Throughout the month of March, Trasna is featuring Irish language writers. This week, we are pleased to share the work of Doireann Ní Ghríofa. Included in this post is a video of her poem: “Under a Fridge Magnet is a Photo of Grandmother as a Schoolgirl.” The poem is read in Irish by the poet, and includes the English translation.
Doireann Ní Ghríofa, an essayist as well as a poet, recently won the Irish Book of the Year 2020 for ‘A Ghost in the Throat’, her prose debut. Part essay, part memoir, ‘A Ghost in the Throat’ recounts Ní Ghríofa’s connection with the eighteenth-century poet Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill, and her masterpiece, “Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire.” “When we first met, I was a child, and she had been dead for centuries.” ‘A Ghost in the Throat’ is set to be released this June in the U.S.
Doireann Ní Ghríofa’s
“Under a Fridge Magnet is a Photo of Grandmother as a Schoolgirl”
Faoi Mhaighnéidín Cuisneora, tá Grianghraf de Mhamó mar Chailín Scoile,
agus ag cúl an reoiteora
tá gríscíní, raca agus rí uaineola
corp agus cnámha, cosa reoite –
bladhm faoi oighear.
Deir céad-dlí Newton
go bhfanfaidh gach corp
ag gluaiseacht faoi threoluas
mura ngníomhaíonn fórsa seachtrach air.
Caillte: na crúibíní
a rinne poc-rince ar chliathán
cnoic trí sholas na gréine
ag dul faoi, dearg-bhuí.
Under a Fridge Magnet is a Photo of Grandmother as a Schoolgirl,
and at the back of the freezer
are chops, a rack, and legs of lamb
body and bone, frozen limbs –
a spark in ice, grown still.
Newton’s first law states
that a body will remain in motion
at the same velocity, unless acted on
by an external force.
Absent: the hooflets
that skip-jigged over a hill
where the red-yellow light
of sunset spilled.
Doireann Ní Ghríofa is a poet and essayist. ‘A Ghost in the Throat’ was named Irish Book of the Year 2020, and described as “glowing” (Anne Enright), “captivatingly original” (The Guardian), “sumptuous” (The Sunday Times), and a “masterpiece” (Sunday Business Post). Doireann is also author of six critically-acclaimed books of poetry, each a deepening exploration of birth, death, desire, and domesticity. Awards for her writing include a Lannan Literary Fellowship (USA), the Ostana Prize (Italy), a Seamus Heaney Fellowship (Queen’s University), and the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, among others.
Author photo: Clare Keogh