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Simon Lewis

Poet Simon Lewis

Biography

SIMON LEWIS was the winner of the Hennessy Prize for Emerging Poetry and the runner up in the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award in 2015. He also featured in Poetry Ireland’s Introductions Series the same year. He has been shortlisted for the Listowel Poetry Prize and Bridport Prize and received commendations in the Gregory O’Donoghue prize and Dromineer Literary Prize. He has been published in many literary journals and magazines, including The Stony ThursdayBoyne BerriesThe Irish TimesLiterary OrphansBlue Max ReviewIrish Literary ReviewSilver Apples and Deep Water. Simon lives in Carlow and is Principal of the Educate Together primary school and is well known in education circles for his views on technology in education and has written several publications in this field.

Genre: Poetry
Number of publications: 2

Shortlisted for the 2016 Shine / Strong Award

A vivid and expertly-crafted collection which rescues a vitally important component of our shared history from neglect and obscurity and spills over with the light and the life of those it contains.

— Dave Lordan

Sample Work

Sample poems From Jewtown

The Albert Road Kids

We all played together, the Albert Road kids,
street games like knick-knack and hide-and-seek.
Then they got older, called us kikes, shylocks, yids.

There was Moishe Magoo and Sidney the Squid
and Charlie the Chatterbox who couldn’t speak.
We all played together, the Albert Road kids.

I was Paddy the Jew as my hair was red,
there was Cohen the Golden and Wolfson the Weak.
Then they got older, called us kikes, shylocks, yids.

My best friend, (a goy), we called Terrible Ed
who wouldn’t tell lies, or curse, or give cheek.
We all played together, the Albert Road kids.

We crept into Houghton’s, grabbed bundles of twigs,
shared out the bounty for playtime that week.
Then they got older, threw the sticks at us yids.

Our playtimes slowed down as we got educated,
our friends learned their lessons in Mass every week.
We did play together, the Albert Road kids,
then they got older, called us kikes, shylocks, yids.

 

Mary Daly

Sometimes, she shows me how to make the bread
the special one they like on Sabbath. In silence,
except for affirmation or a gentle hand
to sway me right. At the sink I watch
the salt soak up the blood from fish and meat,
smell the sweetness of their soup, or gaze
as gherkins float in brine like goldfish,
until one day, he plucks one out, crunches,
winces, nods and offers one to me.
When I get home each week, mother makes
bacon, sausage, pudding. Always asks
‘Are those Jewmen treating my daughter right?’
And somehow I feel betrayal with every bite.

Sample Poems From Ah, Men!

Mango

It took a while after Mam died for dad to start
buying exotic fruits. I watched him prepare mango:
a stainless-steel chopping knife to slice close
to the stone, the paring knife to score
chequered criss-crosses in the golden flesh,
how he pressed the green skin inside out
to make cube-spiked hedgehogs. I watched him pluck
them clean from the skin, drop them in a bowl.
As he licked the juices from his fingers
I could see he must have loved them too
and as I tucked in, he held his fingers to his lips,
gently breathing their floral aroma.

 

Garda

I have trouble sleeping.
Adrenaline pumps
after I book a criminal
I’ve been tracking
down for months.
It keeps me awake,
thinking of the words
I should have said.
Was I too TV cop?
Did he get a glint
of fear in my voice?
Were they words
I might defend
in a court case?
I’ve been screaming
in my sleep
since I was roughed up,
out of action for a year.
The Awards Committee
handed me twenty grand
at the review
a few months back.
By that time
my wife had already
told me to sleep
in the other room.

Simon Lewis Read From Jewtown

Simon at the Jewish Book Week Festival in London

Books

Ah, Men!
Ah, Men! Poetry Book by Simon Lewis published by Doire Press

ISBN: 978-1-907682-72-8 | Pages: 80 | Published: 2019

In Ah, Men! Lewis considers what it means to be male in 21st century Ireland. Reflecting on how the role of the male in Irish society is changing rapidly, he hones in on fathers, husbands and sons in their comfortable and uncomfortable relationships, in urban and rural settings, and in their loneliness and isolation. Now that everything—once acceptable and often expected—has moved on, where do men in Ireland find themselves?

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Jewtown
Jewtown Irish Poetry Book by Simon Lewis published by Doire Press

ISBN: 978-1-907682-45-2 | Pages: 72 | Published: 2016

Jewtown explores the journey of Jewish people who escaped the pogroms in Russia in the late 19th century, eventually settling in Cork City. This book-length sequence of poems explores the themes of immigration, survival and hope. Almost all of these people lived in an area of the city, which became fondly known as Jewtown, and became the centre of a vibrant Jewish community. The only evidence of these settlers are the census records of 1901 and 1911. Each poem encounters a character and their struggles and hopes in their new environment from lowly pedlars to the father of a future Lord Mayor. Anyone who comes to a country must begin somewhere and this collection tracks this journey, mirroring any immigrant’s story to this day.

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