Poet Laureate: Grace Wells

Grace Wells is the Poet Laureate for Ennistymon, Co Clare. An eco-poet (amongst many other strings to her bow), Grace is very proud to live in the town.

“I love living in Ennistymon and am so proud to be invited to be the town’s Laureate,” she says. “As an eco-poet navigating the griefs of environmental collapse, it’s so helpful to belong to a community where people are genuinely working to halt Ireland’s biodiversity loss, and actively creating initiatives to help the country become carbon-neutral.

“Poetry can support these transitions. Ennistymon already has rich literary roots, it’s both the birthplace of Brian Merriman, and the home of Salmon Press, so I’m hoping to fuse some of these creative energies together, and really celebrate the town’s dynamic spirit-of-place.”

Grace’s bio

Grace Wells is an award-winning eco-poet, author, re-wilder, and yoga teacher. Her poetry and prose are strongly informed by nature, the environment, and spirit of place. Her debut poetry collection, When God Has Been Called Away to Greater Things (Dedalus Press), won the Rupert and Eithne Strong Award, and was shortlisted for the London Festival Fringe New Poetry Award. Her second collection Fur (Dedalus Press) expanded the boundaries of eco-poetics, and was lauded by Poetry Ireland Review as “a book that enlarges the possibilities of poetry”.

Wells’s work celebrates nature while also addressing our planet's innumerate losses and degradations. Her third poetry collection will be forthcoming from Dedalus Press in 2022. The manuscript is a sustained meditation on belonging within body, self, culture and nature in our era of environmental emergency. The work is accompanied by a series of poetry-films, Wells’ ‘Home Movies’.

Grace presented Ennistymon’s Town Poem at a special event on 11 September. You can find the full text of the poem below.

The Day I Settled in Ennistymon by Grace Wells

was the day Michael suddenly drove over from Golden,
bringing the sun with him, chasing off the long winter of
my being a stranger, everything unfamiliar, even myself.

It turned out he’d lived in the town as a boy, for five sweet
years when his father ran the bank. We shared tea on
the café-terrace overlooking the cascades, and Michael said

how the building was once the post-office, and a man
who hunted rabbits sold the postmistress her own dead cat.
And when I told him that couldn’t be true, he said maybe

it was only a story. He had lots of stories—about the fellow
with a cart who collected bones from all the butchers and tipped
offal from his gate into the cascades, which led the eels

to wait in the pools below, and boys like Michael to
gather on the rocks, Big conger eels that came thrashing after you,
and you only six years old, with no way to kill them, but your penknife.

In the spring light we walked through the town, Michael saying
how once he could have gone in any door, as the bank manager’s son
he’d been welcome in every house. And as if that hadn’t changed,

he took liberties with alleys and back-yards, to show me where pigs
were once kept and killed, to reveal the town’s secrets. Up Churchill
we went, to where the rough boys had had their gang. And round

his old school where no teacher ever laid a hand on him, though
every other child got clattered. Side-by-side we walked beneath
his old rooms in the bank, him telling me about his Ennistymon,

and my talk of the present day, the cafés and bookshops, the surfers
and artists, the re-wilders and organic-growers, the two of us weaving
a plait of two towns. Then we followed the Inagh into the woods,

up Tattens, where the bluebells were coming, the ferns uncurling.
In the trees were the first green leaves of a new beginning, Michael still
talking, telling me story after story, until he had brought me home.