The Space Between by Kate Dempsey

Our writers give voice to what it means to be Irish in a changing Ireland.

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From the kitchen table to the Periodic Table, from dancing cows to drunken poets, Kate Dempsey puts our loves and lies under a powerful microscope.

— Iggy McGovern

2016 / 80 pages / €10 (marked down from €12)
ISBN: 978-1-907682-41-4
Cover photo: Kate Dempsey

(click to view cover)

The Space Between

The Space Between

By Kate Dempsey

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KATE DEMPSEY is from Coventry and studied Physics at Oxford University. She’s lived in the UK, Nijmegen, The Netherlands and Albuquerque, New Mexico before settling in Ireland. Prizes for her writing include The Plough Prize, Cecil Day Lewis Award, shortlisting for the Hennessy New Irish Writing Awardand two commendations for the Patrick Kavanagh Award. She was nominated for the Forward Prize and selected to read for Poetry Ireland Introductions. She runs the Poetry Divas, a collective of women poets who blur the wobbly boundary between page and stage at events and festivals all over Ireland. The Space Between is her debut full-length poetry collection.


Drunk the Poet

Stewed features lean in, eyes checking
that I’m still listening
and I am still listening.
He’s dragging me down a path to God-knows-where.
‘Are you with me?’ I am,
poised to catch him when he falls
for fall he will, he has no doubt about it.

He embarks on a rant against rhymes, form,
tearing into line endings and the nausea when it’s
wrong, throws up the vowel sounds, juxtapositions
and stanzas fully formed.
He launches a tirade on readings where no one came
or he stole the show from the headline act
and how the kids think he’s great.

And I think he’s great,
a great waste of talent spilling from the glass
and I want to save him, I do.
He needs someone to mind him,
listen to and forgive him —
God forbid — sleep with him.
But that’s a good deal to ask, I can see
a lot of worry, stains and troubles ahead,
lost days, late nights, all this
for the sake of a few poems?

What if, after all this, he wasn’t, won’t be —
what if he’s not that great?

The Light Fantastic

Beyond the back of beyond
along a high-hedged meander,
a heavy pause rested
like the silence on an empty beach
after a surfers’ wave.
I sat with my finger on the map
as you tried to read between the folds.

You pulled over at a sign saying
Dancer Cows Crossing
and we watched the Friesian hoofers
pirouette out of the field,
conga up the lane
and soft-shoe-shuffle into the yard.

The farmer quickstepped the gate shut,
and we tripped on.