Jean Bleakney

(1956 / Newry)

Jean Bleakney
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Jean Bleakney was born in Newry, Co. Down and now lives in Belfast where she works in a garden centre. She studied biochemistry at Queen’s University, Belfast, and only turned to writing in her 30s, after the birth of her children. Her developing passion for poetry coincided with a developing passion for horticulture – many of her poems concern themselves with plants and the symbolic associations – and paradoxes – of gardens. Bleakney was commissioned to design the garden at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s. Every plant is a reference to poetry, and, like Ian Hamilton Finlay’s Little Sparta, the result is a garden which is also simultaneously, somehow, a poem. She has published... more »

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Best Poem of Jean Bleakney

The Fairytale Land Of Um

Between the supercilious litany of ultra
and the negative hordes of un
is the magical realism of Um.
Complete with a sense of journey
(from hesitant opening
to the self-assurance of umpteen):
and sense of place - Central Italy
with its earth of red-brown oxides
and good-versus-evil flora of cow parsley,
angelica, sweet cicely, hemlock and giant hogweed
whose umbel flower parts are spoked and rayed
as umbrellas. Rain is assumed... or sun.
So is conflict: visors, shields, and umiaks
(open boats crewed by Inuit women)
not to mention ...

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