Thursday 10 March 2022

Jim McElroy, "We Are the Weather"


Jim McElroy is winner of the 2021 Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing, the 2021 Poetry Business International Book and Pamphlet Competition, and the 2020 winner of the Francis Ledwidge Poetry Award. In 2019 he was selected for Poetry Ireland Introductions, runner-up in the Bridport Poetry Prize, and awarded an Individual Artist Award by Arts Council NI. He has been shortlisted for the Rialto Pamphlet Award, Gutter Edwin Morgan Prize, Bridport Poetry Prize, Cúirt New Writing Prize, runner-up in the Fingal Poetry Prize and nominated for Pushcart and Forward prizes. His winning pamphlet, We Are The Weather, is published by Smith|Doorstop.

About We Are the Weather, by Jim McElroy

We are the Weather is the winner of The Poetry Business International Book & Pamphlet Competition 2021. It is a mature and coherent first collection by a distinctive and compelling writer. The poems present vivid and often pungent scenes of rural life in exuberant and hardworking language, with childhood and family relationships at their heart.

You can see more details about We Are the Weather on the publisher's website here. Below, you can read two sample poems from the collection. 

From We Are the Weather

Pouring the yard 

We shovel sand and stones into the chunter,
shake in cement. The gravel scratch 
of crushed aggregate scrapes 
in the mixer’s churn; hosed-in water 
dampens the crackle of the mortar’s 
lime reaction. The steel belly tilts 
to the turn of the dump wheel, 
remade earth slithers from its iron pout, 
slumps on the ground, buries 
hoof pock, boot print, rut of cartwheel. 

The concrete’s moist slurp greying our boots, 
our shovels shunt its mass across 
the sections, spread its clad to the party wall 
of the link shed; tamper planks 
race the hardening time, slap it flat, 
agitate in ridges, angle gullies for run-off. 

The poured yard drying, hosed-on gallons 
slake its drouth, seep to the darkness beneath. 
Bunkered earth gulps its pallid leech; 
bugs, slaters, scuttle for cover, worms, grubs,  
squirm deep, root growth diverts for light. 
Concrete ripples stiffen across the screed, 
its load bearing ridges grip for tyres.


My Father took the weather personally, 
watched buds unfurl in whispers, 
the low sun fix its eye on sticky petals. 
The skies spring cleaned, let him work 
in quick skifts. The clouds swept out rains, 
watched his retreats to the shed. 
Its tinny discussions beat the roof, 
spouts gushed to gable barrels, overflowed 
to Buchan traps. Downpours made a river 
of the Hill Road. On Radio Four, 
Athlone, he listened for forecasts, saw 
the mercury drop on the hall barometer. 

The wet patter eased, wider isobars of highs 
circled in the pulsed ripple of puddles. 
The sun cast its width, swole blisters 
on road tar; bullocks snogged the lusty grass. 
On the breeze, the pollen whoosh of rye, 
and boysadear, the hay fever sneeze. 
Then the mood swing: June’s parched glare 
lowered the reservoir, caked earth 
cried out for water; tightening isobars 
swooped, winds swirled, reeled him in. 
His eyes would peel the horizon 
as the wielded knives of Siberian easts 
hacked his cheeks, ripped off petal and leaf. 
In the verge, grounded leaves buried each other. 

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