May Day 1974 – Rachel Hegarty
This is a book of poetry that remembers and gives voice to the 34 victims of bombings that took place in Dublin and Monaghan on the 17th of May, 1974. It’s a book of powerful poems and I couldn’t leave it out of my hands once I started to read it. The fictional poems bring these people to life in a powerful and poignant fashion. Reading them breaks my heart when I think of how these wonderful lives were cut short by violence.
Fleche – Mary Jean Chan
“I was drawn to this poet on the recommendation of a friend. Fleche explores queerness from an Asian woman’s perspective. However as an Irish gay woman I could still relate to it. My favourite poem in the collection is ‘The Window’ and the lines ‘Once in a lifetime, you will gesture/at an open window, tell the one who/detests the queerness in you that dead/ daughters do not disappoint…’
‘Dead daughters do not disappoint’ is a line that will stay with me forever.”
The Last Polar Bear On Earth – Rhian Elizabeth
A beautiful, honest poetry book written by a young disabled single mother. Again a book I read in one sitting. Rhyian tells it like it is, in ordinary language which I loved. The first poem in the collection ‘disabled single mother’ sets the tone ‘it would not persuade you to swipe right/i know/but i can take you out for sushi and pay/because i got my benefit money through/i can love you the same/as anyone else/can do. By the end of the book, I wanted to wave a magic wand and take MS away from this young woman.
To Air the Soul, Throw All the Windows Wide – Mary Dorcey
I love Mary Dorcey’s poetry. She was the first Irish lesbian poet to write about love between women. Some poets have called my poetry ‘daring’. But I’m writing about being gay in a far more liberal Ireland than the Ireland of the 80’s and 90’s when Dorcey wrote some of these poems. I admire her bravery to write such sensual poems at that time. In the poem ‘Night’ she remembers ‘ how my hands slid the low plain of your back/thrown by the sudden flaunt of your loins.’ Her poetry gives me permission to write mine.
Devotions – Mary Oliver
“A selection of Mary Oliver’s poems from 1965 to 2015, this book is gorgeous and has taken up permanent residency on my bedside locker. For me, these poems are so much more than observations of the natural world. They never fail to inspire me. When I need to get in touch with my spirituality this is the book I go to. I try to read one poem from this collection every day.
Anne Walsh Donnelly was nominated for the Hennessy Irish Literary Award for emerging poetry in 2019. She is the author of the poetry chapbook ‘The Woman With An Owl Tattoo,’ published by Fly on the Wall press. Her debut short story collection, ‘Demise of the Undertaker’s Wife,’ will be published by Blue Nib in September. To find out more about Anne and her work, go to: www.annewalshdonnelly.com.