Sunday 7 October 2018

Micéal Kearney's Launch Notes Boyne Berries 24

Hello there,

I’d like to thank Órla, and the Committee, for asking me to launch Boyne Berries 24. I was in Sweden visiting family when she emailed to ask me and I remember looking behind me to check if there was someone else there that she was asking.

I’ve often said that when putting a collection together; that the last poem in it is the running order of the poems. And it’s the same with this. Upon reading and rereading the magazine I was taking a journey that spanned the full breath of the human experience. Of course each poem and story brought me its own journey but the magazine, as a whole, from the first poem to the last story… the best way I can describe it; it was like a boomerang: it brings you off far away but takes you right back home. Where it all starts and ends.

The first thing that struck me was the stunning cover. Man and nature existing together. Or so it seems at first. To quote Agent Smith: appearances can be deceiving, Mr. Anderson. The more I read I got a sense of the helplessness of humanity but in a cosmic way.

In the first poem Orchard by Emma McKervey, she humbly admits – It is a skill I do not own but whilst negotiating/the furrows and ridges of the plantation/searching for windfalls I know to halt by the scars. I enjoyed the honesty of that line as it takes a lifetime to master a skill. Also, there’s one line: they hold tight the acid which fizzes/on the gums long after each bite is swallowed reminded me of Apple Jacks. So in-between mastering our work skills we try to figure ourselves out which brings me to Polly Richardson and her poem VoidTo what extent to do I exist,/Like other realms, overweening Gods/Of Gods commands.

I enjoyed the story The Alps by Kate Ennals. I liked this one in particular as part of growing up is when we discover that in family member’s nostalgia glasses are often calibrated differently to yours. And in the poem Rooms by Deirdre Clay; we all have those fond and shaping memories of grandparents.

So after we master our work skills, figure ourselves out; we’re finally mature enough to go off to war. Where Eithne Cavanagh in Paper Knife poignantly puts it – the stench of fear and mustard gas/were the same for every soldier. And if you’re lucky enough to survive, as a reward, you get to watch your loved ones grow old and die. And what can you do? To quote Peadar O'Donoghue and his poem Oh Death, you're incorrigible!off to the nearest bar, to wait our turn.

I looked after my Gran for years; so poems like Memory by Anthony Wade – Once a hinge from which her family securely hung and Threshold by Brian Kirk – He continued to rule though he shrank as you grew really resonated with me. Then there’s a story: Of Men and Dogs by Steve Wade – the toll it takes on both the family member and carer. And how we can often carry it with us for years afterwards. And the rest of the poems and stories cover the other rollercoasters in life of regret, remorse and everything inbetwixt. Including Dogs by Oliver Mort.

There’s 2 poems that beautifully accentuate the other. And they are: A poem must by Eamonn Lynskey. Where he writes – be radiant/ despite the darkness nurtured it, … suffer its gethsemanes and afflict them, sense beneath the rib/an exultation flood his soul. Which leads onto the poem that I kept coming back to. Every time I discovered and found something new and that was: A forge like this by Arthur Broomfield. A superb poem.

With all that said, getting back to the cover; so long after we’re all gone, Nature and the animals will be left. And they’ll reclaim and play in our great houses of nothing. But however vast the eternal void is, it’s the small things we occupy our time with like finding love and the treasures that it brings that makes life so memorable, meaningful and magical. To quote Mike Gallagher in Turfmanwe are, all of us, the kids/we were at four years old,/ still doing the things/we've always done,/ always.

I’ve said the whole magazine captures the human experience but if that could be boiled down to one piece, it would be the last story: I’ve got the Down and Dirty Blues by Caroline Carey Finn which takes place at Tipsters Tiles and Toiletry Appliances Limited. I don’t want to say too much about it but I love the juxtaposition of the younger staff and their perspectives versus the more experienced and jaded staff. And the reality of the situation.

So. That’s enough from me so I do declare Boyne Berries 24 launched. Thank you and goodnight.

Micéal Kearney 04/10/2018

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