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Launch of Anne Casey’s ‘out of emptied cups’


The launch of Anne Casey’s ‘out of emptied cups’ sparkled with breathtaking poetry and poignant melodies; Anne’s reading was complimented by the musical interludes of Three Women Sing and the combined effect was mesmerizing.  I bought a copy of the book before taking my seat, in order to ensure an enhanced read-along experience.

Following a few words of welcome from Salmon Poetry’s Jessie Lendennie, the crowd was warmed up by Eleanor Hooker’s effusive introduction, which can be read in full here.  Anne started by reading the first poem in her book, ‘out of a thousand cups’, an imagining of the body as a cup, with the voice wondering what might have happened if another cup or ‘tiny egg’ had been chosen to hold her essence – a fascinating thought.

‘Observance’ was Anne’s subsequent choice, providing a glimpse into the next life and a realisation of the precious present.  Moving on, Anne’s rendition of the striking ‘if I were to tell you’, rippled with emotion.  For me, this poem feels like a life path and has an illuminating effect with its see-saw insights of language.

‘Wildness’ was another highlight, placing animal features on a human frame, suggesting that a body’s full potential might not be realised until it sheds to release the soul within.

Anne’s concluding poem ‘All Souls’ is astonishing in its sweeping delivery of landscape, Anne’s own lost mother and all the lost mothers and babies that endured the horror of Irish Mother and Baby Homes. But the culminating references to ‘hearts’ and ‘heavens’ suggest an awaiting peace for those who have suffered, leaving the collection on a hopeful note.

After the reading, I decided to purchase Anne’s debut poetry collection, ‘where the lost things go’, as you can never read too much good poetry!  I excitedly queued up to get my books signed, looking forward to finally meeting a person who seemed to be a kindred spirit, (Anne and I have been communicating on Twitter and sharing each other’s work for some time now). I was not disappointed – as I introduced myself, Anne’s face lit up and she gathered me into an enormous hug, thanking me for my support.  I think I’ve made a friend for life . . .

‘out of emptied cups’ is available to buy from the Salmon Poetry Bookshop.

Photo by George Moore.

Pascale Petit & Paul Durcan at The Shaking Bog – Review


To be surrounded by mountains is to be held in a green, sloping hug . . .  Those were my feelings en route to The Shaking Bog Festival to see legendary poets: Pascale Petit and Paul Durcan.  My friend and I had stopped to soak up the atmosphere and we felt elevated!

Oh, those mountains!

Our scenic drive up from Carrick-on-Suir to Glencree had offered few options in the way of refreshments, so we were relieved when we arrived at the Armoury Cafe and bowls of hot food were prepared for us straight away.

Suitably nourished and welcomed, we headed to our event.  After an enthusiastic introduction from Alan Gilsenan, Pascale stepped up to the mic.  Her voice was melodic and certain, eloquently presenting the most fascinating images of the natural world. She disclosed that imagining her mother as a lily had been the key to writing her Ondaatje Prize winning collection, ‘Mama Amazonica’ and it is this image that stays with me. It feels like a gift to herself and to her mother; a giving back of grace.

The other image that lingers is in the line ‘She’s a rainforest in a straitjacket’, from the poem, ‘Jaguar Girl’, also part of ‘Mama Amazonica’.  I love the idea of the mother figure being too beautiful in her new incarnation, making it necessary for her to be contained.

When it was Paul Durcan’s turn to read, I didn’t know what to expect. I’m ashamed to say that I was not familiar with his work. He began with a poem dedicated to the late Seamus Heaney and I thought this serious, poignant tone would continue into the next poem and quite possibly, the next.  It did not.

Durcan came alive with a variety of characters, voices and stories, all set to the most glorious, rhythmic soundtrack of poems.  The term ‘spoken word’ was made for this poet.  He spoke like an instrument, animated the audience, drew us in, made us laugh . . . and by the end of his triumphant performance of ‘Golden Mothers Driving West’, he also made us cry.

As Paul stood back from the microphone, people were on their feet.  I had never seen anything like it at a poetry reading before. Our feelings were on end.  Two extraordinary poets; one precious memory of an evening.

Photographs by K. S. Moore

Sustenance – Spoken Word Poem


‘Sustenance’ is a poem about the relationship I had with food, as a teenager. Back then, I ate very little, as it was so important to me to be thin. I only allowed myself to eat breakfast on Saturdays; snacks and desserts were limited to weekends and special occasions. Sometimes, I gave in to cravings and binged on sweet-treats. Even now, I often eat chocolate when I’m stressed . . .

The poem is also about travel and references a school exchange trip to France, which I found very daunting. Interestingly, it was the experience of a new food in an inspiring setting that helped me to relax and enjoy my surroundings. This says a lot about the culture in Brittany – food is such a natural part of the day and is always given time and attention. I recommend a visit!

You may have noticed that this post is a K. S. Moorefirst’, as the featured poem is not only available to read, but also available to hear.  If you do have a listen, please let me know what you think!  


At a time when food meant skin with folds,
I hungered for all things sweet:
iced buns, custard, marzipan fruit . . .

I wanted to feel taste,

cut out chips, ate small, round potatoes,
drank skimmed milk, missed breakfast,

except at weekends


Strawberry Crunch was my morning desire.

At 18, I sailed to Brittany, bars of
chocolate eased the waves, gave me
a melting shield against strangers.

The peak was the meal of my life:
‘Moules Frites’ – essence of sea view,


K. S. Moore

Photo by Falcon_33 on Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Russian Doll – Motherhood Poem


Russian Dolls have a significance to me, as objects that bring me joy. Perhaps it’s the shape of them, the bright colours or the motherly connotations, which provide comfort . . . The presence of an open fire or stove has also become important to me, particularly in winter, when the orange glow helps to promote a cosy well-being. But fires can also tell stories and hold up pictures to the imagination, if only for a short time.

One evening, my husband alerted me to the fact that a piece of coal at the heart of our fire had taken on the appearance of a Russian Doll. We watched it together and commented on the sacrificial undertones, which led me into a chain of thought: a woman’s body, a witch burning at the stake, lost possibilities, lost children . . . I’ll let the poem do the rest of the talking.

Russian Doll

We’re sacrificing a Russian Doll,
my husband says

and I see
her waist,
the curve
head and body –
a body of coal.

Flames raise hands
to her dignified form,
worship a woman in heat.

She is no witch,
she is just warm-hearted, modest,
her back burns first.

And when there is only ash
it occurs to me, she could
have housed the bodies of others:

Children, their ghosts
with fingers on lips,
whispering, mother, mama.

K. S. Moore

First Published in The Ogham Stone.

Photo by byJoeLodge on Foter.com / CC BY

My Poem – Milk – in New Welsh Review


As a teenager who dabbled in writing when no one was looking, I had a copy of The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook and picked out three top Welsh journals: New Welsh Review, Poetry Wales and Planet. I bought copies of these journals, flicked through them, a little hopelessly, then placed them on a bookshelf to be revered, but not forgotten.

A year or so later, I sent out a few poetry submissions, received some encouraging rejections but felt discouraged. I started writing a YA fantasy novel, which I finally completed during my years at Cardiff University, where I studied English Literature with Creative Writing. Here, my confidence received another knock, when my marks for the first year were lower than my expectations. But I didn’t give up. I progressed to year two, where I was lucky enough to be guided by the wonderful Hilary Llewellyn-Williams.

Hilary told me I had the feel and natural rhythm of poetry and should try to get my poems published. My work had featured in starter magazines such as ‘First Time’ and ‘Springboard’, but I was still stung by those early rejections and preferred to scribble in private and focus on achieving my degree.

After university, I linked up with some other young Welsh writers and took on a publishing project which sent some of my work into the world and helped others to achieve the goal of seeing their work in print. We performed at venues such as The Dylan Thomas Centre, The Grand Theatre and The Mariott Hotel, all in Swansea.

Moving to Ireland with my then fiancee, now husband, brought this project to an end. It took me a while to settle into my new home and country and I didn’t feel like writing for some time. When I began again, it was with my blog. I also wrote a number of articles for Writing.ie and was invited to read at Waterford Writers’ Weekend. This set off a fresh burst of creativity and I decided to try submitting again.

I had work accepted by a number of online journals, including: Ink, Sweat and Tears, And Other Poems and Flashflood. When Peter Thabit Jones of the Seventh Quarry accepted a poem, I was very pleased as he had attended some of the events in my publishing days and had always been so encouraging. Around this time I was also shortlisted for Flash Mob 2013 and Blog Awards Ireland.

But the biggest change of my life was about to unfold: becoming pregnant with and giving birth to my first daughter. Filled with love, I was also filled with self doubt. How would I be able to take care of this tiny, precious creature? In this vulnerable place, I found myself looking back to the years when I had felt most powerful – as a girl becoming a woman, turning heads and feeling free, never feeling alone. From these memories I created a poem called ‘Moon Woman’. I knew there was something special about this poem, so I stared into the face of rejection by sending it to an upper tier Irish literary magazine, Crannog. It was accepted.

Acceptances from The Stinging Fly and Southword followed in the coming year, but then I came up against a string of rejections. Thinking I had left all that behind, I found it hard to motivate myself – I had also not long given birth to my second daughter and was permanently exhausted. After another ‘writing time out’ I received news that my father was terminally ill. Only a few weeks later, he succumbed to a cancer his family never knew he had.

I was so tired of rebuilding myself, but I wanted people to know something of my Dad and for me, poetry is the only force on earth powerful enough to breathe new life. I am still writing him poems and I am still pouring my heart into words, because although I sometimes feel exposed, I also feel the connection when a reader says ‘I love your work’ or ‘that’s beautiful’ and hope underneath it they are also saying ‘I feel this too’.

And that is why I hope you will read my new poem, ‘Milk’ currently featured in the summer issue of the New Welsh Reader. It means so much to me to see my poem in this journal I have admired for so long. . . I would like to say a special thank you to guest editor, Emily Blewitt for believing in and including my work. The poem is one from my collection in progress: ‘Eggshell Flesh’ and tunes into the intense ‘new mother / new baby time zone’, that swallows you whole, if you let it (and I did.) But I needed to fight for my baby before I could fight for me.

If you do read the extract or go on to read the whole poem, please let me know and think about leaving a comment below or on Twitter, where I can be found every day. I would love to hear from you.

Photo by Damian Gadal on Foter.com / CC BY

Adventures in Label Lit


This year, Poetry Day Ireland was made all the more special by my participation in Label Lit: an innovative project, bringing poetry to the people, devised by Poet and Artistic Director, Maria McManus. For 2019, the project was given extra impact with the addition of sound! All fifty participating poets recorded their poems of place and they were added to a digital Poetry M’app and to Soundcloud. Poets also received 20 coloured labels each and were instructed to place them in and around the area that had inspired their poems.

My poem is called ‘Tramore Beach’ and draws on the ‘truth’ side of Poetry Day Ireland’s ‘Truth or Dare’ theme. When writing it, I initially thought about the mythical side of sea life, which is where verse one’s glimpse of mermaid’s tail comes from. The poem progresses to focus on the reality of this popular place: ‘. . . a beach of faces and footprints, seaside houses balanced on slope,’ appealing to all of the senses. You can listen here.

Having completed work on the poem and recorded it, my next task was to write my labels. I wanted to make it possible (although I knew it was unlikely) for somebody to find every part of the poem, so I ensured that each verse was written onto a label, then I repeated the process until all of the labels were used up, except one. This final label was saved for my four year old daughter, Amber, who wanted to join in the Poetry Day Ireland celebrations by composing her own poem!

Tramore was the perfect destination for my Label Lit adventure on Poetry Day Ireland. The sunny weather had brought people out to walk along the sea front and to take pause in cafés. There were even a few tourists looking at landmarks of interest. I spotted a blackboard advertising coffee, outside Christ Church and seized my chance to place my first label.

I dropped a couple of labels into Tramore Library and headed for lunch at Moe’s Café, leaving a label instead of a tip! The afternoon was moving on, so I decided to speed up delivery by tying a number of labels onto benches. I left two on some colourful model cycles and tied my final offering onto a model canon, (which made for a great caption on Twitter)!

On the way home from Tramore, I felt as if I had left pieces of myself behind and hoped they would be found . . . I do know at least one of my labels ended up in a caring home. I sent one to Waterford’s Central Library and was tagged in Instagram and Facebook posts by Arts Officer, Conor Nolan, who had hung it up at the main desk for visitors to see.

Label Lit was not only empowering for me as a poet, it united me with others: my fellow poets, the people I talked to as I distributed labels and those who read my words, (even if they choose to remain anonymous). If you would like to know more about Label Lit, pop over to the website to view the Poetry M’app, listen to poems and learn about all the participants. I’m already looking forward to next year’s event!

Photos by K. S. Moore

Black Rabbit – A Poem for Easter


‘Black Rabbit’ is a poem inspired by times of change and thoughts of Richard Adams’ ‘Watership Down’. When my husband and I lived on the outskirts of Curraghmore Estate in Portlaw, County Waterford, wildlife was a part of every day. I remember two hares prancing across our front lawn, two industrious mistle thrushes building a nest, two baby rabbits hiding under our shed, and one glorious pine marten. Every summer, swallows would nest in the roof and we watched them grow and fly.

The Black Rabbit was a character we encountered on the road from Portlaw to Kilmacthomas. A solitary figure, and one that we only glimpsed in motion, we sometimes wondered if we had truly seen this creature, or if he was just a shadow.

Looking back, this was a time that preceded some major changes to our lifestyle. Months after our last sighting of the black rabbit, I became pregnant, my husband started a new job and a longed for home of our own was taking shape. Nature can be a powerful messenger.

Black Rabbit

A Poem for Easter

I remember the black rabbit
sat on a throne of hill,
the gold-specked, green

slide down to the road,
where we stopped cars
to wait for his shadow.

He loomed on the day,
glowered just short
of marking our tracks
for animal life.

I wanted to join him,
dye my hair in a shade
that matched his gleaming fur,
feel him change me.

K. S. Moore

Photo by thor_mark  on Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Blossom – Spring Poem


‘Blossom’ is a poem for spring and its flyaway beauty. I was inspired to write it after reading a number of spring poems online, including Billy Collins’ ‘Today’, which I shared on Twitter. Although I have written about rain-drenched and sun-proud summers, flaring autumns and sparkling white winters, spring has been somewhat neglected . . . until now.

One of my favourite apparitions of the season is blossom, particularly the delicate pink kind that reminds me of confetti or paper snowflakes. I hope this poem will help to preserve the lifespan of the petals for a little longer than usual.


Spring Poem

A paper snowflake,
marshmallow dipped,
would stand at the helm
of a bridesmaid tree,
direct its windblown to

flutter, as you
have fluttered
to path, gather
at feet. Throwaway

exist, full-bloom
for a matter of days,
stowaway thoughts

K. S. Moore

Photo by stanzebla on Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Discussing Kathleen Jamie Selected Poems


With Focus on Crossing the Loch and The Blue Boat

Kathleen Jamie’s ‘Selected Poems’ is a substantial volume containing poems from her collections: Black Spiders, The Way We Live, The Autonomous Region, The Queen of Sheba, Jizzen, The Tree House, The Overhaul and The Bonniest Companie.

My reading eye has only just begun to alight on these promising pages and I look forward to finding new poems on many of my favourite topics, such as nature, relationships, family ties and motherhood. I love poetry that uses the natural world to drive its message. I also appreciate memory pieces and have found myself looking back into my own past much more since having children.

Therefore, ‘Crossing the Loch’ holds a particular appeal for me. The poem captures a scene from youth and features a couple who decide to get into a boat together, after a night out. The first extraordinary moment of the poem is the call of the loch and the placement of human features on its liquid form: ‘we pushed across the shingle/ till water lipped the sides/ as though the loch mouthed ‘boat’?’

In verse 2, we are alerted to the fact that part of the memory has been lost with time. It begins ‘I forget who rowed . . .’ There is an acknowledgement of fear, of risk involved, which only seems to add to the deliciousness of the sensation: ‘The oars’ splash, creak and the spill of the loch reached long into the night.’ And if there was any doubt of the loch being not just alive, but vibrantly so, then its ‘phosphorescence, so, like a twittering nest’ quashes all doubts. This is real. This is dazzling.

In verse 4, the element of risk is referred to again, but the reader is reassured that that this adventure was not fatal. The participants have gone on to have children (although, interestingly not with each other). This only strengthens the lack of permanence in this poem of moment. There is also a point where the couple take ownership of their surroundings and it feels as if this has been earned through taking a chance.

The ending brings safety, but also an ascendance, ‘high at the cottage shore’ as if this experience has been transformative, has given the participants power.

Throughout the poem, questions are asked, which is indicative of the sketchy quality of the memory, but also, I think, the lost presence of the other person, who is constantly addressed. Although this person lives, it seems likely they have chosen a separate path to the protagonist or voice of this poem.

The form of the poem perfectly compliments the subject matter. Many of the lines are long, lending themselves to story-telling. While verses 1 and 2 consist of 7 lines each, verses 3 and 4 contain 9 lines. There is a sense of overall growth and development.

In terms of structure, ‘The Blue Boat’ is a very different poem. It comprises of just six lines. An opening verse of four lines, followed by a concluding couplet. However, this is another boat on a journey, this time carrying the daylight steadily into darkness ‘with, slung from its mast, a lantern/ like our old idea of the soul.’

The terminology is pure magic and in its brief word-flash, it brings a curious illumination to the reader, leading into the next poem in the book, ‘Gloaming’ which also deals with light.

Of course, these poems are best read as part of their respective sections in the book, but I hope I have given a flavour of what Kathleen Jamie’s poetry has to offer; its ability to channel and embody aspects of nature and the wild journey of experience that is present throughout her words.

Kathleen Jamie, Selected Poems, published by Picador, 2018.