Siobhán Campbell’s latest collection is Heat Signature from Seren Press. Winner of the Oxford Brookes International Poetry Prize, Siobhan has also received awards in the National Poetry Competition, the Wigtown and the Troubadour International competitions. Recent poems on the climate crisis appear in the Poetry Archive and 100 Poems to Save the Planet. On faculty at The Open University, Siobhan collaborates on writing projects in Northern Ireland, Lebanon and Iraq.
Poem: Longboat at Portaferry
At the mouth of the Lough, I approach by the narrows
from fast-running tides to the place of strong currents.
I have bided my time, observing the flux,
the seals and the plover beside me beguiled.
I am still in my heart in search of safe harbour –
the wide shallow basin I’ve heard called a haven.
Like the waders and geese, I come back each season,
a to-ing and fro-ing since nature began.
I can see us some springtime, both new-come and native,
bathed in the light of a ferry at sunrise
when the eelgrass and thrift, the aster and thyme
are budding and thriving in warmth re-arriving,
and along all the narrows are sponges and corals –
a riot of colour remembering to bloom.
Published – New Hibernia Review, July 2021
Noel King was born and lives in Tralee, Co Kerry. His poetry collections are published by Salmon: Prophesying the Past, (2010), The Stern Wave (2013) and Sons (2015). He has edited more than fifty books of work by others (Doghouse Books, 2003-2013) and was poetry editor of Revival Literary Journal (Limerick Writers’ Centre) in 2012/13. A short story collection, The Key Signature & Other Stories was published by Liberties Press in 2017. www.Noelking.ie
The sister played glissando after glissando,
annoying the hands out of all of us.
Mom, she’ll make the piano all out of tune,
I complained, but mother just shrugged, smiled.
The ‘last charge’ was when a visiting neighbour boy
who hadn’t a musical note in his head
clenched his fist to his shoulder blade
and used his elbow for a 5 Octave glissando.
With a hot face I pushed him away,
took over the stool, played an angry Chopin fugue.
Coming back to the sister, it was she started it,
taping herself on a old Ferguson recorder,
reel to reel, playing it backwards,
wishing she had the technology to slow it down:
trying to make
the perfect glissando;
something we’ve been doing
with our lives ever since, the sister and I.
Published – Cyphers #91 April 2021
Karen J McDonnell is published widely at home and abroad including The Cormorant, New Irish Writing, The Rochford Street Review, The North and Coast To Coast To Coast. Her work has won several awards and has been nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart prizes. Karen has read at festivals and spoken word venues around Ireland, and on RTÉ’s Sunday Miscellany, Arena, Poetry File, and The Poetry Programme. Her debut poetry collection is This Little World (Doire Press). www.karenjmcdonnell.com
Up in these latitudes we remember
peaches warmed by the southern sun.
Truth is, the northerlies blow
bitter and purple towards Libya:
whipping up the midwaters, where
knees and elbows poke up –
salt-rimed and knotty
like bleached driftwood.
Published – The Cormorant Book/Tread Softly Publishing, August 2021
Michael Naghten Shanks lives and works in Dublin. His writing has appeared widely in publications such as Banshee, gorse, the Irish Times, the Irish Independent, Poetry Ireland Review, and the Tangerine. He was shortlisted for the Melita Hume Poetry Prize in 2015 and the Listowel Writers’ Week Irish Poem of the Year in 2016. The Architecture of Red Caviar Sandwiches (If a Leaf Falls Press, 2019) is his latest pamphlet.
Poem: Sestina for the Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze
I see his body captured in mid-air,
vibrating in the blur on a video monitor.
Dressed in white, his figure is hard to miss,
pinned to darkness by a spotlight. Elsewhere,
off-screen, the other acrobat
awaits — like a doppelgänger, say,
or perhaps a future self — as if to say
I’m here, everything will be OK. The air
is thickened by the presence of the acrobat
pixellated into bits of colour on the monitor.
All of this has passed and I am elsewhere
trying to understand how I could miss
this moment before me, then and now. To miss
your reply is called esprit de l’escalier. To say
this is true of life is no big jump. We are elsewhere,
always, even when our bodies fly through the air.
Experience is not the only measure by which to monitor
the fullness of your days is what the acrobat
is trying to convey. This is what I think. For the acrobat
existence means filling each act with near miss
after near miss — he monitors
himself approaching death — a performance that says
I feel most alive outside of myself. Airing
such thoughts help him survive elsewhere,
in the memory of others. Elsewhere,
I am the acrobat
of my very own life, filling up the air,
trying not to think about the connections I have missed.
The loneliness of writing is worth it to say
I’ve found a bit of myself in someone else’s words (or on a monitor
in the guise of a white blur). The white blur on the video monitor
is not a substitute for me when I am elsewhere,
it is me — and you, my dear reader — in this act. Let’s say
writing a poem is a lot like being an acrobat:
you must make a million leaps, aware that one mis-
step will leave you floating in the stillness of dead air.
If a feeling — say love — could be captured on a monitor
then the thickened air around his body is the love felt elsewhere
for the acrobat, is what makes him leap, knowing he could miss.
Published – New Irish Writing / Independent, March 2021
The An Post Irish Book Awards 2021 shortlist have been announced!
We are absolutely delighted to announce the poetry shortlist for the Listowel Writers’ Week Irish Poem of the Year 2021, in association with An Post Irish Book Awards.
Many entries were received again this year for the Irish Poem of the Year 2021 competition, which were anonymously adjudicated by Ian McMillan. Ian is poet-in-residence for The Academy of Urbanism, Barnsley FC and now Barnsley’s Lockdown Poet. As well as presenting The Verb every week, he’s a regular on BBC Breakfast, Coast, Countryfile, Pointless Celebrities, Pick of the Week, Last Word and BBC Proms Plus. He’s been a castaway on Desert Island Discs. Previously, he was resident poet for English National Opera, UK Trade & Investment, Yorkshire TV’s Investigative Poet and Humberside Police’s Beat Poet. Ian has an honorary doctorate of Sheffield Hallam University, North Staffs Polytechnic, University Centre Barnsley – Huddersfield University and was Visiting Professor at Bolton University.
Photo Credit: Jamie Bubb
Ian McMillan 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:
Longboat at Portaferry by Siobhan Campbell
Glissando by Noel King
Driftwood by Karen J McDonnell
Sestina for the Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze by Michael Naghten Shanks
How to vote for your poem
Voting is now open for the Listowel Writers’ Week Irish Poem of the Year. Click here to register your vote!
The An Post Irish Book Awards takes place on 23rd November.
The An Post Irish Book Awards Book of the Year takes place on 8th December. The result of the nationwide poll will be revealed to discover the overall ‘An Post Irish Book of the Year’ winner.