the North (but we’re being inclusive here!) Besides, they’ve taken poems of mine, so they’re right up there in my estimation!

A New Ulster                                                              https://sites.google.com/site/anewulster/new-home-page

The editor, Amos Grieg, hopes that this journal ‘will act as a reflection of the changing times in which we live in and grant you the reader a doorway into other worlds of the imagination.’ The journal appears monthly and has been in publication since September 2012.

Banshee Literary Journal                                                                  https://bansheelit.tumblr.com

A gorgeous journal, Arts Council funded, with three editors who are happening writers themselves: Laura Jane Cassidy, Eimear Ryan and Claire Hennessy. They have taken poems of mine. And they pay! Going places.

Beir Bua Journal                                                                      https://beirbuajournal.wordpress.com

An Irish, inclusive, journal for the  avant-garde; postmodern, asemic, experimental, surrealist, visual poetry, poetry object, & art. Not familiar with this one yet, but curious to check it out.

Boyne Berries                                                                                 http://boyneberries.blogspot.ie/ 

This long-standing journal came out of a writers’ group and has grown legs since, although it appears to have shut up shop since the lockdown.

Burning Bush 2                                                                                  https://issuu.com/burningbush2 

A good reputation, but went underground for a bit. Had work in this. Not sure if it’s still happening, although the website is still online.

Channel
https://channelmag.org
 
This journal of environmentally-themed poetry, prose, and criticism, seeking to channel climate concerns and natural preoccupations into writing. Its third issue was published at the end of 2020 and the team are currently working on issue four.

 

Cold Coffee Stand                                                                  https://coldcoffeestand.wordpress                                      

‘Make it new, wrong, broken and brilliant’ invites this journal, which seems to have been around since 2017, although it’s new to me. ‘Cold Coffee Stand is, and always will be, open to all voices.’ They are ‘dedicated to amplifying work from every facet of Irish culture and society.’ Their submission call is always open, so that’s handy.

Crannóg                                                                                http://www.crannogmagazine.com/  

Established in 2002, and Arts Council funded, Crannóg receive about a thousand submissions for each of their three issues per year. One of the first to publish a poem of mine, so I have a soft spot! And they pay. The editors are Sandra Bunting, Tony O’Dwyer, Ger Burke and Jarlath Fahy, all of whom read each submission.

Crossways Magazine                                                                        https://crosswaysmagazine.com

Crossways is a literary magazine that deals in original poetry, short-fiction, and book reviews. Established in early 2018, its aim is to publish high quality work from authors in Ireland and around the globe. The magazine is available in both print and digital formats. You can email your submissions to: crosswaysmagazine@gmail.com. The editor is David Jordan

Cyphers                                                                                                                 http://www.cyphers.ie/

An esteemed print journal, founded by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin and the late Macdara Woods and Leland Bardwell. One to aim for. Glad to have work in this. They pay.

Drawn to the Light                                                              https://drawntothelightpress.com/about/ 

Drawn to the Light Press is a magazine of contemporary poetry edited by Orla Fay. It will be published thrice yearly in October, February and June. The first issue, launched this Valentine month, is aptly enough, all about love. There’s artwork too.

FourXFour                                                                                 http://www.poetryni.com/fourxfour.html

A quarterly online journal of new poetry from Northern Ireland, committed to highlighting the up-and-comings. Edited by Colin Dardis (a busy man! He also edits Panning for Poems, below.)

Gorse                                                                                                                        http://gorse.ie/

Gorse a well-established literary journal interested in experimental fiction and smart writing. It looks for blended fiction, memoir, and history, personal essays, and fiction in translation. Haven’t sent work to this one yet, but looks interesting. Curated by Christodoulos Makris.

Icarus                                                                              http://www.icarusmagazine.com/editorialteam/

Icarus is a student literary and arts magazine based in Trinity College, Dublin. They publish two or three issues per academic year and accept submissions of poetry, prose, drama and visual art from students, staff and alumni of Trinity College. As I’m not an alumna, don’t know this one.

Idler                                                                                                                 http://www.idler.ie

Another one I don’t know. But their website says that ‘Idler brings the very best of short-form writing to mobile device and other online users. Regularly updated stories, poems and essays help make those long waits shorter… Because time is a terrible thing to waste.’

Impossible Archetype                                                  https://impossiblearchetype.wordpress.com/

An international journal of LGBTQ+ poetry edited by Mark Ward, it was founded in January 2017. They publish two issues a year and are accepting submissions until the 1st March. This is one I’m not familiar with.

Irish Pages                                                                                                          http://irishpages.org/

Based in Belfast, this journal promises ‘outstanding writing from Ireland and overseas’. Somewhat dry-looking, it is nevertheless substantial and impressive. The editor is Chris Agee. The journal is in English & As Gaeilge. I noticed that Ruth Padel, Morten Strøkness, John F Deane, Greg Cambridge, Moya Cannon, Greg Delanty, Tisja Kljalović Braić, John Glenday, Meg Bateman, Benjamin Keatinge, Slavenka Drakulić and other interesting names are among others in the current issue.

Mandrake                                                                                      https://www.mandrakejournal.com

Mandrake is a new online Dublin journal featuring the gothic, the supernatural and the weird. They are looking for fiction, non-fiction and poetry. They claim to be ‘concerned with the exploration of philosophical pessimism through gothic and horror narratives.’ Think Edgar Allen Poe, Angela Carter, Baudelaire, Mary Shelley, Beckett, David Lynch, Doestoyevsky,  Shirley Jackson, Emily Brontë. The editor is Eoin Rogers, a  graduate of a Masters in Creative Writing from NUI in Galway, and now based in Dublin. Should be interesting!

Panning for Poems                                                                    http://www.poetryni.com/panning-for-poems.html

A micro-poetry  (poems 3 – 8 lines long) broadside and online journal, edited by Geraldine O’Kane, sub-edited by Colin Dardis, based in the North. Nice to have an outlet for those tiny poems and a source for inspiration, too.

Paper Lanterns                                                                                             https://paperlanternslit.com

Paper Lanterns is a new literary journal, founded in 2020 by Grace Kelley, Amy O’Sullivan and Ruth Ennis. Short stories, flash, art, poetry and features. It got a splash in The Irish Times and on RTE when it was launched, and is Arts Council supported. It aims to promote the voices of young people in Ireland and across the world, and provide new and exciting content for teen and young adult audiences. it has beautiful artwork and is published four times a year. Three issues of Paper Lanterns have been published thus far and there are a lot more to come. Good luck to the editors – they’ve found a niche here.

Poethead                                                                                     https://poethead.wordpress.com/

An excellent poetry blog curated by Christine Murray, who is compiling a valuable and  extensive index of women poets, both Irish and international, contemporary and deceased. Great resource, and influential. So sorry to see that it’s now closed for submissions, but it’ll remain online as an archive. 

Poetry Ireland Review                                                      http://www.poetryireland.ie/writers/submission-to-pir/

The ‘journal of record’ in Irish poetry. You’re on the official literary radar once you’ve managed to get work between these pages. The current editor is Colette Bryce. The latest issue features work from Denise Riley, Kayo Chingonyi, Luke Morgan, Katie Donovan, Nick Laird, and Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh, among many other excellent poets, as well as Ailbhe Darcy’s perceptive analysis of documentary poetry in performance, focusing on Kimberly Campanello’s MOTHERBABYHOME and a tribute to the much-mourned Eavan Boland. They also have a pamphlet, Trumpet, which is sent to subscribers, where more reviews are featured. They pay contributors.

Riverbed Review                                                                   https://riverbedreview.wordpress.com

Riverbed Review is another new journal sprung from the lockdown. It publishes pieces inspired and informed by the natural world, particularly waterways and rivers. Looking for stories and poetry based around this theme, its current submission window for its second issue is open until March.

Ropes                                                                                            http://www.ropesliteraryjournal.com

This literary journal gets a new lease of life each year as it is passed down to the next generation of students on the MA in Literature and Publishing course at NUI Galway. Publishing poetry, prose, and visual art, Ropes aims to give emerging writers a space to platform their work, while donating its proceeds to a chosen charity; this year’s charity is COPE Galway – what better reason to support it?

Skylight 47                                                                          https://skylight47poetry.wordpress.com/

Their blurb states that they are ‘possibly Ireland’s most interesting publication’. Based in Galway. Current editors: Bernie Crawford, Nicki Griffin, Marie Cadden and Ruth Quinlan. Interesting, broadsheet-style journal. They published a glowing review of my first collection, and also some poems, so I have a crush!

Silver Apples                                                                                                                  https://silver-apples.squarespace.com                                                                                    

This one is new to me, but here’s what the About paragraph says on their website: ‘We publish writing across all genres and mediums. Do you have prose, poetry, or a one-act play? Because we want it. Do you dare to defy genres or mediums? Because we publish those pieces, too.’ They also have a competition, which is currently open for entries.

Sonder Magazine                                                                                                https://sonderlit.com

Love their blurb: “The realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own.” Here’s what they say about the magazine: ‘We publish short stories, flash fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry, all based around the individual and how we interact with each other. We want you, the writer, to get into the mind of someone sitting across from you on the Dart home, or the fella who just asked to bum a lighter, or even the Aisling wearing runners to work. Submission guidelines are in the Submissions tab. Have a gander. Slide into our DM’s. See you on the flipside.’ Already smitten!

Southword                                                                      https://southword.submittable.com/submit

The Munster version of Poetry Ireland Review, Southword is a print literary journal that publishes new international writing. Southword has published the work of Medbh McGuckian, Helen Ivory, Haruki Murakami, James Lasdun, Kim Addonizio, Tess Gallagher, Colm Tóibín and Vona Groarke, among other acclaimed poets and writers. The 2021 spring issue features prizewinning and shortlisted entries from the Gregory O’Donoghue and Seán O’Faoláin competitions, both organised by The Munster Literature Centre, as well as specially commissioned work. Submissions of poetry and short fiction (for the autumn issue) are open as follows: POETRY: December 1st, 2020 ‒ February 28th, 2021. FICTION: January 1st ‒ March 31st, 202. Although no longer an online journal, the online archives are still available: https://munsterlit.ie/Southword/issues_index.html

Splonk                                                                                                                           https://splonk.ie/about/

Founded in May 2019, Splonk is an online flash fiction journal dreamed up by a group of flash writers in Ireland. The word ‘splonk’ is the anglicised form of the Irish word ‘splanc’: noun fem. flash, spark. A splaincín (derived from splanc) is a spirited, fiery female. The editor is the award-winning author and poet, Nuala O’Connor. I’m including it here because the micro fictions here are pure poetry. Go for this one.

Spontaneity                                                                                                     http://spontaneity.org

‘Where everything connects’ – a beautiful online journal, curated by Ruth McKee, specialises in ekphrastic responses to visual art. The forthcoming issue (see illustration above) will be in response to the separation of families at the US border. Artists and writers from Ireland and around the world contribute their words and pictures to the magazine by responding to an image or words from the previous issue. I’ve had work in this journal and love both the premise and the product.

SurVision                                                                                                  http://survisionmagazine.com

This is an independent international online magazine founded in March 2017 and based in Dublin, Ireland. Edited by Anatoly Kudryavitsky, SurVision publishes neo-surrealist poetry and comes out in January and July. The deadlines for these issues are 31st December and 30th June. Submissions of not more than five poems are considered at any time. SurVision have now begun publishing surrealist chapbooks too. they’ve published my chapbook, Invisible Insane and also work of mine in an anthology of surrealist poetry called Seeds of Gravity.

The Bangor Literary Journal                                                              https://thebangorliteraryjournal.com

Another new NI journal, this one is currently on its thirteenth issue. They’re interested in photography, flash fiction and poetry, and welcome hybrid / experimental work. They also have several competitions. Check them out.

The Bohemyth                                                                                              http://thebohemyth.com/

Based in Dublin, editor is Michael Naghten Shanks. I don’t know much about this one yet, but it’s a quarterly online journal, publishing poetry, fiction, photography, essays. I think it’s on hiatus during the lockdown.

The Dublin Review                                                                                 https://thedublinreview.com/

The Irish Times called this ‘a world-class forum for the literary essay.’ A quarterly magazine of  fiction and non-fiction: essays, memoir, travel writing, criticism. Founded and edited by Brendan Barrington, it is highly regarded. Published in book format and assisted by The Arts Council of Ireland. Although they don’t accept poetry, I couldn’t not include them here.

The Galway Review                                                                                http://thegalwayreview.com/

‘Committed to excellence in the extraordinary art of the written word.’ Not familiar with this journal, but as it’s based in my the city of my birth, must check it out! A number of editors. I do wish they’d jazz up the look of their website though.

The Haibun Journal                                                                                https://thehaibunjournal.blog

The Haibun Journal, launched in Ireland April 2019, is a print journal specialising in the haibun literary form. The journal appears in April and October each year. The editors are: Sean O’Connor, Amanda Bell, Kim Richardson and Paul Bregazzi. Just had my first haibun accepted by them and looking forward to seeing the journal.

The Irish Literary Review                                                   http://irishliteraryreview.com/index.html

This journal, edited by former BBC journalist and Oxford Creative Writing Masters graduate Catherine Higgins-Moore, features poetry, fiction and interviews and keeps an archive of interviews. Clean. Classy. Currently closed for submissions, but I’m going to keep an eye on this one. 

The Irish Times                                                                        http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/poetry

Always worth submitting to this one if you’re unpublished. It’s a big deal to get selected for publication in New Irish Writing at the The Irish Times, as it means you’re in with a chance to be shortlisted for the coveted Hennessy awards. (I was a Hennessy winner, and trust me, there’s nothing like it.) You can email your entry to hennessynewirishwriting@irishtimes.com or post it (with a stamped addressed envelope) to Ciaran Carty, Hennessy New Irish Writing, The Irish Times, 24-28 Tara Street, Dublin 2. Submissions are open to unpublished writers who are Irish or resident in Ireland. All accepted stories will be printed in the Irish Times, as well as being considered for the Hennessy Literary Awards, with prizes of €1500 and €2500, as well as a trophy. And even if you are published, you can submit for the Poem of the Week. They pay contributors.

The Liminal Review                                                                                 https://www.liminalreview.com

Another new one! The Liminal Review is a literature and arts journal that is looking for the things that are made in the in-between spaces. The Liminal Review was founded in December 2020 by Alix Berber and Shauna Smullen. ‘Two queer artists looking to carve out a new space for marginalised voices in Ireland and beyond. The project emerged from a curiosity for the concept of liminal spaces, transition and temporality.’ They’re open to fiction, short prose, reviews, poetry, creative nonfiction, marginalia, and illustrations. 

The Moth Magazine                                                                                        http://themothmagazine.com/

This is a print magazine, associated with the renowned Moth Poetry Prize (one of the biggest prizes in the world for a single unpublished poem) and includes artwork. Slim, but classy. Considered one of the most beautiful and tasteful journals around. Another one to aspire to. Glad I’ve had work published here.

The Ogham Stone                                                                            https://theoghamstoneul.com/

This is a literary journal run by the Masters students of English and Creative Writing at the University of Limerick, featuring poetry, art and fiction. I noticed Mary O’Malley’s and Sinéad Morrissey’s names on the masthead.

The Penny Dreadful   
http://thepennydreadful.org/

‘The Penny Dreadful,’ claim the team, ‘is the highest brow compendium of literature since bald men invented widow’s peaks and we all decided to go along with it.’ Steered by Marc O’Connell, edited by Cethan Leahy and Róisin Kelly. Here’s more of their blurb: ‘So you have managed to navigate the highway that is the byway of the internet and found yourself washed up on the shores of The Penny Dreadful. “The what?” you ask in a simian like fashion, scratching your forehead with your knuckles. Wait here while we fetch you a banana.’ Based in the rebel county of Cork, what more can I say? They accepted my review of Kimberly Campanello’s collection, because, well, it was Kimberly! Two poetry submission rejections though (ouch).

The Pickled Body                                                                              http://thepickledbody.com/

A clean, aesthetic online poetry and art magazine ‘that plays with the senses.’ Each themed issue presents work from the surreal to the sensual and points in between – ‘poems that not only sound as good as they look, but taste as good as they feel.’ I concur. The editors are Dimitra Xidous and Patrick Chapman. Submissions are currently closed, but that could be a lockdown thing.

The Poetry Bus                                             http://thepoetrybusmag.wix.com/change#!submissions/cgyc

‘Curating the world artfully, inclusively, fairly.’ claims the journal. Published by Peadar and Collette O’Donoghue. They’ve also published a ‘grimoire’ by Fiona Bolger, and may do more.        I had work published both in print and on the CD that accompanied the substantial journal. And they nominated my poem for the Forward Prize! 

The Stinging Fly                                                                                                               http://www.stingingfly.org/

Founded by Aoife Kavanagh and Declan Meade in 1997, this is one of the most rated journals in Ireland today. Arts Council funded. The Stinging Fly publishes English and Irish poetry and also fiction. The journal has published new work by a number of acclaimed writers such as Simon Armitage, Kevin Barry, Emma Donoghue, Claire Keegan, Toby Litt, Colum McCann, Medbh McGuckian, Paula Meehan, Sinéad Morrissey, Paul Murray, Philip Ó Ceallaigh, Sharon Olds, Keith Ridgway and C.K. Stead. Hard to get into – took me four attempts! But I’ve had work accepted a few times now, and each time, it’s a thrill. The English poetry editor is Eabhan Ní Shuilleabháin. There are also contributing / guest editors such as Sally Rooney, Mia Gallagher, Thomas Morris, Cal Doyle, Danny Denton. They are now publishing books as Stinging Fly Press and have published about twelve award-winning books and anthologies. And they pay contributors.

The Tangerine                                                                                    https://thetangerinemagazine.com/

The Tangerine is a new Belfast-based magazine of new writing. It covers culture and politics, and is published three times a year. ‘We want to read work that challenges and excites us,’ they say.The print journal includes features, reportage, commentary, fiction, poetry, illustration and photography. Submissions are currently closed, but Issue 9 (100 pages) is available to buy online. 

The Waxed Lemon                                                                       https://twitter.com/TheWaxedLemon

Love the name! Based in Wexford and launched in Autumn of last year, The Waxed Lemon is an independent journal looking to publish poetry, short stories, flash fiction, photography, and art. Keep an eye on their Twitter page (above) for information about their upcoming submissions window.

The Well Review                                                                                                                 http://www.thewellreview.com/

The Well Review (TWR) was founded in 2016 by Cork native, Sarah Byrne with the support of Christian Carley, Mary-Jane Holmes and Niall Murphy. It was established ‘to create a space to house exceptional poetry from all over the world,’ says Sarah Byrne. ‘I, along with most of my Irish poet friends, very much miss The SHOp, edited by John and Hilary Wakeman, who have retired. I’m hoping that The Well Review will be the journal to compensate for that loss.’ The inaugural issue featured work by international poets such as John Burnside, Maram al-Masri, Ellen Bass, Ishion Hutchinson, Kaveh Akbar, Nick Laird, Matthew Dickman and Maggie Smith. They offer online courses too and have begun a printing press. Arts Council funded. Still trying to get into this one. The journal is published in February and September. And they pay. 

The Quarryman                                                            https://www.facebook.com/quarrymanjournal

This is a literary journal, associated with University College Cork. Originally started in 1920, this journal was revived by the 2015 MA creative writing students, and the first, substantial issue  sold out. Submissions are accepted, via their Facebook page, only for those affiliated with UCC, including alumnae. Email them at quarrymansubmissions@gmail.com

Tír na nÓg                                                                                                       https://tirnanoglit.com

This is a new publication for prose and poetry by writers native or local to Galway that engage in an international dialogue. Its first issue can be found online while submissions for its second issue will open soon.

TwoMeter Review                                                                       https://beauwilliamspoet.com/2mr/

TwoMeter Review is edited by a Dublin-based American, Beau Williams. Here’s what he says: ‘We are a working-class, grassroots magazine motivated by connection and the elevation of Irish and American voices. We believe poetry is powerful, expressive, poignant, and necessary.’ Submissions for poetry and photography for the second edition are now open. It will be published digitally with physical copies for sale. 

Winter Papers                                                                                   https://www.winterpapers.com

Self-described as ‘a fine cut of a book’, Winter Papers one of Ireland’s foremost arts anthologies, containing fiction, non-fiction, interviews, and in-conversation pieces. It has been described by The Irish Times as ‘a treasure trove of soul fuelled with deep roots in Irish soil’ and was picked as an Irish art book of the year by the Sunday Times. Edited by Kevin Barry and Olivia Smith, its sixth edition was published at the end of last year.

 

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If I’ve left any journals out, please add them, with a link, in the comments below. Thanks. Happy reading and submitting, and please subscribe and support the journals where you can. Where would we be without them?

Ghost of the Fisher Cat

Ghost

Honoured and thrilled to receive this generous close reading of my collection, by Abigail Ardelle Zammit. I hope you’ll indulge me if I post it here. Ach, I can’t resist! Besides, it’s also a great example of how to write a review. 🙂

Ghost of the Fisher Cat by Afric McGlinchey (Salmon Poetry)
Review by Abigail Ardelle Zammit
Appears in Issue 58 of Ofi Literary Magazine (Mexico)

Poetry is often considered to be difficult because it challenges the mind to pin down language into units of limited signification, opening it up, not only to plurality, but to the bizarre, the surreal and the unexpected, where the word is more connotation than referent, the verse more music than signification, the whole poem more like a symphony than the unravelling of some secret meaning. The extent to which poets play on this subversive use of language varies enormously, but in Afric McGlinchey’s second collection, Ghost of the Fisher Cat, the reader is often at the far end of the spectrum where the juxtaposition of unusual metaphor and conceit, the surprising lexical connotations, the tight stanza forms and highly-charged line breaks demand the reader’s trust in the poet’s ability to inspire feelings, sensations and emotional turbulences, even when the meanings or narrative layers are not immediately cohesive.

Occupying a liminal space between fable and reality where the dead and the living converge, it is necessary for these poems to reach towards a linguistic and thematic otherness. In ‘Shadow’ therefore, which comes with a nod to Hans Christian Anderson, it might be less important to pin down the speaker and the mysterious ‘she’ who moves ‘to the sun’ than to savour the beauty of the sexual pull ‘towards/the body of the world’, the delicious tearing following ‘a catapulting leap’ where the speaker, simultaneously cat and human, discovers ‘passion’s bounty, a lover’s tongue’. In this poem, the recurrent motif of open windows suggests an escape into a surreal space where the characters can merge into their shadows or their ghostly incarnations, but also where the writer can swim into the embryonic freedom of her creative self.

In ‘Slow Dancing in a Burning Room, ‘ John Mayer’s love song allows the first person narrator to ponder why she is attracted to ‘the unknown / of the known’, to savour her lover’s proximity, feeling her heart’s push against his body. She must move around ‘blindly’, vulnerable to the light and the openness that freedom brings: ‘the doors, both back and front / are still open, and the yellowwood floor / is glowing’. Even in the well-executed villanelle, ‘Alchemy of Happiness’, which is dedicated to the poet’s son, the boy ‘flies through doorless rooms / across a private ocean’; imagining this joie de vivre is more rewarding than trying to pin down the precise question that his body asks, or the way it ‘gives an answer’ as the young limbs float into the airy space of childhood and half-tamed wilderness. The poem is indeed a ‘song of slanted movement’ because of its circular re-telling and reaffirmations and its refusal to pin down meaning. In the poem that precedes it, ‘The Importance of Being’, the epigraph from Wilde suggests that the soul can soar beyond human comprehension, so that in trying to imagine its metaphysical orbit, one has to talk of ‘slanting rain’; once again, the conclusion is an indirect commentary on the role of the imagination:

Each reflection
takes him far beyond

these four-walled days,
floats his soul

through this tiny window
into illumination.

Doubtlessly, ‘Ghost of the Fisher Cat’, which comes toward the end of the collection, continues the trajectory of the very first poem, ‘Cat Music’ – the transformation from cat gut to violin strings – which is also the exploration of art’s capacity for transcendence. The poem starts with a rhetorical question – ‘How to describe the topography / of the imagination?’ Despite the speaker’s directions to the readers: ‘Let your eyes go soft,/ sense peripherals / like an animal tracker’, there will always be those whose mind’s eye does not capture the ghost-cat, ‘her sinuous spring, back / into the shadows’ for this is always a fleeting moment and mental conjuring is not for everyone:

You didn’t catch her?
Well, there are always losses and gains
as with any fishing expedition.

It requires a certain leap of your own
to jump out of one world
and into another.

Sometimes, we are told, it is just ‘A Matter of Persistence’: again, the conditions must be propitious, light and weather being a recurring feature in this collection: ‘aftermath of rain’, ‘certain slant of streetlight’. So the lads in the poem become merged with the superstitious young vigilantes in ‘Familiar’, the ones who drowned Dom Perlet’s diabolical cat. In this poem, the black cat is reincarnated, struggling ‘for days and decades / until this evening’s new constellation – lynx’, and the mind picks up its half-presence, tenuous but real enough to acquire the charge of a ghost story. The way the poem moves rapidly from observation, to narrative, to conversation – ‘just an illusion’, scoffs the taller one to his staring friend’, is very much indicative of the poet’s own attempt to break into the reader’s world, pointing at that ‘bristling, vivid, green-eyed / density’, which is so clearly visible to her that she wants to gift us a glimpse of it, as if lifting the veil onto some other world.

That this kind of seeing is bitter-sweet, making one subject to suffering and vulnerability, is also a thematic concern. The man in ‘The Glass Delusion’ has to protect his glass-body from breaking; in this reading, he is not merely a self-absorbed individual who forgets his duty towards the society where he belongs, but an artistic soul who has to live with the terror of isolation; he is a fragile presence made alien and invisible as a result of his heightened sensibility: ‘though you see right through me / like the glass in that window, I remain invisible?’ It is why the poem is followed by ‘Pareidolia’, the tendency to perceive a meaningful image in an apparently random visual pattern; it is these seers who carry within them apocalyptic fears of otherworldly proportions so that even the setting sun becomes a metaphor for a collapsing world: ‘the arc / of the sun, in the silent moment / before the plummet’.

What this kind of vision entails is a keen awareness of otherness in all its forms, not least its political ramifications. The fisher cat, together with his owner, the alchemist canon, might lend themselves to contemporary migrant narratives because they also represent whatever seems foreign or alien to a particular society; the vigilantes may be an expression of the callousness or cowardice with which we destroy that which we fear, particularly when it appears strange or uncanny. In ‘I is Not Always Me’, winner of the 2015 Poets Meet Politics competition, the female speaker is an immigrant and a victim of racism, but what hurts her the most is the erosion of her own identity because of the violence of linguistic imposition:

In Advanced, we talk about erosion,
cliffs giving way, landing in the sea.
I think of how a foreign language percolates your own
until its idioms even permeate your dreams;
that’s not acquisition, but erosion too.

The speaker is very much like a poet, safeguarding the silence inside her head, seeking the tranquillity of river banks, recuperating her primal language from the flotsam of loss. If McGlinchey too is a migrant and lifelong traveller, then she can better understand what it is to live in so many places and never to belong, a theme which is played out in ‘Blink’, where no house is a home. Moreover, she is less prone to judgment when confronted with difference or seemingly bizarre behaviour. In fact, in ‘Holy War, the speaker could very much be Joan of Arc, ‘traitor, heretic, idolater’ who refuses to ‘betray’ her Voices, just like the poet who has to conjure the voices of others in order to sing variously in couplets, tercets, sonnets, villanelles, free verse and a variety of structural possibilities. Because the language she uses is so multi-referential, the title and the conclusion of the poem may remind readers of all those others, the suicide bombers, for instance, who, like the Maid of Orleans, are utterly convinced of salvation through martyrdom and self-sacrifice:

Though thick stone walls, I hear the bells again,
lifting me beyond this earthly fear. Like death,
my fate is certain, and Paradise awaits!

This is a writer who, like Karen Blixen (who features in the epigraph to ‘Contact’), can truly understand why ‘God and the Devil are one’; it is this subversive destabilization of a well-established dichotomy that allows her to play with language in the way she does, albeit a bit too madly at times, as in ‘Fin de Siècle’ where the speaker can ‘tweak’ God ‘out of you / like Medusa’s hairbrush snarl’, but alluringly enough to keep us engaged in her unique poetic language. It is in poems like ‘Sonnet in B Major’ that the powerful rhythm and oomph of her language are most apparent. As readers, we must hold our breath and accept the speaker’s invitation to Promethean courage, doing ‘magic, like feral creatures turning quick to a language,’ which is full of auditory energy:

A wet black semi-quaver opening up
the fanatic eye of an arbitrary Icarus.
Oh, these bells. But I digress.
If we must die, ingloriously, let’s first
rise up like snakes from the monumental pit.

*

This review originally appeared in Issue 58 of Ofi Literary Magazine, edited by Jack Little.

To order a copy of Ghost of the Fisher Cat, please click on the link: http://www.salmonpoetry.com/details.php?ID=380&a=221

Abigail Ardelle Zammit

Dr Abigail Ardelle Zammit is an English Literature at the University of Malta (Abela Junior College). Her most recent poetry collection is ‘Portrait of a Woman with Sea Urchin’ (Sentinel, 2015).

Tipping my hat to female poets

Books

I’m doing an inventory of my poetry books in anticipation of preparing my writing room for a tenant who’ll be moving in while we move to Zimbabwe for a few months. In honour of International Women’s Day, I thought I’d do a roll call of the female poets on my shelves: the 178 full collections and chapbooks together are the works of 148 poets (damn, I bet I have one or two lurking elsewhere in the house…) I picked up most of these books at festivals, as well as a few gems at the Time Travellers’ Bookshop and also the Salmon Poetry Bookshop in Ennistymon, which has a great second-hand section; a number were sent to me for review too. Another favourite bookshop is the Book Stór in Kinsale.

Each of these poets has been an inspiration in one way or another, and I just wanted to say thank you! Here are the names:

Aifric MacAodha
Alice Oswald
Alice Walker
Alyson Hallett
Amy De’Ath
Andrea Mbarushimana
Angela T. Carr
Angela France
Anna Akhmatova
Anna Journey
Anne-Marie Fyfe
Ailbhe Darcy
Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh
Anne Carson
Anne Fitzgerald
Anne Rouse
Anne Sexton
Bethany W. Pope
Breda Wall Ryan
Brenda Shaughnessy
Carol Ann Duffy
Caroline Smith
C.D. Wright
Chrissy Williams
Daphne Gottlieb
Deborah Tyler-Bennett
Deirdre Hines
Denise Blake
Denise Levertov
Djuna Barnes
Doireann Ní Ghríofa
Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin
Eileen Casey
Eileen Sheehan
Eleanor Hooker
Elizabeth Bishop
Ellen Kombiyil
Emilia Ivancu
Emily Berry
Emily Dickinson
Eva H.D.
Fiona Moore
Fiona Sampson
Fran Lock
Frances Horovitz
Geraldine Clarkson
Gill Andrews
Gillian Allnut
Gillian Clarke
Grace Wells
Hannah Lowe
Helen Farish
Helen Mort
Ileana Malancioiu
Ingrid de Kok
Isobel Dixon
Jackie Kay
Jane Clarke
Jane Kenyon
Jane Hirshfield
Jane Weir
Jannice Thaddeus
Jean O’Brien
Jessamine O’Connor
Jessie Lendennie
Jessica Traynor
Jenny Lewis
Jodie Matthews
Joan McBreen
Jo Shapcott
Kapka Kassabova
Karen Press
Karen Solie
Kate Noakes
Katherine Kilalea
Kathryn Simmonds
Kathy D’Arcy
Kerrin McCaddon
Kerrie O’Brien
Kerry Hardie
Kit Fryatt
Kimberly Campanello
Kim Moore
Leanne O’Sullivan
Leeanne Quinn
Leontia Flynn
Lianne Strauss
Lo Kwa Mei-en
Maeve O’Sullivan
Maggie Harris
Marcela Sulak
Marie Howe
Martina Evans
Marion McCready
Mary Mullen
Mary Noonan
Mary O’Malley
Maya Catherine Popa
Meg Bateman
Medbh McGuckian
Meredith Andrea
Minal Hajratwala
Michelle O’Sullivan
Molly Minturn
Monica Corish
Moniza Alvi
Moya Cannon
Natasha Trethaway
Nell Regan
Nessa O’Mahony
Nicki Jackowska
Nina Karacosta
Nuala Ní Chonchúir
Nuala Ní Dhomnhnaill
Orlaith Foyle
Paisley Rekdal
Pascal Petit
Pat Borthwick
Paula Cunningham
Paula Meehan
Renée Sarjini Saklikar
Rita Ann Higgins
River Wolton
Robyn Rowland
Roisín Kelly
Rosemary Tonks
Ruth Padel
Robin Houghton
Sandra Ann Winters
Sarah Clancy
Sarah Howe
Shirley McClure
Shikiha Malavia
Silvia Secco
Sharon Olds
Sinéad Morrissey
Sophie Hannah
Sujata Bhatt
Susan Millar du Mars
Suji Kwok Kim
Sylvia Plath
Tania Hershman
Theresa Muñoz
Ulrikka S. Gernes
Victoria Kennefick
Virginia Astley
Vona Groarke
Wislawa Szymborska
Zoë Brigley

Why would anyone in their right minds write a memoir?

IMG_20170926_182336 (3)It’s quite terrifying, I’ve discovered, writing a memoir, especially as I’m attempting to write it in the form of prose poetry. A concern is crossing a line in terms of family loyalty. How to accommodate their right to privacy while telling my own story? One way, of course, is to change almost all the names. I’m also keeping the dateline vague. Wish me luck!

Next up: an African road trip

Zimbabwe strip road

Thrilled and excited to have been awarded an Arts Council bursary, which will enable me to travel to Zimbabwe and South Africa to research and write my next book. I leave next week! I plan to keep a reading record and a weekly journal, describing my two-month trip. I had been feeling some trepidation about returning to a country in a state of economic crisis, but now that there’s an atmosphere of jubilation and hope about future prospects, I can’t wait. As Aristotle said, ‘There is always something new coming out of Africa.’ Let’s see.

Oread By H. D.

Hdpoet

Whirl up, sea—
whirl your pointed pines,
splash your great pines
on our rocks,
hurl your green over us,
cover us with your pools of fir.

H.D.(1886–1961) was an American poet, novelist, and memoirist. She was part of the early 20th century avant-garde Imagist group of poets that also included Ezra Pound and Richard Aldington. A prolific writer of prose and poetry, her most notable work was Helen in Egypt (written between 1952–54), an examination from a feminist point of view of a male-centred epic poetry. Her writings have served as a model for poets working in the modernist tradition, including Barbara Guest, Denise Levertov, Hilda Morley, Susan Howe, Robert Duncan and Robert Creeley. ‘Oread’ is one of her earliest and best-known poems.

EVE & ADAM by Rethabile Masilo

Rethabile Masilo

This is a reading of this poem
because this poem yearns to be read.
‘Read me’, it says to girls passing with clay-pots
on their heads, bangles on wrists. Monica
read it to Bill, pausing between lines for this poem
to sink in, the way Camilla kissed Charles
with her tongue when this poem revealed itself
to her. And so this poem is barred from Poems
on the Underground. This poem
is read by women whose husbands
haven fallen to cancer, voices trailing the lines
like sound behind light, or mechanical waves
chasing photons, or the sound of an aeroplane
you can no longer see. Our neighbour
kept reciting this poem every day
till the moon of her mind moved
into her window, and she lay in the arms
of a gentleman’s kindness again. Strauss-Kahn
missed the point of the whole thing, but Eve
read it to Adam on the eve of their sin.
Suddenly aware of the lock and key design
of genitals, he said this poem back to her,
spat in his hand and rubbed her crotch.

Lesotho-born Rethabile Masilo is a Paris-based poet whose first poetry collection, Things That Are Silent, was published by Pindrop Press in 2012. His second book, Waslap, was published in 2015 by The Onslaught Press.Blog

More than this by David Kirby

-1

MORE THAN THIS

When you tell me that a woman is visiting the grave
of her college friend and she’s trying not to get irritated
at the man in the red truck who keeps walking back and forth
and dropping tools as he listens to a pro football
game on the truck radio, which is much too loud, I start
to feel as though I know where this story is going,
so I say Stop, you’re going to make me cry.
How sad the world is. When young men died in the mud
of Flanders, the headmaster called their brothers out
of the classroom one by one, but when the older brothers
began to die by the hundreds every day, they simply handed
the child a note as he did his lessons, and of course the boy
wouldn’t cry in front of the others, though at night
the halls were filled with the sound of schoolboys sobbing
for the dead, young men only slightly older than themselves.
Yet the world’s beauty breaks our hearts as well:
the old cowboy is riding along and looks down
at his dog and realizes she died a long time ago
and that his horse did as well, and this makes him
wonder if he is dead, too, and as he’s thinking this,
he comes to a big shiny gate that opens onto a golden
highway, and there’s a man in a robe and white wings,
and when the cowboy asks what this place is, the man tells
him it’s heaven and invites him in, though he says animals
aren’t allowed, so the cowboy keeps going till he comes
to an old rusty gate with a road full of weeds and potholes
on the other side and a guy on a tractor, and the guy
wipes his brow and says you three must be thirsty,
come in and get a drink, and the cowboy says okay,
but what is this place, and the guy says it’s heaven,
and the cowboy says then what’s that place down
the road with the shiny gate and the golden highway,
and when the guy says oh, that’s hell, the cowboy
says doesn’t it make you mad that they’re pretending
to be you, and the guy on the tractor says no,
we like it that they screen out the folks who’d desert
their friends. You tell me your friend can’t take it
any more, and she turns to confront the man
who’s making all the noise, to beg him to leave her alone
with her grief, and that’s when she sees that he’s been
putting up a Christmas tree on his son’s grave
and that he’s grieving, too, but in his own way,
one that is not better or worse than the woman’s,
just different, the kind of grief that says the world
is so beautiful, that it will give you no peace.

End of a residency

and we wonder cover image revisedIt’s been such an honour to be part of the experience that is the Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre. And that’s what it is. An experience. Every time you walk in the door, you enter a mesmerising world of the imagination, with new residencies, exhibitions and installations occurring all the time.

My residency wrapped up with an exhibition of poems, some of which I wrote in response to the work of the other artists in residence: Toma McCullim, whose current work engages with people coping with dementia, the magnificent dancer, Tara Brandel, and Emma Jervis, the photographer.

With so many events taking place during the Skibbereen Arts Festival, there wasn’t time or space for a reading, but Justine Foster suggested (over lunch) that putting together a booklet of the poems would complement the exhibition. I did read some of the poems at the Poetry Marathon which took place at Paul and Marie O’Colmain’s Working Artists Studios (and also interviewed Liz Nugent, author of the psychological thriller, Unravelling Oliver at Holger and Nichola Smyth’s Time Travellers’ Gallery.) The booklet is available for purchase at the Centre. Here’s one of the poems, which I wrote in response to Toma’s exhibition, These Tangled Threads:

tangled threads

Keep net

after Toma McCullim

losing the word for ‘glass’,                                                             you say carrier of wine,                                                                                                         find new vessels

too close, not close enough:                                                                                        sweet, useless balls                                                                                                              of sugar icing,

amuse-bouches that turn                                                                                                    to tears                                                                                                                                    at a crossing

junk, cat-cradled                                                                                                                  by wool                                                                                                                              cross-stitching over

a cracked egg                                                                                                                      still holding                                                                                                                            yolk
more raw,                                                                                                                            less – or more – elaborately                                                                                            attached

to the green-grape                                                                                                                 of rust                                                                                                                             spilling

its metallic waves,                                                                                                           collapsing,                                                                                                                           one riff at a time

My connection with Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre isn’t over though. In the autumn, I’ll be offering further poetry courses, so that’s another legacy. My heartfelt thanks to all the staff and other artists at Uillinn. It’s been an amazing experience, and I’m glad to have found new friends.

(PS Love how the WordPress formatting has disjointed the poem across the page! It wasn’t written like that, but as it’s evocative of the gaps in synapses that can occur with dementia, I’ll leave it like this…)

Poet in Residence – Week 1

StudioWCAC5 StudioWCAC6

First week of my residency over already! It’s been such fun, decorating my studio, with the help of Stephen, who had to use a ladder to hang my African wall-hanging. One of my paintings is by a friend, the self-taught artist and musician, Les Clague. The other is my own. I’ve put up poems from my own collection for visitors to read. They can choose one to take away with them as a memento.

So far, I’ve had interesting visitors, among them Sheena Jolley, the wildlife photographer, who’s invited me to visit her in her Mill House Gallery in Schull. (Here’s her website: http://www.sheenajolleyphotography.com/). She took away two poems: ‘Bodhrán makers suspected, after goats go missing’ and ‘Do not lie to a lover.’ She is thinking of responding to the poems with photographs. Also, Bantry-based Warren Hartley, a South African videographer, from Cape Town, where I did my post-graduate degree, so we had plenty to talk about. He took my poem ‘Yes’ (after James Joyce’s Molly Bloom). Among others, there was a jewellery designer, Nuala Jamison (www.nualajamison.com) and also a student, Ian Curly, who’s currently taking the art degree on Sherkin island.

It’s been great to see former participants from workshops I’ve offered in Bandon, Skibbereen and Cork. I’ve had several editing surgeries, and also facilitated my first Tuesday Poem to Go workshop, with everyone producing an experimental poem.  Ann Davoren, the director of the art centre, swung by to say hi, and I’ve been seeing a bit of Justine Foster, the Programme Manager Education & Community Co-ordinator, and Rita O’Driscoll, the Development Manager, to exchange ideas about the residency. Photographer Emma Jervis, also currently doing a residency, has called in to take a couple of photographs, which she’s kindly given me permission to use here:

11032381_10155360464695162_254517242_o 11129642_10155360464665162_856936366_o

I visited St Patrick’s National School and met Alan Foley, the principal, and the fifth class teacher, who let me spend a bit of time with the fifth and sixth class. They sat on the floor of the carpeted hall and, in groups, enthusiastically responded to a writing activity, an indication of what they can expect if they participate in ‘Scribblings’,  the Young Writers’ Programme I’m offering as part of the residency. The boys were fantastic, producing great poems in a very short space of time. One group rapped their poem! All looks promising…

I was sorry I didn’t get the opportunity to visit the other schools before they broke up for Easter, but I’m hoping parents will see the fliers around town, at the Centre and in the library, and bring their children to the taster workshops on the 10th and 11th April, which will be followed by weekly workshops.  The plan is to produce a magazine of the poems written during the six-week course.

Looking forward to the Eye to Eye talk this evening with Tess Leak, another artist in residence, whose studio is next to mine. She’s working on some large scale ‘emergency’ drawings towards an exhibition to be held at the end of her residency. Great way to celebrate my birthday!