Articles in PDF format
In a Doll’s House… This poem was written in Hamburg and it is included in my latest collection, Ripple Effect. In it I have tried to convey our attachments to unimportant experiences we might have considered important at one time – but in the end we must confront ourselves and our helplessness in the face of passing time. We spend our time trying to conform, fit in, and to making others conform to our definition of how things ought to be. Why?
Moon Phases…This very short poem, Moon Phases, grew out of a conversation I had with my son one evening out walking in Hamburg. It was full moon. We looked up. He told me about men on the moon and I tried to talk about the man in the moon. I was about to tell him the man on or in the moon was imaginary when, suddenly, I realised time had passed and man had gone to the moon since my childhood. We were on two different planets.
Ripple Effect … This short poem, Ripple Effect, is the title poem in my latest poetry collection, Ripple Effect, and I feel it says a lot about the swings and roundabouts of human fortune. I have always felt decisions get made for us…as young people, we set out to create ripples with a plethora of ideas and expectations and later we wonder at the outcome of these choices – this, at least, has been my experience.
As a boy in the west of Ireland, I would spend hours casting stones of different shapes and weights out on to the flat surfaces of lakes and rivers. I would try to adjust my style to get an extra bounce out of my stone…and I would try to count the ripples when my stone fell plop.
In the end… This poem, In the End, was commissioned by Tuam Cancer Care in County Galway, Ireland. Being such a sensitive subject, it took me a long time to write. I was aware that people who come to this centre don’t usually survive cancer. I imagined a person coming to terms with their destiny, waiting for their spirit to float out through the ‘open window’.
Peregrinus – This poem stems from a time when my son, Sean and I loved walking the streets of Hamburg. We still talk about those charmed journeys without an end in themselves, but they were a time of bonding when we often talked about Ireland, its tales and our ancestors. The poem tries to depict my struggle with life; with voices from the past that I felt had blocked me. I needed to get away and being away I could look back at the journeys of my forefathers and my own passing time. “I walk this city with my son”…” I have a tale and he will tell it after my feet stop in their age.”
Elder Tree Rejuvenated – after Sally McKenna’s sculpture – This poem, Elder Tree Rejuvenated, is dedicated to my friend, the sculptor, Sally McKenna, of Glore Mill Art Centre. Over a cup of tea, she took me through her experiences of not respecting nature. We looked at a most wonderful piece of her work – an Elder tree – in steel, brass and painted canvas. We must first ask nature’s permission, she would say. When I returned to my house, a few miles away, I wrote this poem.
Tree Music – This short poem, Tree Music, came to me one morning while looking out of the kitchen window into our wild Irish garden. I grew up here. It was early morning. Joanna, my wife, drew my attention to the rising sun blazing onto a young beech tree we had planted a few years previously. As Irish sun does not blaze all that often, the moment was all the more special. Rain is never far away. The poem is included in my latest poetry collection, Ripple Effect, (publisher: Arlen House), to be launched at the Irish Embassy in Berlin in the first week in June.
Nothing’s Fair – I have written lots of poetry for children. I suppose the inspiration for it comes from my work in schools, which I enjoy very much. I have often read, Nothing’s Fair for adults as well as for children, and I always think that when adults get a laugh out of a children’s poem, there must be something in it for everybody.
Limbo – Growing up in a very Catholic environment in the west of Ireland, I was very conscious of Limbo as a state or place where non-baptised children were to exist, without ever seeing the face of God, for all eternity. It was bad enough for a mother to lose a child, but the thought of Limbo was tragic. These children could not be buried in consecrated ground, but it is said that mothers baptised their stillborn babies themselves in the hope that they could see the face of God. Burial often took place after dark, in secret, by fathers or close relatives. I found this so unjust as a child. Thankfully Limbo is no longer an article of faith.
Irish poet and dramatist, Terry McDonagh, www.terry-mcdonagh.com, taught creative writing at the University of Hamburg and was Drama Director at the Int. School Hamburg for 15 years, He now works freelance. He has been writer in residence in Europe, Asia and Australia. He’s published seven poetry collections, a book of letters, as well as prose and poetry for young people Translated into Indonesian and German and distributed internationally by Syracuse Uni. Press. His latest poetry collection: Ripple Effect in due for publication in May/June 2013 – Arlen House, and his next children’s story, Michel the Merman, illustrated by Marc Barnes (NZ), is to be published in September 2013. He lives in Hamburg and Ireland.