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Richesses: Francophone Songwriter Poets
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MATTHEW SWEENEY

 

Matthew Sweeney

Matthew Sweeney was born in Donegal, Ireland in 1952. He moved to London in 1973 and studied at the Polytechnic of North London and the University of Freiburg. His poetry collections include A Dream of Maps (1981), A Round House (1983), Blue Shoes (1989), Cacti (1992), The Bridal Suite (1997) and A Smell of Fish (2000). Selected Poems, representing the best of 10 books and 20 years' work, was published in 2002. He won a Cholmondeley Award in 1987 and an Arts Council Writers' Award in 1999. He has also published poetry for children, collections including The Flying Spring Onion (1992), Fatso in the Red Suit (1995) and Up on the Roof: New and Selected Poems (2001). His novels for children include The Snow Vulture (1992) and a new book, Fox (2002).

Matthew Sweeney has held residencies at the University of East Anglia and the South Bank Centre in London, and was Poet in Residence at the National Library for the Blind as part of the 'Poetry Places' scheme run by the Poetry Society in London. His latest collections are Sanctuary (2004) and Black Moon(2007).

 

3 poems by Sigitas Parulskis, translated by

Matthew Sweeney

 

CLEANING

a woman cleans her make-up,
moistens a cotton pad
with liquid that smells of sin
and that last kiss,
then changed, she goes to sleep, her dreams
soft and
bright as the cotton pad, and smelling
of apples and dewy grass

a man enters
her domain, afraid to touch
what’s forbidden, and then
be turned into a frog, rat
or lizard,
shifts the small bottles, brushes,
cases, all the time getting more nervous, feeling
a rising annoyance – where is it, where is
that rag or liquid
designed to clean the mind with

and she, why can she every evening
with one stroke wipe
her face clean, oh I,
how I’d love to wipe off, scrape off
and start every day clean
where, in the devil’s name, where,
and with what, can I clean off what I am

 

_____

 

 

UNDERGROUND GARAGES

I love underground garages, cool, crammed
with twilight, parking
slots you dive into, as into Pluto’s realm, and later
come back into light, afraid to look in the rearview
mirror in case you’ve left something vital
there, under the ground
mythology here is offside –
to put it simply, a green sign shines out ‘Spaces Free’
in the evening twilight,
which means that there
under the ground, spaces are free

there’s something very human about a garage, people
arrive in cars,
abandon them and go somewhere, shoved by their worries
and joys, and return later,
sit in their motion machines and transport themselves
completely elsewhere, to the city’s edge, its suburbs, to another
city, to another world, however they manage it

one day each and every one of us will leave
our motion
machines, our bodies, and transport ourselves
there, where spaces are, where
spaces are never lacking,
where it doesn’t smell of petrol, of fresh snow, of rain,
of sperm, of tears, of treason, where there are no
windscreen wipers, no warning signs,
where no one speeds because all motorways,
even the fastest, bring to mind a falling
shadow breathing, and more than that, nothing –
if the essence of this word
could surpass itself

 

_____

 

 

SHOEBURNING

lighting the bonfire I remember
my son trying on my shoes
as if trying me on

shoes are a lodging, a home for the feet
the lost son’s shelter
in which lived time resides

each time we celebrate new shoes
we hope we’ll get farther than they promise

my son wears my shoes
I don’t know, still can’t ascertain
if a part of me has returned to the house of shoes
or if a part is gone already, and which part would be better,
and how many shoes I’ll be given, and how many homes
I’ll never live in

I look at the flames
which spirit away my dead father’s shoes
that he’ll live in forever

_____

 

Author Links

Matthew Sweeney home page

Buy Sweeney's 'Black Moon' from Cape

Sigitas Parulskis on Wikipedia

 

 

   
 
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and
Munster Literature Centre
   

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