A Celebration of Poetry for International Women’s Day 2020

‘Secrets of a cartographer’s wife’ by Katrina Dybzynska

The cartographer’s wife never told him
about her contributions to his maps.
A few tiny islands hidden in the middle
of an archipelago in the name of symmetry.
Some borderline moved to resemble
a face shape. The territory of England shortened
slightly, in personal revenge.

One time, she renamed an insignificant river
in Bangladesh after her lover. She felt pity
for the cartographer that he was more furious
about the affair than about her intervention
in the world order. She knew that romances
were ephemeral, while naming things
was changing them forever.


Katrina Dybzynska poet, shortlisted for Red Line Poetry Prize 2019. Author of „Dzień, w którym decydujesz się wyjechać” (The Day When You Decide To Leave), Grand Prix of Rozewicz Open Contest 2017. Laureate of national competitions in Poland. She has been publishing short stories, concept book, science fiction, reportage, and poetry, but feels most attracted to genre hybrids. Polish Non-Fiction Institute graduate. Activist. Currently a member of Extinction Rebellion Ireland.


‘Correnti’ by Viviana Fiorentino

Ora è questo un manto di alghe e sale
sotto il vento atlantico
o è corrente marina del fondo
della mia vita e della tua vita
ora è sogno o perla luccicante.

‘Currents’ (English trans. by Maria McManus)

This is a shawl of salt and seaweed
against the Atlantic wind
the ocean currents on the sea bed
of my life, your life
a dream, a burnished pearl.

Correnti /Currents © Viviana Fiorentino, english trans by Maria McManus


Viviana Fiorentino was born in Italy. After obtaining a PhD, she travelled across Europe, from Switzerland to Germany, England and finally to Belfast where she teaches Italian Literature. Since 2018 she has taken part to literature festivals in Italy and in Ireland. She was involved in the poetry project ‘LabeLLit’. She has been awarded or mentioned in various Italian poetry prizes (i.e. Arcipelago Itaca Edizioni & Bologna in Lettere Dislivelli). Her poems appear on Litblogs, international magazines (Brumaria, Works #9’, 2018) and in the Arcipelago Itaca Anthology of Italian contemporary poets. In 2019 she published her poetry collection In giardino (‘In the garden’) for Controluna Press and her first novel Tra mostri ci si ama (lit. trasl. ‘Monsters love each other’) for Transeuropa Press.

Maria McManus lives in Belfast. She is the author of Available Light (Arlen House, 2018), We are Bone (2013), The Cello Suites (2009) and Reading the Dog (2006) (Lagan Press), she has collaborated extensively with others to put literature into public spaces. She is the artistic director and curator of Poetry Jukebox and an active organiser and founder member of Fired! Irish Poets.


‘Genetics’ by Roberta Beary

Your eyes are big and round like your father’s

but while his are the color of the Irish Sea

yours are the color of the muddy fields

on my father’s land

fit only for the peasants who worked them.

abortion day
a shadow flutters
the fish tank

Publication credit
: Rattle #47, Spring 2015 (ed. Timothy Green)


Roberta Beary identifies as gender-expansive and writes to connect with the disenfranchised, to let them know they are not alone. She is the author of Deflection (Accents, 2015), nothing left to say (King’s Road Press, 2009) and The Unworn Necklace (Snapshot Press, 2007, 5th ed. 2017) which was a finalist in the Poetry Society of America annual book awards. Beary is the editor of the haiku anthologies Wishbone Moon (Jacar Press, 2018), fresh paint (Red Moon Press, 2014), 7 (Jacar Press, 2013), dandelion clocks (HSA, 2008) and fish in love (HSA, 2006). Her work appears in Rattle, KYSO Flash, Cultural Weekly, 100 Word Story, and Haiku In English The First Hundred Years (Norton, 2013). Beary’s work has been nominated for Best of the Net and multiple Pushcart Prizes. She lives in County Mayo, Ireland where she edits haibun for the journal Modern Haiku.

‘Dying Lover’ by Anora Mansour

Trace my lips
In low whispers
As I once wept psalms
over my dying lover.

Threaten that man
You will murder for me –
For my heart
is a cadence of silence.

I can only love you
if you creep through this life
dangling dangerously
as a ravenous red kite.

When we both
become one lonesome night.
And rub up to love up as a fight.

Oh, how I might love you,
bitter citron basket on my lap
Slumberly trusting me as a child.
I would open my thighs to you – a snap trap.

Perhaps then you could open the universe for me.

© 2020


Anora Mansour is a graduate of the University of Oxford. She lives between Oxford and Dublin. She has been published in a collection of Jazz Poems, various online sites, and has her own published collection of poetry and blog. She is African-American and Irish.

‘Clutch’ by JLM Morton

for h.l.

in the nest of my fist, a fledgling
scooped up from the lane

her soft unfinished beak
her shining eye
a buoy ringing in the green cathedral of trees

a single yellow feather wisps across my knuckle
there is a twitch of elephant digits

and I think about keeping her

raising her as my own
feeding her worms

but I let her go

chirring for the ones I could not save.

JLM Morton lives in Gloucestershire, England, snatching as much time as she can to write between caring for a young family, renovating a house and staring up the barrel of a demanding day job. Her first set of poems was recently published by Yew Tree Press for the Stroud Poets Series and she is currently working on a collection.

Website URL: jlmmorton.com

from ‘Grieving with the Animals’ by Polly Roberts

Though the civility of civilisation frightens me, I visit somewhere populated.
A graveyard made squirrel territory. One squirrel for every gravestone.
They mount lichen-covered peaks and keep lookout.
They claim the trees, the abandoned church.
Nobody will make them leave.

That night, I dreamt the answer to the universe.
It was blue,
inside a conch shell. Spiraling
in and out of crystal moments.
Eggshell blue.
In and out of images of the hospital bed,
and these dreams.


Polly Roberts grew up in Devon. Three years studying Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia left her with an inextricable link to the landscape, compelling her to continue to write about the creatures and habitats encountered there.

Observations of both the non-human and human world continued whilst living on a houseboat on the River Avon near Bristol while completing her MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University.

Polly has run creative writing workshops for refugees, detainees, and young people and curated two exhibitions in response to her writing, both displayed at the Norwich Arts Centre.

In 2018, the British Council awarded Polly a Writers by Nature scholarship, during which she wrote this debut poetry collection, Grieving with the Animals. ( 2019, Dempsey and Windle)


‘Beochaoineadh Máthar Maoise’ by Ellen Nic Thomás

A dhílleachta linbh gan ainm, gan athair,
Do chraiceann ar aondath le humha an nathair,
A lúbann timpeall do thaobhán uiríseal,
Mar bhata ceannródaí is sníomhanna sisil.

Is trua liom ciseán do dhóchas a fhíochán,
Do dhán a chaitheamh i bpoll an duibheagáin,
D’eiseadh a chruthú ar bhunús baill séire,
‘Nois tá tú chomh cotúil leis an gCailleach Bhéarra.

A iníon, a mhiceo, a ógfhlaith bocht,
A leanbh truaillithe, maith dom mo locht,
Imigh anois leat, ná bí do mo chrá,
Le smaointe ciúinchiontacha ó mhaidin go lá.

Ellen Nic Thomás is a bilingual poet from Dublin. She graduated from Trinity College with a BA in English and Irish. Her work has been published by headstuff.org, Tales From the Forest and The Attic.

'On watching a lemon sail the sea' by Maggie Harris

and I’m singing ‘You are my sunshine’ thinking 
of my childhood across the sea of incubation
go Honey go
you self-contained cargo ship you
with your sealed citrus juices and pitted panacea of seeds
braving the collision of tankers and illicit submarines

                 they called me scurvy.       the lemonade
                 my mother made was iced and sprinkled with
 (of course) 

and I’m wondering, did they grow you there, o lemon     mine            
for your juices
a lemon plantation, not to be confused with
a plantain plantation even a banana just don’t mention sugar
stack you in the gloom like hereto mentioned bananas
green and curtailed in their growing  or even
those force-ripe mangoes with girls’ names
nobody knows here and who leave their sweetness behind
bare-assed on the beaches
to the marketplace

I do not remember lemons, but limes.

    I         E
L                S.

Piled high in their abundance. Limes.
Acid green pyramids on market pavements
holding their secrets beneath their reptilian skins.

And there is my aunt, her arms thin as bamboo
gathering the fallen from the yard, sweeping
their dried leaves into the remembrance of herself
whilst the black maid slips slivers of lemon into a split
-bellied fish whose eyes glaze up at the sun.

‘Gauguin, you can come in now; remember Martinique ...?
hue the native in all her harnessed beauty
the slack –jawed fish, browning blood
the textured landscape in shades of  pawpaw and indigo.’
But, liming is what my lemon is doing now, 
(in the West Indian sense), hey ho
over the waves at Aberporth, there he blows.

I set you free  
to take to the sea again 
on a high tide, with breakers rushing the beach
like warriors.
They pummel the sand, scythe
a four foot chasm into the mouth
of a lonely river
beat the rocks’ submerged heads
batter the cliffs again 
                                        and again
                                                     and again.
The sea, beyond its charge, was waiting -
a winter morning sea, a Twelfth Night sea
tumultuous and moody


A strange gift, you
a large, perfect lemon
fresh and sharp as the sun-bright
wind-cut winter’s day. But I
unsure of your heritage
refused you. 

Dear Voyager,
I cupped you
in my palm
desire urging my possession 
how easy it would be – a lemon drizzle cake
a Martini iced, an accompaniment
to plaice or sole – and here I am playing with words
the resonance of belonging, of immortality –
but the devil played tricks with my mind
an injection of poison perhaps, a needle prick
into your  pristine, nobbled skin – but we are running ahead here
thinking of cargo – you may simply have fallen from a Tesco
carrier bag whose owner, fearing a lonesome home-coming
went walking on these very sands contemplating - life.

But there you were anyway, settled on the sand like a crab
then comfortable in the palm of my hand.

Finders are not necessarily keepers. Some
will do well to remember that. Vixens
circling misunderstood husbands in bars. Frag
ments from the fallen.
Oh but, how strong is the desire
to hold close, keep tight
smother your darling, your little nut-baby
in soft gloves, hard love, the kind that makes
you want to bite, bite! Rip flesh and bone. Swallow.
                     I could have accepted
your sacrifice
that gift of yourself, thank the universe
for its benevolence.
But the universe is not benevolent.
Stars are exploding missiles in a panther-black night.
Saturn doesn’t give two fucks. It’s chaos
out there.
But I guess you didn’t have time
for star-gazing in your ocean-going lumbering
over the hey-ho waves. And if I had sunk my vampiric teeth
into the you of you, you would be no more 
than a bitter taste, a withering lump of citrus
on my kitchen table. Far better to remember you
the obsidian walnut weight of you
and these questions you have gifted me
and that last sight of you 
rolling away on the tide.

Maggie Harris is a Guyanese writer living in the UK. She has twice won The Guyana Prize for Literature and was Regional Winner of the Commonwealth Short Story prize 2014, with ‘Sending for Chantal’.
She has worked for Kent Arts and Libraries, Kent University and Southampton University as International Teaching Fellow.

Maggie Harris Site URL: http://www.maggieharris.co.uk

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