independent

Saturday 24 August 2019

Poetry prize for Blackwater woman

Audrey Molloy
Audrey Molloy

Maria Pepper

Retired Blackwater Garda Sergeant Tom Molloy had the proud task of accepting the Hennessy Literary ward for Emerging Poetry 2019 on behalf of his daughter Audrey, at the 48th annual awards ceremony in Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin.

Audrey, who lives in Sydney, Australia received the award for her poem At the Shell Midden. The winners were chosen by the authors Martina Evan and Eoin McNamee and the Irish Times New Irish Writing page editor, Ciaran Carty.

Audrey grew up in the village of Blackwater where her dad Tom was the Garda Sergeant for many years. She practised optometry in Dublin before moving to Australia where she works as an optometrist, medical writer and content editor.

Her poetry has been published in Ireland, Australia, the UK and USA. She was nominated for the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem in 2018 and was selected as one of Eyewear Publishing's Best New British and Irish Poets 2018.

In 2017 and 2018, she received a special commendation in the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award. She was joint runner-up in the Moth Poetry Prize 2017.

On Mother's Day, she posted a beautiful poem called Iris, inspired by memories of her late mother Iris.

Speaking abut her poetry, she said: 'It is the alchemy of poetry that I really enjoy - starting with nothing more than an emotion or thought and converting it into first an image, then raw words and finally a poem that I hope will resonate and linger in the reader's mind.'

At the Shell Midden

Even now, we live among layers.

If you crumble or dig,

you don't know what you'll find.

Within the layers are lives:

in the Burgess Shale, where Walcott sifted for clues to our demise,

or deep in cores of ice - eons flaked in a frozen mille-feuille,

and here, under the sandstone overhang

of an Aboriginal shell midden,

where my daughter crouches from a summer downpour.

Layers, other girls, crouch too or, cross-legged,

suck clams from heart-shaped shells,

preserved now in pumice and sand.

Plunge your hand in this cool floor and there are older girls,

women discarded,

gone to shells

when small pox burned them down

like great libraries, unwritten,

lost to eagle and wind.

Where will our layers lie?

And what of all the shells to come?

Sixty millennia yet to whistle through;

my girl's cotton dress and bucket gone,

her bones gone, tongue forgotten, her tea-parties

another stratum in the midden.

The beach is not ours any more than the sky -

we belong to the land.

In this long line of girls

hunkers mind, hiding from my calls to come home.

Wexford People

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