‘Writing opened me up, each poem a lungful of pure air’

‘Writing opened me up, each poem a lungful of pure air’

DCU President Daire Kogh, Anne Tannam, new poet in residence, Ireland Director Liz Kelly and Mary Shine Thompson The first boy I ever loved quoted poetry. Walking side by side into town by Gardiner Street, he ensnared me with softly spoken lines: Nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands. READ MORE Informal family loans can be more trouble than they are worth ‘Life in Ireland is much easier and nicer. In Chile it's all just work and paying bills' Could handbags be the haute couture solution to Florida's python problem? ‘My 12-year-old daughter won't do anything she is told to do' At 18, I cycled daily from my home in Crumlin up Dorset Street to the Mater Dei Institute of Education in Drumcondra. It's almost four decades since those college years, but two memories stand out: the first, falling in love and the inevitable heartbreak. The second, a seemingly inconsequential afternoon, sitting in a warm tutorial room, studying Philip Larkin's At Grass. There I was, feeling out of my depth, photocopied page on the table in front of me, drowsy mind struggling to keep up with the questions and commentary around the table. Then, two lines swam into focus: Do memories plague their ears like flies? / They shake their heads. Dusk brims the shadows, and the poet's low and insistent voice pulled me inside the poem. I could smell the fragrant grass, the musky scent of the horses, watch as the grooms, and the grooms boy, / with bridles in the evening come. My body still tingles at the memory. It was deeply intimate, language as embodied experience. I forgot to be self-conscious my lack of knowledge and the pressure to analyse the poem. I followed Larkin's voice and entered a self-contained reality transcending time and space. A life-changing experience, but only half of it. It would take another 20 years to find the courage to hear my voice and follow it, line after line, into an unfolding poem. Anne Tannam Anne Tannam I wonder what my younger self would think of me now, […]

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