And That’s The Thing – guest editorial by Mary Melvin Geoghegan
Mary Melvin Geoghegan has five collections of poetry published. Her most recent When Moon and Mother Collide (2018) Salmon Poetry. Her work has been published widely including Poetry Ireland Review, Hodges Figgis 250th Anthology, Poem on the DART 2018, The Sunday Times, Crannog, Skylight 47, THE SHOp, Cyphers, The Moth, The Stinging Fly, The Stony Thursday Book amongst others. In 2013 she won the Longford Festival Award, and shortlisted in 2015 for the Cuirt New Writing Award, in 2017 for the Fish Poetry Award, the Rush Poetry Award and the Padraic Colum Gathering 2018 Poetry Competition. She’s a member of the Writers’ in Schools Scheme with Poetry Ireland and has edited several anthologies of children’s poetry including the Eurochild anthology of children’s poetry and artwork. Her forthcoming collection There Are Only a Few Things will be published by Salmon Poetry in 2022.
I’m so pleased for the opportunity given to me by Mark Ulyseas to acknowledge how much I owe all the children and teachers I’ve worked with over the years. And especially to see published poems in this edition from where I live in County Longford – The Hidden Heartlands!
When I first started out it was just an idea scribbled down somewhere that perhaps I could inspire young minds and hearts in the way others had me when I first began writing poetry. And that’s the thing – I’ve learnt though it may come through us there’s always a catalyst: in an image, word, look, impression, thought, feeling, idea etc. that takes root and longs to find expression. Children just newly arrived are wide open and to be close to that space is a privilege. They have equally helped me to remain loyal to the potential and life giving presence that is constantly within and without waiting to be shaped.
‘Free The Butterfly’ began as a flyer – Children’s Poetry Workshops helping release the muse so young poets could flourish. I had loads printed up with the image of a butterfly on a buttercup. That flyer became my calling card, and would be picked up bringing me into contact with the future, like the retired Principal of Stonepark N.S. Eamonn Brennan, who was so devoted to poetry himself that he initiated a collection, A Hand in the Future, including a poem by every child in the school. That work was supported by Poetry Ireland’s Education Officer Jane O’Hanlon who launched the collection.
Later I met Maura Bradshaw from Bradshaw Books in Cork who invited me to be involved with Eurochild the anthology of Children’s Art and Poetry across the European Union. Being part of that team opened opportunities – visiting all the national schools in the surrounding counties especially in Co. Roscommon – where my parents were born. It was so special to visit the school in Lisacul in North Roscommon where they both went to school.
But, I have to say this journey really began with my friend, again a retired principal, Carmel Fallon who kindly invited me to Lanesboro to conduct a poetry workshop for students. And how that first leap of faith on her part would bring me into contact with enthusiastic teachers and talented children everywhere.
I’d like to remember my own father and sons, who always understood and supported the muse in me.
© Mary Melvin Geoghegan