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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.

Brendan Kennelly, from The Essential Brendan Kennelly (2011)

Categories: Brendan Kennelly, News, Poem of the WeekTags: , ,


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