Another issue of Skylight47 and another selection of poems and essays, provocative, relaxing and informative as always. This issue 10 is something of a milestone, one of the editors, Bernie Crawford, told us at the launch during the ‘Over the Edge’ event in Galway City Library, because they did not expect it would last that long. But it has and is full of good things for the serious reader … and maybe for the not so serious as well! The evening included featured readings from accomplished poets Jessamine O’Connor, Anne Walsh Donnelly and Jacqueline Saphra. Jacqueline had the honour of launching the magazine and several contributors were on hand to read their work.
I liked Mary Lee’s Sunny Day, a deceptively simple poem which opens with the lines
You saunter aimlessly
at the sea’s rimmed mystery:
flow, ebb, alteration,
and reminded me a little of one of my all-time favourites, Henry Vaughan:
Fancy, and I, last evening walkt,
And, Amoret, of thee we talkt;
The West just then had stolne the Sun,
And his last blushes were begun.
It really is hard to write (good) simple poems. Short ones too are no easy matter. I thought Conor McBrierty summed up a lot about present day Ireland in his short poem ‘Crucifixion’. I hope he won’t mind me quoting it in full because it really is a most telling piece:
Jesus hangs on the wall
between the fridge and the phone.
His holy cross lamp is dark,
swapped for an answering machine.
He died for sins such as this.
Anne Tannam continues her poetic researches into family and generational inheritance in her poem The Image Of, a phrase we hear often when our elders compare us with near relatives. The comparisons are sometimes uncomfortable reminders of how quickly time is passing but we must put up with the fact that this is the way of things. The speaker in the poem sees herself looking out at her from an old passport photo of her mother
come back to tell me what I struggle to accept:
that time, given time, eventually blurs the lines
between each generation, brings us face to face
with a truth we wrestle with for an age …
A very fine poem, focusing in on the reality of things, and there are many more fine poems and articles. And Orla Fay proves that, no matter how many swallow poems are written, there is always room for another good one, Caught in a Dance:
They fly so close that I could almost touch a wing-tip
but I would be cut in the act so razor-like
are their dives and turns, so close-shaved.
Brian Kirk, besides contributing a poem, provides a review of Liz McSkeane’s latest collection So Long Calypso and there are reviews too of Emma McKervey and Maeve O’Sullivan’s latest productions. However, do not let me give the impression that all the content is as serious as the examples quoted above. There is a lot of fun in this magazine too. What?! (I hear you cry) Fun?! What sort of poetry magazine is this? — Well, it is a fine magazine, ranging from the serious to the humorous — see for example Kevin Higgins’s My View of Things, though Kevin’s brand of humour is decidedly acerbic:
What I love about lateness is the hope
I might get to slip off home before you turn up …
Terry McDonagh also has a poem (‘New Ways of Talking’,) describing an unattractive character who happens to be … a writer:
Maestro was a man of few words. He died
before his wife could comfort herself…
My own contribution, Prayer, falls into the ‘less serious’ category, though I do think there is a serious aspect to the ordeal suffered in waiting rooms and on tortuous bus journeys, when one feels the time could be spent in some more fruitful way …
Is there any way to claim back times
when I was only technically living?
Hours accumulated in waiting rooms
with nothing but golf magazines for company?
A celestial credit-note perhaps, for life
spent on those endless odysseys around
the hinterlands of housing estates before
the bus-route finally reached my stop?
And all the wasted ages hunting car keys,
overdue library books, TV remote,
that other sock, the passport left in a place
where I would definitely find it next time.
Couldn’t. Surely I am due a discount
for those phone calls kept me holding, trapped
inside interminable manglings of Mozart?
I beseech you, Lord, please hear my prayer.
Finally I will say it is fitting that the entire back page is given over to a poem by Marie Cadden, who passed away recently and was long associated with Skylight47. She is greatly missed by colleagues and friends.
Skylight47 costs (a mere) €5 plus postage and is available online at skylight47poetry.wordpress.com The next issue is Autumn 2018 and submissions will be accepted between 1 July & 1 September.