Swell, a group poem by Colm Keegan and inner-city Dublin students

This poem emerged from a kayaking trip from Islandbridge down the Liffey to the Docklands

Some of the students who kayakedfrom Islandbridge down the Liffey to the Docklands

Some of the students who kayakedfrom Islandbridge down the Liffey to the Docklands

 

Poet Colm Keegan has been working with a group of young teenagers from the inner city and a smaller group of students from the third level college at Marino. Last month Colm persuaded them to take a kayaking trip from Islandbridge down the Liffey to the Docklands. This is the poem that emerged.

Swell

1
Arrive
Memorial park
Blue sky disappears
Grey swirls

April’s blood ripples
On the water of spring
The tide turning
Another year

The feeling of the foam
The Liffey on the nose
Bent down on one leg
Entering the flow

A rush of adrenaline
Into the vortex
Over the weir

Waves, a tsunami
Sucked into the pull
Boat tumbles over

Capsize
Nearly die
Cold, Cold, cold
Freezing!

In the dark underneath
Dublin’s shaded history
The silt is stirred
Her eye opens

Resurface
Resize
New eyes
Made it! Pure joy!
Aqua flaneur is born

Trees bow
Green abundance
From tangled branches
Heron flees

So cold
As the paddling rolls on
As if my feet were gone

River liquid
Drips from paddle
Plop, plip, plop
Ripples

Stillness

2
Islandbridge
Scream
Echoes boom

Shout something
Anything
‘Me Nanny!’

Liffey hemmed in granite
Slick monster
Tamed beast

Boardwalk
Screech of seagull
Hawk of crow
Holler of poet

Climb out
Wanna leap?

A pool of fear
Jumping in
Without recognition

Adrift on Anna Livia Plurabella
Sparkle in our eyes
We dive
Splash

Cameras
Disturbance
Street theatre
Focus

City looks down on us
We climb up
Flip
Dublin submits

We are darts
Needle pricks
Click
Our image stitched in time

New Ireland
Off the pontoon
Splashing into
Her icy veins

Leon Byrne with instructor Liam Whelan explore the Liffey from the Islansdbridge Memorial Gardens to the Docklands: Mark Stedman
Leon Byrne with instructor Liam Whelan explore the Liffey from the Islansdbridge Memorial Gardens to the Docklands: Mark Stedman

3
Gathered in her
Open arms
Trace lines
Of Dublin’s mother

A flood of fear
Ended
A circle
Forged

Running in a cascade
She takes
All the moss
All the slime away

Floating down the river
on the way to the ocean
Bonding in the boats
Floating

Under O Connell Bridge
Famine memorial, Jeanie Johnson
Bobbing
Homewards on the swell

Liffey polished
A shine on everyone’s face
The silvery water attracts
Every drop evaporates in time

Yellow rays of the sun
On skin
The shimmer of the stream
Liquid pull towards the sea

Frozen but glad
New Dubliners emerge
Baptized

A collaborative group poem written by Colm Keegan together with Anthony Corcoran, Collins Unokan, David Touré, Kaiwen, Leon Byrne, Magdalene J, Michael Isong, Pritsh Gurriah and Sergio Rostas from Neighbourhood Youth Project 2, Ballybough; Clinton Smith, Dylan Mooney and Gareth Gilroy from Marino College F.; Brian Fleming, Linda Devlin and Nick Roth from Dublin’s Culture Connects; and Julia Moustacchi and Sheena Barrett from Dublin City Arts Office

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