Sunday 17 May 2020

Poems from the Backroom 63: Jessamine O Connor

Jessamine O' Connor comes to the Backroom today. Jessamine was a vital facilitator of the Poets' Republic Poetry tour of Ireland which took four of us to Dublin, Boyle, Derry and Belfast last year and none of that would have been possible without her organisation, kindness and generosity. She's also a stunning poet. The video below is the series' only re-make and later on I may release the director's cut of the original. Jessamine 's email accompanying the video gives an insight into lock down in the old railway station she lives in at Ballaghaderreen on the Sligo/Roscommon border.

" I recorded this in the garden as there's nowhere quiet in the house, kids been home for 10 weeks now so we're making friends out of cardboard and paperbags and hanging out with them. Bernadette is a bag lady, Stanley is the dried up coconut that came months ago and hasn't left yet, Bob, Olaf and Goldie are a mixed bunch but there's a more dropping in later for cocktails...... this poem 'Welcome' just won an unpronounceable competition, the ... Comórtas Filíochta Chultúrlann McAdam Ó translation to Irish, and is written in the voice of the island if she could speak to refugees."

Jessamine O’Connor is a multiple award winner, having won the Poetry Ireland Butlers Café Competition 2017, the iYeats Poetry Competition 2011, and the Francis Ledwidge Award 2011; she has also been short-listed for others including the Doolin Writers Weekend 2020, Hennessy Literary Award, Over the Edge New Writer of the Year, Cúirt, and The Red Line Book Festival poetry competitions.

Recently her short poem-film ‘The Stranger’, made in collaboration with puppeteer Carmel Balfe, was shortlisted for the O’Bhéal International Poetry Film Competition 2019.

Her poems are published in Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, the USA, New Zealand, Mexico, and Spain – in translation. Journals include 'Abridged', 'Fifth Estate', 'The Stinging Fly', 'Poetry New Zealand', 'Ink Sweat & Tears', 'Crannóg', 'Ropes', 'The Poet’s Republic', 'The Cormorant', and 'New Irish Writing'. She has written five chapbooks and a stonking new collection, 'Silver Spoon' is due from the internationally renowned 'Salmon Press' later in the year. She organises the award winning 'Hermit Collective',

Here she Reads 'Welcome':

Loads and loads of information and other poems here:

An Interview about the impending 'Silver Spoon' here:

'The Stranger' Film Poem here:


after Mary Noonan’s house

If I had known, I would have said goodbye years before.

Not at the artificial grass graveside
or the airtight TV room where you all sat like stuffed animals,
but at your table, over the paintbrushes,

or on the coral strand, between sandwiches,
between swims, where I wallowed in the shallows
and admired your distant bobbing head trawling the horizon,

long before the vaporous woman seeped into you,
every year swelling, squeezing more and more out,
until there was only an occasional glint, or a short sharp smile.

There, up the powdery path, against your redbrick wall,
when you unclipped and lifted me from your daughter’s bike
and held me high over your face, naming me Snowbird.

It should have been then. If I had known, it would have been then.

(From Poethead)

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