When I was a child I always read comics, they helped fuel my imagination and were a great escape into the imaginary world of fictional characters. From here I started to devour encyclopaedias, historical books about ancient civilisations and various books on both world wars, which gave me historical information and knowledge. I wasn’t so much into reading poetry until I was into my adulthood. Coming from a working class family poetry wasn’t really part of my growing up and I began to dabble in poetry in my 20s as a hobby. In 2017 I began to look more seriously into writing poems and began to get individual pieces published in 2018.
By January 2020 I made the decision to devote myself fully to my poetry and did a creative writing course in Waterford City with Anna Jordan which reinforced my belief that I should answer the poet’s calling. When the lockdown started here in Ireland on March 12th 2020 I joined Catherine Ann Cullen’s daily #PoetryPrompts in conjunction with Poetry Ireland on social media and this helped me develop the discipline required to write everyday. I now try to write something 5/6 days a week. Even if the poem isn’t very good it can lead to a better poem or a re-edit to make it stronger. The important thing is that I’m exercising my creative brain on a daily basis.
By late Summer, early Autumn 2020 I could see the change in my style and technique and my writing was improving dramatically. I had over 80 poems published from September to December of that year and was approached by Mark Davidson of Hedgehog Poetry Press last October to send a manuscript. It was immediately accepted and I was offered a two book publishing deal for a chapbook and full collection. It was only then that I felt I was a poet. I had alway assumed writing poetry was for an elite group of writers and never considered myself good enough to be labelled a poet.
As a working class poet I found that the three months I had off work was a godsend and I wrote everyday during this period and it resulted in the birth of my debut chapbook, Under A Mind’s Staircase. I’m currently working on my full collection which is 90% complete, as I’ve written approximately 500 poems since 2019. I don’t believe in categorising myself into one style of poetry writing. My poems are an eccentric mix of nature, surrealism, humour, theological and darkness. A kaleidoscope of my musings on life and all it entails, I write about everything and anything that inspires me. Although I have a chapbook, Under A Mind’s Staircase published and a full collection on the way I’m very much an apprentice of poetry I have so much to learn and I’m just beginning on this amazing journey.
The next stage of my writing career is to read as many poets as I possibly can from modern to classic. Poets like Seamus Heaney, Robert Frost, Charles Bukowski, T.S Eliot and Stephen James Smith have inspired my current chapbook. My latest poems are being inspired by incredible poets like, Anne Casey, Doireann Ní Ghríofa, and Seán Hewitt. Discovering a new poem is a joyful experience. I had the recent pleasure of reading Anne Casey’s The Light We Cannot See, which recently won joint 1st prize in the American Writers Review contest 2021. It’s this level of poetry that I hope to achieve one day in my own works. Reading other poets is an essential part of my growth and development as well as research into topics, subjects and even the origins of words within a poem.
What I hope Under A Mind’s Staircase will do is to inspire emerging talent to submit their poems to all those numerous online journals that have popped up since the beginning of the pandemic. More and more people have turned to reading and writing poetry and there is a renewed interest in poems, ever since Seamus Heaney’s quote, “If we winter this one out, we can summer anywhere.” appeared everywhere as people turned to poetry as a source of comfort when life was quietened down to a literal whisper and we could hear ourselves breathing again. The pandemic poetry movement has seen a resurgence in people reading poems again and has birthed a new generation of poets whose work we’ll be reading over the next decade or so.
(c) Robin McNamara
Order Under a Mind’s Staircase here.