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Mary Shine Thompson, Poems for when you can’t find the words
In this episode, I speak to Mary Shine Thompson about the power of poetry at end-of-life and during times of grief. We also talk about her personal experiences of loss; how the death of her brother as young adults reshaped her life, and how the death of her mother at age 93, brought with it a profound grief. It’s another beautiful conversation that looks at yet more Shapes of Grief.
Poems for When You Can’t Find the Words is a comforting collection of poetry from the Irish Hospice Foundation surrounding loss and end of life. The book brings together classic poets, beloved Irish figures, medieval translations and new commissions, which together form a diverse anthology designed to bring solace and refuge to those in need.
Created in partnership with Poetry Ireland, Poems for When You Can’t Find the Words offers intimate verse of honesty, candour and solidarity to patients, carers and the bereaved alike. Readers will find comfort in the penned reflections of death, grief, loss and love that span the barriers of time, geography and language.
‘Sometimes, the right words in the right order remain tantalisingly beyond our reach: when, for example, emotions are raw, or formless, or just overwhelming,’ said Mary Shine Thompson, who edited and introduced the collection. ‘[Poetry] speaks to the fears and concerns that illness and approaching death awaken. Poetry can keep us going.’
An essential collection for those leaving or left, Poems for When You Can’t Find the Words includes comforting works by Patrick Kavanagh, Louise Glück, Seamus Heaney, Emily Dickinson, Michael D. Higgins, Paula Meehan and more.
Irish Hospice Foundation is a national charity that addresses dying, death and bereavement in Ireland. Their vision is an Ireland where people facing end of life or bereavement, and those who care for them, are provided with the care and support that they need.
Mary Shine Thompson lectured in English at St Patrick’s College Drumcondra, now Dublin City University, until her retirement. Her edition of Skelligs Haul, by Michael Kirby, was published in 2019, and her exploration of the literary heritage of Westmeath features in Westmeath: Literature and Society (edited by S. O’Brien and W. Nolan, 2022). She is a former chair of Poetry Ireland, the national organisation for poetry, and also of Imram, Féile Litríochta Gaeilge.
Poems for When You Can’t Find the Words by the Irish Hospice Foundation will be published by Gill Books on Thursday, 1 September 2022, priced at €16.99. For publicity enquiries, contact Kristen Olson, Publicist, firstname.lastname@example.org / 086 013 7939.
Order your copy of ‘Poems for when you can’t find the words’ here.