Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Ireland's best loved

 Seamus Heaney's "While all the others were away at mass" has been chosen as Ireland's best loved poem in a poll. From Clearances III - In Memoriam M.K.H., 1911-1984, it recalls a morning he shared with his mother, peeling potatoes. 
Harvey loved Heaney's work and he would have thoroughly approved of this choice. I'm posting this as a belated tribute for St Patrick's Day, in memory of my two mothers. One was connected with Ireland by birth and one by marriage.
When all the others were away at Mass
I was all hers as we peeled potatoes.
They broke the silence, let fall one by one
Like solder weeping off the soldering iron:
Cold comforts set between us, things to share
Gleaming in a bucket of clean water.
And again let fall. Little pleasant splashes
From each other’s work would bring us to our senses.
So while the parish priest at her bedside
Went hammer and tongs at the prayers for the dying
And some were responding and some crying
I remembered her head bent towards my head,
Her breath in mine, our fluent dipping knives–
Never closer the whole rest of our lives.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Feminists: Why are we still here?

Recently I was asked to contribute to "Why are we still here?", a Commonwealth Writers blog about feminism for International Women's Day on 8 March.

My post went up on the day itself, with a new one going up every day since. More will go up over the next week, including:

Maori academic Ella Henry on indigenous women’s rights, and the need for women to re-politicise their personal lives.

Right now you can read:

- Poet and playwright Sitawa Namwalie on the incremental fight against deep-rooted gender equality in Kenya

Urvashi Butalia, founder of India’s Zubaan Books, on the changing landscape of feminist publishing and its relevance today

- Writer and academic Martine Delvaux on the importance of feminist writing in countering the erasure of women in Canada

- Film activist Marian Evans on the deficit of complex female protagonists in New Zealand’s film industry

- Trinidadian activist and artist Ellen O’Malley Camps on carnival theatre, working in a maximum security prison and fifty years of feminist activism.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Thirty years on

Summer and some other things got in the way of blogging for a couple of months. For the first time I embarked on the revival of our Christmas-with-friends tradition by myself, and on the whole it went very well, though I felt - wistful, I think, best describes it, for past times and the beloved company I no longer have.  Then I went away to stay with various friends in various lovely places, spent a lot of time eating (and cooking) and basking in warm shade with a book, and by the time I got home I felt very relaxed indeed.
          This Monday it was thirty years since Harvey and I married in our garden, on 2 March 1985, and had a joyful party at home afterwards.

Without him, it didn't feel right saying to people that it was our wedding anniversary (though dear Ali remembered and phoned me). Celebration didn't seem in order either. Instead I marked it by walking down to his plaque in the cemetery rose garden with a friend and leaving a spray of white lilies given to me by my neighbour. Then we went home for a glass of wine.