Review of ‘Poets and Their Poems’
By Grace Campbell
Opening the pages of ‘Poets and Their Poems’ is like taking a step back in time for an
adult who can recall memories of their childhood and earliest school days.
Writing poetry is a skill and is one that retired caretaker Paddy Mulhern has instilled in
many of these young people by inspiring them to put their feelings onto paper. His
wisdom may contrast the folly of youth but his ability to relate to the school children is
prevalent in his poetry. It is easy to understand how he successfully passed his love for
writing onto the children of Scoil Mhuire and encouraged them to create works of their
Divided into seven sections, each page of poetry is a refreshing outlook on life. With
contributions from past pupils and close relations speckled throughout, one page drifts
seamlessly into the next. People appreciate different aspects of poetry – for some, it is
the clever use of metre and rhyme and for others it is the vivid imagery that is conjured
through descriptive phrases. Between the covers of this particular collection, there is
something for everyone to enjoy and appreciate.
Delving into the first section brings me right back to the corridors of Scoil Mhuire. The
honest accounts of loving school tours (“Clare” by Alison Daly) and the hatred of taking
tests (“Tests” by Cian O’Sullivan) reminds me of a simpler time in life.
“Scoil Mhuire Days” and “Now What Have I Forgotten” by Paddy Mulhern are poems that
capture the hustle and bustle of the everyday routine in school with lines such as:
“Muddy shoes and open laces,
Hurried mothers snatched embraces”
“Book those tickets pay that bill
Collect for the tea mop up the spill”
As well as school life, the poems in this book look at special occasions, special people
and things in general that are special to the writers. This is ultimately what writing
should be about – things in life that enthuse us, motivating us to the point that we want
to share our experiences with others.
The boys and girls of Scoil Mhuire have shown that inspiration for poetry can be found
in every day life, whether it is something simple like the weather as in Sean Jacob
Kavanagh’s poem “The Rain” or a past-time as in Cammie Chung’s poem “Skipping”.
In the special people section, there are lovely accounts of people who have made an
impact on the lives of these pupils. In “Grandad Vincent” by Adam Wynne, he conveys his
appreciation for his grandad by stating:
“It feels like a glorious dream,
Thank goodness it is not pretend.”
Joe Lawrence talks about his sibling in his poem “My Baby Sister” and writes that:
“She bites and screams and cries a lot,”
However, he concludes the poem by stating:
“But I still love her.”
Katie Wisdom’s dedication in the poem “Aunty Carmel” is touching:
“Now you’re not in the room
But to me you’re still here”
Paddy Mulhern’s poems in this section such as “Holding Hands with Meadhbh”, “When We Christened Julia Rose” and “Ella Mae” are beautiful works that will be treasured forever by his family:
“Though our youth is far away,
We’re as young as you today,
That’s what happens when we play,
As well as family, there are a number of poems dedicated to the relationships that have been made outside of the home, with fellow pupils and peers. In the poem “Friendship” by Vanessa Jarek she writes that:
“Friendship is to me like a million stars in the night sky.”
I particularly enjoyed works from the section “Poems That Get You Thinking”. There are striking images in the poem “Dishwasher” by Dylan Knowles such as:
“The knives and forks fighting
To get wet”
In Hazel E.C. Keogh’s poem “Phantom of the Auditorium”, the opening line describes the phantom that creeps
“…back after dark,
To try to find the answer”
These are examples of the varied subject matters that make readers see things in a different light.
It is not only the serious themes in poetry that evoke feelings – poetry can be fun and full of humour, as demonstrated through many of the works in this book, especially in the creature section which features lizards, horses, sharks, dogs, fish, bats and a sleeping cat.
There are so many other poems in the collection that deserve recognition. The handful of poems referenced in this review provides a sample of what is contained between the covers of this book and will hopefully whet the appetite of people who are yet to get a copy of this collection into their hands.
Congratulations to all involved in this marvellous publication. It is testament of the hard work, creative encouragement and dedication that exists behind the gates of Scoil Mhuire. As this group of pupils leave the school, they can be rest assured that their feelings, memories and observations of Scoil Mhuire will forever be recalled by opening this book to remember their childhood.
I hope you all enjoyed writing it as much I enjoyed reading it.
Grace Campbell is a past pupil of Scoil Mhuire. She is currently working in New Zealand.