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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."

Poem of the Week: “Away” by Vona Groarke

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 week’s poem, “Away,” is embedded with references that will sound familiar to most American readers (Walgreen’s), and even more references that will strike those who are familiar with North Carolina, and, more specifically Winston-Salem.


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
a swatch of sunlight
to my purple shamrock plant.

My faithless heart ratchets
in time to slower vowels,
higher daylight hours.

I grow quiet. Yesterday
I answered in a class of Irish
at the checkout of Walgreen’s.

I walk through the day-to-day
as if ferrying a pint glass
filled to the brim with water

that spills into my own accent:
pewtered, dim, far-reaching,
lost for words.

Vona Groarke, from Spindrift (2010)

Categories: Poem of the Week, Vona GroarkeTags: , , ,


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