“Then he unlocked the back door / and stepped out into the garden”: Paula Meehan’s “My Father Perceived as a Vision of St Francis”

Photo courtesy Breno Machado via Unsplash

Photo courtesy Breno Machado via Unsplash

A few weeks ago, I was reading about contemporary Irish poetry (living life in the fast lane, as always), and I learned a little bit about Paula Meehan, named the Ireland Professor of Poetry in 2013. The Irish Times had a feature about her this winter, in which Ciaran Carty wrote,

“It’s more than 40 years, and nine books, since Meehan emerged from childhood in the inner city Dublin tenements to give voice to the disenfranchised everywhere, less in anger than with compassion and an intuitive understanding that, through verse, imbued their lives and memories with mythic dignity.”

Sounds pretty good to me.

Professor Meehan’s poems are a little tricky to find–she doesn’t have an entry at The Poetry Foundation, which is my go-to poetry site, but you can read “Ashes” at Poets.org. The poem that really caught my eye was this one: “My Father Perceived as a Vision of St Francis,” over at The Poetry Project, which is a site devoted to Irish poetry. It’s a lovely poem, anchored in everyday detail, but transcendent all the same.