Jonathan Swift Creative Writing Awards

I really enjoyed the Jonathan Swift Creative Writing Awards day at Red Rua in Tallaght. There’s something really special about hearing poetry read aloud in a room full of engaged enthusiasts. Being shortlisted and commended for my poem also made me happy. 🙂

‘Poetry is the history of the human heart’
Billy Collins

Each word in a poem has a unique and important place and specific role to play. Words can conjure up an entire era or an evening, a simple encounter or a bird singing, a path in the forest or an entire relationship breaking down, the idiosyncrasies of each poet can often be felt from the first lines. And of course even a poem ceases to exist in the form it was originally written as it transcends time and yet staples it. We recreate it when we read it out loud, sometimes hinting as to how it was meant to be understood.The ability of a poem to bring someone to life is to be treasured, in this poem basking in the past while a mother lives in the present, touched by the memory of her son.

When we were driving home we got to talking about our favourite art-forms. Of course performance was always one of my favourites and still draws me right in. Though nearly every day now, I am struck by the simplicity of language and its ability to make me feel like I have been transported elsewhere. Same goes for photography.

I saw a shot of horses running in Dunfanaghy last week and it brought me back to the magnificence of the beaches in Donegal, it gave me a shiver down my spine and reminded me just how much I love that place. There is something about having a photograph in your hand or a poem in your hand and being able to connect with it and truly immerse yourself in its novelty, its grandeur or sometimes its simplicity.
It was hard for me to read this poem to my husband last week as a practice run and to the yogis that came down on retreat last week. Sometimes ‘performing’ your own work is the hardest thing. It puts your heart on the line.

The thing is when we are seated as a group in the theatre or standing in an art gallery sometimes we hold back. We clench our guts and hold on. When we are alone we can allow ourselves to really let go and feel what we are truly feeling. I wish we lived in a society where we were free to be as we are, to laugh out loud or cry when we need to and not constrain ourselves so much of the time. Sometimes it is only the artist that will be forgiven for letting their temperament be exposed for its truest reality.

I love the arts for this reason. Their ability to emote and be emotive. And I am grateful to be able to submit poems to competitions like the Jonathan Swift awards and then contemplate on them more fully rather than filing them away never to be seen or heard of again (as I had been doing for years now).

I am also grateful to be able to share and publish my entry on line here. There are many interpretations of poetry – I would be interested to hear your views.


Feathers flew above her head,
He was flying a kite for her, wanting
her to notice angels in the air, spreading
their sentiments, freshly taking care of the atmosphere
founding her, under the ground
several subterranean levels down, she felt his weight.
He had grown from those few months
old, to a boy, to almost a man. Dashing.
sweet of form, knowledgeable and calm.
As she stood on the bank of the river, a flood
of feathers drifted by, she took the gushing
river in her hands, splashed her face, fixed
her skirt and walked slowly, paddling her way
across to the lake. Kindness of the trees
surrounded her, rocks, stones, supported
her feet. A drum beat to the sound of his heart,
not sunken, but in reach. She waded
further, got to the middle, deeper now,
she did not reach down, for fear of the force-
it could take her, but kept going, washing
away her tears that bubbled to the surface
in big droplets they joined, watering
the crown of his head, enabling the water
to link them, once again. She smiled
and slid along the stones to the riverbed.

(for Sean)




  1. Catriona Holt

    I love the way when I read your poems I can visualise a story and completly get caught up in it. Keep posting them. The only problem I find is I never want to stop reading them 🙂

    • avondaleretreat

      Thank you Catriona. I never want to stop writing them and am so glad that you enjoy reading. You are an inspiration to me. xo

  2. Michelle

    Well done Hel. You are one talented lady. I’m sure there will be many more commendations and prizes to come! X

    • avondaleretreat

      Thanks Michelle. And thanks for all your editing, proof reading and kind words. Really appreciate it. xx

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