Adam White

Poet Adam White

Biography

ADAM WHITE is from Youghal in County Cork, where he served his time as a carpenter before travelling to Brittany to work and learn French on the building sites. He later read English and French at NUI Galway and started to write poetry. His debut collection, Accurate Measurements, published in 2013 by Doire Press, was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. In recent years he returned to live in France and works there at present as a secondary school English teacher.

Genre: Poetry
Number of publications: 2

Shortlisted for the 2013 Forward Prize for Poetry

Sample Work

Sample Poems from Accurate Measurements

Roofing

The first thing you do is check the building for square.
Below, hoary-headed masons, who’ve never laid
eyes on you, tidy away tools, shove lukewarm
bottles of stout between tight lips
and spy you prizing the dumb harmony
left by the lump hammer, trowel and plumb line,
slung to the bottom of an old tool-box-cum-stool
snapped shut just in time for lunch.

Depending on the weather, deal wall plates
slap or clonk into place. They’re butted together,
and what’s sticking out’s trimmed
by the teeth of a savage oil-spitting chain.
A ridge poll is offered up to the empty heavens.
But lean rafters, like joined hands, are
raised in reverence to Pythagoras,
who was one of us.

Now crackling felt is rolled out, bobbling along a lath.
With a pencil poised on one ear, you make your way
to the apex, careful not to puncture this sealed hold
of silence inside: quiescence to be sold, owned and passed
down to the youngest son.
Take your time as you alight from the lashed ladder,

hit the ground before the evening’s first rain;
tomorrow you will do it all again.


Winter Visit

She will only say the new stove
was delivered and fitted for
a song, that the coalmen prove

novel, labouring on the yard’s steps
and cramped path bearing bags, nursing
them overhead and down onto their breasts

to feed the bunker half a ton.
But I only see her lugging
buckets, the skin round her thumbs

react to dust, hear on a cold
morning what the doctor said about
porous hip bones and then behold

my mother stoking up a house.

Sample Poems from What Else Is There?

Thoughts on Old Tools

I have caught myself, when handling a good knife
or running my eye along the build of something square
(just to see again that I could see that it was square),
considering old tools and rules from another life.
I’ve even imagined, once the slow fit
of reminiscing deflates to a more pedestrian impression,
that tapping some late knack or omitted art might be a lesson
in regaining happiness, that each brief thought was just a sniff of it,
when in truth we miss so much more
than a thing we once did well (say two jambs stood
plumb for the snug closing of a door)
the unrecoverable conditions in which this could
joyfully happen. Our tools can stay in the shed:
actions will remain peerless, the circumstance dead.

 

Sunlight, Henry Street

in memory of Derry O’Sullivan

All I want is to wake once more with sunlight
fooling in every corner of this room;
no shutters, no blinds, no curtains

that trick you into thinking it’s still night,
or night already when it isn’t yet, but will be soon.
Then it can go back to the grind,

fell the shadows of fountains
up city streets, lustre low tides,
diamond high mountains.

Poet Adam White reads at Kennys Bookshop, 2017

Adam White Reading at the Cork International Poetry Festival

Books

What Else is There?
What Else Is There Poetry Collection by Adam White published by Doire Press

ISBN: 978-1-907682-47-6 | Pages: 72 | Published: 2016

The poems in What Else is There? are concerned with displacement and the consequences of this. Its immediate, literal manifestation in the book is the type of displacement Michael D. Higgins recently described as “the greatest human rights issue facing the world at this time”, which is to say the appalling plight of migrants and refugees. Elsewhere the notion of displacement is fleshed out, considered from different and much wider angles, appreciated as part of our history and intrinsically human, even imagined in our everyday lives —particularly in the life of a writer —  to be something of a necessity. There are elegies here too, and poems on ecology in an elegiac style, but also celebratory poems that were written before and after the birth of the author’s first child. The poems are essentially lyrical, often working from recovered feelings and thoughts. Some of them play with rhyme; in that the rhythm of each poem is carefully considered, all of them are musical.

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Accurate Measurements
Accurate Measurements Poetry by Adam White

ISBN: 978-1-907682-22-3 | Pages: 72 | Published: 2013

Accurate Measurements by Adam White is unusual in that it is a poetic celebration of the world of manual labour, of craftsmanship and doing things in the right way. There is something very slow and considered about the pace of the poems; we are right there with the poet as he reaches carefully for the next word or image to describe his work in a specific way, as he might reach hand over hand for the rungs of a ladder (review by Róisín Kelly, Southword Literary Journal).

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