Gill McEvoy, 2016 Recipient

Gill McEvoyGill Mc Evoy was born in London and has lived in the USA, Finland and Ireland. She is a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin. She runs various poetry events in Chester where she now lives. She received a Hawthornden Award in 2012 and has won many prizes for her poetry.

Publications

Uncertain Days (Happenstance Press, 2006)
A Sampler (Happenstance Press, 2008)
The Plucking Shed (Cinnamon Press, 2010)
Rise (Cinnamon Press, 2013)
The First Telling (Happenstance Press, 2014)
Caboodle (Prole Books, 2015_ one of 6 featured poets)

 

Selected Poems from Recent Work

Glass Bird in a Shop Window

Surely the maker of this bird is
one whose winter months are lived
among deep silences of snow,

who understands the blue and purple
bruise of folds among the drifts,
who knows

the strange transparencies of ice,
the way light toes on it
a fragile dance? 

I have been standing here so long
my feet have slipped into
boots of fur,

snow is settling on my shoulders
under dank green pine
and snow-locked birch.

Ice splits; a bird flies up.
Freckles the freezing air
with blue.

A shudder of snow
ushers its escape.

(From Rise) 

Map

I have unravelled the bark
from this birch,
wound it round me
like a mummy’s case.

Safe inside its bandaging
I’ve pared myself
down to the bone.

How the wind keens
through the gaps in the bark;
how my bones whiten
in the rains.

Look! I am clean now
as a map,
streaked with a tracery of roads.

Run your finger over them.
Find me.

(from The First Telling, the awarded pamphlet)

The Stray Dogs of Athens

stretch out in the sun,
dark circles round their eyes
from sleepless nights of worrying
at the words of Pindar, Plato,
Socrates.

Growing Hippeastrum

Seven this year,
the big brown bulbs
standing proud of their pots on the sill.

I watch and water, wait for the
blind snouts to break the earth,
questing up till the lips part,
thrusting fat tongues of bud
towards the light.

One morning
I’ll draw back the curtains and
there they’ll be-

the room outraged
by their unbelievable size,
their startling red. 

(From Rise)

 

A brief comment from Gill McEvoy about being in Greece, in 2016

Ksetrelathika, (crazy with joy!) is how I felt to win this marvellous award and it conveys how I felt much of the time during the residency in Greece. Fellow poet Jenny Elliott and I had such a packed programme of visits to sites of interest plus meetings with Harvard people and Greek poets it all left me breathless!

Absolute highlights for me were visiting Greg Karahalios’ icon workshop to see icons being made from pencil sketch to finished article. And seeing the Ms of George Seferis in the Gennadius Library.  When I later met at Olympia the poet John Tripoulas who gave me a copy of his book “A Soul Inside each Stone” and in it was a tribute poem to Seferis’ “Prince of Asine” poem, I couldn’t have been more delighted.

It was a great joy to be in the Argolid region, land of so many of the Greek heroes whose stories I grew up reading: Jason and the Argonauts, Herakles, the Cyclops, Agamemnon. I am so grateful for this award; my time in Greece was joyous and sincere thanks are due to Matina Goga and Christina Lafi who acted as our guides and companions and who couldn’t do enough for us. I am also very glad to have met a number of Greek poets, whose work was really exciting, and one of whom I am now in touch with, hoping to persuade an English magazine to take some of his poems in translation.

At the end of the residency I have to say I was exhausted; it would have been nicer to have had a little less on the programme and maybe more time at some of the places we went to; I would also have liked more involvement with Greek poets. Having said that though does not diminish in any way the sheer pleasure I had from this experience, certainly one I’ll recall for many years to come.    

 For more information on the awarded pamphlet, click here.