“When I write, it’s like running my hand over a length of cloth, picking out patterns, testing the give, rubbing the fabric between thumb and forefinger to feel out the texture and the flaws.”
– Vona Groarke, Modern Women Poets (Bloodaxe, 2005)
“Occasionally I see myself, or the ghost of myself, in the places where I first became a poet. On the pavement just around Stephen’s Green for instance, with its wet trees and sharp railings. What I see is not an actual figure, but a sort of remembered loneliness. The poets I knew were not women: the women I knew were not poets. The conversations I had, or wanted to have, were never complete.
Sometimes I think of how time might become magical: How I might get out of the car even now and cross the road and stop that young woman and surprise her with the complete conversation she hardly knew she missed. How I might stand there with her in the dusk, the way neighbours stand on their front steps before they go in to their respective houses for the night: half-talking and half-leaving.”
– Eavan Boland, from ‘Letter to a young woman poet’
My Granny used to soak the spuds too
making it easy to peel them later.
Part of morning’s ritual was topping
their pot with water. Later, after
fowl were fed and tae and bread were ate,
she’d peel them slowly, humming all the while
a medley of Moore’s Almanac songs.
Steeping my potatoes now, as she did,
brings her Four Green Fields down the years to me.
Scaly and red, these Roosters, instead of
her soft Queens; mine tattle of modern machinery,
long scars that I smooth away with a stainless
peeler. I split them with a long broad knife,
rinse them down and leave them by for dinner.
from Kairos (Doghouse Books, 2007).
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“A bad review is even less important than whether it is raining in Patagonia.”
– Iris Murdoch (quoted in The Times, 6 July 1989)
“Writers are a scourge to those they cohabit with. They are present and at the same time they are absent. They are present by the fact of their continuing curiosity, their observing, their cataloguing minds, their longing to see into another person. But the longing is discharged into the work.”
– Edna O’Brien