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Wake Forest
University Press

Wake Forest University Press

Dedicated to Irish Poetry

Wake: Up to Poetry

"The act of poetry is a rebel act."

Kennelly to Collaborate with Daughter on Authorized Biography

Evincing a bit of the good-humored aplomb for which he’s long enjoyed a reputation as a people’s poet among his Irish readership, Brendan Kennelly quipped that he’d “have to throw myself around in the sea in Ballybunion to shock my childhood memories back.” Kennelly and daughter Doodle will reportedly begin work on the biography next month, in the poet’s native Kerry. You can read more about the project on the Independent’s website:


…But first, in honor of the occasion, here’s Kennelly’s poem “Birth” (aptly, a meditation on the transfiguration of the self into linguistic expression), from The Essential Brendan Kennelly:


I don’t know if I shall be

Speaking or silent, laughing or crying,

When it comes to me


Out of this distant place

To shine at the window, rustle the curtains,

Brush my face


More lightly than gossamer,

So inspiring and fragile

I shall not dare to stir


Or hardly breathe until I sense

In my heart and mind

Its delicate omnipotence.


I may know then

The price and value of stillness

Commonly ignored by men


And be content to feel

It possess me,



Through my remotest countries

And establish its rule

Where, my bravest days,


I would not dare to venture.

Then, if I find courage enough,

I may speak in a manner


Befitting this thing.

God help me the moment

My heart starts opening


To comprehend and give.

I will be born in that hour of grace.

I will begin to live.

Categories: Brendan KennellyTags: , ,


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