Hibernian Writers: Maeve O’Sullivan

Maeve O'SullivanMAEVE O’SULLIVAN works as a media lecturer in the further education sector in Dublin. Her poems and haiku have been widely published and anthologised since the mid-1990s, and she is a former poetry winner at Listowel Writer’s Week. Initial Response, her debut collection of haiku poetry, also from Alba Publishing, was launched in 2011, and was well-received by readers and critics alike. Maeve is a founder member of Haiku Ireland and the Hibernian Poetry Workshop. She also performs at festivals and literary events with the spoken word group The Poetry Divas. Her poem Leaving Vigo was recently nominated for a Forward Prize for a Single Poem by the Limerick-based journal Revival.

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

Nursery rhymes! Also the ditty: ‘I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice-cream’.

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 clearly remember, as a teenager, discovering a Sylvia Plath poem in an anthology belonging to one of my older sisters in the attic of our family home. The poem (not one of her ‘greatest hits’) was called Facelift. I transcribed it into a notebook. The first line reads: ‘You bring me good news from the clinic’ and the last two lines are:Mother to myself, I wake swaddled in gauze, / Pink and smooth as a baby.’

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?

The first time I felt like a poet was when Medbh McGuckian was commenting on one of my early poems, Drumshanbo Man, and said it reminded her of DH Lawrence. It went on to be my first published poem, appearing in one of the legendary Women’s Work anthologies and I got to read it in the Wexford Arts Centre in March 1998.

What is the most memorable poetry reading that you have attended and why?

Tough question, there have been so many! Can’t do it, sorry.

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?

All of Us (Collected Poems) by Raymond Carver (Harvill Press), Collected Poems by Michael Hartnett (Gallery Press) and The White Page / An Bhileog Bhán, Twentieth-Century Irish Women Poets edited by Joan Breen (Salmon Publishing).

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