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Paula Meehan was born in 1955 in Dublin and studied at Trinity College, Dublin. Since 1986, she has written six collections of poetry, including Return and No Blame; Reading the Sky; The Man Who Was Marked by Winter, which was shortlisted for the Irish Times/Aer Lingus Irish Literature Prize for Poetry; Pillow Talk, shortlisted for the Irish Times Literature Prize for Poetry; Mysteries of the Home: A Selection of Poems; and Dharmakaya. She has written plays for children and adults and has conducted writing workshops with inner city communities and in prisons. She was awarded the Marten Toonder Prize and the Butler Award for Poetry by the Irish American Cultural Institute. She is a member of Aosdána, and lives in Dublin.
Drawing its name from the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Dharmakaya signals the span of the collection's philosophical concerns: a dialogue between western poetics and Buddhism. The poems evoke the fragile relationship between spirit and body, memory and the material.
Winner of the 2002 Denis Devlin Award from the Irish Arts Council for the best English language book of poetry in the preceding three years.
"If poetry can sing, Meehan has perfect pitch." Midwest Book Review
"Meehan's Dharmakaya shows an Irish poet extending her tradition with courage and wit. … [Her] voice is unmistakable now, and thrilling." Thomas D'Evelyn, Providence Journal
"…we should read this volume as the revelation of the consciousness of a woman and a poet, trying to deal with a past 'to change the future of it.' The poem 'Fist' directly addresses this idea as the speaker imagines the fist of a child, cupped in two adult hands, and pried open, finger by finger, to release pent up anger. The hand then becomes a poem presented to us, 'spread wide open in a precise/gesture of giving, or welcome,/its fate clear and empty, like the sky,/like the blue blue sky above the square.' Patricia Haberstroh, Irish Literary Supplement
If this poem, like most that I write,
is a way of going back into a past
I cannot live with and by transforming that past
change the future of it, the now
of my day at the window watching
the comings and goings to Merrion Square,
then, when you present your hand to me
as fist, as threat, as weapon,
the journey back to find the hand of the little child,
the cupping of her balled fist
in my own two adult hands,
the grip of her fury, the pulse at her wrist
under the thin thin skin,
the prising loose of each hot finger
like the slow enumeration of the points of death
and the exact spot that I will have kissed
where the fate line meets the heart line -
my bloody mouth a rose suddenly blooming,
that journey takes all my strength
and hope, just as this poem does
which I present to you now.
Look! It's spread wide open in a precise
gesture of giving, of welcome,
its fate clear and empty, like the sky,
like the blue blue sky, above the square.
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