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Best of Irish Poetry 2009
Best of Irish Poetry 2010

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Songs of Earth and Light

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FRED JOHNSTON

 

 

Fred Johnston

Fred Johnston was born in Belfast in 1951 and educated there and Toronto, Canada. Received Hennessy Literary Award for prose in 1972, judges V.S.Pritchett and James Plunkett. Received Sunday Independent Short Story and Poem of the Month awards in 1981 and 1982 respectively. Has published four novels, eight collections of poetry (including Browne, a long poem, from Lapwing Poetry, and True North, Salmon Poetry, published April 1997), had three plays performed. Most recent novel, The Neon Rose, based in the Paris legal world, was published by Bluechrome to acclaim from The Irish Times. New collection of poetry from Cinnamon, UK, The Oracle Room, appeared October 2007. Orangeman, a collection of stories in French, appeared from Terre de Brume (France) in October 2010. In 2011, his second volume of stories, Dancing In The Asylum, was published by Parthian (UK).  Founder of Galway's annual international literature festival, CÚIRT, in 1986. This year (2013) he received an Arts Council Bursary in Literature.

 

 

Salvage

 

There she is, poised on the deck stairway

one leg angled forward and an iceberg

like a cracked tooth tilting on her horizon

 

my father trolled in a Chinese laundry

                   hair slicked like an oil-spill

                   waiting for her ship to come in

 

you have to hand it to them, their innocence

the war over, it was roses all the way:

when she wanted to come back, he folded

                   up like a dollar bill in a jeans pocket

 

so for me, the kid who couldn't take it in

nothing to bargain with but helplessness

Canada was cruising me like a virus

                   Ireland was corpse-grey and cold

 

when they fought it was like drowning

                   you could feel the room break

                   the house torn open and water

 

rushing through. Down we dived

in a flounder of recrimination, deep

where old bones grate against one another

 

they'd no buoyancy left, these adventurers

                    yelling for rescue and everything,

                    each year, hope and sinew, beyond salvage.

 

 

©2013 Fred Johnston

 

 

Author Links

 

Six poems by Fred Johnston in the Galway Review

Interview with Johnston in the Galway Advertiser

Johnston at Irish Writers Online

 

 

 

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