Author of three collections published by Doire Press, in 2016 - 2018 Susan's poems have appeared, among elsewhere, in: The Cafe Review, Oregan, USA - Gather In, in a Special Irish Edition; Bosom Pals,Ed Marie Cadden (Doire Press, 2017) an anthology entirely in aid of Breast Cancer Research in the National UniveristyHospital, Galway and When They've Grown Another Me in Poetry Ireland Review, Dec 2018. January 2018 has seen her poems Commended in the Gregory O'Donoghue Poetry Competition.

She has been an invited reader of her poems at local readings in Galway, Cork and Dublin and at festivals, including the Belfast Book Festival, Cuirt International Festival of Literature and Clifden Arts Festival. Her poems have been read on radio.

Susan completed her degree in social science and qualified as a professional social worker in Trinity College, Dublin 1975. She was a psychotherapist, trainer, facilitator and occasional consultant to organisations for over thirty years until her retirement in 2012. Drawing together her writing with her earlier skills she has written interviews and facilitated conversations mediated by poetry. She continues to work on a manuscript relating the story of starting out in poetry and a mid-life move West along with occasional other creative non-fiction pieces.

Her workshop Having a New Conversation: About Dreaming was listed on the The Cuirt International Festival of Literature Programme (2015) and she facilitates similar workshops on a variety of themes, discussed through the medium of poetry, regularly and occasionally in local community settings.

While a founding editor of Skylight 47 Susan interviewed: then Ireland Professor of Poetry, Harry Clifton; Kay Ryan, former US Poet Laureate invited to Ireland by Dromineer Literature Festival and Dani Gill who talks about curating The Cuirt International Literature Festival. Her most recent interview, of Maeve O'Sullivan, appears in The Honest Ulsterman February, 2018.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Between Times: Advent

 I nearly miss it in a sudden rush to get things done.

The quiet low light and deep peace of early December that is Advent in the Christian calendar and my favourite time of year.  The rush is less about truly preparing for the festivities ahead than about panicking that I may not do so in time. Then I reassure myself: that my Christmas preparations have usually been last minute; if I’m going to panic it might as well be at the last moment - having first allowed myself to feast on quietude, low light and forthcoming solstice images of the sunlight entering the passage tomb at Newgrange.

It is not a recipe for a well-prepared Christmas time and the conflict is familiar at all times of year. 

Christmas reminds me of the inspiring Child in the manger of my childhood and the gathering of gifts, going to church and to grandparents on Christmas day and to the other side of the family the Sunday before. Then there was the total magic of first visiting Dublin’s Olympia theatre and seeing sparkling ballet dancers in the pantomime on Boxing Day - more regularly known in Ireland as St. Stevens’ Day. The conflict in my Irish identity begins early. I find the material rush and hype from mid-November antithetical to everything Christmas once meant to me.

I’m a natural contrarian. 

I’ve only to know I must do something to be equally sure there are a thousand reasons not to and while I like to dream of creating something wonderful, involving myself in the necessary actions to bring it about is altogether another matter. It’s not helped by wanting to attend:  to listen and connect - rather than get on with managing, doing and administrating.

One year I began my December alone in a cottage beside the sea and bare trees reading Harry Potter. 

That was a magical time. The sojourn informed an early poem written in response to a brief piece by the poet Paul Durcan that appeared in The Irish Times Magazine one Christmas. Despite it being a poem susceptible to evoking cringes, I enclosed it in a letter of appreciation I wrote to him and he was good enough to reply with a Christmas card wishing me a flurry of snow that did indeed appear on the big Day. A few years later I made it to having a permanent home across the field from that magical small house.

A Woman’s Prayer for New Year

After Paul Durcan

Waiting for the tides to turn, I am held by the soft touch of trees and blessed by holy water from the well in a fairy wood. I dance on the shoreline and swim in the deep.

In silent prayer I wait for a compatible man who can bear the pain of touch. He will be a man of prayer and consideration who loves to have fun.

My laugher and shouts of joy at the sparkling stars and the morning sun on the rising tide will rouse him. He will not be afraid to hold my hand as, with listening and full hearts, we entrust ourselves to the ocean.

He will see the way at times when waves submerge me, carry turf when I’m weary of the burden of understanding. Sometimes he’ll proffer soothing touch and defer solutions and I will revel in the warmth of his shining light and be saved by the clarity of its beam touching land across water.

He will stay awhile before returning to his cave, more of a home now he’s free to come and go and I will savour solitude the more for knowing

he will return.

2016 has been all about taking my leave of that home on the shores of Galway Bay that verges on the Burren.

 The home that Gordon D’Arcy says in his gorgeous new book, The Breathing Burren (Collins Press 2016), is at the end – or head of a sleeping giant. I can’t remember which and my books are still, much lamentedly, in storage while I further make space for them so I can’t immediately check. But you can buy his book in most bookstores. It would make a great gift to give – to others or youself.  

The year has also been about taking my leave of so many of the artefacts of family history. 

I moved into the house the year after my mother died, my father had done so nine years earlier. It became the repository of so much. I lived there alone yet experienced it as the family home I formerly yearned. In my last days there it occurred to me it has been a kind of archetypal family home fulfilling the fissures of earlier desire and longing and having done so, leaving me free now to enjoy new terrains that appear more suitable for the next stage of my life.

As an apprentice verse-maker the process has seen me visited by Kali

The Goddess Kali is the destroyer  but also the other side of the Lord Shiva, the giver, of life inspiring one of the longest poems I’ve attempted.

Today, published in Spontaneity

I see that the poet Aoife Reilly, both a former fellow Skylight poet and a more recent incumbent of that first magic cottage, has a poem Spontaneous Love published in the new edition of the online magazine Spontaneity. There’s one of my own there too. I submitted The Line in response to an interview with Kate Dempsey talking about her book The Space Between from Doire Press  Doire also published my poetry collections Whispering the Secrets and  Fear Knot. 

You can read the poems Spontaneous Love and The Line in Spontaneity  

and follow the link to Kate Dempsey and enjoy the spectacular artwork and images and follow further Spontaneity links here at 

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