Poetry in motion

Dated: 22 April 2022

Robert with runners-up Charlotte, Aisha and Hana
The Winner of the 2022 Woodhouse Poetry competition is Robert Delaney for his poem Dubh Linn.
Head of Faculty of the Arts - John O'Shea - told us...
"The theme of this year's competition was Dream. We had a fantastic set of entries in a range of styles. The English department were uncharacteristically in agreement on the winner, but the runners-up were equally exceptional. Student Hana has been a runner-up two years runnings and is constantly good, and Charlotte and Aisha's poems were really interesting."
All winners received Amazon vouchers as prizes. 
"We felt that Robert’s poem was worthy of being the winner for a number of reasons. It reminded us of James Joyce, in his range of references, his erudition, his allusions to a number of different texts and Celtic history that suggested a knowledge broader than we might have expected from an 18-year-old student.
The competition was open to all students (not just literature students) and of the approximately 60 entries, it was great to see that a lot of them were maths and science students. I think that everyone has creativity inside them and it’s nice to have an outlet for that self expression in college. It’s great for students to read their friends work in forums that they wouldn’t necessarily come across. and have that chance to celebrate peoples originality and individuality."
We spoke to overall winner Robert about his prize winning entry. He told us…
“I’m Irish and so I thought I’d write something about Ireland. All of my family live in Dublin and it is always in my mind. My poem is called Dubhlinn."
The name Dublin derives from the Irish word Dubhlinn, from dubh meaning "black, dark", and lind "pool", referring to a dark tidal pool.
"My poem wasn’t centred around me or my experience of Dublin - but more the experience of my Dad and his side of the family, coming from a working class background and that life in Dublin.
Poetry is not my usual writing form but I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone. I do like to write a lot. I skateboard, and I started an online magazine during lockdown - Plateskatemag - and have interviewed a lot of professionals and people of note in the skateboard industry. I have also managed to get a role writing for ‘Skateboarders Companion’ - a well published magazine. But writing like that (for magazines) I’m quite restricted, I can’t write about whatever I want - so seeing the poetry competition, where the theme was ‘Dreams’ - a very broad topic - I thought ‘Why not?’
I did do a bit of research… I already have lots of information in my head about Dublin from spending so much time there, visiting museums, listening to the stories of my parents - and I just kind of applied all that to the poem. When writing I took heavy influence from David Balfe - The Irish producer and songwriter, who records under the name 'For Those I Love' - who writes about Dublin. Structurally I guess my poem came from Samuel Becket and James Joyce. I read a lot of Becket and relate to that sort of Dublin vibe of it having been a somewhat downbeat city.
I was very happy that people said they liked it, and not just teachers - but friends of mine too. I’m not sure how much more poetry I will write, but I’ve definitely discovered another side to myself.
I came to Woodhouse because I knew the student body would be more diverse than my previous school and I wanted to experience that. It was the best decision I’ve made - I couldn’t speak more highly of Woodhouse. Next year? I’ve applied to LSE and have an offer at Kings, both for History of Politics, but I may also apply to Trinity College, Dublin to study English.
I’ll probably spend my Amazon voucher prize money on a book by the Beat poet Alan Ginsberg.”
Dubh Linn by Robert Delaney
Empty cans roll down the deck and land at his feet.
The rear end of the bus is always its own room,
Yet the infringement of the privacy he once enjoyed in this solitary tomb,
This unwarranted tap on the shoulder, is not enough to break his peace
After a long day of grafting on Grafton street.
This central city working tradition had been assigned to his kinfolk for generations;
With his clan never straying further West than Huston Station,
No further north than the ‘Mun and no further South than Terenure,
Raytown to the East and God forbid he went beyond than the Pale.
The only ones who left resided in a long-removed neighbourhood by the name of Notting Dale.
Our hand was born on the site of the old poor house, south of the river;
Comatose, he is carried towards this side of the Liffey, the worse side, where he was delivered.
He slowly crosses Ptolemy’s ‘Oboka’, But not in the footsteps of Bloom or any other legendary literary lover,
Yet he does dream of a beautiful, rough-edged, long-lost, other.
The Sunlight Chambers of Essex Quay shone no beaming ray
Despite the best intentions of the soap-factory’s coloured figures at play,
our hand couldn’t be woken.
Not even two yellowing grins, belonging to North siders, who aren’t known to be softly spoken,
Can create a racket enough to leave our hand’s slumber broken.
He dreams of an old place,
Where you could get a pint of black after kicking the footballs off the pebble dash
At an age younger than the ‘legal-age catch’.
A city where the graft wasn’t a chore anymore
And a place where deep ‘No wheys’ echoed as the reply to the Mammies’ dinner call.
He dreams of being a ghost on Pembroke Road,
He enquires for himself on Baggot street in a pub there,
For the craic was good with the ouflets dressed neat and quare
In their caps and anoraks
Distracted on their mission, commissioned by the wife, to collect the dole on the sack.
He dreams of a city,
Encapsulated by the brush strokes of Yeats and the pen of Beckett.
But this tap on the shoulder returns looking for a ticket
In this new city ‘oró sé do bheatha ‘bhaile’
Does not apply to our sleeping warrior.
His dreams of the Liffey swim begin to fall aside.
And thoughts of hard men who drank in main-road pubs,
Reaching for their pack of smokes after a bout down at the boxing club
Began to fray as the city did decay over the course of his dazed day.
The ticket warden, like the Shíochána, takes his dream away.
Good night by Charlotte Freeborough
Memories under the pond's reflections tangled in the water reeds
Caught by some lucky fisherman
as Dreams -
Dreams only take form behind the walls of your minds:
Impassable like stone graves.
Skimming the tides of humanity's sleepwalk
- Open-eyed somnambulism -
You find the fields they can not see
Never is one so awake as when you see
The sleep flowers whilst in your Dreams.
For in the attic of your mind is the archaic note:
Abandoned in the recesses of humanity yet
Still ingrained in the heart of Dreams
Memories never remembered
Looking like a dead lighthouse over your seas
Left in the dust like a broken key
Pressed flowers covered in dust
From the pages of your memory:
A Monday morning I rose:
Colours that no longer were,
Dimmed and white washed, now grown strong and Bold with life!
A doorbell rings out:
A face faded and folded with time, now a valley of spiralling colours
The wind beat the trees together, green like children's bruised knees
Birds swinging on invisible trapeziums in the cloud-cradled sky
I catch them all, hold them to my heart and shout: "they will never leave me!"
And as I move closer to the door
I slowly close my eyes:
Fog under the river
Like light reflecting across the water, I touch them - they ripple and fade from my reach: Amorphous...
Good morning.
How I Long To Stay - Aisha Bocas
I had a dream last night
That I was weightlessly drifting
Like an insect on a summer’s breeze
Through clouds of breath-taking height
In an endless sky
I could almost feel the sun
The warmth of ochre rays on my skin
Trying to catch my eye
Like an artist with a brush
My body became clothed
Enveloped in a spectral dance of colours
Light encompassing me all in one rush
I was ascending so fast
Even the clouds, now below me,
Couldn’t keep up
Oh, how much I hoped this trance would last
The clouds became a kaleidoscope of nebula
A compound of colours
That could only be produced
With a well-crafted formula
As the fire slowly rose
I knew I’d have to leave
This personalised palace
That my subconscious kindly chose
But before this felicity could end
I closed my no longer dreary eyes
To just feel the wind and light
As I gradually began to descend
Hoping this would forever remain
My mind disobeyed
But, oh, my friend
How I long to be there again
Dream by Hana Aboueid
I dream of a night sky, strewn with stars
Like silver confetti sporadically detonated
Against a black canvas- darkness eternal.
I dream of the ocean, which tugs on the shore;
It steals up in the night to tickle the rocks,
Frothing, fizzing, foaming at the mouth.
I dream of the moon- the gargantuan lune -
A crystal ball, an iridescent bubble, a rotting skull,
Sublime in its pearly magnitude.
I dream of you, floating in a gauzy galaxy
Of brilliant jewels and hypnotic gases,
Like a Chinese smoking room…
I dream of you. I reach for you.
My hand stops; flat against a surface
As inflexible yet arbitrary as a mirror.
I am you. You are me. A reflection -
Isolated and obscure. Out of reach.
The mirror frame flexes; the glass cracks.
I reach for you, but the glass
Shatters, fragments, disintegrates
Into a hurricane of dust; dust like snow;
Snow like sand - a mirage of thoughts,
Spiralling lower, lower into infinite darkness.

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