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Moving into the Space Cleared by Our Mothers
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To Air the Soul, Throw All the Windows Wide: New & Selected Poems
November 2016

Life Holds Its Breath

Mary Dorcey

ISBN: 978-1-915022-04-2

Page Count: 82

Publication Date: Thursday, February 24, 2022

Cover Artwork: Uisce Anam ‘j’ by Janet Pierce, watercolour on paper, 2016

About this Book

‘Her poetry commands an unsparing and musical perspective on love between women but also on the question of authority; on woman’s identity within a society and how it shadows and inflects the very idea of poetry.’   EAVAN BOLAND

‘What a glittering treasure we have in Mary Dorcey, a bewitching weaver of words and an evocateur of emotions.’  LIZ NUGENT

‘Dorcey’s women are rooted in real places and moments that are sharp with delight and danger.’   EMMA DONOGHUE

‘Clear eyed and heartbreaking…’  NUALA NÍ DHOMNAILL

Mary Dorcey is a critically acclaimed Irish poet, short story writer and novelist. She was awarded The Rooney Prize for Irish Literature in 1990 for her short story collection, A Noise from the Woodshed. She is the author of the bestselling novel A Biography of Desire and is an elected member of the Irish Academy of Arts and Letters, Aosdána.
     The author of ten books, Dorcey is researched and taught internationally. Her poetry and fiction have been described as groundbreaking. Many of her poems are considered classics, taught on both the Irish and British school curricula. From the outset her writing announced itself as revolutionary in subject matter and tone. It shattered the silence of Ireland on the suppressed reality of women’s lives and most remarkably on romantic/erotic love between women.  
     One of her major themes is the love between mother and daughter and the life-long, shape-shifting journey she records between these two has produced some of her most loved poetry.
     The first Irish woman in history to advocate in speech and writing for LGBT rights, she was a founding member of ‘Irish Women United.’ ‘The Sexual Liberation Movement’ and ‘Women for Radical Change.’ Her subject matter has been recognised for its radicalism and her style for its elegance and sensuality. 

Author Biography

Mary Dorcey is a critically acclaimed Irish poet, short story writer and novelist. She won the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature in 1990 for her short story collection A Noise from the Woodshed. Her poetry and fiction is researched and taught internationally at universities throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. The subject of countless academic critiques and theses, it has been anthologised in more than one hundred collections. She is a member of Aosdána, the Irish Academy of Writers and Artists and is a Research Associate at Trinity College where for many years she led seminars at the Centre for Gender and Women’s Studies. The first Irish woman in history to advocate for LGBT rights, she is a lifelong activist for gay and women’s rights. Founder member of ‘Irish Women United,’ ‘The Sexual Liberation Movement,’ and ‘Women for Radical Change.’ Her poetry is taught in schools at O-Level in Britain and on the Irish Junior Certificate. She has lived in England, the USA, France, Japan, Italy and Spain. She has published nine previous books: Kindling (Onlywomen Press, 1982); A Noise from the Woodshed (Onlywomen Press, 1987); Moving into the Space Cleared by our Mothers (Salmon Poetry, 1991); Scarlet O’Hara (Onlywomen Press, 1993); The River that Carries Me (Salmon Poetry, 1995); Biography of Desire (Poolbeg, 1997); Like Joy in Season, like Sorrow (Salmon Poetry, 2001); Perhaps the Heart is Constant after All (Salmon Poetry, 2012); and To Air the Soul Throw All the Windows Wide: New & Selected Poems (Salmon Poetry, 2016). She is currently completing a collection of novellas. She lives in Wicklow, Ireland.

Read a sample from this book


Do not envy 
another's content 
whoever may own it, 
a long or brief
sojourn in pleasure –
its stillness
its light.

Do not resent however it comes,
another's display of good fortune

Though it circles them –
a halo of ease,
a blindfold of riches.
Happiness in any soil 
whatever year, 

Is perishable fruit, bruised by the
weight of a kiss as swiftly as greed,

against age, poverty, 
by caprice –
the contradictions 
of the heart.

Do not count the hours
or wish for another season

When high on the bough
we grasp it
or caught in surprise –
find it 
tumbled into our lap.

Prize it wherever it seeds,
from whichever eyes 

Deserving or not it 
may gleam. 
Speak of it 
softly, touch it with 
the hands of a lover.

Set it on newly-mown grass 
in the sun, a white cloth spread –

Air the wine.
Inhale this moment,
its taste  
like love –
the bloom still ripe 
on its skin.

Copyright © Mary Dorcey, 2022

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