Featured Anthology: Oxford Poets 2007 – Grace Ingoldby

The first of our featured poets in the first of our featured anthologies is Grace Ingoldby. A novelist and poet with an ear for domestic and sectarian violence – she lived in Northern Ireland during the 1970s – Ingoldby’s perceptiveness to the world around her is demonstrated in her writing through stylish humour and original responses. She died in 2005, after a two-year battle with cancer. She faced her struggle with the same vigour and vivacity that she poured into her creative life; laughter was always to be heard but beneath this lay profound personal sorrow and unjustified self doubt. Of Grace’s unique interpretation and spirit for life, Mary Ingoldby says, “Discuss an idea with Grace and and you always came away with something entirely new. She was clever, extremely amusing, and quick to cut through the pretentious and the worthy.” Her poetry was “vital to her”, she would “work and rework”, through different genres in order to get the rythym and tone just right.

The sense of movement that is conveyed in this poem, through the grand expanse of sky and the hunched figure, demonstrates the detrimental power of introspection and insisting the need to throw ourselves open to be rid of pain and sorrow.

Morning be salve to you

On a clear night let the stars be your alibi
Save yourself from yourself by throwing your
Head back, gazing at something many light
Years away, for whatever happens in
This position it is impossible
To cry. Cryers bend forwards, they hug and
They hide themselves, tears leave them ragged, their
Sadness seeps inwards to what’s already
Sodden. At dawn the cocks crow from the grey
Of the orchard you’re leaving; morning be
Salve to you, day be square with you, fair with
You, remember to throw your head back should
Sadness still have its hand on you, for in
This position only the cockerels can cry.

(This poem is reproduced with permission from Oxford Poets 2007: An Anthology, edited by David Constantine and Bernard O’Donoghue, published by Carcanet Press.)

Mary will be reading Grace’s poetry at an event for the launch of Oxford Poets 2007: An Anthology at Foyles Bookshop, London on Monday 29th October.