Introduction: Chokmah Poetry Page.
‘Once a heart is opened, nothing ever is the same….’
These lines from John Denver’s ‘A Country Girl In Paris’ (Songs are poems too, aren’t they?) gave me a hint or even more, an insight into the role and influence of poetry in my life and I’m sure, in the lives of many others also.
The arrival of two poetry books in the post (Beside the Singing River, from Rose Moran RSM, her latest volume and Padraig J. Daly’s latest book, ‘A Small Psalter’), are recent examples of such influence .
Reading ‘A Cosmic View’ ( p.36/37) from Rose’s Collection, I was catapulted back in memory to my maternal Grandfather, seeing him clearly, patiently wheeling or sometimes walking, my toddler niece, (his greatgranddaughter,) up and down the yard or road, several times a day. He, trying to steady his own now old and faltering gait, stick in hand and she, eager and just as unsteadily, tenaciously trying to practise hers, in vain attempting to escape his grip while he valiantly minded her!
The heart is opened and the memory warms…
Padraig J. Daly’s Collection has a pared down 7-line poem,’ Dad’ (p.48) which came ‘out of left field’ as they say, one morning, unlocking the dammed tears of many secret griefs, yet again.
The heart is opened and once again a memory haunts..
‘ If we listened to our intellect, we’d never have a love affair. We’d never have a friendship. We’d never go into business because we’d be too cynical.
Well, that’s nonsense.
You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down’. So says Annie Dillard.
And that is what Tom Hamill provoked, prodded and elicited in his course participants, in the many who faithfully attended his workshops and with whom he worked. Encouraged by his perceptive, intuitive invitation to share a poem written, or story or dream, many a shy poet or storyteller were coaxed into taking a tentative step over that cliff and found to their surprise, creative wings began a nervous sprouting, starting them on a fresh path of exploration, keeping them airborne! For so many of us, he was indeed, the ‘wind beneath our wings’.
And so we come to the Poet Tom and the hope that on this Poetry Page on the Chokmah website, we will share many of his poems and what he would want, I think, you will begin to share your own also. As the postman says in ‘Il Postino (whose nicked Neruda’s poems and ascribed them to himself in order to serenade his love!) ‘Poetry doesn’t belong to those who write it. It belongs to those who need it’. Tom’s poems will bring a new and often invigorating slant to our sometimes threadbare world. We will search the classical allusions and smile (hopefully!) nostalgically at the Louth patois echoing his voice as he recited them for us! Above all they will continue to call us to ‘Stay awake, Wake up, never stop searching, questing on our own individual odysseys. There will be ‘laugh out loud’ moments and silent tearful ones also…
Simone Weil said: To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognised need of the human soul.
Poetry earths and grounds us and Tom did that, rooted and grounded us in mining our experience.
Blessed be the ties that bind.
‘MEMORIES’ is a book of some of Tom’s poems/ stories lovingly collected by his sister, Anne (Hamill). Many of these writings were gathered from some of Tom’s most faithful followers, (Sr. Claire Ryan being just one who comes to mind, among many others). These ‘treasures’ were carefully and most probably, methodically kept in an orderly fashion, making
Anne’s task of collating Tom’s work, a little easier. (This archive was most unlike my own chaotic one, but gratefully and often with delight, every now and then, while searching for something, I find ‘the diamond hidden in my own backyard!)
Meister Eckhart, a medieval Dominican mystic says: ‘If the only prayer we ever say in our lives is THANK YOU , that will be enough’. We are so grateful to Anne for the foresight, insight and perseverance which has gifted us with this extensive and blessed resource.
An old French proverb reminds us that ‘Gratitude is the heart’s memory’.
From our hearts, THANK YOU, Anne.
Reflections on poems welcome by emailing to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jim and Susan McHugh
Mairéad Ní Dhubhghaill
Renee Breslin PVM
Padraig J. Daly, O.S.A.
Fr John Cullen