Poet Laureate: Matthew Geden

Matthew Geden is the Poet Laureate for Bandon, Co Cork. The poet, who also teaches creative writing at UCC, has lived in Kinsale since 1990.

Matthew has strong ties to Bandon – as a bookshop owner in the town for years; through his work with many writers’ groups in Bandon; and through delivering poetry and prose workshops with Bandon Library. He has also brought many prestigious literary figures to the town for the arts festival ‘Engage’. 

“I am delighted and honoured to be Poet Laureate in the Poetry Town of Bandon,” he says. “The town has a rich and fascinating history which will be developed in some of the cultural events due to take place.

“I hope that the programme will demonstrate a diversity and engagement with poetry from different aspects of the community and that my own poem will reflect both on the past and the future of the town. In these difficult times, words build bridges of hope for us all.”

Matthew’s bio

Matthew Geden was born and brought up in the English Midlands, moving to Kinsale in 1990. His work has been featured in many anthologies, journals and magazines. He has published several collections of poetry including The Place Inside with Dedalus Press and most recently Fruit published by SurVision Books in 2020. He currently reviews fiction for the Irish Examiner and poetry for Poetry Ireland Review.

In 2017, he set up Kinsale Writing School providing a resource for local and international writers. He runs workshops and teaches on the MA Creative Writing programme at UCC. In November 2019, he was Writer in Residence at Nanjing Literature Centre, China. He is the current Writer in Residence for Cork County Library and Arts Service.

Matthew presented Bandon’s Town Poem at a special event on 10 September. You can find the full text of the poem below.

The Walls We Build

Bandon bridge; a span over green
river, a murmur of songbirds, whisper
of willow, melody of waters lilt
and lift the many-storied townlands

downstream, the trickle of time, build
up of sand, silt, leaves, brick walls
shaped from “a meer waste bog”
enclose, keep the outside out or in.

You wake to the shambles of the morning,
listen to the articulated lorry changing gear
at the end of the road and quivering think
about the lives lived now, the hurt

so needlessly boarding up the doorways,
the bricked up windows of the dispossessed,
the graffiti tags and streetwise skater talk
you try so hard to understand.

The walls we build will crumble
and scatter with the wind
as it tumbles over haystacked fields,
rushes on with somewhere else to go,

each swerve of direction a slight
softening of stone, dust in the dirt,
the rise and fall of conversation,
a faint echo where the lane turns.

Warmer than stone and still
able to trap air with a mirror,
you walk through the hole in the wall;
bend of sundered grass, run of river.