Sunday, 20 October 2013

Just published poem (and its companion)

This poem is published in the latest Poetry Bus, launched last Monday at O'Bhéal in Cork. I still haven't seen a copy of it, I have a feeling its going to cost me a tenner to do so. Teach an Fhile was written a few summers ago in Gréagóir O'Dúill's house at Gortahork. I'd signed up for the first weekend workshop I did at the Poets' House in Falcarragh. Saturday was spent on a writing exercise in the morning out of which I got Googling Cottages, subsequently published in the Stony Thursday Book in 2010. Saturday afternoon we workshopped poems. At the end of that long and productive day we went to visit Gréagóir's house. It is an old cottage with a flag floor and a grassy street, I came away with a head full of stories and the smell of turf smoke in my hair and I wrote Teach an Fhile when I got home and put my wee'uns to bed.
From my kitchen table I can see Muckish and the hills around it and it isn't that unusual sadly, for the hill to catch fire in dry weather. I was always happy with the feel of the poem but still a very new writer and not wild confident if it said anything of any consequence. I sent it out a bit over the years, looked at it again when it came back, tweaked the shape of it a bit and thinned it out. I sent it to Poetry Bus earlier in the year and  Peadar accepted it very quickly so the poem found a home.

Teach an Fhile
Turf smoke draws me in the door
to a place of ghosts where
lore is harvested with the peat,
stories of homecoming,
of leaving Gortahork,
of  buaile lines stretching boundaries.
Beams that held out the ocean hold up the skies,
a flagstone floor holds the heat still
that warmed the Mc Cauley boys.
Devil on the loft over the file’s bed,
Guardian on the old gable wall -
bog spirits guide, ward each other off.
Back in my own home
there’s no escaping the blaze
for the hill is on fire tonight.
I switch off the lights
watch it at work,
north-west of Muckish.
No sirens, no such assurances
only thick enclosing night.                                                     
Maureen Curran

Googling Cottages made its way into the world of print a bit quicker, just a few months after I wrote it and I'd say probably a second draft.
Googling Cottages

I could have dreamed this place,
trawled its stone walls, mossy garden
from the sunken treasure of my childhood.

It could have composed itself beneath my eyelids
while you were sleeping and I was,
on the other side of Muckish.

I would have planted, on waking,
rain-catching Lady’s Mantle in the lane
and welcomed the peat under my nails.

I might have found the ghost of my grandmother
setting out the stone for her house,
pegging out its lines, building the corners.

I would wheel sand to her, cement, water.

I am always looking for a house on these sheep roads,
one in the trees,
with a door you have to shoulder in damp weather,

a place with its own well
where the wind and rain would tell you
“Shhh, go in.”

 Maureen Curran

Will I pay the tenner for a copy of PB? Nah, think I'll pay a few more euros and buy Colin Barrett's Young Skins  or Donal Ryan's The Thing About December, or Susan Lindsay's Fear Knot instead. If you want to buy it though, order it here Poetry Bus 5

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