The Important Things

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‘I blame Madonna’ is the arresting opening of one of the poems in Audrey Molloy’s remarkable and distinctive first collection, The Important Things. In an unusual display of different forms the book resounds with echoes of other writers but is the work of a true original. From ‘What We Learned at Loreto’ to ‘Lockdown Boogie’ it explores the surreal, the dreamt and the down-to-earth everyday in images laced with humour, science and sex. It chronicles the end of a marriage and the discovery of new love and renewed passion. ‘Know you tried’ concludes the book’s opening section. Its second part comprises a sequence of poems that mourn her mother, savour memories and rue missed opportunities. The Important Things is a woman’s tale reported in feisty, sensual and beautiful poetry.

        ‘ . . . know this: someone
        once looked upon your life
        and wished it were theirs.’

Audrey Molloy has received the Hennessy Award for Emerging Poetry and the An Post Irish Book Award for Irish Poem of the Year.

Born in Dublin and raised in the coastal village of Blackwater, County Wexford, Audrey now lives in Sydney. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Creative Writing (Poetry) at the Manchester Writing School (Manchester Metropolitan University). Drawing on a range of influences from multimedia culture to science and medicine, her poetry explores aspects of modern femininity, motherhood, transformation and impermanence in lyrical verse and prose poems. Read more about Audrey on her blog.

Watch the book launch with John FitzGerald and Vona Groarke

Read Audrey Molloy's interview with Maria Pepper in the Wexford People

I’ve resorted to scanning google maps and zooming in on places I used to love as a child.’

Sydney-based writer Audrey Molloy who grew up in Wexford has just published her first collection of poems ‘The Important Things’

The award-winning poet Audrey Molloy whose first collection ‘The Important Things’ has just been published by The Gallery Press, is missing her visits back to Ireland so much that she has resorted to scanning Google maps and zooming in on places she remembers from her childhood.

A daughter of retired Blackwater garda sergeant Tom Molloy, Audrey grew up in Wexford where she attended the Loreto secondary school. She moved to Australia in 1998 and now considers Sydney her permanent home.

But she loves her trips to Ireland which are on hold due to the pandemic. ‘We had to cancel a planned three-week trip to Wexford, Baltimore and Roundstone last year. It broke my heart. As the Australian government announces prolonged border closures I have become increasingly homesick.

‘I’ve resorted to scanning Google Maps and zooming in on places I used to love as a child. We lived for a year in Rathnure, in the Blackstairs mountains, when I was eight. I was looking at satellite pictures of woods I used to play in with the local children and I recently reconnected with Helen Byrne (nee Furlong), who was my childhood friend and partner in tree-climbing and strawberry thieving.’

Audrey’s first collection of poems with titles including ‘What we Learned at the Loreto’ to ‘Lockdown Boogie’ explores a wide range of topics from the everyday to the surreal in a distinctive and original voice and an unusual display of poetic forms.

‘The Important Things’ is described as a woman’s tale told in feisty, sensual, strange and beautiful poetry. It chronicles the end of her marriage and the discovery of new love and a renewed passion with the poem ‘Know you Tried’ concluding the book’s opening section.

The second part comprises a sequence of poems that mourn the passing of her mother, Iris who died in 2009 and savour memories and rue missed opportunities.

In 2019, her dad Tom proudly collected a Hennessy Award for Emerging Poetry on her behalf for the poem ‘At the Shell Midden’ and the same year, she received an An Post Irish Book Award for Irish Poem of the Year.

Her work has appeared in magazines and anthologies in Ireland, England and Australia.

Audrey recalls writing poetry as a child around the time the family lived in Rathnure, and on a trip to Ireland several years ago, she discovered a hardback diary from 1981 with the typical entries of an eight-year old and an index of poems from A-Z, starting with Autumn, in little quatrains of metric, rhyming poetry.

‘That phase passed and travel journals and blogging aside, I didn’t return to creative writing for another 30 years. Then, one day I woke up with a poem in my head, fully formed, and wrote it down on a few post-it notes. It was a love poem. After that they just kept coming.’

She loved reading poetry at school and had ‘a fantastic English teacher’ in Ita Cummins of Crosstown, who sadly passed away a couple of years ago. ‘She was big on poetry and definitely instilled a love of the classics in me and my classmates. If she was a few minutes late for class, she would arrive to find us all reciting poetry in unison’.

After leaving school, she did science in college and is currently studying online for an MA in Creative Writing (Poetry) at Manchester Metropolitan University, getting up in the small hours for lectures.

‘When I started to write, poetry seemed to be how the words came out. The short lyric form seemed to suit the emotion being conveyed as well as the time I had available to write, having three young children to look after at that time.

‘Through poetry, I was able to write about the emotions I experienced at the end of my marriage and on the difficulty of losing my mother to cancer.

‘Finding these poems pouring out of me was a huge surprise. I didn’t set out to be a writer or always yearn to be a poet. It just happened. I think it was always in there and eventually, heated by emotion, it bubbled over.’

Audrey is mother to Grace (14), Harry (12) and Emily (9). She has a day job as an optometrist and she also works part-time in a communications role for the professional body Optometry Australia.

‘The days that I don’t work, I have the time that the children are at school to attend to reading, writing and editing poetry.’

She moved to Sydney in 1998, initially intending to stay for a year, as part of a longer round-the-world trip but she fell in love with the place.

‘It’s a naturally stunning city. The beaches and harbours and parks are world class. I love my home country too. I usually travel to Ireland every year and catch up with my large, extended family and friends.’

She visited Ireland twice in 2019 for the Poetry Ireland Introduction Series. ‘I got to spend Easter with my dad in Wexford, which was wonderful. It’s such a beautiful season in Ireland, with trees in blossom and buds popping up everywhere. We walked every day in the grounds of Johnstown Castle, near to my dad’s house.’

She finds Facebook great for finding and keeping in touch with people in Ireland including school friends from the Loreto, Dot Lynch, Orla Kinsella, Siona Mooney, Sarah Doyle, Niamh McDonald, Eileen Igoe and Andrea Kennedy.

She considers Sydney her permanent home. ‘My life is here now with my children and my man. I have my regular holiday spots, along the New South Wales coast, in Jervis Bay and Blueys Beach, and my favourite foreshore walks that I do most days.

She feels very ‘fortunate and honoured’ to be published by the Gallery Press,based in Oldcastle, County Meath, publishers of some of her favourite poets, including Derek Mahon.

‘I am thrilled with the book – it’s a beautiful production with its classic cover and artwork by talented Cork artist Megan Eustace.’

The poems in ‘The Important Things’ were written between 2013 and 2020 but represent only a fraction of the poems she has written in that period.

‘My editor, Peter Fallon was a wonderful guide in selecting which poems to include in the collection. The second part of the book consists of a suite of poems about my mother’s life and death and were all written in the early weeks of 2019. That year was the 10th anniversary of my mother’s death and it took me that long to process what I had to say about her.’

While she doesn’t write poetry every day, there is poetry in every day, from reading a few poems while sitting beside the pool at her children’s swimming lessons, editing a friend’s poem — one of her favourite poetic activities – or thinking about a good line for a poem while out walking.

‘I’m time poor and poetry has to be squeezed into tight spaces. I usually write regularly very week, rather than every day. ‘The Important Things’ is available by post from the publisher at www.gallerypress.com and from book shops.

— Maria Pepper, Wexford People

The Important Things Preview

Publication date: 24 June 2021
Details: 80pp
ISBN PBK: 978 1 91133 802 4
ISBN HBK: 978 1 91133 803 1

Cover: ‘Cleave 1, 2004’ by Megan Eustace, watercolour on paper

The Gallery Press