WRITER Teresa Godfrey has been living in Enniskillen for five years and loves living in the area. Before that, she lived for many years on the country's north coast.

While she still misses the rugged beauty of that coastline, Teresa says the forests, hills and lakes of Fermanagh definitely make up for it – a sentiment that is evident in Teresa’s first poetry collection, 'This, Also, Is Mercy'.

Many of the poems in her book, such as 'A Change of Plans', based on a favourite walk at Big Dog, were directly inspired by the Fermanagh landscape and include well-known local placenames.

Other poems such as 'Wild Goats', and 'Martes Martes', are about incidents and encounters made while walking in the forests near her home.

But, like all first collections, 'This, Also, Is Mercy' covers a range of topics, from Teresa’s early childhood through to poems about family and about events in the wider world.

Reviews have been buzzing for Teresa, including one from Chryss Yost, a former Santa Barbara Poet Laureate, who said: “Teresa Godfrey knows that it is details that bring meaning to moments, and she describes them in elegant, musical language.”

Teresa talked to The Impartial Reporter about her work as a poet, her first collection, and her future plans.

How long have you been a poet?

I’VE always loved poetry, but apart from a few attempts in my teenage years, I didn’t properly begin writing poetry until about 20 years ago.

In that time, I’ve had poems published in journals in Ireland, the UK, and the USA. This, Also, Is Mercy is my first full collection.

What inspires your poetry?

NO ONE thing in particular. Like everyone else, certain things move me at certain times. Nature is definitely a big source of inspiration, but so are the everyday details of life and death and everything in between.

Does your new book, This, Also, Is Mercy explore certain themes?

THE poems in this book span a long number of years because they were written at different times since I started writing poetry.

When I was putting them together for my publisher, I wasn’t aware of a particular theme.

Chryss Yost describes them as “a meditation on connections”, and I’m happy to go with that!

Are there any connections that you value in particular that are explored in this book?

SOME of the poems are about the connections between myself and members of my family, some are love poems, so obviously, there are connections there, and some celebrate my relationship with nature and landscape.

Do you have a poem in particular that you love?

ALL the poems have meaning for me, so it’s difficult to single one out.

Right now, I would choose My Father’s Shoes, but tomorrow I might choose a different one, depending on my mood.

Are there any parts of Fermanagh that are highlighted in the book?

YES, there are several – Big Dog Forest, Lough Formal Forest, and the Knockmore Road are actually named, but there are other places such as Camagh Bay, Lough Navar Forest, and Lough Erne, which aren’t specifically named but which are the inspiration and settings for poems.

Are there any poets or writers who inspire your work?

YES, I have hundreds! In my teens and 20s, I loved the Beat Poets, my favourite being Lee Harwood, but it was the poets Joan Newmann and Kate Newmann who got me started writing way back in the late 1990s.

I also love the poems of Mary Oliver, Billy Collins, Denise Blake, Maria McManus, Mary Montague, Frank Ormsby, Francis Harvey, and my latest favourite, the American poet, Joseph Fasano.

What do poetry and writing mean to you?

I BECAME a freelance writer several years ago when I was commissioned to write several film scripts, so at that time, it meant my bread and butter.

Nowadays, I have more time to concentrate on writing for my own pleasure, which makes an enormous difference.

I write short stories as well as poetry; I get great enjoyment out of inventing characters and situations and seeing what I can do with them.

It’s like being a child again, and playing 'let’s pretend' with your friends.

Poetry is the form of writing I get the most from because it allows me to express emotions in the shortest possible form. There’s no room for rambling explanations – you’ve got to capture the moment and leave room for the reader to bring her or his experience to it.

What are your future plans with writing?

I’M CURRENTLY working with my American publisher on a sci-fi/dystopian novel which hopefully will be published later this year.

This, Also, Is Mercy is published by Summer Palace Press. It is stocked by No Alibis Bookstore, Belfast and can be ordered online from www.noalibis.com.


Teresa kindly provided The Impartial Reporter with a copy of one of her poems 'Covid Planting'. You can read it below.



Covid Planting

It’s autumn, 2020.

I am planting bulbs:

hyacinths; irises, tulips;

daffodils; alliums;

anemone blanda;

bluebells; snowdrops.

Hundreds of them

placed where we can see them

from the dining room as we eat,

from the living room when we relax.

So many, we’ll be seeing them

in our sleep

if we’re lucky enough

to be alive

when they come into bloom next spring.