A Celebration of Irish Women Poets on Bloomsday 2018

‘Hinnerup’ by Jess McKinney

sewing after so long
i wonder if there exists a song
a glass of water warmed in the sun
for each age she’s ever been
all the taps here run scalding
following the dregs of wine
flowing from hot water factories
tell me about her lover
stagnant on the periphery
who lived three towns away
making it harder to soak
she would travel hours to him
the wilting orchids
every other weekend
softening on the windowsill
found sanctuary with his family
reaching up into the day
young and in love
delicate and deliberate
i’d like to know how she felt
like grandmother’s thin fingers
on the birthday that I learned to hate
shaking but capable
the night i faked to get away


Hinnerup is © Jess McKinney

Jess Mc Kinney is a queer feminist poet, essayist and English Studies graduate of UCD. Originally from Inishowen, Co. Donegal, she is now living and working in Dublin city, Ireland. Her writing is informed by themes such as sexuality, memory, nature, relationships, gender, mental health and independence. Often visually inspired, she seeks to marry pictorial elements alongside written word. Her work has been previously published in A New Ulster, Impossible Archetype, HeadStuff, In Place, Hunt & Gather, Three fates, and several other local zines.

‘Prime’ by Peggie Gallagher

It is midwinter.
Your hands are chilled.
I lift you,
gather your first whimpers onto my pillow,
knowing as much by instinct as touch of skin.

We lie here amazed at the dark,
aware of the house sleeping around us,
the quiet patterns of breath.
Outside, the snow lies thick.

In this landscape of wild skies
and running tides,
and mornings lit with rapture,
I think
I must have been falling most of my life
to land here temple to temple
in this pre-dawn calm,
this kinship

of breath with breath
your hands cupped in my palms.

Prime Is © Peggie Gallagher

Peggie Gallagher’s collection, Tilth was published by Arlen House in 2013. Her work has been published in numerous journals including Poetry Ireland, Force 10, THE SHOp, Cyphers, Southword, Atlanta Review, and Envoi. In 2011 she was shortlisted for the Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Competition. In 2012 she won the Listowel Writers’ Week Poetry Collection. In 2018 she is the only Irish poet on the Strokestown International poetry competition shortlist. Peggie Gallagher’s work was facilitated by Paul O’Connor.

Author image: Southword / Arlen House

‘Linen’ by Finnuala Simpson

A candied calligraphy of colours, I said
That I would change the sheets later.
And I said also that I could handle it but I could not, and will I fry for that?
I may, but only if you return.

The stink of sheep hangs on me like wisdom.
You leave in a blur and your bag is heavy with spices,
I hope I do not let you back again.
It depends on my resolve, and on whether the seasons let me float.

I’ll take myself running for the friction of denial,
Cross my legs under the tables of the library.
I’ll spin yarns and wear black and eat fruit in the evenings,
Till I’m taller and more thoughtful than I have been before.

And I’ll try harder, too.
Kindness is like witchcraft, it must be brewed and stirred,
Mulled over in secret with the herb scent of the night.
If it threatens to drown you, you must set yourself on fire.

Do you think of me? Or am I a stop-gap to you?
I marveled at you on the phone when you were talking like a man,
Not laughing or stroking like you laugh and stroke at me.
Talking figures like your car was a woman,
You said fuck it we will fix the white van instead
For by the time the summer comes you will be traveling.

I changed my sheets and they were smeared
Sprinkled with both blood and mould.
But washed away now, and quietly, while you are asleep and going south.

Linen is © Finnuala Simpson

Finnuala Simpson is a twenty year old English and history student based in West Cork. In her free time she likes to write, cook, and walk as close to the sea as she can get.

‘June’ by Geraldine Plunkett Dillon

I fill my heart with stores of memories,
Lest I should ever leave these loved shores;
Of lime trees humming with slow drones of bees,
And honey dripping sweet from sycamores.

Of how a fir tree set upon a hill,
Lifts up its seven branches to the stars;
Of the grey summer heats when all is still,
And even grasshoppers cease their little wars.

Of how a chestnut drops its great green sleeve,
Down to the grass that nestles in the sod;
Of how a blackbird in a bush at eve,
Sings to me suddenly the praise of God.

June is © Geraldine Plunkett Dillon

The text of Magnificat and images associated with Geraldine Plunkett’s Dillon’s historical and cultural work were kindly sent to me by her great-granddaughter Isolde Carmody and I am very grateful for them. I am delighted to add Geraldine to my indices at Poethead. I hope that this page will increase interest in her work. Excerpts from the Preface to the 2nd edition of All In The Blood, memoirs of Geraldine Plunkett Dillon, edited by Honor Ó Brolcháin,“My greatest regret throughout the process has been how little credit she gives herself, for example she does not mention a paper she gave in the Royal Irish Academy in 1916 or her contribution to the article on dyes in Encyclopedia Britannica or her volume of poetry, Magnificat, or contributing to the Book of St Ultan, or being a founder member of Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe (the masks of Tragedy and Comedy she made for the Gate theatre are now on a wall in the Taibhdhearc) and the Galway Art Club, where she exhibited for years, or making costumes for Micheál Mac Liammóir in 1928, or being responsible for Oisín Kelly deciding to become a sculptor – he was one of very many who said that she enabled them to do the right thing for their own fulfillment. When she wrote it was in order to provide a history of her times and an insight into what made her family so strange. Like many of her generation she did not write much about her own feelings and her humourous and optimistic nature does not really come through in her writing. I would like to have been able to put that in but could not in all faith do so. “ It is also worth noting that Joe (Joseph Plunkett) named her as literary executor, and she edited his Collected Poems in 1916

‘At the door’ by Eva Griffin

Now, watch as I hang in the air
tempting as a sunset
and just as long.
Storms are not inclined to wait;
better to spill my secret wilderness
as I leave this love,
sucking light out of your blue.

At the door is © Eva Griffin

Eva Griffin is a poet living in Dublin and a UCD graduate. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Tales From the Forest, All the Sins, ImageOut Write, Three Fates, The Ogham Stone, HeadStuff, and New Binary Press

‘Cooking Chicken’ by Alice Kinsella

Pink is the colour of life
of new babies’ wet heads
and open screaming mouths.

Pink is the rose hip of a woman at the heart
of what’s between her hips
and the tip of my tongue between bud lips.

There’s the hint of pink on daisies
when they open their petals to say
hello to the birth of a new day.

But pink is also the colour of death
as the knife slides between the flesh
and separates it into food.

Pink is a suggestion of sickness when I pierce the skin,
dissect the sinews, glimpse the tint of it and turn
it to the heat to kill the pink and the possibility.

It’s the quiver of the comb atop feathers,
and the neck as it’s sliced from the body
by the executioner’s axe.

It’s the colour of cunt
and the hint in the sky
when the cock crows.

Cooking Chicken is © Alice Kinsella

Alice Kinsella was born in Dublin and raised in the west of Ireland. She holds a BA(hons) in English Literature and Philosophy from Trinity College Dublin. Her poetry has been widely published at home and abroad, most recently in Banshee Lit, Boyne Berries, The Lonely Crowd and The Irish Times. Her work has been listed for competitions such as Over the Edge New Writer of the Year Competition 2016, Jonathan Swift Awards 2016, and Cinnamon Press Pamphlet Competition 2017. She was SICCDA Liberties Festival writer in residence for 2017 and received a John Hewitt bursary in the same year. Her debut book of poems, Flower Press was published in 2018 by The Onslaught Press.

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