Aerial shot of the River Shannon meeting Lough Derg

I am grateful to have my poem ‘Visit’ published online by Bind Collective. You can read the poem here.

The poem was written in response to the home-sickness I experienced while living in the North of England. It was not a profound home-sickness; I enjoyed living in Newcastle immensely. Still, there was a peculiar ache, a small longing for home. Specifically the natural world of Ireland. I could telephone my friends and family as often as I liked, but I could not telephone the rivers or the lakes or the ocean.

The poem came about after a reading of Ocean Vuong and Robert Lowell. I had read an interview with Lowell where he mentions having been haunted by an image, which never made the final edit of his poem. The image of the River Shannon coming to visit me in England, by way of the water-cycle, was similarly an image that haunted me. Unlike Lowell, my haunting image remained a part of the poem.

I carried the image with me for months, placed neatly beside my little home-sick heart. It was Vuong’s poem ‘Threshold’ that allowed the poem to make its way onto the page. His phrase “the rain / falling through him: guitar strings snapping / over his globed shoulders.” was the turning point for me. It was this notion of transcendence, intertwined with the water and the music, that spurred me to actually write the poem. Vuong is a writer who explores identity. This aspect of his writing encouraged me to explore my own identity in relation to Ireland, and my absence from it.

Poetry Readings

Me (in red) reading in Ernest Café Bar, Newcastle February 2019 as part of the New Art Social

from another angle at the New Art Social February 2019

June 2019 MA Degree Show in Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts
Reading at Drink Art Bar, Newcastle, as part of Pantisocracy poetry event. February 2019
Reading at the inaugural event for Words on the Wall, Hexham March 2020
Reading in the Poetry School, London, as part of the MA Summer School 2019

Blog Contributions

I have had the pleasure of contributing to NU Music News.

Writing briefly for the blog I was introduced to new Canadian based musicians, and was afforded the opportunity to share my opinions on music.

Below are links to some of my short pieces included in the blog.

He Is

by Niamh O’Connell

Featured in The Quaryman Vol.III 2017

He is a cigarette finished in three pulls 

He is the silent appreciation of a joke

He is the tugged hairs of his beard 

And he is a furrowed brow

And yet he is a tear wiped away after the Soaps

He is the extra squeeze before releasing a hug

He is the text to ask if all is well

He is the unexpected “I’m proud”

The Dishwasher

by Niamh O’ Connell

First published poem, featured in The Quarryman Vol.II 2016

The dishwasher is done

Steaming glasses and shining cutlery

I unload it, stacking plates in the cupboard

On an upside down mug sits a puddle, I turn it over too fast

The splash on my foot is warm and wet

And I blush

Thinking of the wet warmth that fell on my thigh

Except you’re not here to kiss me as it cools