Jewtown and Ah, Men! by Simon Lewis

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

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SIMON LEWIS / JEWTOWN & AH, MEN!

Shortlisted for the 2016 Shine / Strong Award



(click to view cover)

Jewtown

Jewtown

By Simon Lewis


2016 / 72 pages / €12
ISBN: 978-1-907682-45-2
Cover photo: Claire Keogh

(click to view cover)

Ah, Men!

Ah, Men!

By Simon Lewis


2019 / 80 pages / €12
ISBN: 978-1-907682-72-8
Cover photo: Anna Berdnik / shutterstock.com



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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 Thursday, Boyne Berries, The Irish Times, Literary Orphans, Blue Max Review, Irish Literary Review, Silver 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.


SAMPLE POEMS FROM JEWTON

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.