I come from the east, with a clutch under my arm: five Irish women poets

Double portrait in black and white © Cory Smith

Double portrait in black and white © Cory Smith

Vona Groarke (Edgeworthstown / Athlone, Ireland, born 1964)
The Clutch Handbag
Black bombazine with grosgrain binding,
a clasp of diamanté butterflies and a row
of bevelled ivory sequins threaded with slipknots.
Finesse. A lipstick of a certain red,
a bronze compact, the cachet
of an embossed cigarette case.
Emerald lining that is like glossy music
from a dance-hall band or the sheen
of sable eyes on the mink stole
whose snout rounds on the very shape
of a tear in the satin no bigger than
her incarnadine thumbnail
through which five decades
have slipped like small coins
skittering the open notes
of a foxtrot or an old-time waltz
that nobody, but nobody,
. . .
from the collection Spindrift © Vona Groarke and The Gallery Press
. . .
Máire Mhac an tSaoi (Dublin, Ireland, born 1922)
A fhir dar fhulaingeas
A fhir dar fhulaingeas grá fé rún,
Feasta fógraím an clabhsúr:
Dóthanach den damhsa táim,
Leor mo bhabhta mar bhantráill.
Tuig gur toil liom éirí as,
Comhraím eadrainn an costas:
‘Fhaid atáim gan codladh oíche
Daorphráinn orchra mh’osnaíle.
Goin mo chroí, gad mo gháire,
Cuimhnigh, a mhic mhínáire,
An phian, an phláigh, a chráigh mé,
Mo dhíol gan ádh gan áille.
Conas a d’agróinnse ort
Claochló gréine ach t’amharc,
Duí gach lae fé scailp dhaoirse –
Malairt bhaoth an bhréagshaoirse!
Cruaidh an cás mo bheith let ais,
Measa arís bheith it éagmais;
Margadh bocht ó thaobh ar bith
Mo chaidreamh ortsa, a óigfhir.
. . .
from the collection An paróiste míorúilteach/The miraculous parish ( Rogha
 dánta/Selected poems), edited by Louis de Paor, © Máire Mhac an tSaoi and The O’Brien Press/Clóiar-Chonnacht
. . .
Máire Mhac an tSaoi
Man for whom I endured
Man, for whom I suffered love
In secret, I now call a halt.
I’ll no longer dance in step.
Far too long I’ve been enthralled.
Know that I desire surcease,
Reckon up what love has cost
In racking sighs, in blighted nights
When every hope of sleep is lost.
Harrowed heart, strangled laughter;
Though you’re dead to shame, I charge you
With my luckless graceless plight
And pain that plagues me sorely.
Yet, can I blame you that the sun
Darkens when you are in sight?
Until I’m free each day is dark –
False freedom to swap day for night!
Cruel fate, if by your side.
Crueller still, if set apart.
A bad bargain either way
To love you or to love you not.
. . .
Translation from Irish into English: Biddy Jenkinson
. . .
Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin (Cork, Ireland, born 1942)
The Bend in the Road
This is the place where the child
Felt sick in the car and they pulled over
And waited in the shadow of a house.
A tall tree like a cat’s tail waited too.
They opened the windows and breathed
Easily, while nothing moved. Then he was better.
Over twelve years it has become the place
Where you were sick one day on the way to the lake.
You are taller now than us.
The tree is taller, the house is quite covered in
With green creeper, and the bend
In the road is as silent as ever it was on that day.
Piled high, wrapped lightly, like the one cumulus cloud
In a perfect sky, softly packed like the air,
Is all that went on in those years, the absences,
The faces never long absent from thought,
The bodies alive then and the airy space they took up
When we saw them wrapped and sealed by sickness
Guessing the piled weight of sleep
We knew they could not carry for long;
This is the place of their presence: in the tree, in the air.
. . .
from the collection The Girl Who Married the Reindeer
© Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin and The Gallery Press
. . .
Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill (Dingle/Tipperary, Ireland, born 1952)
Venio Ex Oriente
Tugaim liom spíosraí an Oirthir
is rúin na mbasár
is cúmhraín na hAráibe
ná gealfaidh do láimhín bán.
Tá henna i m’chuid ghruaige
is péarlaí ar mo bhráid
is tá cróca meala na bhfothach
faoi cheilt i m’imleacán.
Ach tá mus eile ar mo cholainnse,
boladh na meala ó Imleacht Shlat
go mbíonn blas mísmín is móna uirthi
is gur dorcha a dath.
. . .
From Selected Poems © 2004, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill and New Island Books
. . .
Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill
“I Come from The East”
Eastern spices I bring with me,
and from bazaars, a mystery:
and perfumes from Arabic land
would not make bright your small white hand.
My hair is henna-brown
and pearls from my neck hang down
and my navel here conceals
vials of the honey of wild bees.
But my body breathes another musk
that smells of wild mint and turf:
scent of honey from an ancient hill
that has darkness in its tint.
. . .
Translation from Irish into English: Michael Hartnett
. . .
Dairena Ní Chinnéide (Dingle, County Kerry, Ireland)
Suantraí na Meánmhara
Chuaigh an Trodaí fén uisce
is bhí pátrúin a saoil san uisce glas
comharthaí ón bhfarraige eachtrannach
ag cur comhairle uirthi fanacht fó thoinn.
d’oscail domhan mealltach
is bhí sí ar a suaimhneas
i bhfad ó chlann is leannáin
domhan draíochta an Trodaí fé uisce
fhliuch sí, is fhliuch sí í féin
d’fhonn fothain a fháil ón teas
shnámh sí lena súile oscailte
is shnámhfadh sí go dtí an Ghréig
chun éalú óna laincisí saolta
léirphictiúir ghrinneall na Meánmhara
is macalla na dtonn in suantraí aici.
. . .
from the collection An Trodaí & Dánta Eile / The Warrior & Other Poems
© Dairena Ní Chinnéide and Cló Iar-Chonnacht
. . .
Dairena Ní Chinnéide
Mediterranean Lullaby
The Warrior went under water
and the patterns of her life lay in the green
signs from a foreign ocean
advising her to stay under the waves
a magically enticing world opened
and she was at peace
far from her family and her lover
the magical Warrior world under the waves
she wet and wet herself
to take shelter from the heat
she swam with her eyes open
and she would swim to Greece
to escape her mortal ties
images from the bottom of the Mediterranean
and echoes of the waves her lullaby.
. . .
Translation from Irish into English: Dairena Ní Chinnéide
. . . . .

“Home” / “Zu Hause”: an Irish poet in German

March 2015_Toronto Canada_Winter ending...Spring slowly on its way...
Paula Meehan (born Dublin, Ireland, 1955.  Meehan is an Irish poet and playwright, who studied at Trinity College, Dublin, and at Eastern Washington University, Washington State, U.S.A. )
I am the blind woman finding her way home by a map of tune.
When the song that is in me is the song I hear from the world
I’ll be home. It’s not written down and I don’t remember the words.
I know when I hear it I’ll have made it myself. I’ll be home.
A version I heard once in Leitrim was close, a wet Tuesday night
in the Sean Relig bar. I had come for the session, I stayed
for the vision and lore. The landlord called time,
the music dried up, the grace notes were pitched to the dark.
When the jukebox blared out I’d only four senses and he left me senseless,
I’d no choice but to take to the road. On Grafton Street in November
I heard a mighty sound: a travelling man with a didgeridoo
blew me clear to Botany Bay. The tune too far back to live in
but scribed on my bones. In a past life I may have been Kangaroo,
rocked in my dreamtime, convict ships coming o’er the foam.
In the Puzzle Factory one winter I was sure I was home.
The talking in tongues, the riddles, the rhymes, struck a chord
that cut through the pharmaceutical haze. My rhythm catatonic,
I lulled myself back to the womb, my mother’s heart
beating the drum of herself and her world. I was tricked
by her undersong, just close enough to my own. I took then
to dancing; I spun like a Dervish. I swear I heard the subtle
music of the spheres. It’s no place to live, but –
out there in space, on your own, hung aloft the night.
The tune was in truth a mechanical drone;
I was a pitiful monkey jigging on cue. I came back to earth
with a land, to rain on my face, to sun in my hair. And grateful too.
The wisewomen say you must live in your skin, call it home,
no matter how battered or broken, misused by the world, you can heal.
This morning a letter arrived on the nine o’clock post.
The Department of Historical Reparation, and who did I blame?
The Nuns? Your Mother? The State? Tick box provided,
we’ll consider your case. I’m burning my soapbox, I’m taking
the very next train. A citizen of nowhere, nothing to my name.
I’m on my last journey. Though my lines are all wonky
they spell me a map that makes sense. Where the song that is in me
is the song I hear from the world, I’ll set down my burdens
and sleep. The spot that I lie on at last the place I’ll call home.
. . .
Paula Meehan
Zu Hause
Ich bin die blinde Frau, die ihren Heimweg nach einer Karte von Klängen findet.
Wenn das Lied in mir auch das Lied von der Welt ist,
bin ich zu Hause. Es steht nirgends geschrieben, und die Worte sind mir entfallen.
Wenn ich es höre, weiß ich, daß es von mir ist. Dann bin ich zu Hause.
Eine Version von einst in Leitrim kam nahe, ein nasser Dienstag abend
in der Sean Relig Bar. Ich war für die Session gekommen und blieb
um der Vision und Legenden willen. Der Wirt rief zum Ende,
die Musik erstarb, die Ornamente tappten ins Dunkel.
Als die Jukebox plärrte I’d only four senses and he left me senseless,
blieb mir nur noch der Aufbruch. Auf der Grafton Street im November
hörte ich einen mächtigen Sound: Ein Weitgereister mit einem Didgeridoo
blies mich geradewegs bis zur Botany Bay. Die Melodie zu vergangen, um sie zu leben,
aber eingeschrieben in meine Knochen. In einem früheren Leben war ich wohl Känguruh,
in meiner Traumzeit gewiegt, als Sträflingsschiffe das schäumende Meer querten.
Im Irrenhaus eines Winters war ich sicher, zu Hause zu sein.
Die phantastischen Reden, die Reime und Rätsel trafen Töne,
die durch den Pharmadunst schnitten. Katatonisch mein Rhythmus,
sank ich zurück in den Leib meiner Mutter, ihr Herz schlug
die Trommel ihrer ureigenen Welt. Ich ließ mich
von ihrer Begleitung, der meinen sehr nahe, verführen, begann dann
zu tanzen; ich wirbelte wie ein Derwisch. Ich schwöre, ich hörte
sehr leise die Sphärenmusik. Kein Ort zum Leben, doch –
da draußen im All, ganz allein, hoch droben über der Nacht.
Die Melodie war in Wahrheit ein mechanisches Summen;
ich ein erbärmlicher Affe, der auf Stichwort herumhüpfte. Abrupt
kehrte ich auf die Erde zurück, zu Regen im Gesicht und Sonne im Haar. Und
noch dankbar dazu.
Die weisen Frauen meinen, du mußt in deiner Haut leben, nenn das dein Zuhause,
egal wie geschlagen, gebrochen, mißbraucht von der Welt, du kannst heilen.
Heute morgen um neun kam ein Brief bei mir an.
Das Ministerium für Historische Wiedergutmachung, und wen beschuldigte ich?
Die Nonnen? Deine Mutter? Den Staat? Zutreffendes bitte ankreuzen,
Ihr Fall wird bearbeitet. Ich lasse Ideale Ideale sein und nehme
den allernächsten Zug. Bürgerin, besitzlos, von Nirgendwo.
Dies ist meine letzte Reise. Obwohl meine Zeilen ganz schief sind,
verraten sie mir eine Karte, die Sinn ergibt. Wo das Lied, das in mir ist,
das Lied von der Welt ist, werde ich meine Bündel absetzen
und schlafen. Wo ich am Schluß liege, den Platz werde ich Zuhause nennen.
.     .     .
Translation into German from English: Dörte Eliass
.     .     .
Two Irish women poets – in Spanish:  Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh and Caitríona Ní Chléirchín.  Click on their names in the right-hand column!
. . . . .

El Día Internacional de La Mujer 2015: Toronto, Canadá / International Women’s Day 2015: Toronto, Canada

International Womens Day 2015_Toronto Canada_local city poster for march and rallyEl Día Internacional de La Mujer 2015, en Toronto, Canadá…

En solidaridad con La Marcha Mundial de Mujeres…

. . .
Arjona Delia (escritora/poeta/artista, Argentina)
Homenaje a La Mujer 1
En este día de marzo
en el mundo las recordamos,
unidas y con esfuerzo
ser reconocidas logramos.
Muchas no eran respetadas,
siempre las humillaban,
se las desvalorizaba
por su condición de mujer.
Hemos logrado ya mucho,
pero falta por recorrer,
algunas sufren violencia
no las tratan como un ser.
No todas son felices
no disfrutan la igualdad.
¡Luchemos incansablemente
para nuestra meta alcanzar!
Logramos un día tener
muy bien merecido quizás,
¡pero el día de la mujer
que sea por la eternidad!
. . .
Arjona Delia (writer/poet/artist from Argentina)
Tribute to Woman 1
On this day in March [March 8th]
all over the world we recall them,
united, in strength;
our achievement:
that they be recognized.
Many were not treated well,
have been shamed,
have been de-valued
for being Women.
Though we’ve attained much already,
there is still further to go:
there are women suffering violence,
and they are not treated like human beings.
Not all of us are happy
or enjoy equality.
Let us struggle
without letting up,
that we might reach our goal!
We will attain that well-earned day,
one day – perhaps.
The Day of All Women
– let such a day be for all time!
. . .
Tribute to Woman 2
To all women on this day [March 8th],
I render you this tribute:
for giving your blood,
for giving your life,
for fighting for the cause
– and being indefatigable.
Originators of Life,
your essence shines;
your soft, warm hands
like the sun in its rising.
You shelter us even before we are born,
give protection, well-being;
you are a fountain of purity and power,
of maternal love, of total dedication.
And when trouble surges,
women are fierce as a storm;
or they refresh your soul,
like the spring rain.
Like coffee on winter nights,
or fresh water when you’re parched,
women are your treasure,
providing loving care, peace and consolation.
What would we do if they were not here?!
There would be no Life in this World.
Spouses, mothers, companions and friends in the struggle:
Congratulations to every one of you on this day!
. . .
Homenaje a La Mujer 2
A las mujeres en este día
quiero rendirles mi homenaje,
por dar su sangre y su vida,
por ser luchadoras incansables.
Engendradoras de la vida,
su esencia de mujer resplandece,
sus manos son suaves y tibias
como el Sol cuando amanece.
Nos cobijan antes de nacer
dando protección y bienestar,
fuente de pureza y de poder,
de amor maternal y entrega total.
Y cuando surgen problemas
son fuertes como la tormenta,
o pueden refrescarte el alma,
como lluvia de primavera.
Como café en noches de invierno,
o agua fresca para el sediento.
Son el tesoro más valioso,
brindan cariño, paz y consuelo.
¡Qué haríamos si no estuvieran!
No existiría en el mundo vida.
Esposas, madres y compañeras,
¡Felicidades en su día!
. . .
Tribute to Woman 1 and 2 are poems from Arjona Delia’s collection A woman, a calm sea,
© 2009. Delia’s latest book of poetry, Women – Free! has just been launched (March 2015).
Homenaje a la Mujer 1 y 2 son poemas publicados en el libro Una mujer, un mar en calma.
Todos los derechos reservados © 2009 Arjona Delia
Fue lanzado este mes (marzo de 2015) su nuevo libro – ¡Mujer Libre!
Toronto's International Women's Day march, 2015

Toronto’s International Women’s Day march, 2015


Declaración de la escritora:
Cuando uno escribe se siente libre. Puede volar con la imaginación y atrapar en el papel los sentimientos del alma. El lápiz se desliza y expresa los temores, los miedos, los amores y los desamores. Escribir historias y fantasías como una forma de desahogo. Escribir para vivir, porque las letras sobrevivirán cuando tú hayas muerto.
. . .
Agradecimientos: Arjona Delia – de su blogspot
. . .
Otros poemas / More poems!





Llegará pronto La Primavera…

March 5th 2015_Icicles_Riverdale Toronto Canada

Una temperatura de menos 1 grados centígrados, aquí en Toronto…¡pero está viniendo La Primavera!

Joyce Wakefield
Conversación en Invierno
Te escucho mientras me explicas
La diferencia entre el cerebro del lado derecho y del lado izquierdo.
El olor de frío en la superficie de tu cara me distrae.
Lo lamo como una criatura con un helado de cucurucho,
con dedos pegajosos y una lengua dulce.
He ido estar aquí, antes, entonces
Pauso con tus palabras.
He dormido en esta piel,
He sonado estos huesos de invierno.
Despierto en la oscuridad entre nosotros,
Oigo la escarcha que barre el porche,
Que se acerca lentamente al alba,
Y echo mano a tu mano.
¿Y qué? tu susurras, con una voz que está ronca con sueños.
Mis labios, hinchados contigo, y fríos,
Están silenciados.
. . .
Joyce Wakefield
Winter Conversation
I listen to you explain the difference
between a right brain thought and a left.
I am distracted by the smell
of cold on your face.
I lick it away like a child
with an ice cream cone,
sticky fingers and sweet tongue.
Aware that I have been here before
I pause in your words.
I have slept in this flesh,
dreamed these winter bones.
Waking in the darkness between us
I hear frost sweeping the porch,
edging toward the morning.
I reach for your hand.
What? you whisper, voice hoarse with dream.
My lips, swollen with you, cold,
are silent.
.     .     .     .     .