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Beyond the Sea
September 2012

Vacant Possession

Anne Fitzgerald

ISBN: 978-1-910669-97-6

Page Count: 146

Publication Date: Thursday, November 09, 2017

Cover Artwork: In the Rain (1999), oil on canvas, 60 x60 cm, signed, Pearson. Reproduced by kind permission of the artist Peter Pearson RHA. Photograph courtesy of James Adam & Sons, Fine Art Auctioneers & Valuers.

Click to play audio 'Anticipation' read by Anne Fitzgerald. From her c... play
Click to play audio 'Finding Myself in Werburgh Street' read by Anne F... play
Click to play audio 'Getting Ready' read by Anne Fitzgerald. From her ... play

About this Book

‘Is there a poet writing in Ireland who feels so profoundly and knows more surely love's obsessions, its piercing chronicles, its succour and sorrows than Anne Fitzgerald? The poems in Vacant Possession char the page, leaving their imprint, imperishable, unique.’

Frank McGuinness

‘Raw, poignant, wrenching, and deeply courageous, this beautiful collection of poetry took my breath away. Each poem is a gift, wrapped in luminous, lyrical verse. Standing firmly in her own truth, Fitzgerald takes us on a tour de force of the human condition, the search for self, and Ireland’s shameful treatment of the unmarried mother and her child. As an adoptee, I wept many times as I read this stunning collection, but it is the universality of these devastating poems that grants them their power. Fearless, Fitzgerald takes us on a journey of love, loss, death, abandonment and grief. Despite the inherent pain in these poems, she never surrenders to self-pity. With near-invisible artistry, Fitzgerald weaves agonizing loss into redemptive power and ensures that love breathes on every page.’

Caitriona Palmer 
Author of An Affair with my Mother (Penguin)

Author Biography

Anne Fitzgerald was raised in Sandycove, County Dublin. She is a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin and Queen’s University, Belfast. Her poetry collections are Swimming Lessons (Wales, Stonebridge, 2001), The Map of Everything (Dublin, Forty Foot, 2006) and Beyond the Sea (Co. Clare, Salmon Poetry, 2012). 
In 2006 Anne founded Forty Foot Press, in addition to two School Publishing Houses, Monkstown Educate Together Press (MET Press, 2003) and Loreto Abbey Dalkey Press (LAD Press, 2004). She is a recipient of the Ireland Fund of Monaco Writer-in-Residence bursary at The Princess Grace Irish Library, Monaco. She teaches Creative Writing in Ireland and North America. Anne lives in Dún Laoghaire, County Dublin. 
For biography visit Forty Foot Press at and on Facebook see

Read a sample from this book


From afar it comes like the smell of rain 
in off the sea, with an urgency of waves 
breaking, you weaken at the thought 
of it happening again, as naturally as heat 
making its presence felt on the globe 
of your palms, you spread your fingers 
wide as water between two bodies 
of land, trace boundaries, sea stacks ‘n’ coves 
on the bend of where paradise might 
be. Your judgement clouds like a compass 
that’s let moisture in, devoid of magnetic 
field you falter, give way to the rhythm 
of waves as though sirens in pursuit of kelp 
and driftwood like lovers on a beach. 

Finding Myself in Werburgh Street 

In the diocese of Dublin and Glendalough 
up along Dame Street, past the Olympia  

and Dublin Castle, in earshot of Christchurch 
bells, Werburgh Street Church stands above 

Lord Edward Fitzgerald’s vault, atop of   
Swift’s baptismal font, not a stone’s throw 

from where birth and death records lie, 
like coordinates to be plotted, half-truths 

waiting to be lies on deValera 
and McQuaid’s map of cardinal truths.

I take down oversized red bound birth 
books for 1965 in the records room, 

turn pages heavy with births from Skull, 
Mizen and Hook Heads to Sheep’s Hollow

beyond boarder crossings, flyover latitudes,
boreen longitudes and oyster beds where sand 

and grit form pearls under blatherwrack, 
an irritant stuck inside the oyster’s body

swaying to salt making free with buoyancy 
around the Ring of Kerry and Cliffs of Moher

as I run my finger across districts and parishes: 
Annagor, Belmullet, Cahir, and Drumcondra 

the Swine of Pigs, in the diocese of Clonturk 
where real fiction lives. Though not the Book 

of Kells, it illuminates a pentimento of fibs, 
stretching back to the foundations of belief.

Not five minutes shy of two hours I lean into 
a past of myself, as unrecognisable as a wild 

pearl, iridescent and luminous as the shell itself 
or my fingerprint smudged. Reading my birth 

name given is like a foreign language forged 
in copperplate, a kind of twisted mother-tongue 

as if finding the needle, without eye or haystack, 
purposefully sent to hit a dead end by the grace 

and blessings of the Archbishop’s handmaidens. 
Without Theseus thread of Adriane, nurse Gallagher 

cuts the chord, registers me by her own hand, 
every slope and ink incline a natural fabrication  

of this twenty-six year old’s maiden name, who 
didn’t comfort me as my first tooth breaks through, 

hold me at night as my breath is given over to 
coughing for the loss of you, or watch me not fall 

down as one foot follows the other in a gait you’d 
half recognise disappearing into a crowd years later.

Instead you commend me into the geometry of a life 
you’d not foresee. All the while, wondering from a distance.

Getting Ready 

Go to Shaws for white sheets, 
Egyptian cotton, a high thread 

count mind, to lay me out. 
Use candles in that bottom 

drawer, John  XX111 thrice
blessed, making a bishop 

of Tom Ryan back in ’63.
Light them so I will find 

my way through d’eye 
of the needle, ease tight

squeeze, deaden clamouring 
at the gates. Let me pass 

without incident for what 
I have left unresolved. 

Poems © Copyright Anne Fitzgerald 2017

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