Over the years various poets have responded to my paintings. Here are some examples:
(after a painting by Nicola Slattery)
This boat is worn, has carried many,
but now holds only a girl and her sheep
in true ark-like fashion.
The sea storms, blue-green and white caps,
waves mounting and then crashing
against some unseen shore.
Blue dress with red collar, she peers at the sheep,
cradling its head in her hands, comforting it.
The sheep, ignoring her, peers out at the world.
On a hill in Castletownbeare,
in someone’s back garden,
The Mary Rose leans, achingly, towards water;
the boat knows there will be no reunion.
Your ship has long since gone—
same continent, different countries.
And yet I wonder, when the moon rises
and the sea shifts without us even knowing,
if you will ever miss me as much as I do you.
(Published in The Human Journal of Literature & Culture, Issue 3, June 2014) – Istanbul
Monologue - by Kim Fahner
A minimalist stage, all darkened, but for a central square of light. Within that space of light, there sits a chair, structured and old fashioned, made of wood. A woman crosses the stage, holding a doll’s house in her arms. She walks carefully, but with purpose, to the chair. Sits herself down, the house centred on her lap. She sighs, pushes some stray hair behind her ear, and begins to speak in a clear, quiet voice.
There is a house that sits within this house, one that holds the heart I put away the day he died. Maybe some semblance of my heart is in that ‘other’ house, but I can’t be sure anymore. I mind this little house so carefully that people call me paranoid, suspicious, odd. They can’t know that the tiny structure may be the only keepsake of a life now past. They can’t understand that the larger building behind me is what was, not what is. The past is always bigger than the present, the shades of memory lurking just behind….
Her light fades while another appears to reveal the Slattery painting, hanging behind her, stage left. She senses the shift of light, turns her body sideways to better see the painting. The tiny house moves with her. She sighs.
What is left, now, is in that smaller rendition of wood and paint, and that in itself is nothing but a muted echo on canvas. I can’t even trust anyone else to hold the heart of it all. That would be madness. Instead, I place the image, self-portrait, they say, on canvas. Paint colours it in, a lighter shade than the memory I hold in heart. It is all I have to keep things private, protected, sheltered. Together.
She shifts in her seat again, faces forwards, seeming to be uncomfortable with her revelations. Looks downwards, rests one hand on the roof top, clears her throat, and continues speaking.
The children down the road walk by, sometimes, pointing down the laneway, stealing the rounded beach pebbles that line it, cluster together and murmur rumour. They can’t know. They are too young. They have yet to lose. Perhaps it is best; sometimes not knowing is the true elixir.
The woman looks up again, centres the house on her lap, as if to brace herself. Gazes off into the distance, into memory.
Yes. There was a hill, just like that one. The views were grand. You could see far and near. You could sense when someone was coming. It was perfect. It’s vanished now. This is all that remains…a shadow painting, a faint recollection of love. Like something rubbed out by a pink Pearl eraser from school, or a sock in desperate need of darning, unravelling slowly-- so slowly--from top to toe and then back again.
Stage darkness. Curtain falls. by Kim Fahner - Sudbury - Canada
"House of Small Absences" a collection of poems by Anne-Marie Fyfe from Seren Books April 2015 features Nicola Slattery's painting "A House for Me" on the cover. For details visit: www.annemariefyfe.com
Other Poets that have used Nicola Slattery's images on covers of their published poetry collections include: Noel Cannin and Annwen Elizabeth Bates. see Work Published page
I'm lured by the Shoe Sale sign,
bold scarlet behind tinsel-tarted glass.
I'm greed-flushed from Christmas,
bloated with extra pounds.
A pair of crimson shoes poses,
rosy as petals, soft-moulded.
Slick, spindled heels click,
I push against the moon.
The red shoes waltz me up around the stars.
My room, a shoe shrine.
New shoes on the table.
Greyness then, and grounded,
grey-shrouded as an old wives' tale.
The red shoes turning pink as pigs before my eyes.
After Red Shoes Nicola Slattery
From the Hungry Hill Anthology see more at: http://farm4.clik.com/testsite/about.html
These Shoes Can Change Your Life
Her dress is the colour of mushrooms,
like something pulled down into the earth,
rooted, vegetal and damp.
Her hair is soft and pale like woven moths,
Face resting on her folded, plump arm,
her eyes are drawn to the glory
of the shoes on the table. They are
brave and beribboned and red;
red as the whirl of gas around a planet.
by Siobhan Flynn - published in "Poets meet Painters" Hungry Hill Writing
See how they warm our cold parlour,
these red, red shoes.
I saw them on display,
wanted them badly enough to risk his tirade,
to parade along Piers street until Mrs cadogan
in the post office goggles,
or some workman on the Milk Market
or a gent offers me tea at the Lemon Leaf.
I could walk past Mr Lane in the dole office,
past the men smoking outside the Armada, pause
at Daisy's, where I might loiter amoungst the red gladioli,
scarlet frangipanis, crimson-lipped tulips,
snap at the lush flare against grey fog.
Old Sam might stare, wonder if he should
give it one more whirl.
I could sashay past the sexy guy in the doorway
at the jewellers, like I'm the only
woman in the world.
So what if he blows up about the coal
and I have to hide them. They'll be my talisman.
One day, maybe I'll walk out in them.
by Alfric McGlinchey - published in "Poets meet Painters" Hungry Hill Writing
Wrapped in a patchwork
the womandreams of a farm divided
from son to son
and crafts it whole again.
Its boundaries and banks neatly stitched
she works the soil into holdings of forest and fallow
and russeted crop and verdant green pasture
and, in places, bright crimson petals boldly sewn.
And in this way she claims back
a daughters inheritance denied.
The only sheep she can tend, the ones she counts,
as she falls asleep at night.
by Cathy Leonard - published in "Poets meet Painters" Hungry Hill Writing
Thank you to all the poets above for your wonderful and beautiful responses to my work.