Woman of Winter is a version of the ‘Lament of the Hag of Beare’ from the 9th century Irish. In her Introduction Vona Groarke recognizes the original as ‘deeply engaged with how the world is to be experienced through the body and, specifically, through the body of a woman whose social standing has been compromised as she has aged’. Woman of Winter draws on contemporary experience of the ageing female body, its desires and accommodations; its occlusions and slightings. By turns wishful, rueful, resigned and furious, this is a poem that rummages in the ageing process to pull from its various settlements a piercing and resonant voice. In her re-framing of a poem already twelve centuries old, Vona Groarke makes a poem for the ages, rhyming richly with our times. In a collaboration between two of Ireland’s preeminent artists, Isabel Nolan’s exquisite illustrations evoke the speaker of the poem in vital youth and vivid old age. They enlarge the world of a text Vona Groarke’s new version so compellingly amplifies.

Poet, critic, editor and essayist, Vona Groarke is current Writer in Residence at St John’s College, Cambridge. This is her fourteenth book.

Isabel Nolan is one of Ireland’s leading mid-career contemporary artists. Working in a wide array of media she is represented by Kerlin Gallery, Dublin.

Woman of Winter preview

Publication date: 7 September 2023
Details: 36pp
ISBN PBK: 978 1 91133 861 1

Cover: ‘Desert Mother (Saint Paula) and Lion’ (2022) by Isabel Nolan, water-based oil on canvas (detail). Collection Crawford Art Gallery, Cork. © the artist and Kerlin Gallery, Dublin.

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