Patricia Walsh was born and raised in the parish of Mourneabbey, Co Cork, Ireland. To date, she has published one novel, titled The Quest for Lost Eire, in 2014, and has published one collection of poetry, titled Continuity Errors, with Lapwing Publications in 2010. She has since been published in a variety of print and online journals. These include: The Lake; Seventh Quarry Press; Marble Journal; New Binary Press; Stanzas; Crossways; Ygdrasil; Seventh Quarry; The Fractured Nuance; Revival Magazine; Ink Sweat and Tears; Drunk Monkeys; Hesterglock Press; Linnet’s Wing, Narrator International, The Galway Review; Poethead and The Evening Echo.
Fishbowl: So, tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started writing poetry.
PW:. I grew up in a small parish called Mourneabbey in North Co Cork. I started writing when I was fourteen, being prompted by two things: Shakespeare and bad Catholic poetry. Regarding Shakespeare, I was enamoured by the fact that it wasn’t bowdlerized, while the Catholic poetry was a series of run-on sentences. My first poem was a paean to the family cat, who was with us for six years and disappeared without a trace, written as an English class exercise. It wasn’t until I was in fourth-year that I undertook poetry in earnest, namely from encouragement and reviews from a fellow student. That set the ball rolling. That and the wealth of Anglo-Irish poetry I was exposed to at school, like Kavanagh and Yeats.
Fishbowl: How would you describe your style of writing? Where does it come from?
PW: My style of writing stems from the incessant war on cliché, the predictable, the humdrum. I would liken my craft to a kaleidoscope, in the way it forms pretty patterns whatever way you look through it. I would like to think that a thing of beauty is a joy forever, and my poems bear that out.
Fishbowl: What are you reading right now?
PW: Apart from newspapers, I have just begun reading Antoinette Quinn’s biography of Patrick Kavanagh. I feel obliged to return the favour to Kavanagh, as I said, he was one of those Anglo-Irish poets that I cut my poetry teeth on. That and a biography of Bill Hicks, a very irreverent and funny American comedian who died some years ago.
Fishbowl: So, shameless self-promotion time. What projects do you have going on right now?
PW: Currently I am working on two novels and a number of collections of poetry. I have already published a collection of poetry, titled Continuity Errors, and a novel, titled The Quest for Lost Éire, in 2014.
Fishbowl: Any social media links you would like to share so our readers can connect and learn more about you and your work?
PW: Not at present, will let you know closer to the time!
Fishbowl: So, tell us a bit about your featured poems.
PW: My featured poems centre on the efforts we put ourselves just to get through the day, by fair means or foul. It stems from my own battles with depression and mental health.
Fishbowl: Let’s take a look at the pieces.
PW: Sounds good!
The Joy of Fiction
Somewhere amongst the battering haze
the need for megaphones cranks a little
tight-fisted examinations roll in the marches
cigarette-churning illness shows the way
switching in propriety where it’s wanted most.
Who am I to recidivist old themes?
First a diagnosis searing through the head
failures overriding switching to the system
reading a matter to keep someone sweet,
congregation widescreen podcasts alighting.
Still reason to be cheerful, x y and z
laughing at the enemy, exposing faults
in the tracks of sorrow, audibly silenced.
Going alone to sweeter relatives, off course
brightened exit not an option, for now.
The luxurious symphonies classed as odd
keeping affairs in order for the last time
useless verses detail the common day
hallucinating over the course of smiles
shining light wins, as someone always.
Relieved of other duties, relegated to square one,
sympathetic magic dusting over concern
sundry options following a defunct fashion
the green concepts never one from the dark
the better to shine through the abyss.
Renovating pickoffs for a reinvented window
burning in heaven for the slightest escapade
lighting the way, overcoat permitting
atypically funny guys switch off the dark
dusty afternoons nicely decorate the beginnings
price already paid for the damp surroundings.
it’s always somebody’s birthday, it’s a given
conferencing through broken statements
raising questions to keep ego sweet, for importance
reverberating around the hotel in dalliance
none the wiser for swallowing words
nicely slotted now the deed is done.
A muscular loss dances on the periphery,
repetitive conversation driving him insane,
telling you something inside the ordinary
not to be gutted as a means of apology,
that ship is sailing, entertainment aside
no fear of God can remove this stain.
Sour liberty, to be released once again,
to the starlight meteors, caught in the act.
Counterfeiting experience in a haste of actions
the world’s worse success, cavorting with like
retrieved over failure in a short-term doubt
switching over lessons in a daylight’s turn.
Haphazard advertisements, tumescent message
buy and stay happy, cherishing nothing
wrong turns through paradise painfully home
cascading tears through slavery doomed
giving away nonsense, highlight consumption
a practical costume befitting right.
The human din has me startled
settling frost in an extraordinary fuss,
for the silent day that’s in it, standing erect
plaintively singing for a greater cause.
Darkening around now, safely going home
under the watch of the gimcrack celebrations
future matters around the tawdry lists
securely eating the intellectual motion.
Archives pulled from safekeeping, lighting off
tears for everything scatter the quier
we all promise better, while more drink to come
sozzled in intentions quietly broken soon.
A timely noise captures the crowd off guard,
nowhere else to go, what have you.
The clock constraints over what is rightly ours
sapping joy at a child’s enthrallment.
Burning candles at another end.
Fantasy enthralling at another wounded
fleeting though it is, snow on the ground
covering little enough to be deemed white.
Blown out of biblical proportions, hardy as ivy,
evergreen everyday haunts the lonely,
nicely singing through an existing stance
a happy inclusion waits its turn.
Fishbowl: “The Joy of Fiction” is a remarkable piece, Patricia. Apart from your masterful use of language I love the boldness of the message. One likely never stops to think about how many times one lies to himself a day (or in life) to get through it. Never mind how this speaks to how fragile we are, as that is a ‘given’, but how illusory do you think the lives are that we currently live?
PW: There was one doctor who said that our brains act as a mother to shield us from what we really are, mainly scumbags. In that context maybe it’s better to be delusional if it gets you through the day. As the Americans say, “Fake it till you make it!” Where ignorance is bliss, it’s folly to be wise.
Fishbowl: “How does your poetry (if it does) help you reconcile your ‘fact’ from your fiction’?
PW: I think it has to do with structure. To measure is to control, expressing emotions but at the same time keeping them in check so they don’t spill over shapelessly on the page. That is the reason why anyone writes poetry, expression, and control freakiness. Therefore, I would write in quatrains, quintains, and even the odd hextrains, as the subject matter will allow, but always at a remove, let it shine itself and don’t interfere too much.
Fishbowl: What inspired “Highly Commended? It is a lovely read, for sure. What is the underlying narrative here?
PW: The underlying narrative here is the theme of loneliness, of feeling alone in company, of avoiding at all costs our true feelings regarding ourselves and those around us regarding depression. We tend to bury our true feelings in alcohol, socialising, work and even the constraints of the clock, as demonstrated in that poem, and this is borne out through the pathetic fallacy of the winter imagery throughout.
Fishbowl: What is next for Patricia Walsh?
PW: As I said, I have a number of poetry collections ready, and two near-completed novels waiting for me to get at them! I am a regular attendee at the O Bhéal poetry night on Mondays, so I can showcase my poetry there in the meantime.
Fishbowl: Great, Patricia! Any parting thoughts? Advice for aspiring writers out there?
PW: You can be influenced by as many writers as you want, but you have to find your own voice. That and make some time to write every day. You owe it to yourself to do that if you want to be a writer and a good one at that.
Fishbowl: Last question… What would you want the epitaph on your gravestone to say?
PW: One Corpse – One careless lady owner – Will sell for Parts.