“Portrait of Kevin Barry in The Irish Times” by Anne Casey

Anne Casey


I look at him and I say
There’s a man who’s broken
his nose once or twice, eyes like
cut-steel rivets, stiff lower lip edgy over
Vermeer-strobed gingersnap strands and—
that wild tawny thicket afly against
a soft Guinness scenario, an allusion
of khaki (a flirtation of shoulder,
mind you), something military maybe:
an intimation of risk or a nod
to some rebel hero—says I though,
Never mind that auld jut o’
fierceness—say what you like,
there’s a man who can write.

from Rattle #79, Spring 2023
Tribute to Irish Poets


Anne Casey: “I was born and grew up in County Clare on the western seaboard of Ireland in a family and hometown steeped in Irish history, poetry, and mythology. I graduated from University College Dublin and worked in the capital for several years before emigrating to Australia where I live currently. Here, I am researching the lives of Irish famine refugees to Australia for a PhD in Creative Writing (poetry and creative non-fiction) at the University of Technology Sydney where I also research and teach. Covid years aside, I return annually to visit family and friends, and to read poetry, in Ireland. Though currently exiled, I consider myself wholly Irish. I am a regular contributor to Irish cultural engagements here hosted by the Irish Consulate. As a journalist and poet, my work (including regular contributions featuring in the Irish Times’ Most Read) is profoundly Irish in its lyrical aspect (which echoes my unassailable west Clare accent!) and in its political voice. I grew up in the ‘rebel county’ which suffered greatly under British rule. One third of our people died during the famine, largely as a result of colonial policies. My family home was burnt to the ground by British soldiers in 1921, my 13-year-old grandfather barely escaping; my other grandparents regularly told me stories of being held at gunpoint by the Black and Tans and being beaten for speaking in our native tongue, which had been outlawed during British colonisation. Throughout my childhood, I was surrounded by poetry and imbued with the understanding of how poetry had been used for millennia in our country as a source of hope and a voice of political resistance. My poetry is interwoven with the accents, myths, history, mores and preoccupations of half my life spent in Ireland (forever pulsing through my veins) and has always been unabashedly political.” (web)

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