Poetry Ireland Introductions 2013 Series Three: Featured Writer: Katie Sheehan

Chicago, Illinois poet Katie Sheehan

Over the course of the next few days and weeks, I’ll be posting interviews with those writers reading as part of the Poetry Ireland Introductions series 2013. One of this week’s featured writers is Chicago- born, Dublin- based poet Katie Sheehan, who reads on Thursday 11th June.


What is your earliest memory of poetry at home or in school?

My first clear memory is of my older brother Tim reciting Robert Service’s ‘The Sceptic’ at a family party.  The flippant regret of the poem and the room full of rapt listeners stayed with me all these years.

Is there a particular poet, poem or book of poems that was, for you, like discovering rock n’ roll for the very first time? Can you describe what it was like?

I stumbled into Wendy Cope’s work when I was in college.  Serious Concerns was everything I wanted to be able to express — humour, heartache, intelligence, tenderness.  I tried to emulate her work for years and wrote a lot of embarrassing poems in the process.

Which poets do you think best characterize the qualities that are found in your own poetry?

When I write, I try to keep my heroes in mind.  The grounding detail of Rilke’s New Poems, Jack Gilbert’s sensuousness, Marvin Bell’s breadth, and the commanding voice of Louise Gluck’s work.

What was your first “Eureka!” moment in writing and publishing poetry; the moment when you realized “Hey, I’m actually on to something here!” in terms of your work coming together and first getting accepted and published in magazines and journals?

Writing really changed for me after I finished my MFA.  I was still very much grieving for my father and I had also just moved to Vancouver.  With all that going on, and no one looking over my shoulder, what other people might think just stopped mattering, and the poems became a lot more sure of themselves.  The publishing didn’t pick up for years after that, but that’s really the time where the whole project shifted.

Finally, if you could own and keep just three collections of poetry on your bookshelf- excluding, of course, your own- which collections would they be and why??

Jack Gilbert’s The Great Fires, because he has his priorities straight.  Louise Gluck’s The Wild Iris, because I feel very at home in the beautiful, heartbroken garden she writes.  And Sylvia Plath’s Collected Poems, because her work is packed with images and turns of phrase that turn me inside out over and over again.

Katie Sheehan reads as part of the third in a series of three readings as part of the Poetry Ireland Introductions readings series on Thursday 11th June at 6.30pm at the Irish Writers’ Centre, 19 Parnell Square, D1.

Also reading with Katie are:

Liam Duffy

Caoimhín Eoin Mac Unfraidh

Kerrie O’Brien

Venue: The Irish Writers’ Centre, 19 Parnell Square, D1
Time: Thursday @ 6.30pm
Admission: Free
T: (01) 8721302
E: info@poetryireland.ie
www.poetryireland.ie

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