Irish Voices – in collaboration with Mary Evans Picture Library ‘Poems and Pictures’ Blog.

Thursday, February 16, on Zoom.

A line-up of nine wonderful poets from Ireland (North and South) entertained, moved and kept a large virtual audience spellbound with memorable words and voices.

It is so special to hear poets read their work aloud, often giving a bit of fascinating background to how they came to write each poem.

Maurice Devitt, Linda McKenna, Maureen Boyle, Geraldine Mitchell, Rosie Johnston, Noel Duffy, Catherine Phil MacCarthy, Geraldine O’Kane and Eithne Hand beautifully projected their poetic skill and their enthusiasm, clearly enjoying sharing the reading with poets they admired but in some cases had not met or read with before.

As one member of the audience, herself a poet, said afterwards, “I have seldom heard, in one evening, so many poems I could enjoy and relate to.”

Below are brief bios of the poets and the titles and publishers of their books, if you wish to buy them. If you have any problems with that, email me irena@in-words.co.uk and I’ll put you in touch with the authors themselves.

Maureen Boyle lives in Belfast, Northern Ireland. She began writing as a child in Sion Mills, County Tyrone, winning a UNESCO medal for a book of poems in 1979 at the age of eighteen. She studied in Trinity College, Dublin and in 2005 was awarded a Masters in Creative Writing at Queen’s University Belfast. She has won various awards including the Ireland Chair of Poetry Prize, the Strokestown International Poetry Prize and the Fish Short Memoir Prize. She has received support from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland in the form of Individual Arts, ACES and Travel Awards. She was awarded the Ireland Chair of Poetry Inaugural Travel Bursary in 2017 to research the stay of John Donne’s wife, Ann More, on the Isle of Wight in 1611.  This resulted in a limited edition pamphlet ‘The Nunwell Letter’ appearing in June 2019. Some of her work has been translated into German and Dutch. The Work of a Winter, her debut collection of poetry, was launched in December 2017, and is currently in its second edition. The collection was shortlisted for the 2019 Shine/Strong Award. Strabane, a long poem, appeared in 2020.  Her second full collection, The Last Spring of the World was published in June 2022 with Arlen House, Dublin.

Maurice Devitt is a previous winner of the Trocaire/Poetry Ireland, Bangor and Poems for Patience competitions, was a featured poet at the Poets in Transylvania Festival in 2015 and a guest speaker at the John Berryman Centenary Conference in both Dublin and Minneapolis. His poems have been published widely and he has been nominated for Pushcart, Forward and Best of the Net prizes. His Pushcart-nominated poem, ‘The Lion Tamer Dreams of Office Work’, was the title poem of an anthology published by Hibernian Writers in 2015. He is curator of the ‘Irish Centre for Poetry Studies’ site and in 2018 published his debut collection, Growing Up in Colour with Doire Press, who will also publish his new collection, Some of These Stories are True, in 2023.

Noel Duffy was born in Dublin. He has published four collections of poetry to date, most recently Street Light Amber, a narrative sequence of love poems set in his native city. He has twice been a recipient of an Arts Council of Ireland Bursary for Literature and more recently he was awarded the Katherine Kavanagh Fellowship in Poetry. He lives in Dublin’s dockland district.

Eithne Hand is a writer, radio and theatre producer from Greystones, Co Wicklow in Ireland. In 2021 she was an Artist in Residence at the Hawk’s Well Theatre in Sligo. Her first poetry collection Fox Trousers was launched by Salmon Poetry in February 2021 and her second collection will be published in spring 2024.

Rosie Johnston’s four poetry books are published by Lapwing Publications in Belfast, most recently Six-Count Jive in 2019, with a fifth Off the Map due for publication in 2023. Her poems have appeared in Snakeskin, The Phare, London Grip, Culture NI, FourxFour, The Honest Ulsterman, Mary Evans Picture Library’s Poems and Pictures blog, Words for the Wild. Her poetry is anthologised by Live Canon, Arlen House, OneWorld’s Places of Poetry anthology, Fevers of the Mind and American Writers Review. She reads her poetry widely, most recently at Faversham and Gloucester Poetry Festivals. rosiejohnstonwrites.com

Geraldine Mitchell is a Dublin-born poet and writer who has been living on the Co Mayo coast for several years, after a career combining teaching and freelance journalism in France and Spain. Her fourth collection of poems, Mute/Unmute, was published in 2020.  Geraldine is a Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award winner and was runner-up in the 2021 Troubadour International Poetry Competition. Her previous collections are Mountains for Breakfast (2017), Of Birds and Bones (2014) and World Without Maps (2011).  She is published by Arlen House. Geraldine has also written two novels for young readers and a biography. Her website: www.geraldinemitchell.net

Linda McKenna’s debut poetry collection, In the Museum of Misremembered Things, was published by Doire Press in 2020. The title poem won the An Post/Irish Book Awards Poem of the Year. She won the Seamus Heaney Award for new writing in 2018. She has had poems published, or forthcoming in, among others, Poetry Ireland Review, Banshee, The North, Abridged, The Honest Ulsterman, Crannóg, Acumen, Atrium, One, The Stony Thursday Book, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Skylight 47, The High Window, Raceme as well as on the Mary Evans Library Poems and Pictures Blog. She is from County Dublin but lives in Downpatrick, County Down and is working on her second collection which will be published by Doire Press next year.

Catherine Phil MacCarthy was born in Co. Limerick, Ireland and has lived in Dublin for over thirty years. She has published five collections of poetry including Daughters of the House (2019), and The Invisible Threshold (2012), both with Dedalus Press Dublin. She is a former editor of Poetry Ireland Review (1998/99). She received the Lawrence O’Shaughnessy Award for Irish Poetry from the University of St Thomas, St Paul, Minnesota, in 2014. In 2022, she was the recipient of Varuna’s International Writer Exchange and awarded a month-long residency at Varuna, the National Writers’ House, NSW, Australia, to work on her forthcoming collection, Catching Sight.

Geraldine O’Kane is Northern Irish poet, writing facilitator and mental health advocate. Her debut poetry collection Unsafe, explores her working-class background and the trauma of the everyday. The collection navigates the safety found in writing as it much as it does the unsafe spaces we occupy. Unsafe was published by Salmon Poetry in 2021. Geraldine is working on her second collection, Broken.

Events

Dear poetry friends,

As summer approaches, unpredictable and full of surprises as the best verses, I will continue to plan future events – but don’t expect any to happen before September.

I wish you a happy, healthy time, the right amount of sunshine and better world news…

Don’t forget in-words, you’ll hear from me again before too long.

Irena