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John MacKenna

Poet John Mackenna


JOHN MACKENNA is the author of seventeen books—novels, short-stories, memoir, biography and poetry. He has also written a number of stage and radio plays and is a frequent contributor to RTE Radio 1. He is a winner of the Hennessy New Writing Award, the Irish Times Fiction Award and the Cecil Day Lewis Literary Award; his novel The Space Between Us was shortlisted for the Kerry Book of the Year Award. He was recently nominated for the position of Irish Fiction Laureate.

Genre: Poetry
Number of publications: 1

Poems replete with conviction and wit, laced with intimations of mortality.

— Anthony Glavin

Sample Work

Sample Poems from By The Light Of Four Moons


The wake of crows is there above me day on day,
in the high branches of morning,
sycamore and chestnut while they stand —
the same sad keeners who have creaked and carped
for centuries
without ever being tempted into song.
The weight of a world is on their wings,
their argument a great depression in the sky,
the irritable eyes, astute, stare down
or out
across the river to the mountains.
But this is where they live,
their nests a thickening in the arteries of trees,
their bitter conversations most raucous at this hour,
the short, sharp flights begin and end in clamour.

When the lingering dance of night commences,
they will fall into a silence that is nothing more
than the hushed rehearsal of tomorrow’s sad complaint.


St Stephen's Night

In fields, the moonlit pools were ghosts
reclining on the frozen grass.
Behind the darkened hedge,
a swollen stream
gurgled its late goodnight.
And all the way home,
on the shining, broken road,
our shadows went before us.

(i.m. Dennis O’Driscoll)


By the Light of Four Moons
By the Light of Four Moons Poetry Book by John MacKenna published by Doire Press

ISBN: 978-1-907682-35-3 | Pages: 112 | Published: 2015

By the Light of Four Moons is a journey through the personal and the universal. Inspired by private and public events and by the landscapes which have always been central to John MacKenna’s prose and poetry, the collection finds the writer searching among the interwoven worlds of the emotional, natural, personal and sacred for his inspiration. Written in a language that is accessible and immediate, the poems will resonate with those who read in search of the unexpected in the commonplace.