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Where the Wind Sleeps: New & Selected Poems

Noel Monahan


Page Count: 172

Publication Date: Thursday, May 01, 2014

Cover Artwork: Pádraig Lynch

About this Book

In a secular post-national Ireland, Noel Monahan strives to belong somewhere, always searching to find home. A series of meditative sonnets takes him to the stillness of ruins of medieval monasteries on the islands of Lough Ree. Here, the ether of the past generates poetic energy. In this in-between world, the past lingers in the “slow noise of old ways dying”. Yet, Monahan’s territory is everywhere. He extends the parameters of Irishness, shifts from writing in English to Irish. He gives us a modern Irish version of the Mad Sweeney story. He engages with Europe: Pessoa’s Lisbon, Budapest, Sardinia’s Nuraghi culture. Where the Wind Sleeps: New & Selected Poems features selections from five previous collections, published over twenty-three years, as well as new work and gives us an intriguing insight into Monahan’s observations at the edges of time and place.

Author Biography

Noel Monahan has published extensively and his work has been translated into: French, Italian, Romanian and Russian. He has won numerous awards for his writing including: The Seacat Poetry Ireland Award, The Hiberno-English Poetry Award, The Irish Writers’ Union Poetry Award, The A.S.T.I. Achievements Award and the RTE P. J. O’Connor Award for his play, Broken Cups. His poetry was prescribed text for Leaving Certificate English 2011 and 2012. He has collaborated with visual artists, Pádraig Lynch and J. B.Vallely and music composers, Paul Flynn and Martin Cahill. A selection of his poems (Celui Qui Porte Un Veau & Autres Poemes) has been translated into French by Emmanuel Malherbet and will be published by Alidades in 2014. Noel Monahan is part of a team of translators of the Irish poet, Seán Ó Riordáin. The book, Selected Poems by Seán Ó Ríordáin, is edited by Frank Sewell and published by Yale University and Cló-Iar Chonnacht in 2014. Noel Monahan’s plays have been performed by Livin’ Dred Theatre and RTE Radio Drama. Where The Wind Sleeps: New & Selected Poems is Monahan’s sixth collection of poetry, all of which are published by Salmon Poetry. Noel Monahan was born in Granard, Co. Longford and now lives in Cavan.

Read a sample from this book

Where the Wind Sleeps
Something will come to you in a dream that
Will help you find your way in abandoned places.
Here, the wind sleeps with nettles and briars
In half-empty walls and the owl hatches 
Her chicks in the belfry. Here apparitions
Of monks in off-white habits sleepwalk
Holding empty skulls in their hands and listening 
To the slow noise 
Of old ways dying.
Each in his solitude finds dereliction,
Prayer that does not rest on words but lives
In darkness and out of the depths of night
Heaven falls like snow on a linen altar,
Two candles burn, carnations as white as
Children’s teeth are little nails of glory and grief.

Nuraghi Fields
i.m. Seamus Heaney

When they buried you in Bellaghy
I was somewhere else, out here
In Alghero, climbing the nuraghi fields
Where stones and more stones stand,
Life hardly changes, bushes bend
With the ways of the wind, sheep rest,
Tomatoes, figs are laid out to dry.
Up here with plants, 
animals and wind,
I picked blackberries in your honour,
Gave voice to the lines from the poem:
Each year I hoped they’d keep, knew they would not,
Down from the mountainside, I lit a candle
At La Chiesa Misericordiae, dipped my finger
In the font of mercy. 

Opposite Walls

The Battle of Mons
Hung on the wall,
A black and white print,
With the Ninth Lancers charging
Horses’ eyeballs wild with war,
Fierce spikes on the German helmets.

Across from Mons
On the opposite wall
A print of the 1916 Rising,
Sandbags piled in the windows,
Connolly on a stretcher, Pearse’s side-face
Pale with the thought of surrender.

“The Kaiser Kelly fought
In both wars”, my father said.
Every time I sat down to eat
I saw him leave Mons
Hurdle over plates, sugar and milk,
Across the table
To be in Dublin for the rising.

Copyright © Noel Monahan, 2014


Review: John McAuliffe reviews Where the Wind Sleeps: New & Selected Poems for THE IRISH TIMES, Saturday, June 7th 2014

Noel Monahan reviewed alongside Harry Clifton, Tom Paulin, Paul Perry 

A selected poems offers not just a useful way to gauge the continuities and changes in a poet’s work but also a different vantage point on the broad field of Irish poetry in recent decades.

Noel Monahan’s Where The Wind Sleeps: New and Selected Poems (Salmon, €14) collects work from five previous collections and a substantial set of new poems. Monahan’s poems are sociable and realist, and readers will recognise the world he describes and his perspective on it.

An extract from Diary of a Town simply goes around the houses, juxtaposing “ Mary Verdon is dreaming of dying before Christmas / But that happens every year” with “Busty Mahety joins Hughie Small and The Danger Smith / In the Star Bar”, while The Funeral Game surreally remembers a childhood game, “ John Joe beat the dead march on a saucepan. // We held wakes, issued death certificates / To old crows, kittens, chickens.”
The more recent work is smoother but less distinctive: the funerals and elegies are real now, which may be why the poems feel toned down.

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