By Jo burns
Born in Northern Ireland, Jo Burns lives in Germany. Jo’s poetry has been published in Oxford Poetry, Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry News, The Moth, Southword, The Stinging Fly, The Tangerine and Magma among many others. Jo won the McClure Poetry Prize 2017 at the Irish Writers Festival, CA, the Magma Poetry Competition 2018, the Poetry Society’s Hamish Canham Award 2020, and the Writers week Listal Competition 2020. Her first collection White Horses was published by Turas Press in 2018. She is currently working on both a second collection and a collaboration with Emily S Cooper.
For Fatu, Kenya, 2018
Girl, you’re the last combination of chromosomes
and randomly smolt genes of your species.
You wear survival on your hide like an armour
of melted-down spearheads and machetes.
You vocalize the thunderous gutterals
of your indigenous tongue into seasons of hollow,
and are last to walk the way of the pilgrims
and mates to the familial watering holes.
Your brothers crossed the Ngorongoro cradle
to the other side to join the djinn. Their fathers,
and fathers before them, travelled past
the cauldron caldera you would call home,
if free to. Their pride graces teak tresors
as polished handles of yemenese daggers,
or ground to myth in Chinese powders.
But your grandfather, as rare as rhodium
in his life, cleared the walls of hunting lodges,
to a crash of poems. Like you, he was a birth
of magma from the fertile crater core.
Now receeding like lava back to the spirits,
he is a zip of unravelling DNA helix
and nucleotides you share, but have no use for.
As you search through cracks of crust and mantle
for the rest of your days, some holy place
to call your own, you lumber on a petered-out trail
of seed and sequence, relic and reason,
red dust. You are from yet also filled with volcano
and desire for something with no name, no outlet.
When the earth swallowed his last death trumpet,
deep underground an ancient herd stampeded.
Hearing it, he lowered his bullish head to charge
the rim. He knew he was storming time
to surrender to the last century of man.
You are so many things at once, a matriarch
without fold, an endling of magical code,
revered by the old ones, in lineage and bone.
And the horizon is a blood sky spilling towards
you. Fatu, you’re extinct despite still living
and we mourn the last ever male of your kind,
the northern white rhino, named Sudan,
who leaves you, granddaughter, behind him.
Published by Listowel Writers’ Week
Through the Ears of a Fish
By Eleanor Hooker
Eleanor Hooker holds an MPhil (Distinction) in Creative Writing from Trinity College, Dublin. Her debut poetry collection, The Shadow Owner’s Companion (Dedalus Press ), was shortlisted for the Strong/Shine Award for Best First Irish Collection from 2012. Her second, A Tug of Blue (Dedalus Press), was published in 2016, and her third, plus two chapbooks are due for publication in 2021. Her poems have appeared in journals worldwide, including: Poetry, Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry Review, PN Review, Agenda, The Irish Times, Winter Papers, The Stinging Fly, The Blue Nib and Banshee. In 2016 she was included as one of Poetry Ireland Review’s ‘Rising Generation’ of Irish poets. Eleanor is a helm and Press Officer for Lough Derg RNLI Lifeboat. She is a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London.
Through the Ears of a Fish
My grandmother refuses to look
in the mirror. She says a weird fish
swims up to the glass to mock her
through mime. She says it’s impolite,
says she doesn’t recognize the rude
trout as anyone connected to her life.
We both laugh, though I make certain
my grandmother is laughing before
I join in—my grandmother’s laughing
is close to crying, not even tears
mark the difference; cry-laughing,
cry-crying. My grandmother says
she’s lost her footing—says whenever
she plumbs her history she finds
only a layer of air. She taps the side
of her head and from one ear,
her otoliths pop out—three tiny hearing
stones—lapillus, sagitta, asteriscus.
We count the calcium rings
and conclude my grandmother is
a gamey old perch. My grandmother
says, as well as being part fish
and part raven, I’m also part yew
from the woodland ridge of Sliabh
na mBan (the mountain of the women).
She opens my hands to read runes
on my palms, takes one of my feet
to count rings on my sole, she turns
her listening ear to my mouth,
and I call to the tides tugging the sea.
Published by Poetry Magazine
By Catherine Ann Cullen
Catherine Ann Cullen is the inaugural Poet in Residence at Poetry Ireland. She is an award-winning poet, children’s writer and songwriter, and recipient of a Kavanagh Fellowship 2018. She has written three poetry collections including The Other Now (Dedalus 2016) and three books for children including All Better! (Little Island 2019). In 2017 she won the Business to Arts Award for Best Use of Creativity in the Community for her residency in East Wall. Her lyrics to Beethoven’s Ode to Joy were sung nationwide in June 2020 as a tribute to frontline staff. She has twice won the Francis Ledwidge Award, won best song in Dublin City Council’s Camac Competition 2018 and was joint winner of the Joyce-Cycle Poetry Award 2019.
I arabesque from the margins
of your great books.
You have not fathomed me.
I am older than letters:
I ripple from the first stone that skimmed the sea,
turn in infinite circles towards you.
I am the sweep of a quill,
the flourish of a turning feather,
the wind ruffling a wing,
a seashell whorl in the border,
the antlers of a great elk,
a serpent’s curled tongue.
I mark time:
sunrise at winter solstice,
fireworks at year’s turn.
I am the petroglyph at the gateway,
the threshold of the passage grave,
the portal to elsewhere,
the tendril curling towards light eternal,
the dark roots of the cosmic tree,
her luminous branches.
I am three stools for milking a sacred cow,
three seats for a fireside of stories,
three tops spun on the hearth.
Find me in the minaret of Samarra,
on the endpapers of the Koran,
in the comb of the crowing cock.
I whirl in the spill of Hokusai waves,
in a Van Gogh skyscape,
on a Klimt dress.
I am without corners.
I say Turn, turn again,
Published by New Island Books
In the Museum of Misremembered Things
By Linda McKenna
Linda McKenna is originally from Kinsealy in north County Dublin but has lived in Downpatrick for over 20 years. She was educated at Trinity College Dublin and the University of Leicester. She began writing poetry in 2015 and has had poems published in a number of publications including, Poetry Ireland Review, the North, the Honest Ulsterman, Crannog. In 2018 she won the Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing and the Red Line Festival poetry award. Her debut collection, In the Museum of Misremembered Things, was published by Doire Press in 2020. She works as Community Education Manager at Down County Museum.
In the Museum of Misremembered Things
the keeper writes a slanted hand;
fine nibbed copperplate tracking
imagined lines of pink and blue.
In lemon juice; this archive
of unprovenanced vows, misheard
names, missed cues. Some day
she may rip out the pages, lay
them flat, heat up the iron. For now,
invisible; the lover picking out
her name on snow so white,
it looked like truth; unbending
wedding lilies, pearls for sorrow,
tangled lace. She leaves space
for days and dates; mislaid,
or folded small, in drawers
of long sold, white-lined boxes.
Published by Doire Press
The An Post Irish Book Awards 2020 shortlists have been announced!
We are absolutely delighted to announce the poetry shortlist for the Listowel Writers’ Week Irish Poem of the Year 2020, in association with An Post Irish Book Awards.
Many entries were received again this year for the Irish Poem of the Year 2020 poetry competition, which were anonymously adjudicated by Richard Skinner, Director of the Fiction Programme at the Faber Academy.
Richard Skinner had the unenviable task of choosing a shortlist of four poems from the many poetry entries that were submitted this year. The four shortlisted poems include:
Terminarch by Jo Burns
Through the Ears of a Fish by Eleanor Hooker
Trisekele by Catherine Ann Cullen
In the Museum of Misremembered Things by Linda McKenna
How to vote for your poem
Voting is now open for the Listowel Writers’ Week Poem of the Year. Click here to register your vote!
The virtual An Post Irish Book Awards takes place on 25th November and will be hosted by RTE’s Evelyn O’Rourke. This event can be also be viewed on RTÉ’s website.
The An Post Irish Book of the Year Awards TV show will air on 10th December on RTÉ One and will be hosted by Miriam O’Callaghan. It will include interviews on location with many of the category winners and reveal the result of the nationwide poll to discover the overall ‘An Post Irish Book of the Year’ winner.