Wake: Up to Poetry
"The act of poetry is a rebel act."
Poem of the Week – Plus, Paula Meehan’s Appointment as Ireland Professor of Poetry
“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 did I know?
Except that the moon was a porcelain globe and swung from a brass chain. O
that wasn’t the moon at all. The moon was my true love. Oak was my roof and
under the table no one could see you. My granny could see me.
Out, she’d say. Out. And up on her lap the smell of kitchen and sleep.
She’d rock me. She’d lull me. No one was kinder.
What ails you child? I never told her. Not
one word would cross my lips. Shadows I’d say. I don’t like the shadows.
They’re waiting to snatch me. There at the turn of the stairs.
On the landing. To the right of the wardrobe. In the fridge, white ghosts.
Black ghosts in the coal shed. In the bread bin, hungry ghosts.
Somewhere, elsewhere, my mother was sulking in the rain. I call up
her young face. Who did she think she was with her big words
and her belt and her beatings? Who do I think I am to write her?
She must have been sad. She must have been lonely.
Discipline. Chastisement. I stretch out my four year old hands.
-Paula Meehan, from Dharmakaya
Paula Meehan, whose poem is featured above, has been named Ireland Professor of Poetry. The Ireland Chair of Poetry Trust, created in 1998 after Seamus Heaney won the 1995 Nobel Prize for Literature, appoints a new Professor of Poetry every three years. Holding this position of great distinction and honor, Meehan will spend one year attached to each of the three universities associated with the Trust: Queen’s University Belfast, Trinity College Dublin, and University College Dublin. She will reside at each university for approximately eight weeks, holding workshops and informal lectures, spending time working with students, and giving one formal lecture per year.
According to the Irish Times, at the ceremony that marked the announcement of Meehan’s appointment, Trinity College Dublin’s Provost Dr. Patrick Prendergast said “the announcement was particularly poignant in the wake of Heaney’s death. ‘It forms part of his legacy and the role will go on to foster and deepen people’s understanding of poetry,’ he said.” Meehan is thought to be a refreshing and engaging choice, which is a reflection on her popularity and her admirers’ appreciation for her work.
The WFUP would like to extend its sincerest congratulations to Ms. Meehan on this prestigious achievement.