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Best of Irish Poetry 2010
Editor: Matthew Sweeney
Songs of Earth and Light
Barbara Korun poems translated by Theo Dorgan
Done Dating DJs
by Jennifer Minniti-Shippey
Winner, 2008 Fool for Poetry Competition
Richesses: Francophone Songwriter Poets
Edited and translated by Aidan Hayes
Munster Literature Centre
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Born in Donegal in 1952, Matthew Sweeney is based in Cork currently, having previously been resident in Berlin, Timişoara and, for a long time, London. His latest collection is Black Moon (2007). Several books prior to that include Sanctuary (2004) and Selected Poems (2002). A retrospective selection is forthcoming from Salt this year under the title The Night Post. Bilingual collections of Sweeney’s work came out in Germany and Holland in 2008. Earlier translations appeared in Mexico, Romania, Latvia and Slovakia.
for Elmar Schenkel
High over the Atlantic I remember
being brought to visit the alchemist—
a thin man with a crow-beak nose
who’d gone to Oxford with my grandpa,
then had made his name curing sick bees.
I can see again his pink cottage
down on the rocks, beyond Padstow,
with the black goat grazing outside.
I can hear his high-pitched laugh
as he goes off, whisky-glass in hand,
to bring back a drawer full of gold,
shining blobs of all sizes, which he
spread out on the glass coffee-table.
Here, he said, handing me the biggest,
Buy yourself a midget submarine—
there’s more where that came from.
I pocketed the smooth nugget, wishing
I could stay and become his apprentice,
but my grandpa hugged the alchemist
and brought me to the railway station.
As for my gold, I didn’t get to enjoy it—
my mother used it up on the new kitchen.
I flick on the flight-attendant light,
then ask the hostess for a large whisky.
©2010 Matthew Sweeney
Guardian Review: Black Moon
Sweeney's translation of Sigitas Parulskis in Southword
Bio and poems at Poetry International Web