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A Taste for Hemlock
October 2011


Michéle Vassal

ISBN: 1 903392 04 7

Page Count: 52

Publication Date: Thursday, June 01, 2000

About this Book

Sandgames was the winning collection in the Listowel Writers' Week Poetry Prize 1999. It is Michéle Vassal's first collection in which she explores the duality of exile through the fading negatives of memory, exposing them to a light of sexual and religious metaphor. With an artist's sense of contrast and perspective, she chronicles a sensual and cruel reality where displacement and belonging coalesce into an intricate but singular vision.

Author Biography

In the late seventies, Michéle Vassal left her hometown of Barcelonnette, in the Alpes de Haute-Provence and moved to Dublin. She is now living and writing in France Though French is her first language, she prefers writing in English. Her poems have been published in numerous journals and anthologies in Ireland and in the U.S. She received first prize at the 1999 Listowel Writers' Week for this collection of poetry.

Read a sample from this book

The Artist Paints The  Immaculate Conception

Drawing with the right side of the brain
teaches us to trace the empty space
around the object one wants to capture,
its contours revealed by what is not.
When I painted The Annunciation in Bewley's
(the background of Harry Clarke stained glass
and the velvet seats' crimson lustre
made it very pre-Raphaelite)
I remembered little besides his white shoes
because I had thought them in bad taste,
and his eyes, because they were like yours.
But now that I know how to draw negative space,
the invisible angle of his wrist
against your shoulder, the fictive space
between you and him nearly non-existent,
I gouge our existence out of the void:
And I wonder if it could be, my son,
that this man's absence has defined us.  

On The Long Acre

for John.W. Sexton

the wrecked ark of a bird's ribcage
paper boned
heaves in the wake of the breeze.
Out of the depth of its hull
ants trickle
in a troubled procession
the magenta covenant
of a dead cinnabar moth.
A finch on a rush
and for a while
God's vengeance

(Copyright Michele Vassal 2000)

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