Tuesday, 25 March 2014

In Print: Pre-Raphaelite Poetry and The Gathering Poem

Edward Burne-Jones, The Beguiling of Merlin, 1874.

I've recently had a couple of poems (or lines, as you'll see) published in print, which is a special thrill undiminished by all the amazing things poetry is doing on the Internet these days.

Some time ago I entered the second Pre-Raphaelite Society Poetry Contest, and while I didn't win anything, my poem was selected as one of a number of entries to appear in a collection, Pre-Raphaelite Poetry II. It is a poem called 'Merlin' which I wrote when I was about 21 and which was based on The Beguiling of Merlin by Edward Burne-Jones - which also happens to be the painting which I chose as the logo for this blog. My Arthurian obsession, which has since receded somewhat, was still at its peak then. I feel as though things have come full circle with the publication of this poem. You can read more about the collection and buy it here.

The other publication, though my contribution was small, is quite exciting. In 2013, Irish tourism institutions organised The Gathering, a year-long celebration of Irish culture in Ireland which also encouraged those with Irish roots, or a love of Ireland, to visit the country. I am not doing particularly well in that respect these days because although I have a partly Irish background and used to live there, I haven't visited for several years. However, I was interested to learn of The Gathering Poem, an initiative to create a poem "about Ireland and by the people of Ireland" by collecting contributions of lines of poetry and then editing them into a single poem. I submitted a few lines and to my delight, two lines were among those chosen. While there were thousands of submissions, the final poem was only fifty lines long and there were fewer than forty contributors, so it was quite an honour to be chosen. It has now been published in a beautiful little book, which also includes other selected lines, comments about the project and so on, and you can buy it on the website. Only a few months before his death, Seamus Heaney called the idea of The Gathering Poem "a vision with vision". It's nice to have given something back to Ireland, especially in poetry form.


  1. An interesting post, Clarissa, and congratulations on these successes. I imagine that The Gathering is to Ireland what Homecoming is to Scotland?

    1. Thank you, Caroline! I just had a look at Homecoming Scotland and yes, it looks like a similar idea. I thought the poem idea was quite wonderful and it turned out remarkably well, considering how difficult it must have been to choose lines and edit them into a coherent whole. The book also includes some lines that didn't make it into the actual poem, but which stand on their own as striking images or nice thoughts about Ireland. Perhaps The Gathering Poem will inspire some other countries to do something similar...