It’s all St David’s hardy English teacher Winifred Fitzpatrick’s fault, apparently…
The problem being, Ms Winifred was a great St David’s English teacher.
And that had a profound effect on the young and impressionable – and eager – Eithne Hand.
“That’s really where my love of poetry began,” explains the Greystones author, “and if Winifred sparked that love, I think we can blame Stephen Fry and his brilliant book about writing poetry, The Ode Less Travelled, that got me where I am today.”
Where Eithne Hand is today is seeing her very first collection of poetry, Fox Trousers, being published by Salmon Poetry, and heading to a bookshop shelf very near you.
Namely, The Village Bookshop. In case you hadn’t twigged.
“If you’d asked me in years gone by if I’d ever see myself writing – and moreso, having a book of poetry published – I’d have said that will never happen,” says Hand. “So, when I found myself at a Beginners Writing course at the Irish Writers Centre on Parnell Square back in the mid-noughties, I genuinely wondered how I’d gotten there.
“Someone wise once said that writing poetry is very hard, and I think I just wanted to take up that challenge…”
And how, Hand going on to being shortlisted for the Patrick Kavanagh Award plus the Fish Poetry Prize 2018 and 2020, and was highly commended in 2016’s Gregory O’Donoghue Prize. Head of RTÉ Radio 1 from 2003 to 2006, Hand also wrote and directed three radio plays broadcast on RTÉ, winning a Prix Italia for Best Work On Music for her documentary, Voicejazz. Today, Eithne works independently with RTE Lyric FM on their weekly poetry feature, Poetryfile. When she’s not producing the latest one-man show by that eejit Mikel Murfi.
So, you know, the woman knows what’s she doing. And she knows how to make it all rhyme too. Kind of.
With many of the poems in Fox Trousers reflecting on growing up in Greystones, Eithne was keen to reflect just how simple and centred life in the town was back then. “It’s hard to explain to people now just how free it was,” she states. “We had the tennis club right in the middle of town, then down to the Men’s for a swim, or helping out Willie and Eddie Evans and Ann and Gaye Lindsey, with the horses. Nobody had to drive kids anywhere…”
With the official launch due in February, Salmon Poetry decided to get some early copies of Fox Trousers up to Greystones just in time for Christmas.
For Greystonians of a certain age, it might just be the perfect stocking – and heart – filler…
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