Kennelly to Collaborate with Daughter on Authorized Biography

Evincing a bit of the good-humored aplomb for which he’s long enjoyed a reputation as a people’s poet among his Irish readership, Brendan Kennelly quipped that he’d “have to throw myself around in the sea in Ballybunion to shock my childhood memories back.” Kennelly and daughter Doodle will reportedly begin work on the biography next month, in the poet’s native Kerry. You can read more about the project on the Independent’s website:

…But first, in honor of the occasion, here’s Kennelly’s poem “Birth” (aptly, a meditation on the transfiguration of the self into linguistic expression), from The Essential Brendan Kennelly:


I don’t know if I shall be

Speaking or silent, laughing or crying,
When it comes to me

Out of this distant place

To shine at the window, rustle the curtains,
Brush my face

More lightly than gossamer,

So inspiring and fragile
I shall not dare to stir

Or hardly breathe until I sense

In my heart and mind
Its delicate omnipotence.

I may know then

The price and value of stillness
Commonly ignored by men

And be content to feel

It possess me,

Through my remotest countries

And establish its rule
Where, my bravest days,

I would not dare to venture.

Then, if I find courage enough,
I may speak in a manner

Befitting this thing.

God help me the moment
My heart starts opening

To comprehend and give.

I will be born in that hour of grace.
I will begin to live.

About wfupress

Wake Forest University Press was founded in 1976 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Exclusively publishing Irish poetry, we are a small academic press and the premier publisher of Irish poetry in North America. We still reside in Winston-Salem as a part of Wake Forest University, and continue to publish culturally-rich literature.
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