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.

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