GET ALL ACCESS
Subscribe today, and included with your subscription is access to all issues and archive plus members entry to the Blue Nib Chapbook Contest
Ireland & UK
J. taylor bell
Ireland, UK Poetry Editor
Poetry is worth everything. It makes me feel happy and human and alive. I am fortunate to read as Poetry Editor for UK/Ireland for The Blue Nib, and immerse in the work of such courageous, committed poets. The eclectic, diverse voices of this issue are proof of the way poetry is being reinvented, reclaimed, repossessed- an essential part of our existences. I felt honored and grateful to read young voices like Rebecca D’Arcy, J. Taylor Bell or Rae O’Dowd and also established poets such as Dominic Fisher, Sue Morgan, James Finnegan or Susan Castillo Street. The poetry included in Issue 39 comes from all over the world and the variety of the experiences and emotions are beautifully rendered into these poems.
The poems of Issue 39 encompass the breadth of the human experience from troubled relationships to nature delights, from loss to the anxiety that comes with old age, from rebirth to the decay of the body, from the joys of food to haunting memories. There is an assortment of form – free verse, sestina, ghazal – and the unfolding of the personal journey, an honest display of what makes us vulnerable and eager to crumble or stand tall.
In some respect, these poems are in conversation with one another. Rae O’Dowd’s ‘Junk’ and Anne Ballard’s ‘Declutter Time’ measure the way we humanly define ourselves by the things we choose to discard or keep. In ‘Sly’, Maria Pascualy says ‘beauty is accidental” and it falls upon us in the most mundane instances. Beauty is also a glimpse away; the way Denise O’Hagan’s eyes softly capture it “with the day’s bruise already on it”. It is also stepping out of the skin to inhabit the surroundings, only to be reminded the surroundings are beautifully inhabiting you. In Brian Rihlmann’s words: “and when the clouds drift away/ a shadow appears/ on a sparkling canvas/of spring snow/ a long shadow of a man/ walking alone/ the shadow raises a hand/ and waves/ I think it’s me”.
The featured poets of this issue are J. Taylor Bell, James Finnegan and Rona Fitzgerald. J. Taylor Bell is a promising young poet from Fort Worth, Texas. He is studying an MA in Poetry at Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where he is the Seamus Heaney Centre International Scholar of 2018-19. He has a fresh, vulnerable voice that comes on page as funny and serious, at the same time. His poems are immersed in the mundane, like a metronome that punctures the mechanics of the day, from random thoughts to meaningful encounters, the music and movies that move us, our intrinsic fabric.
J. Taylor was kind enough to answer a few questions about himself and his craft, allowing any emerging poets out there to find an echo or an answer in the way he feels and thinks about poetry. I am always happy for new recommendations of young, innovative poetic voices such as Hera Lindsay Bird, Susannah Dickey or Jake Hawkey. Poetry is once again community and gives us the chance to grow and thrive together, by sharing and reading one another. This issue is to remind us poetry is simultaneously rooted and pressing forward.
Shortlisted for the Hennessy Literary Award 2018 and highly commended in the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Competition (2016, 2018) James Finnegan is an established poet whose work is witty and vulnerable, at the same time. There is a shred of humor that blends with film references and the suggested playfulness of a children’s rhyme. Underneath the shield of words, there is some uncanny humanity permeating the lines. In ‘Thinking of August’, he lightheartedly talks to a month or woman, take your pick, with the same softness and the dainty lines flow right down your veins.
An experienced poet, Rona Fitzgerald writes about the perils that threaten the woman’s body, whether it is the invasion of a mammography or the incarceration and death of 155 women, supposedly under the care of nuns. Her spirited poems acknowledge those dangers by summoning the strength to speak up. She rightfully fits the other feminine voices of the issue, by giving it a daring, graceful voice.
Thank you for making time to read and engage with these poets and their work.