I am amazed: I am 56 years old, a hardened, old experienced cynic (but easily pleased) and I have discovered that I can still feel tetchy, wobbly and not in control as I did in the days prior to the Cavan launch of my book, AT The Edge. I thought these days would be a time of happiness and excitement. I love to read my poems and to be centre stage is always fun. But as the day and then the hour drew near, I got more stuttery, stroppy and fretful! So, thank you, my poets, friends and family for easing me through (particularly Julie) and/or for ignoring my clumsy jitters. Of course, it was a wonderful evening. Friends came from near and far and I was very proud. As poet John Kelly emailed me afterwards, there was such warmth in the room.
I leave you with pictures and Noel Monahan’s words of which I am very proud. I am looking forward to the Galway launch on Friday about which I am feeling much more relaxed – thanks to Kevin and Susan who are organising the September Over The Edge Writers’ Gathering with a variety of readings by poets and fiction writers Clara Rose Thornton, Kernan Andrews, myself, Susan Lanigan, and Ruth Aylett.
“At The Edge by Kate Ennals. Launched by Noel Monahan, Town Hall, Cavan. Friday 4th. September 2015.
Delighted to be with you all in the Town Hall, Cavan, for the launch of “AT The Edge” by Kate Ennals, a Lapwing publication.
It is always a great privilege to read a new book of poetry and in this case to discover that Kate Ennals’ years of dedication to crafting her poetry are formally recognised and published in book form.
On first reading I like to look at the list of titles and the following in Kate’s first collection caught my attention at once: “ The Ancient Song Of The Pebble”, Please Can I Have A Man”, “The Cobbler”, “My School Child”, “Not The Pope, “ Whatever You Say Say Nothing”, “The Gull And The Cherry Picker”, “Home From Home”, “Cavan Forest”. There we have 9 memorable titles to start with.
The opening poem, “Spring Invasion” with its allegorical playfulness takes us outdoors to a land of plants and weeds: giant nettles, violet vetch. “As I Walk The Road”, furthers the theme of the outdoors to the rhythm of footsteps and the chance leap of the mind in thought. Kate Ennals works at crafting poetry and this is evident in “The Ancient Song Of The Pebble”, after William Blake. It is great to know poets continue to read the visionary London poet William Blake. He believed that every person is divine and everything that lived is holy. “The Clod & The Pebble”: “So sung a little Clod of Clay, Trodden with the cattle’s feet, But a pebble of the brook, Warbled out these metres meet:
“The Emigrant’s Song”, starts with London and the poet reflects on what might have happened had she stayed in London: Saturday I’d meet the girls / for breakfast in Camden Market /We’d gossip, laugh, catch up / Plan a visit to the Tate”
and the second part of the poem deals with the compensations of living in Ireland. “I’d never enjoy trad music / Gaze up at the star studded nights / I’d never stoop over a vegetable patch / Or walk the lane in moonlight.”
Talking about moonlight and the romance of it all, “ Please Can I Have A Man” after Selima Hill, is hilariously funny and one of my favourite poems in this chapbook. It’s the type of poem that strikes a balance and prevents us from becoming too serious about poetry and ourselves.
In sharp contrast we have the more sinister subject matter as in the poem “The Cobbler and “A Christmas Visit”. Characters are recalled. The shadow side of life pokes its head around the door.
The poem “Snow Tones” has a settling effect and a flavour of Louis MacNeice’s style ; “Compacted light seeps from corners and beams / Electrifies pale pink walls, and dreams blanket the floor” . This is poetry with images embracing sound .
There is intimate poetry at play in the poem: “My School Child” and it captures real feelings and touches our soul. “My heart a little bruised / As I exit off stage / And leave her at school.” Further on in the collection you find a similar poem: She Sits On My Shoulder”. “Nowhere Special To Go” (for Martin Ennals) furthers the subject matter of intimacy. “Seedlings Of Hope”deals with growth and it illustrates Kate Ennals’love of the soil and her willingness to get her hands dirty. The tone of the poem illustrates a willingness on Kate’s part to explore the clay. It reminded me of the opening to Kavanagh’s poem “The Great Hunger”: “ “Clay is the word and clay is the flesh”. Stormy Weather is a fine example of the Villanelle, a style and form of poetry going all the way back to Jean Passeret (1534 – 1602 ) five tercets and a final quatrain. “The Songs On My Way” is a poem Kate Ennals brought to a workshop I was giving earlier this year. “The Scene Is Set” is a specialist style of concrete poetry with its quirky design of words on the page. All in all we are treated to a wide range of styles in this first collection. The final poem “Cavan Forest” leaves us outdoors : “Autumn fire skims the trees / A rage of red and golden flame/ Burns between the falling leaves / So framed, it looks such a peaceful scene.”
It is idyllic poetry of a pastoral kind. There is no agenda in this collection here with politics or any particular religion. It is pure soul in the form of a response to nature and to childhood, to love, to life. This inner vision of happiness is something we need in Cavan, in Ireland at this particular moment as we plod from day to day in what might be described as a Spiritual Famine. AT The Edge is Kate’s songs of her Hesperides, Her “ Garden of the Golden Apples”, her fountain of love poetry for Gowna, Cavan, Dublin, London where streets and fields, people, old and young, plants, birds, animals, flowers, food offer delight to the soul and body. A sense of freedom prevails throughout her writing.
AT The Edge is beautifully produced by Lapwing. I congratulate Lapwing on their success and determination to survive. This publishing house was established in 1988, in Belfast by Dennis and Rene Grieg. They have published such names as : James Simmons, Professor Maurice Harmon, Padraig Fiaac and many others. They have published Co. Longford poets: Margaret Nohilly, Mary Melvin Geoghegan, Rose Moran and now in County Cavan; Kate Ennals.
And finally to sum up At The Edge: The out-doors fuels Kate Ennals’ imagination. We inhale the air of happy living, where time is measured in poetic footsteps. This collection will ignite your imagination. There is evidence of a love of William Blake in Kate’s writing. You will enjoy this new collection.”
The book can be ordered by sending a cheque to Kate Ennals, Drumbriste House, Loch Gowna, Cavan or purchased in Crannog Bookshop in Cavan or Charlie Byrnes in Galway (from Friday) or ordered from any good bookshop. The publisher is Lapwing.