Irene Kyffin – In Pursuit

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In Pursuit, poems by Irene Kyffin

Of Irish-Jewish descent, Irene moved to London when she was 20.  In her 40’s, she took a degree for the teaching of Drama and followed this with a Masters in Social Anthropology.  Irene has taught in Secondary and Primary school, interspersed with University, ending her full-time teaching career in Further Education.  There, she trained in Dyslexia, worked in this area for fourteen years and ran tutor workshops.

As well as writing poetry, Irene created a programme of jazz/poetry fusion with the great jazz pianist Stan Tracey on the work of Gerard Manley Hopkins, which she presented at many Literary Festivals around the UK.  Irene has written papers and given talks on Hopkins over a number of years in the US and Ireland, doing readings as well. In Denver, Colorado, where Irene was delivering academic papers, she ran Shakespeare workshops and taught English and American Literature. Irene worked with the Latin-American jazz saxophonist, Carlos Chavez.  Currently, Irene is exploring another jazz/poetry venture with the violinist and pianist, Alan Parmenter. She is still working in dyslexia and gives public lectures on the subject.


In a smoked glass bottle
I am cut off
from worldly warmth.

In a smoked glass bottle
breath is shallow
with tireless tension.

In a smoked glass bottle
I am locked away;
it is lonely, lachrymose.

To the smoked glass bottle
of my childhood
I return regardless.

From this smoked glass bottle
I stare out helplessly
with a hooded hunger

at the worldly warmth
I cannot recapture.

The City

We are held in thrall, subject to
the capillary tension
of the city.

We drive:  are driven
by its cohesive force;
draw sustenance from its energy.

The phalanx of the city’s lights
teases the night sky;
impoverishes its natural discourse.

The sky becomes an abyss
robbed of its narrative: the city
turns in on itself.

Rivers, streams, canals:
The constant flow of water,
mediated by gravitational forces
suffers the push and pull
of a life-giving calibration.

The city draws on this potent traction:
it is a distillation
of the country’s reach.


multi-dimensional, I thought;
then there was the arc of a rainbow,
A shooting gallery of colour:
infinity’s natural hologram.

Space allows a painting its significance.
Lines carve through space:  outlines
give shape – a face or a body;
substance needs space
to allow knowledge of its nature.
Mondrian’s well-sharpened lines
delineate his spaces;
here we struggle for ourselves.

Each thought needs a quiet space.

In an empty room space provides
episodes of time that reach beyond
and the day before
to a long-ago past:
a once-upon-a-time past – a myth
that hardly brushes against reality.

The dying take with them our history:
leave an unresolvable space
that widens to a great gulf.


The little girl skips along
With her father
She is gathering nuts and may
In the ice

Her words sail unrestricted up in the crisp air
In time with her shoes, striking
Briskly on the rime-sharpened ground
This is where they grow together

Now dormant, still underground
Is a consciousness, waiting to surface,
Along with their belonging to one another
Of the necessity of difference

© Irene Kyffin

2 Replies to “Irene Kyffin – In Pursuit”

  1. Hey Irene
    Well done.
    You probably don’t remember me but I taught with you in Wembley High then I was on the maths team in Brent.
    I sailed to South Africa in the yacht I was building: here I publish nautical books, among other things.
    Tom .

  2. Oh my gosh, Tom, how amazing. Life has done some things to us clearly. Do tell me more. You seem to have said two things – that you were taught with me in WHS and that you were on the maths team in Brent. Was this concurrent? What was your role with the Brent team? Are you in touch with anyone from WHS? I passed by there a few years ago and saw the place had changed radically.

    When you say nautical books, a particular aspect or general? How did this happen? When did you leave the UK? And the most interesting question – what causes you to be looking into an obscure Irish website publishing poetry?

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