Best of Irish Poetry 2009
Best of Irish Poetry 2010

Editor: Matthew Sweeney



Songs of Earth and Light

Songs of Earth and Light
Barbara Korun poems translated by Theo Dorgan



Done Dating DJs
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

Create your badge






Arts Council



Cork City Council



Foras na Gaeilge



Cork County Council







Valerie NiemanValerie Nieman’s second poetry collection, Hotel Worthy, was published in 2015. She is also the author of a collection of short fiction and three novels, the most recent being Blood Clay, which received the Eric Hoffer Award for General Fiction. She has held creative writing fellowships from three states and the National Endowment for the Arts. A graduate of Queens University of Charlotte and a former journalist, she teaches writing at North Carolina A&T State University.






Looking West from Iona




The waves come into the small bay

where Columba beached his currach,


rumbling in the pebbles, casting up

bits of sea-drift, fragments of language


not to be interpreted. My mother's ashes

went into the sea off a North Carolina pier,


slipping back and forth across the sand flats,

bone bits settling, finer sediment drawn


into the gapes of filter feeders. Wishing won't,

praying can't bear even a molecule as far


as the Gulf Stream and this shore—there's not a bit

of her dust in all that water, though I lift it by handfuls


and pour it back into the startling turquoise sea

draped around this island. I face west,


but no Blessed Isles out there, just shore after shore

where life comes in the end to slime or grit—


the grave or cindered bones

that cling to the hand that tosses them.



* * * * *



Iona, beyond the lip of the world,

where Columba's monks abandoned


their boats and bent to the hill

under their burden of Christian light,


following a saint who, when the walls of his church

would not stand up, sent a brother down


to prop them. More than one power in the world,

God above and gods below to be propitiated.


After three days, Columba had to know. Unearthing

Odhran, he heard from his lips that neither death


nor hell were as believed. “Earth, earth,”

Columba cried, to stop the mouth tumbling words


from the other side. Better not to know.

I pick up a small stone, white marble


streaked green, Columba's stone, and add it not

to pilgrim cairns nor to the sea,


but put it in my pocket

as ballast.



©2016 Valerie Nieman



Author Links


Valerie Nieman home page

Valerie Nieman author page on Facebook

Selection of poems from Hotel Worthy at Connotation Press







©2009 Southword Editions
Munster Literature Centre

Southword 6 Southword No 7 Southword No 8 Southword No 9 Southword No 10 Southword 11 southword 12 Southword No 14 Southword No 15