Alice Kinsella – Mea Culpa

Profile Alice Kinsella LE Poetry & Writing September 2017

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Mea Culpa, poems by Alice Kinsella

Alice Kinsella was born in Dublin and reared in Co. Mayo on the West coast. She holds a BA in English Literature and Philosophy from Trinity College Dublin.

Her poems have been published in many journals and newspapers, including; The Sunday Independent, Headspace magazine, The Fem literary magazine, Poetry NI Holocaust Memorial Anthology, Poethead, Icarus, Headstuff, The Galway Review, Hungry Hills Wild Atlantic Words Anthology, Skylight47, Boyne Berries, A New Ulster, Live Encounters Magazine, The Ofi Press, The Stony Thursday Book, Banshee Lit, The Pickled Body, The Irish Times and Rochford Street Review.

She is included in Poethead’s indices ‘Women Poets’ and ‘Contemporary Irish Women Poets’.

Her work has been shortlisted for several competitions, including, the Annual Bangor Poetry Competition 2016, Hungry Hills Wild Atlantic Words Poetry Competition 2016 and the Over the Edge New Writer of the Year Competition 2016. She was commended in the Jonathan Swift Awards 2016. Her pamphlet was longlisted for the Cinnamon Press Pamphlet Prize 2017.

She was the assistant editor of Looking at the Stars, a limited edition anthology of Irish writing edited by Kerrie O’ Brien to raise money for the Rough Sleeper Team of the Dublin Simon Community. The anthology sold out and raised €21,190.29 for Dublin Simon Community.

Her debut play The Passing was staged as a part of ‘What’s the Story’ at the Liberties Festival 2016. It went on to be performed at Cruthú Arts Festival and Temple Bar Culture and Arts Festival in the same year, and as a part of Little Shadow Theatre’s New Irish Playbook in May 2017 in The Smock Alley Theatre. Her second short play And Now We… was chosen for ReActors  at Cruthú Arts Festival 2017.

She was a writer in residence with SICCDA (South Inner City Community Development Association) for 2017.

Her first book of poems, Flower Press, will be published in 2018.

For more details visit,, or follow me on twitter at @AliceEKinsella

Mea Culpa

Alleyway that ran between estates,
October moon out on full show,
beaming her smiles at us.

Cleaving of something within,
taste of vodka on breath-
white heat- a new burning.

The rust water running in the toilet bowl
and everyone asking where we’d been,
how he kept his hands in his pockets.

First frost of a new year, same old moon,
sitting in the playground doing multiplication
in my head, thinking It’s my own stupid fault.

The shivering shadow of my feet as I swung higher
than I ever had done when parents were watching.

The Dress

Because it’s short notice,
I can’t find anything to wear.

Leaf through sheaves of dresses
leftover from weddings, birthdays, graduations.
Not one fits this occasion, they all have stories already.

I choose one of forgotten origin,
a black dress with the white orchid silhouettes.

Not black enough,
the light always forces its way in.

During the service I finger the petal images,
praying in my mind to a god I don’t believe in,
just to find somewhere for my words to go.

I bring the dress home and hang it in my wardrobe,
keep it in my eye-line, a daily reminder of you.


For Conor McBride

In a blur of beer and students spurting spoken word
your poems unfurled into the air like turf smoke.
I, a mirror hungry for reflection, saw a glimmer of myself
in you, a communing of romantics drunk on words.

This was the year that I quivered over lost loves and memories
left unsaid, before I found the fight, the strength it all involved.
Which I heard in your words so bashfully delivered in that room
of strangers swilling pints all eyes upon the mic the spot you put
yourself upon. I pounced and blathered, cigarette in hand feeling
like a wildcat stalking a gazelle, to urge you please keep putting
pen to page I want to read it, give me poems, your modest wisdom.
Now, whether inked in verse, rehearsed on roofs in baking July
heat, or just the wine fuelled banter of late night Facebook chats,
I hear the revelations you’ve discovered, the beauty found in fears,
the possibilities that you’ve designed across continents and years.
It’s that which you have etched across your chest, the maps
you’ve made upon yourself, the lines you’ve drawn upon this life.

And though the years have dealt you blows
like cars on rainy nights, and left the smile
of an older man peeking through your eyes,
you give no time to licking wounds or hanging
head, but instead rise continually, patient as a gardener,
potent as a poet, the architect of your own life.

The Flu

There’s a fever rising in my blood,
brewing bubbling bloody hot.
Body slick with sweat pooling
in every corner, crevice, curve of me.
Sweat cold as sea water,
but it does not soothe me.

He brings me oranges
and peels them by my bedside.
Hands nimble like a monkey’s,
cracking the casing, tearing back the skin,
slipping slivers of the succulent meat between my lips.
Leaves nothing to waste.
The juice squeezed from rind
until it is dry and curling, looks sun dried.

He brings oranges to my sick bed
and admonishes me
for not getting enough Vitamin C.

He feeds me oranges like a priest,
except, purely-
no corruption of man like communion.
Oranges straight from the sky like sunbeams.

And the chill of them warms me,
and my fever subsides.

© Alice Kinsella

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