The Narrow Way of Souls by Eileen Sheehan, published by Salmon Poetry with support of The Arts Council, Ireland
– Review by Mark Ulyseas.
Eileen Sheehan lives in Killarney and is originally from Scartaglen, in the Sliabh Luachra area of County Kerry. She has read at festivals in Ireland and abroad including The Shanghai Literary Festival; the ACIS Conference in Davenport, Iowa and The Cork International Poetry Festival. Anthology publications include The Watchful Heart: A New Generation of Irish Poets (editor Joan McBreen/ Salmon Poetry); Best Loved Poems: Favourite Poems from the South of Ireland (editor Gabriel Fitzmaurice with photographs by John Reidy/ Curragh Press) and The Deep Heart’s Core: Irish Poets Revisit a Touchstone Poem (editors Eugene O’Connell & Pat Boran/ Dedalus Press). Her third collection, The Narrow Way of Souls (Salmon Poetry) was launched in May 2018. One of the poems from this collection is on the Leaving Certificate English Syllabus 2019 – 2022. (Photograph by John Minihan)
There appears to be a trend on social media – poets churning out a poem a day like a fast food outlet. The subjects vary, the accompanying images striking and the mood “read my latest poem”. Much posing but lacking in substance, in spirit…perhaps reflecting an attempt to be, but not hitting the right spot.
Poeta nascitur, non fit*? Yes, poets are born like everyone else except that they possess a sense of the Divine and hence mould themselves into messengers. Eileen Sheehan is one of these messengers. She has worked tirelessly, traversing the lexicon and gathering words from the forests of happiness and sorrow, from the streams of thought running through her dreams, with an urgency… for all life fades fast. Capturing the moment like a firefly in cupped hands is the essence of her creations…momentary beauty and then lost forever in death.
The Narrow Way of Souls is a mosaic pathway to many worlds. The poet has carefully placed each piece of broken thought to make a delightful pattern for the reader to navigate, to experience, to awaken the inner being.
only this distance
And this follows, Where Are You…
Holds you in sleep you are stilled by its comforts;
By the fabrics absorbing the sweat you expel.
My cries go unheeded s I stand at the gate
Pleading admittance. There is no one to turn to
As you shed a layer of your skin while you lie there,
Dead to the world; my one reliable witness.
Death appears in a few poems. Perhaps the poet is reminding us of the balance that exists between light and dark and why we need to be aware that without death, life as we know it ceases to exist. There would be no arrival and departure gates. Nor places to rest from a weary life except in a graveyard.
nowhere to visit
but the graveyard
Faith and fate are twisted into twine that wraps around the stanzas in Trending on Twitter…
The Blessed Virgin Mary was due to appear
At eight pm, above the roadside grotto…
…Their spokesman was careful to avoid any questions
concerning Magdalene Laundries or the Tuam Babies,
and they couldn’t have The Ferns Report dug up again.
Virginity had always caused them so much bother.
Eileen tells us that religion and goodness are unrelated because the sanctimonious decide what is right and wrong, anyway. The opera of the absurd plays on the hour, every hour, to mimic our own shortcomings so as to camouflage the Truth… to refract the Light that shines through to our souls, The Narrow Way of Souls.
mother, do you like this calmness?
do you like these yellow petals I hold
up here in a world that never loved you enough,
the world you would never
allow to love you enough
I slip through the v in the wall
earth, be kind to my mother
earth, hold her gently
The poet, Eileen Sheehan, draws a fabulous montage of words and weaves them into a beautiful enchanted forest where one can roam free of the mendacities of life.
This is a book of poems that I would recommend to all those seeking to be real poets.
And to the readers of poetry – buy this book!
*Poets is born, not made
© Mark Ulyseas