Interview With Liz Gallagher, Author of The Wrong Miracle

Liz Gallagher’s collection of poems, The Wrong Miracle, are not only love poems, but poems with a unique view on love.  Check out the synopsis at Salt Publishing.  Here’s a selection from her collection:

Sun Over a Tree Line

I was buying a croissant when I saw
the execution photo. Sometimes we focus
on the explorer — the tangled weed inside

every Because they said so. Nerves can
be as frayed as a sofa. Faint hoof prints
take over and a last wish for a dictator

is a pedicure. Measures of change are
contained in names once held
in a cell phone — a baker missing,

a family, moved. A city under siege
is a Humpty Dumpty — its people grab
door handles and door frames collapse.

Moth-eaten fabric covers all wars.
A problem is dead bodies — blankets
waterlog, headlights turn off and it is

all about inching forward like thieves.
A mistake magnifies within its own
dimensions. Under the gaze of a camera,

there are epiphanies — God becomes
a ragged fellow who moves
from tree to tree in the back of the mind.

He pursues the living and the dead stay dead.

Liz Gallagher took time out of her busy schedule to answer some interview questions.  I hope you will give her a warm welcome.

Thanks for inviting me here. It’s a great looking Blog and I know I am going to feel very relaxed and at home here.

Could you describe a little bit about what inspired you to become a poet and how The Wrong Miracle came about?

Well, Serena, truthfully, I never set out to be a poet as such, it sort of ‘happened.’  I’ve always loved writing and after a spell of maybe 20 years without writing in a creative way, I found myself going back to writing creatively after I went through a rather long and disciplined time of studying and being very much in the academic world., that is up until about 4 years ago.  I remember being at a beach barbeque and thinking: ‘Freedom’ ‘I’m going to live for the moment, no more studying’ and actually saying to a friend that I was finished with studying and being all academic and I remember she said to me something in the line of ‘You’re so disciplined in your study, what do you think you will do with all that free time you are going to have?’ And I remember answering that that was exactly it . . . free-time was going to be free-time and nothing was going to take that away from me!  But before I knew it, I was seeking out online writing forums and writing poetry and getting ultra-involved and addicted.

So as not to bore any readers who have been lovely enough (and interested enough) to follow the tour from the beginning, and to answer the question for you, Serena, (and any new readers who might be following,) I spoke on TFE’s blog about how The Wrong Miracle came about….(at TFE’s we had a poetry poteen party and danced till dawn . . . The address is the following if you want to pop over there.   While approaching the answer, mind the poteen bottles and plead total ignorance of everything if Inspector Columbo or Inspector Clousseau approach to ask questions . . . ‘I know nothing’ is the preferred answer . . . . TFE will explain why . . . I truly know nothing ; ))

Poetry is often considered elitist or inaccessible by mainstream readers. Do poets have an obligation to dispel that myth and how do you think it could be accomplished?

I think that, yes, poetry up until recently had been hijacked (and consequently suffocated and quietened) by certain academics to the extent that it had become exclusive terrain. This is something which definitely has happened, however, poets are now, literally, re-claiming poetry for themselves and for their audiences.  They are metaphorically (and sometimes literally) climbing academic ladders and dusting down books and blowing dust off and saying ‘Listen, here!’  Poets, and consequently, people in general, through poetry readings and poetry performances and literary festivals are breathing life back into poetry and taking it on to the streets to show that, yeah, poetry does matter.  It is not just a subject for academic study.  The thing that I feel amazed by and very motivated by is that people are willing to give poetry a second chance, as most people (of my age, anyway) would have had awful classroom experiences of poetry been analysed to death in an excrutiatingly boring way . . . I remember my English teacher in secondary school saying something like: ‘None of you are going to appreciate any of this poetry that we are about to do now, but in 20 years time, you might want to re-pay all of this a visit . . . and in doing so, you might remember me and what I said to you regarding poetry.’  I remember thinking I am going to remember him saying this and I bet to myself then and there that it wouldn’t be true . . . that I wouldn’t be going within a hair’s breadth of poetry ever again . . . but here I am!  What a shame a teacher like that couldn’t have thought of a more creative way to get poetry to us, we were ripe for poetry with all our 16 and 17 year old emotions seeking some form of outlet . . . Poetry, with justice done to it, would have been ideal here.  

So, Serena, basically, with the live poetry scene taking off really well, especially in Ireland, and in a tiny way, here in the Canaries, I think that poetry is becoming relevant in people’s everyday life.  Hopefully, it will keep on happening and that more and more people will get involved.

Do you have any obsessions that you would like to share?

Well, let’s see, I love the dark and writing in and into the dark.  I love being up drinking tea on my own at dawn.  

When I find a new poet’s work that I love, I become easily obsessed by them and seek their work out, high and low, and think ‘I’ve got to read everything they have ever written!’

Also chocolate at around 5 pm!  And a glass of wine at 10 pm. ; ) And also Thai massage, Thailand . . . and planning getaways! : ) 

How do you stay fit and healthy as a writer?

I have got two very demanding (and very amusing) dogs who bark the house down if I don’t take them on daily treks into the valley.  We also own a tumble-down farm so most days I try to do something there to make it less tumble-down looking!  The farm has six terraces which are step-like land masses and going from one spot to another involves lots of climbing.  And I eat lots of oranges because we have about twenty orange trees on the farm so that means oranges the whole year round!  Oh and yes!  I’m a 2-litre-a-day water drinker . . . I am always to be seen with a bottle in my hand (not the TFE-poteen-party type bottle!) 

Thank you so much for having me here, Serena…looking forward to popping back next week to continue our chat.

About the Poet: (Photo Credit: Vladi Valido)

Liz Gallagher was born and brought up in Donegal, Ireland. She has been living in Gran Canary Island for the past 14 years. She has an Education degree where she specialised in Irish language. She also has a Computer Science degree. She is at present doing research into online debating for her PhD. She began writing about 5 years ago and has won a variety of awards in both Ireland and the US: Best New Poet 2007 (Meridian Press, Virginia University) First Prize in The Listowel Writers’ Single Poem Competition 2009 and she was selected by Poetry Ireland for their 2009 Introductions Series in recognition of her status as an emerging poet.