Poem of the Week
was in 1963 when Miss Shannon
rapping the duster on the easel’s peg
half-obscured by a cloud of chalk
I kissed my father as he lay in bed
in the ward. Nurses walked on soles of sleep
and old men argued with themselves all day.
The seven decades locked inside his head
congealed into a timeless leaking heap,
the painter lost his sense of all but grey.
When God took a rib out of man
and made it up into woman,
he left the cage of man’s heart unfinished,
missing one bar, undone.
That letter you promised me writes itself
in a sheaf of streets with their bar hubbub:
bottles poured onto a midden in a lane, the odd jazz riff,
a clasp of laughter, some half-shouted name.
There is a bed.
There is a bedside cabinet,
a clock. There are no adjectives.
Whiteness is painted on two walls,
on two walls there is wallpaper
with boats on waves.
It’s December, presents are lunatics—
spoons, napkins, knives, writing-paper,
classy jars of delicious jam.
I turned eighty at Carrigskeewaun
With grandchildren at the table
And in the townland around us
Wheatears and dapper stonechats
Because last night and because today,
you fix a drink to steady the shakes.
It rises, nameless and requited, from the feather of a goose
in grass to the anglepoise’s reflection in the window
still shining after its switch has been pushed to O.
The earth spins to my fingertips and
Pauses beneath my outstretched hand;
White water seethes against the green
Capes where the continents begin.
Warm breezes move the pines and stir
The hot dust of the piedmont where
Night glides inland from town to town.
I love to see that sun go down.
I can’t say
if it was the quiet
that woke me that morning
It’s all patience—my craft.
I’m like a fisherman
Waiting for a trout.
My brother is a lean white shadow in the early morning light,
have kept him thin, despite his wife’s attempts to fatten him on love.
I was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar,
that much is true. But even then I knew I’d find
myself behind the wheel of a large automobile,
or in a beautiful house…
By means of this the photon
is deflected into darkness,
our white-heat leaking from us.
on the restored tracks
without entirely freeing herself as woman
from the vague bestiary that besets her…
Searching about again to find my father
I must take a step backwards, for in the time
since I last saw him he has moved and changed
more than in all of his life—
This is for you, goddess that you are.
This is a record for us both, this is a chronicle.
There should be more of them, they should be lyrical
and factual, and true, they should be written down
and spoken out on rainy afternoons, instead of which
they fall away…
Kings never touch doors.
They’re not familiar with this happiness: to push, gently or roughly before you one of these great, friendly panels, to turn towards it to put it back in place—to hold a door in your arms.Continue Reading
A word does not head out alone.
It is carried about the way something essential,
a blade, say, or a bowl,
is brought from here to there when there is work to be done.
Now that the new stove is in place and throwing its heat
the full length of the kitchen,
we have replaced the black kettle.
‘The sound of water escaping from mill dams, etc., willows, old rotten planks,
Slimy posts and brickwork, I love such things, said Constable.…
The weather softened in the last few days.
I took the air for raiment.
Sweet, Jesus, honey sweet the season!
Rocks melt. Nor ice nor reason hold.
I wake up, and my hands are sticky
With the smell of blood.
And though there’s not a smudge nor blot
In eyeshot, nor any soul
Dove-melting mountains, ridges gashed with water,
Itinerant clouds whose rubrics never alter,
Give, without oath, their testimony of silence
To islanders whose hearts themselves are islands;
The holidays, more than any other time of year, draw our cultural attention to family, rituals and the cyclical nature of life. This poem by John Montague appears in a group titled “Prayers for My Daughters” and focuses on generational knowledge. Though small, the moments that connect us to our past are valuable. Like the…Continue Reading
Tell them what you like. Tell them
the world is flat and when you get to the edge you fall
into the usual darkness, hell if you like
but anywhere will do…
Sunlight, yellow, on an upright gable
standing by waste-ground, a bright autumn sky
behind it and a foreground of low rubble,
transforms place into geometry—
It’s easy to talk, and writing words on the page
doesn’t involve much risk as a general rule:
You might as well be knitting late at night
in a warm room, in a soft, treacherous light…
Nurses and nuns—
their sails whiter than those
of the yachts in the bay, they come and go
on winged feet, most of them, or in ‘sensible’ shoes.
There is a map of the city which shows the bridge that was never built.
A map which shows the bridge that collapsed; the streets that never existed.
Her Muse means water, the moisture on the banks,
which can be awakened by a drop of oil.
October its brilliance
In its arms
the condemned leaves
with dying beautifully
It never mattered that there was once a vast grieving:
trees on their hillsides, in their groves, weeping—
a plastic gold dropping
through seasons and centuries to the ground—Continue Reading
Goodness is required.
It is part of the design.
Badness is understood.
It is a lapse, and part of the design.
So long trying to paint them, failing
to paint their shadows on the concrete path.
They are less a white than a bleaching out of green.Continue Reading
Sick of that bloody poet, everywhere
Smart casual, urbane and circumspect,
Choosing his words with a little too much care
To be real anymore…
My daughter buys
her first perfume.
It’s called ‘One Summer’.
I want to feel it again: what I felt
when I woke once standing in the kitchen
after walking downstairs in my sleep.
The school bags had all been lined up
and the lunches packed in clingfilm…
This is the starkest hour of the shore
when it’s purged and cleansed as a Sabbath door.
There’s a brim of lather when the tide’s in
as the waves go on with their day’s washing.
Snowscape. Shod in tailor’s irons,
Red-hot, with my poundage of weights,
I test the ice of our latest year.
to be human.
a rock down
which rain pours…
I pour a glass of water for myself.
I watch what greys it gathers from the room.
It’s not to drink. I want the wanting of
a glass and water sleep can come between.
When he found Laertes alone on the tidy terrace, hoeing
Around a vine, disreputable in his gardening duds,
Patched and grubby, leather gaiters protecting his shins
Against brambles, gloves as well, and, to cap it all,
Sure sign of his deep depression, a goatskin duncher,
Odysseus sobbed in the shade of a pear-tree for his father…
I laid myself down and slept on the map of Europe,
It creaked and pulled all night and when I rose
In a wide hall to the light of a thundery afternoon
The dreams had bent my body and fused my bones
And a note buzzed over and again and tuned for the night.
September is National Translation Month, and to celebrate we’re featuring a poem by Máire Mhac an tSaoi, “one of a trinity of poets who revolutionised Irish language poetry in the 1940s and 50s.”Continue Reading
I have seen him dine
in middle-class surroundings,
his manners refined,
as his family around him
talk about nothing,
one of their favourite theses.
during the break in chapter,
gets up to stretch beneath a skylight
and hears seagulls, small girls running.
Freedom is a prison for the representative savant
addled on bath-tub gin and with retinas inflamed
from too long staring into the Arizona sun
or into red dirt which acknowledges no master
but the attrition of desert winds and melt-water.
The world is born of hysterical men and women.
Our teeth are shiny as accidental stars.
The hot, brilliant workings of our firmaments
of protons, atoms, axons, dendrites…
A poem in Irish by Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh, with a translation by Gabriel Rosenstock, from The Wake Forest Series of Irish Poetry, Vol. IV (2017)Continue Reading
The Irish celebrate St. Brigid’s Day on February 1 to welcome the beginning of spring. Even though we’re not quite there yet in the US, today’s poem by Alan Gillis channels that sense of anticipation for the end of winter. In an interview with the Edinburgh Review, Gillis discusses his experimentation with the pastoral form in…Continue Reading
The calamity of seals begins with jaws.
Born in caverns that reverberate
With endless malice of the sea’s tongue
Clacking on shingle, they learn to bark back
In fear and sadness and celebration.
Well proud of the horizon,
undressed to kill, the both of them
—full moon all bosomy white
and Venus, faceted and glittery,
as bold as you like…
‘We either touch or do not touch’
across the tides that circulate
from Cornish sound to silver north;
‘Too many crows in your poems,
blocking the light.’ I can find
only four but, there and then, for her,
I declare a moratorium on crows…
Conor O’Callaghan remembers colleague and friend Gerard FanningContinue Reading
In the final week of National Translation Month, we’re featuring a unique kind of translation act. In From Elsewhere, Ciaran Carson translates poems by the French poet Jean Follain. However, the volume is different in that Carson pairs these translations with original poems inspired by them: “Translations of the translations,” as he explains in the preface….Continue Reading
In today’s selection for National Translation Month, we are featuring a Romanian poem by Ileana Mălăncioiu, translated by Irish poet Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin in her collection titled Legend of the Walled-Up Wife. As Ní Chuilleanáin writes in the preface to the book, “Mălăncioiu’s writing is valued in Romania as a moral force. A courageous critic of the former…Continue Reading
We’ve been posting translations to celebrate National Translation Month, and today we’ve chosen a French poem by Vénus Khoury-Ghata from her collection, Au sud du silence. Khoury-Ghata is a translator herself, most notably from French to Arabic for the magazine Europe, but this poem was translated into English by Michael Bishop for an anthology of French poetry…Continue Reading
Wake Forest Press has published books in translation for a few decades, and we’re proud to celebrate National Translation Month during September by featuring some of these poems over the next few weeks. Of course we offer quite a bit of Irish-language poetry in translation, but many of our poets have also translated from French and other…Continue Reading
My eyeball’s frozen. I lie
At the bottom of a well.
Leaves decorate the ice.
Back then, you wouldn’t know from one day to the next what might
happen next. Everything was, as it were, provisional…
Perhaps the king, whose name evoked the sun,
Riding his elephant, under a pearl umbrella
Through parched rice-fields on the dry zone plain,
Had seen this rock aspiring from the earth…Continue Reading
You may have already noticed the odd mechanical look of the Google logo this morning. To our delight, today’s Google Doodle celebrates the 115th anniversary of the discovery of the Antikythera mechanism, the first-known analog computer used by the ancient Greeks as a sort of calendar and predictor of astronomical positions. Caitríona O’Reilly’s poem about this very…Continue Reading
The sensation of swinging is that of both freedom and dependency; as you fall through the air, you can feel excited and terrified at once. Like a swing, this sweet little poem shifts, connecting us to the feelings of “panic and delight” that Kinsella so gracefully describes. Girl on a Swing My touch has little force: Her infant body…Continue Reading
This week’s poem comes from Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill’s most recent volume, The Fifty Minute Mermaid, a selection of which was included in The Wake Forest Book of Irish Women’s Poetry. Ní Dhomhnaill’s narrative poem, “Melusine,” is based on folklore most famously captured by the 14th century French writer Jean d’Arras. In the tale, Count Raymondin meets the…Continue Reading
Because her days were making a garden
She haunted that particular beach
Drawing rocks, sticks, shells and stones,
Random-pitched sea-gifts, over the years …
This week we celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day, a holiday that originally commemorated the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, though is now more commonly a celebration of Irish heritage, especially in the US. Harry Clifton’s latest collection, Portobello Sonnets, is a fitting selection to mark this holiday, as it is a meditation on Dublin as a microcosm of the…Continue Reading
Jesse As you lie in sleep there grows like a lung inflating A tree out of your navel, enlarging and toppling Into its perfection when the leaves and the fruit are soft as air, Are drenched like capillaries, and as they swell They become transparent and fade away: The true tree of knowledge which is…Continue Reading
Photo by Niall Hartnett Today, on what would have been his 88th birthday, we celebrate one of our beloved poets, John Montague, who passed away this December. Born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised in County Tyrone, Ireland, Montague’s work is known for themes of adolescence, love, family, and personal connection with Irish history. WFU Press has…Continue Reading
March 1st is the release date for the highly anticipated Volume IV of The Wake Forest Series of Irish Poetry. This volume brings lesser-known Irish voices to an American audience. Editor David Wheatley, himself an established poet and critic, has selected poetry by Trevor Joyce, Aidan Mathews, Peter McDonald, Ailbhe Darcy and Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh. Each…Continue Reading
This week we are celebrating Valentine’s Day and the forthcoming publication of Volume IV of The Wake Forest Series of Irish Poetry with Trevor Joyce’s “She is my love.” The first lines of each stanza echo the language of traditional love poems, only to be subverted in the lines that follow. Through his manipulation of the…Continue Reading
If April is the cruelest month, then February is the most tedious. We’ve moved past the initial rush of the new year, and now we’re in the depth of winter, waiting for spring. At WFU Press, we’re also preparing for the release of Volume IV of The Wake Forest Series of Irish Poetry. This week’s…Continue Reading
As we approach our publication date for Volume IV of The Wake Forest Series of Irish Poetry, we continue with poetry from previous volumes. This week’s poem by Sinéad Morrissey can be found in Volume I. The simple language reflects the naturalistic and somewhat sinister undertones of the poem, which highlight the connection between humanity, earth,…Continue Reading
This week, we continue to look back through The Wake Forest Series of Irish Poetry as we prepare to publish Volume IV. Today we’re featuring Moya Cannon from Volume II, whose subtle yet distinct voice demands a reader’s attention. Her poems are largely preoccupied with the sphere of landscapes, and how human desire—sometimes expressed through the invocation of Greek myths—is interwoven into…Continue Reading
Photo courtesy of Melissa Libutti As we approach the publication date for The Wake Forest Series of Irish Poetry, Volume IV, we’re taking a look back at some of the poets published in previous volumes from this series, which aims to introduce lesser-known Irish poets to an American audience. This week’s poet is Dennis O’Driscoll, whose work…Continue Reading
Photo courtesy of Christina Berry The Winter Solstice is upon us as of this week. As temperatures drop, snow will fall and blanket the ground with its hushed whiteness. Every snap of a twig, crunch of ice, and rush in the trees is amplified in the silence of snow. In today’s poem “Snow,” Caitríona O’Reilly’s…Continue Reading
Tonight of Yesterday for Eve The evening slips you into it, has kept a place for you and those wildwood limbs that have already settled on the morning. The words you have for it are flyblown now as the dandelion you’ll whistle tomorrow into a lighter air. But, tonight, your sleep will be as…Continue Reading
Don’t waste your time, Leuconoé, living in fear and hope
of the imprevisable future; forget the horoscope.
Water is there to be looked at, not looked into —
Stay on the surface, where the dragonflies mate,
The girls return your glance, and the weather is great,
Medbh McGuckian’s latest volume, Blaris Moor, was released this week in the US. The volume’s title refers to a traditional ballad that memorializes the trial and execution in 1797 of four militia men condemned by the authorities as members of the United Irishmen. McGuckian’s subjects may be set in the past, but the themes of moral balance in…Continue Reading
Samhain is upon us, so we’re celebrating by sharing poems with a sinister bent in honor of this Celtic predecessor of Halloween. In this week’s poem, Louis MacNeice explores the darker side of youthful memory. MacNeice reflects on the early loss of his mother, a loss which remains as a sort of specter for the child in the poem, one…Continue Reading
As we get ready to celebrate Halloween, let’s take a moment to think about where the most frightful holiday of the year comes from—Samhain (pronounced SOW-in). Samhain is a traditional Celtic celebration to remind people that the year is about to get darker, and that harvest season is over: Winter is here! It’s also a…Continue Reading
On October 13, Frank Ormsby visited Wake Forest University to read from his latest collection, Goat’s Milk, as well as new work from forthcoming volumes. Today, we’ve included a clip of Ormsby reading this week’s poem, “Photograph.” Check back next week for more video from the evening. During the reading, Ormsby framed his Catholic upbringing in…Continue Reading
My love is a mansion with many rooms to see.
My love’s a glittering surface, scrubbed spotlessly.
It goes under, the cursor, whenever I place my finger
on the space bar and hold it like this for a minute.
The blue screen shimmers the way a pool’s sunlit
floor moves after the splash of a lone swimmer.
The thatch dripped soot,
the sun was silver
because the sky
from ruts of mud to high blaze
“… vitreamque Circen”
Something of glass about her, of dead water,
Chills and holds us,
Far more fatal than painted flesh or the lodestone of live hair
Today we’ve selected a poem by French poet and translator Claire Malroux, alongside the translation by Marilyn Hacker. As Hacker points out in the preface to this volume, these poems are “on the boundary” in many ways. “Perhaps one crucial boundary, sacrosanct and taboo, on which they stand,” she continues, “is that between languages, and their…Continue Reading
We began this glorious National Poetry Month with a visit from Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, who gave a reading at Wake Forest on April 4, 2016. As we near the end of April, we wanted to share some of the joys of that evening with you. Today we feature one of her poems from The Boys of Bluehill, a…Continue Reading
Happy spring and happy National Poetry Month! As we begin a month known for its showers, Paula Meehan’s poem “Coda: Payne’s Grey” came to mind. The final poem in her collection, Painting Rain, it celebrates what poetry can capture and preserve, even as everything changes, like trying to capture an image of falling rain. Coda: Payne’s Grey I am trying to…Continue Reading
Forty Shades of Green
A Crown/Dulux/Farrow and Ball Poem
Cooking Apple Green
It’s been nearly two decades since we published the last selection of Medbh McGuckian’s work, and in that time she has written eight more volumes. Needless to say, it was time to re-visit this poet’s remarkable ouevre. Over the last several months as we prepared The Unfixed Horizon: New Selected Poems, it’s been a true…Continue Reading
It’s the last week of October, which means it’s almost Halloween, the spookiest time of year. Did you know that Halloween originates from the Celtic festival called Samhain? We enjoy getting into the Samhain spirit by reading some of our poets’ eeriest pieces. Here’s a particularly creepy poem of the week from Louis MacNeice. Plant…Continue Reading
It’s publication week for Caitríona O’Reilly’s new volume Geis (available now in print, iBook, and Kindle editions). This week’s featured poem is a sneak peek into this wonderful book. For more on O’Reilly’s inspiration, writing process, and more, check out our Q&A with the poet. Happy reading, poetry lovers! Clotho after Camille Claudel And in the end it was…Continue Reading
Today is Ciaran Carson’s birthday, and in celebration of this accomplished poet and traditional musician from Belfast, we are sharing one of his earlier poems, “The Albatross,” from his book First Language as our featured poem this week. This poem is written after the poem “L’Albatros” by the French poet Charles Baudelaire. In it, the speaker compares the…Continue Reading
“The big news around here is the fall of leaves
In Harrington Street and Synge Street,
Lying about in pockets, adrift at your feet . . .”
There will be a talking of lovely things,
there will be cognizance of the seasons,
there will be men who know the flights of birds.
I remember a room on the seaward side—
The squall caught it from the south-west—
And rain a tattoo on the window
Unslackening since the fall of night,
This summer, we’ve been busy with a few exciting projects that we’ll be sharing with you in due time. To celebrate being back and the near end of a productive summer, we’re sharing Frank Ormsby’s poetic treatment of American craft beer. Cheers! At the Lazy Boy Saloon and Ale Bar (White Plains, NY) The beers of…Continue Reading
In honor of Michael Longley’s receipt of the 2015 International Griffin Poetry Prize yesterday, we bring you one of the poems he read in Toronto at the awards presentation. Many congratulations to Mr. Longley for this achievement!Continue Reading
Our apologies for the brief hiatus on our blog. We’ve been busy sending off four of our interns who graduated last week. A big thank you to all our interns for the hours of proofing, box schlepping, blogging, designing, phone calling, reading, chalking, and merriment you so kindly gave to WFU Press this year. Post-graduation, we…Continue Reading
In his introduction, Michael Longley states, “Frank Ormsby belongs to that extraordinary generation of Northern Irish poets which includes Ciaran Carson, Medbh McGuckian, Paul Muldoon and Tom Paulin. He is a poet of the truest measure.”Continue Reading
WFU Press’s newest book is here! Ciaran Carson’s From Elsewhere is a beautiful work featuring translations of the French poet Jean Follain juxtaposed alongside Carson’s original work. In his “Apropros,” Carson offers, “…[T]he word fetch…was in my mind throughout the writing of From Elsewhere.” He goes on to say, “A fetch is the act of fetching, bringing from a distance,…Continue Reading
We are drawn to John Montague’s poem “At Last” for its tale of reunion and the sense of readjustment to what once was familiar, which the speaker suggests through the images of Ireland and the relationship between the father and son.Continue Reading
A shoulder of rock
Sticks high up out of the sea,
A fisherman’s mark
For lobster and blue-shark.
We are looking forward to spring coming just around the corner, though a thick layer of new snow is just starting to melt outside. The play of language in today’s poem, Medbh McGuckian’s “The Finder has Become the Seeker,” offers images of resurrection, extraction and emergence that ultimately gives the reader a feeling of hope. The Finder has…Continue Reading
‘Hold the horse’s head,’ the farmer said
To the boy loitering outside the pub.
‘If you’re willing to hold the horse’s head
You’ll earn a shilling.’
A poem for Valentine’s Day– Pas de Deux It all began in Take Two, what with us looking at clothes. You’d brushed against me as I stepped aside from the mirror to let you size yourself up against a blue pencil skirt, pinching its waistband to your waist with your arms akimbo. I caught you…Continue Reading
In Dharmakaya, Paula Meehan creates a beautiful poem, highlighting the parallels between her own Irish voice, and the voice of one of America’s most commemorated female poets–Sylvia Plath. February 11th marks the 52nd anniversary of Plath’s death, and we love the fact that this poem creates a space where the haunting, feminine poetics of two of our favorite writers…Continue Reading
One thing we love here at the Press is words—both in Irish and English. Vona Groarke’s “Nouns and Verbs” celebrates the love of choosing just the right word.Continue Reading
As storm clouds roll into Winston-Salem, Conor O’Callaghan writes of a somewhat drier world—yet the haunting sentimentality of his poetic voice still manages to soak us to the bone. January Drought It needn’t be tinder, this juncture of the year, a cigarette flicked from car to brush. The woods’ parchment is given to cracking asunder the…Continue Reading
Christmas Tree for Jacob You are my second grandson, Christmas-born. I put on specs to read your face. Whispering Sweet nothings to your glistening eyelids, Am I outspoken compared with you? You sleep While I carry you to our elderly beech. Your forefinger twitches inside its mitten. Do you feel at home in my aching…Continue Reading
Poem of the Week: “Snow” by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin
‘I thought of you then,’ she says, ‘flocking
On the edge of the same water —
The yearly walk by the banks–‘
As she stood by the calm water
And the snow kept faltering past,
And past the window where a man’s bare arm
Reaches for clothes and for matches.
As we endure the stresses and chaos of long work days or classes, we crave some peace and quiet—the familiarity of home. We know that wherever we are in the world, we can always come home to the people we love and the home we cherish. Paul Muldoon’s “The Wood” echoes this desire for solace in the comfort of our homes and and reminds us to be grateful for the people, smells, and tastes that accompany our homecoming.Continue Reading
As we transition into winter, Medbh McGuckian’s frosty poem Closed Bells reminds us of the fast-dropping temperatures. Her fleshed out, frostbitten images offer the characteristic “wordlessness” for which McGuckian is best known and create a dream world suspended in the mid-season chill. Closed Bells Frost hollows small areas of leaf in gardenless margins. Wounded by the thought of nests expanding, they inspire devotion…Continue Reading
We are delighted to announce that The Stairwell by Michael Longley is now available on our website! For the Poem of the Week, we offer here the title poem. The Stairwell For Lucy McDiarmid I have been thinking about the music for my funeral— Liszt’s transcription of that Schumann song, for instance, ‘Dedication’ — inwardness meets the…Continue Reading
Halloween is finally here! While children dress in costume and parents don their houses with spooky decorations, we are paying tribute to John Montague and his eerie poem about the Celtic festival that celebrates the arrival of the “darker half” of the year. The auditory and sensory imagery Montague engages sends shivers down our spine, as we welcome…Continue Reading
He dances to that music in the wood
As if history were no more than a dream.
Who said the banished gods were gone for good?
Sculpture of Seán Ó Riada in Cúil Aodha, Ireland As we look forward to Samhain, the Gaelic festival marking the end of the Harvest season and the beginning of the “darker” winter months, we are quick to draw connections to our Western ideas of Halloween: spooky costumes, creepy decorations, grim horror stories, and a crisp fall…Continue Reading
Author of poetry and prose, translator, professor, and accomplished musician, Ciaran Carson is a man of so many talents that we never need much of an excuse to celebrate him. Many happy returns to you, from all at Wake Forest Press! Year After Year playing the tune over you’ve been cutting out the frills getting to…Continue Reading
There is something powerful in offering a blessing to another person; the Irish are especially aware of that. In “Poem for Lara, 10,” Michael Hartnett uses the beauty of the natural world to bless the beautifully innocent spirit of a young girl. The imagery and the sentiment feel touchingly apt as the seasons begin to change.Continue Reading
“Seascape” by John Fraser National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London It’s easy to compare Odysseus’ voyage to the voyage students undertake in college; whether a senior, junior, sophomore or freshman, those spiteful waves will rock you all year long. We mimic Odysseus as we fight against tests, illness, papers and uncomfortable experiences, and all…Continue Reading
It’s Homecoming week at Wake Forest University, so we have selected a poem for today entitled “Airports” which reflects on the liminality of travel. We wish a safe journey to all alumni making their way back toward their alma maters, be it via skyways or highways. Airports Airports are their own peculiar weather. Their lucid hallways…Continue Reading
“Who often found their way to pleasant meadows
Or maybe once to a peak, who saw the Promised Land,
Who took the correct three strides but tripped their hurdles,
Who had some prompter they barely could understand . . .”
Begin again to the summoning birds
to the sight of the light at the window,
begin to the roar of morning traffic
all along Pembroke Road.
Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill’s The Water Horse is a particular gem because of the collaboration of three great female Irish poets; Ní Dhomhnaill’s poems are in Irish, with English translations by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin and Medbh McGuckian. These poems present other convergences, particularly the mingling of mythology with modern life as in today’s poem.Continue Reading
John Montague’s most recent volume, Speech Lessons, is full of lyrical poems about childhood, memory, and family. Our selection for today stands out from this subject matter as a poem about poetry itself. Silences for Elizabeth 1 Poetry is a weapon, and should be used, though not in the crudity of violence. It is a prayer before an…Continue Reading
I wanted his sky-blue Ford, its sheetrock, its transmission issues.
I listened to his low-down yodelling skimming sunk studs
and snake rattles like wind chimes round his mantle in the hills
and parables waiting for windows to arrive where some lunchbox
was always asked what sort of lunchbox he took Roy for.
Only a few weeks remain before students return to campus, and our hottest days seem to be behind us. As we desperately hang on to summer, we offer Vona Groarke’s poem, “Pier,” as a celebration of the freedom and elan that summertime allows. Pier Speak to our muscles of a need for joy. …Continue Reading
“The Ray,” Jean-Baptiste-Simeone Chardin (1728) Nature Morte (Even so it is not so easy to be dead) As those who are not athletic at breakfast day by day Employ and enjoy the sinews of others vicariously, Shielded by the upheld journal from their dream-puncturing wives And finding in the printed word a multiplication of their…Continue Reading
We are looking forward to kicking off next year’s publishing calendar with Caitríona O’Reilly’s newest volume. But since it’ll be many months until we can share those poems with you, we chose one of her poems, “Sleep and Spiders,” from The Wake Forest Series of Irish Poetry, Volume I. As the editor of that volume…Continue Reading
Calendar Custom What is the right name of that small red flower? It’s everywhere, spilling down over the stones In the sun, every year at just this time. The colour dims for a minute as the line of dust Follows the loud white van uphill, and just now The girls in the bar offer me…Continue Reading
Proposal It happened over an apple. We were in a market, sunshine and August showers flickering through the glazed roof over a barrel of apples, green with a blush of red, the dew still seeming to glisten on them. You picked one up. Try it and see, Miss, said the vendor. You nodded, and bit…Continue Reading
Nettle, bramble, shepherd’s purse –
refugees from the building site
that was once the back field,
The River When I was angry, I went to the river– New water on old stones, the patience of pools. Let the will find its own pace Said a voice inside me I was learning to believe, And the rest will take care of itself. The fish were facing upstream, tiny trout Suspended like souls,…Continue Reading
Here in North Carolina, we’re experiencing our first week of temperatures in the 90s, so mid to upper seventies sounds pretty good to us. Conor O’Callaghan’s poem leads us to a comfortable sunny spot. Mid to Upper Seventies He rests The Narrow Road to the Deep North on an arm of the sunroom sofa-bed. He walks to…Continue Reading
We at Wake Forest University Press join the rest of the university, and the rest of the world, in celebrating Maya Angelou’s life and mourning her passing. In her memory, here is a poem that WFUP poet Michael Longley wrote a few years ago after seeing Shaker-designed quilts in New England. The Design Sometimes the quilts…Continue Reading
I. Tomorrow I will start to be happy. The morning will light up like a celebratory cigar. Sunbeams sprawling on the lawn will set dew sparkling like a cut-glass tumbler of champagne. Today will end the worst phase of my life. I will put my shapeless days behind me, fencing off the past, as a…Continue Reading
Away We have our own smallholding: persimmon tree, crawl space, stoop, red earth basement, ceiling fans, a job. Hours I’m not sure where I am, flitting through every amber between Gales and Drumcliffe Road. I paint woodwork the exact azure of a wave’s flipside out the back of Spiddal pier and any given morning pins…Continue Reading
This time of year is usually devoted to graduation ceremonies, a celebration of taking the next step, whatever that may be. Here’s to the next step. Congratulations to all of the graduates for the year of 2014. Let it Go Let it go Out of reach, out of sight, Out of the door and the window,…Continue Reading
The temperature is high, the pollen is present, and graduation is just around the corner. However, with the arrival of springtime blossoms comes the departure of most of our staff. Interns Nicole, Maura, Amanda, Julie and Mike are all graduating, and Candide is retiring from Assistant Director. And while I feel inclined to use the…Continue Reading
By Michael J. Bennett (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons Punctuation This frosty night is jittering with lines and angles, invisible trajectories: Crackly, chalky diagrams in geometry, rubbed out the instant they’re sketched, But lingering in the head. The shots, the echoes, are like whips, and when you flinch, You don’t know where it’s coming from. This…Continue Reading
why does a poem
It was as if
someone only had to say
to set alight
This is what I inherit—
It was never my own life,
But a house’s name I heard
And others heard as warning
At Dublin Zoo A four-year-old Seeing elephants For the first time ‘But they’re not blue’ –Paula Meehan, from Painting Rain (2009)Continue Reading
September It must be cliché to think, however brief, that light on a wall and our voices out in the open are the pieces we shall look upon in retrospect as a life. There is a danger of circumstance smothering even the smallest talk. If a breeze shakes another colour from the trees we say…Continue Reading
After an unexpected Easter Monday hiatus, we have returned with another poem for National Poetry Month. Ship of Death for my mother Watching you, for the first time, turn to prepare your boat, my mother; making it clear you have other business now— the business of your future— I was washed-through with anger. It was…Continue Reading
Getting Up Early Getting up early promises well; a milkhorse on the road induces thoughts of a sleeping world and a waking God. This hour has something sacred; bells will be ringing soon, but now I am content to watch the day begin to bloom. I would only waste my breath on poor superfluous words;…Continue Reading
Grainne’s Answer to Burke’s Proposal Take me for one year certain hot and cold and strong. What woman will give you as much for that long? A year in a wild place. Take me or leave me as I am. –Mary O’Malley, from The Wake Forest Book of Irish Women’s Poetry (2011)Continue Reading
What Does ‘Early’ Mean? Happy house across the road My eighteen-inch deep study of you Is like a chair carried out into the garden, And back again because the grass is wet. Yet I think winter has ended Privately in you, and lies in half-asleep, Of her last sleep, at the foot Of one of…Continue Reading
Hotel I think the detectable difference between winter and summer is a damsel who requires saving, a heroine half- asleep and measurably able to hear but hard to see, like the spaces between the birds when I turn back to the sky for another empty feeling I would bestow on her a name with a hundred…Continue Reading
Pitch & Putt Its is the realm of men and boys joined in boredom, the way of life that sees one day on a par with the next and school breaks dragged out too long. Theirs is the hour killed slowly, the turn for home in diminishing threes and twos, the provisional etiquette of shared…Continue Reading
The Call Has Been Answered The call has been answered, this sun Has risen over the green field. The soul unfolding as a snail Slides out of his enclosing shield He dawdles across the long empty Space it seems he drowns In light he flourishes over the white wave Two melting jellied horns He feels…Continue Reading
In honor of National Poetry Month, WFU will be posting a poem a day for the entire month of April. Today’s poem is “Be Someone” by Rita Ann Higgins, a working class Irish poet and playwright. Be Someone For Christ’s sake, learn to type and have something to fall back on. Be someone, make something of…Continue Reading
Scar Why does it affect and comfort me the little scar where, years ago, you cut your lip shaving when half drunk and in a hurry to play drums in public. We step now to rhythms we don’t own or understand, and, with blind, dog-like diligence, we hunt for scars in tender places. –Moya Cannon,…Continue Reading
It’s our favorite month of the year: April! … also known as National Poetry Month. Our campus stalls have already been graced with “potty poetry,” and we will continue celebrating online by posting even more poetry than usual. To start with, here is an enlightening poem about changing times and weary souls. Nomad Heart for Kevin…Continue Reading
Louis MacNeice is one of the inspirations for the Scottish group, Battlefield Band. MacNeice’s poem, “Bagpipe Music,” provides the lyrics for the song on the group’s newest album Room Enough for All, which has been nominated for an Independent Music Award in the category of “World Traditional Song.” You can read the poem just below, buy MacNeice’s Collected Poems here, and…Continue Reading
Finit Le seans a chuala uathu scéala an chleamhnais Is b’ait liom srian le héadroime na gaoithe— Do bhís chomh hanamúil léi, chomh domheabhartha, Chomh fiáin léi, is chomh haonraic, mar ba chuimhin liom. Féach feasta go bhfuil dála cháich i ndán duit, Cruatan is coitinne, séasúr go céile, Ag éalú i ndearúd le hiompú…Continue Reading
There are few spectacles more enigmatic and awe-inspiring than the night sky. It can be hard to believe that the shimmering blots sprinkled into the abyss are light-years upon light-years out of our reach. John Montague’s poem “Starspill” captures the mystery of the glimmering cosmos drifting above our earth. Starspill That secret laughter which, on…Continue Reading
To Posterity When books have all seized up like the books in graveyards And reading and even speaking have been replaced By other, less difficult, media, we wonder if you Will find in flowers and fruit the same colour and taste They held for us for whom they were framed in words, And will your…Continue Reading
Hatred demands patience and deadened senses,
Hatred waits for its chance;
Hatred keeps a steady finger on the trigger
And won’t pull it till it sees the whites of the eyes
Like egg-whites-whites in its sights!
Though the majority of the Irish poetry we publish is actually about Ireland, we are not without some poems that feature our own backyard. This week’s Poem of the Week is set in North Carolina. Vona Groarke, in her acclaimed collection Spindrift, wrote of the time she spent as Poet-in-Residence here at Wake Forest University. This…Continue Reading
On Not Experiencing the Ultraviolet Catastrophe Unlike my childhood neighbour Jacksy Hickey Who, rain or shine, wore a black gabardine, Reasoning what was good to keep heat in Was good enough, by definition, to keep it out, We, when we reach the heart of the cornfield, Know better: we shed each other’s clothes. Oh, you…Continue Reading
This week’s Poem of the Week comes from one of our favorite anthologies of poetry, The Wake Forest Book of Irish Women’s Poetry. As we near the end of the semester, with all its hustle and bustle, Katie Donovan’s poem “Sleep” feels particularly striking. The poem has a peaceful, relaxing tone, and artfully reminds us to…Continue Reading
Samhain Sing a song for the mistress of the bones the player on the black keys the darker harmonies light jig of shoe buckles on a coffin lid ∞ Harsh glint of the wrecker’s lantern on a jagged cliff across the ceaseless glitter of the spume: a seagull’s creak. The damp-haired…Continue Reading
“Child Soldier in the Ivory Coast, Africa” by Gilbert Ground Michael Longley’s recent poem “Boy-Soldier” was inspired by Irish author Tom McAlindon’s account of the death of WWI teenage soldier, Bobbie Kernaghan of Belfast. The images of young soldiers killed in war, of their tender necks pierced and their armor clattering to the ground link this…Continue Reading
The Destruction Of Sodom And Gomorrah, a painting by John Martin (1789-1854) In the spirit of Halloween we offer Ciaran Carson’s “Demotic Nocturne”, a tantalizing and chilling nighttime adventure that takes the reader on a technicolor journey that “disperses all the boundaries of hearth and home.” “Demotic Nocturne” appears in Carson’s collection In the Light Of, translated from Rimbaud’s Illuminations. Demotic Nocturne (Nocturne vulgaire) A breath…Continue Reading
This week’s Poem of the Week comes from Harry Clifton’s upcoming collection, The Holding Centre. Available in December, The Holding Centre features a fantastic selection of Clifton’s previously published work, but also includes a section with new, unpublished poems. As a sneak peek, this week we give you “The Lap of Plenty.” THE LAP OF PLENTY Leave…Continue Reading
Open Rose The moon is my second face, her long cycle Still locked away. I feel rain Like a tied-on dress, I clutch it Like a book to my body. His head is there when I work, It signs my letters with a question-mark; His hands reach for me like rationed air. Day by day…Continue Reading
The View from Under the Table was the best view and the table itself kept the sky from falling. The world was fringed with red velvet tassels; whatever play ran in that room the tablecloth was curtains for. I was the audience. Listen to me laughing. Listen to me weeping. I was a child. What…Continue Reading
Milk Could he have known that any stranger’s baby crying out loud in a street can start the flow? A stain that spreads on fustian or denim. This is kindness which in all our human time has refused to learn propriety, which still knows nothing but the depth of kinship, the depth of thirst. –Moya…Continue Reading
(photo from flowersreview.blogspot.com ) On Cutting One’s Finger While Reaching for Jasmine She talked about the aboutness of life, the eternal false illumination of the leftover nights, her lavender- skirted self who paced around the tousled bedroom, the otherwise good you. She incessantly made Os, Os of all sizes, Os inside one another, always drawn backwards in…Continue Reading
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…Continue Reading
Landscape by Bus Look out the window—half A landscape, half its trees. Switch focus. Reflections of The rest float by on these. At sixty miles an hour The world’s being folded back Into a suitcase. Where Oh where will I unpack? –Justin Quinn, from The Wake Forest Series of Irish Poetry, Volume III (2013)Continue Reading
Do you have a memory of a childhood trip? “Going Places” by John McAuliffe from the upcoming Wake Forest Series of Irish Poetry, Volume III is a tribute to such journeys. As we get older, it is sometimes comforting to remember the times when we got to sit in the backseat and imagine “giant invisible horses”,…Continue Reading
The Realm of Nothing Whatever The difference between things that are really the same is called Three in the Morning. The pigeon’s bath and the tiger’s regard, the dawn air and the night air, bird-stretchings and bear-hangings and pillowed corpse on corpse. The broken tile sunk in the wide house with the desolate side windows…Continue Reading
Love Song I see light everywhere Over the bus driver the woman With her trolley in the street I see dusk I hear the clock at four I hear the silence in cupboards Birdsong Backwater dawn I taste drier than flour I smell the roots of trees Before I see their arms Shrieking On the…Continue Reading
With Ciaran Carson reading in Boston and Athens, GA this week, we thought it might be fun to share one of our Carson favorites, “Belfast Confetti.” Belfast Confetti Suddenly as the riot squad moved in, it was raining exclamation marks, Nuts, bolts, nails, car-keys. A fount of broken type. And the explosion Itself—an asterisk on…Continue Reading
Introductions Some of what we love we stumble upon— a purse of gold thrown on the road, a poem, a friend, a great song. And more discloses itself to us— a well among green hazels, a nut thicket— when we are worn out searching for something quite different. And more comes to us, carried as…Continue Reading
Time ticks routinely: there are always sixty seconds in a minute, sixty minutes in an hour, and twenty-four hours in a day. The speaker in “The Heated Minutes” from our upcoming Louis MacNeice: Collected Poems describes how time feels hot, taut, and dull: the heat of anxiety, the dullness of loneliness, and the tautness of a…Continue Reading
A Language I had a language once. I was at home there. Someone murdered it Buried it somewhere. I use different words now Without skill, truly as I can. A man without a language Is half a man, if he’s lucky. Sometimes the lost words flare from their grave Why do I think then of…Continue Reading
This poem by Kerry Hardie is from The Wake Forest Book of Irish Women’s Poetry. The best part of winter is knowing that spring must come “again,” and the bad weather and cold temperatures must come to an end. Today on March 1st, we say, “Here’s to Spring!” Again Spring comes roundly, as the round calls…Continue Reading
April is the month to celebrate poetry! And while we here at the Press rejoice it every day, we encourage our readers to take part with us in the celebration of National Poetry Month, established in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets. Now is the time to start that spring cleaning by dusting off…Continue Reading
Spells for the Embalmers I believe that you left the heart in place, fringed with locks of gold wire. That the blue tissue of the hands was separately wrapped in beaded net. That the unprepared harmony of palm wine and cedar oil pealed at the same moment. And a flimsy, waxed sail that grew more…Continue Reading
This week has been a pretty exciting one for everyone involved in publishing and literary studies here at Wake Forest. After two years of planning, the University is finally hosting its “Words Awake!” celebration of Wake Forest writers! The three day event will focus on recognizing the achievements of Wake Forest writers past and present while also…Continue Reading
We felt this poem about pollen by Moya Cannon was incredibly appropriate this week as the season changes from winter to spring. You can read more of her poetry in our anthology The Wake Forest Series of Irish Poetry, Volume II. Pollen And this dust survives through the death of ages. It sleeps in deep…Continue Reading
Ever wish you could experience winning an Oscar? In light of last weekend’s Academy Awards, today we present you that opportunity, courtesy of one of our most popular poets, Ciaran Carson. Oscar I held the figurine aloft, revelling in my actor’s gravestone smile; I boldly faced an orchestra of flash, as paparazzi packed the aisle. I thanked everyone: all…Continue Reading
Published the year I was born, Medbh McGuckian’s Marconi’s Cottage is full of mysterious and intriguing poems. Her use of metaphors and similes makes the following a beautiful piece of writing and an inspiring work of art. Time-Words I am a debt, soon I will be added, As words wither away with the things they describe, As…Continue Reading
While you’ve probably heard enough about love for this week, today, The Press has one more poem we’d like to share with you. This poem is bit of a throwback for us. It’s from our 1986 reprint of Thomas Kinsella’s Peppercanister Poems: 1972–1978, and it is dedicated to our truest love, the written word.Continue Reading
In honor of St. Valentine’s Day, we at WFU Press have selected three different poems that cover the different spectrums of that confusing but beautiful thing known as love. Michael Longley’s poem “The Scissors Ceremony” depicts the heartwarming image of an old couple that are still very much in love. In contrast, John Montague reminds…Continue Reading
This week’s poem is by Caitríona O’Reilly, whose poems are featured in our recent anthology, The Wake Forest Book of Irish Women’s Poetry. Last fall, the Wake Forest community was offered the opportunity to listen to O’Reilly, along with Rita Ann Higgins, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, and Leontia Flynn, as the Women’s Anthology tour kicked off…Continue Reading
The weather in Winston-Salem today is beautiful. It’s warm and breezy, and one can in indulge in tricking him- or herself into believing that spring has come early on this fine day. Hoping to encourage this weather to stay (please!), we’ve chosen a poem from Michael Longley’s A Hundred Doors, wherein the imagery inspires visions…Continue Reading
This poem is from John Montague’s latest volume, due out in mid-April. It’s dedicated to his wife. Enjoy! Silences for Elizabeth 1 Poetry is a weapon, and should be used, though not in the crudity of violence. It is a prayer before an unknown altar, a spell to bless the silence. 2 There is a…Continue Reading
Studying the Language On Sundays I watch the hermits coming out of their holes Into the light. Their cliff is as full as a hive. They crowd together on warm shoulders of rock Where the sun has been shining, their joints crackle. They begin to talk after a while. I listen to their accents, they…Continue Reading
Pipistrelle At no point, in the whole of that northern night, Was there total eclipse of light, Only a yellow streak, low down in the sky Against which little squeaks, subliminal cries Would dash themselves, so to speak— The pipistrelles. Hours later, dawn would break To the sound of illegitimate shots In the field nearby….Continue Reading
To Be Said Let’s walk the shoreline with it all to be said and nothing between us but salt. Let the waves trip on the part of your name I don’t dare. Let the shingle cup your footfall and the sea-wind straddle the breath you don’t use. We’ll hold our tongues. Let you say nothing,…Continue Reading