The PK Featured Poet 17 – Sonja Broderick

"...some of my poems are more about the rhythm and the harmony between some words and phrases - so that the poem not only works in terms of meaning, but sound and music too. " - Sonja Broderick

Sonja has an interesting view of life which she shares in her poetry. She shows a close connection to everything around her and in this way is able to get closer to, and is more revealing of, her subjects. Whether she is writing about a dead bird on the beach or a visiting cat, she does it in a way which helps the reader see the events of the poem especially the so called everyday events for the first time and as something special. (Jim Bennett)

The PK Featured Poet 17 – Sonja Broderick

 1. Tell us something about yourself.
I am 33 and live in South-west Ireland.  I have a degree in psychology and a Masters in International Relations.  I have also trained in drama and dance.  I have of late been working in radio but have left with a view to returning to the dramatic arts.  My favourite hobby is travel, and I have written a few travelogues en route!  I love to laugh and consider my sense of humour to be fairly robust, and I consider myself a hopeless romantic!
2. How/when did you start writing?
I started writing poetry at about age 4.  I always liked to play around with words and meaning.  I was published from a young age in school magazines and, despite a break in my 20s, writing is and will be a very important factor in my life.

3. Was there anything that particularly influenced you?

 I often felt that detachment that writers feel, and so documented what I saw.  The perspective began with my immediate experiences of self and family, and soon graduated to social commentaries about people I saw who may not have fit in society, but were striking in some way as people.  I find poetry to have a wonderfully therapeutic effect - it minimises many problems in ones life.

4. Do you have any strong influences on your writing now?
 I have to admit to not being as good a reader as I should be.  I am beginning to rectify that with the wonder of greats like Plath, Sexton, Hughes and Heaney.  More recently I have settled into Elizabeth Bishop, James Wright, Les Murray, Wallace Stevens and R.S.Thomas.  The main influences on my work, however, are the awe of nature, the wonder of life and the bewilderment of humanity.

5. How do you write? Do you have any particular method for writing?
 Of late, I have been inspired to write a lot - and just watching events or people and being open to emotional reactions to them has fed me well. But when I come to a block, I just keep penning my ideas.  Even if I don't like what comes out, the seminal part will be waiting for when I return to it.  Also, I think it is vital to keep a pen and special ideas notebook nearby at all times. 

6. Do you make much use of the Internet?

 In the past 9 months I have engaged with many poetry sites.  Some have been beneficial and some damaging, with a raft of egoists waiting to down talk other's poetry out of spite, but one must work beyond that.  Due to such experiences I find that my confidence has grown and my courage to defend the work which is special to me.

7. Why poetry?

I have always wiritten poetry and I find prose seems to require a different style (perhaps the use of a different section of the brain?) that doesn't flow quite yet for me.  I do have plans to embark on the ubiquitous novel soon, but for now the rich texture of poetic metaphor is what I love most.
8. Is there anything else you would like to add?

 It'll come to me.. smile.
 9. I note from your bio. that you are trained in dramatics. Does the fact that you are so able to deliver your work out loud as it were, govern your choice of words. In a word, is the musicality of words a factor.
 Sometimes.  I do love the sound of words and have in the past been known to say that if they don't "dance" from the page, then it's not working.  I don't know if that is always true, but some of my poems are more about the rhythm and the harmony between some words and phrases - so that the poem not only works in terms of meaning, but sound and music too.

The Poems

The Best of Times

Days we picked summer berries were the best,
painted tadpole figures on the Glosha lane.
Our feet, muddied thick to the calf,
were no deterrent to our dew-soaked strolls.
We deftly jumped gates many times our size,
cautious of cattle eyes following every move and
their jerks at the slightest clue we’d turn their way.
The nights sometimes eclipsed our careless joy.
Pyjamas snagged window latches
as we escaped to our favourite field
and the tree they’d cut to a skeleton.
It’s haunted silhouette against the moon
always looked like arms beseeching night.
They cradled us while the wild horses
tore up clods we’d squelch in tomorrow,
mix more blackberries in their ruddy soup.
Grunts and gallops cupped at our ears.
My heart pounded but the tree hugged tight
and God watched close, on those scantily clad nights,
two children bridge innocence with the twilight.
 This poem was inspired by the memory of a childhood friendship
when we used to escape on summer nights and live an imaginary world
with horses owned by the neighbours.

Discharged Patient

Pale. A leaf, dried still in the snow.
I hug you, half a man now. Shook,
lines dug further into your smoky face.
You busy the place with packing and
a useless conversation of visitors,
of your new mobile phone,
a gift from the son that couldn’t come
the week you had your operation.
Still hasn’t come, he must be very busy.
You’ll walk you said, no help with
those million steps out to the truthful sun.
Nurses gather in a flutter, no such thing,
a chair glides under you, scoops you up
for a play-ride into a changed life.

Always man of men about the town,
cigarette aloft, so elegant, sharp as a pin.
All those sparkling women,
prowlers for the jewel in the pride.
Now we take this ride, knowing,
silent, but for one wheel’s tiny squeak,
those days have flown away.
The dark red dissector has spoken how
you will now live a token life,
afraid to laugh too hard, to breathe too deep.
With a nervous heave out of the chair,
you swish your tailored jacket, raise your form
and bravely cough the splutter of the strong.
 My uncle was discharged from hospital after heart surgery recently and
his whole demeanor had changed.  He has since recovered and loves the poem, but had not realised how different people perceived him in the initial stages of recovery.

A Poem Of Autumn

I walk on roads where brown words
hang heavy on the trees,
and bulbous blood-red berries
crown over the winding avenues.

Where the birds are packing up
for long journeys,
their discarded flakes of nestleaf
drunkly swirl down the spinning whiffs.

Where a badger snuffles out a hedge,
takes one busy look,
then flees the scene
rustling through the thorns and fern.

Where the low sun
swipes a stripe of light
along the scarlet hawlines
and defies the bruised September sky

And the last crazy wasps
frantically search for a deposit
before sundown, before death,
woozing about in the fat rays.

Where proud geldings stand high
above a crisping pool of dying green,
mirroring the chestnut
of their auburn sheen.

Big bursting sycamores
proudly arabesque
and rasp a tongue
at their approaching nudity

As my shadow darkens taupe
dancing, angled into the briars,
and I glide toward a season of breaths,
glistening in an early frost.

 I sometimes just get inspired by the way the light shines in the evening.  On a drive Northward one September evening the light was low and bright along the hedgerows and inspired a myriad images of autumn.

Dead Heron

You've been here a while now.
Your skin, burnt black
and sagging, stretched and bursting holes,
belies the length of your repose.

Your feathers over there
are strewn away from your cadaver,
so twisted and abnormal,
but so quietly asleep.

Though death is here,
a city lives within you.

Hard to figure where
you firstly lay your head,
as you huddled down to die

but a seashell
buried deep within your ribcage
imparts the fact, you chose a
sand shell shore goodbye.

You could
be just a dead bird

and yes,
just as the breeze
bursts back
a heavy reek comes from your cavities

yet deep within the walls
of your old leather,
families of larvae break their banks
and eat away remainders of your shanks.

An oh-so-barely visible eruption
can be seen in the recesses of your chest
and all along your beak
are queues of busy ants
dismantling your mane for a queen's nest.

Still and quiet you sleep.
Your eyes so softly shut
you cannot weep.
There is no need.

You have provided life here,
filled with colonies of the new.
Prometheus would have been so
proud of you

for somehow I can see
that all is stirring
within the fetid belly
of a still
and long-dead heron.
 I went to a beach for some peace and comfort and found the old carcass of a dead heron.. it made me feel I was part of something bigger than sadness... and connected with nature at a more profound level.


First Kiss
 Nervous conversation punctuates
our irregular steps;
slow down, we have just met.
The bar door screeches wide;
I am so nervous, my face
has frozen in a saccharine smile.
With jerks we select table, drink, word.
Eyes dart.
We mirror each other on the seats,
jitters, hands and feet move too fast.
Lean forward love,
my body’s aura will respond.
Faces in a slender band of space
freeze before this impact.
The air trembles between our mouths,
then you lightening flame me with
a deep inhale of lip on lip,
my legs tense, my eyes close deep.
After an exciting net romance, I had arranged a meeting in a foreign country and the first kiss was one of the most exciting moments of my life.

36 Minute Shower

First, it was the business,
temperatures, string-pull switches,
fingers drizzled in an upturned ta-ta.
My own smell shivers before absolution.

Then comes you
injecting the box's drone with twinkles.
Involuntary hums begin to rumble
from my tummy, round
from lastnight's late, late food
in honour of you.

Muscles sink, shoulders
lose an inch or two.
I taste you with a long, slow sound
vibrating my lungs,
reaching out to the ocean.
A whalesong may reach you tomorrow.

The tray fills, covering insoles
in cooling water,
my dream awakens with practical tasks
as steam grasps at my throat.

Oily globs, lather flops
stick to the white tile.
You return to make my eyes close
as a smile breaks, unchallenged.

Both hands move south,
slink over a slidy film,
I mustn't, but I will
slip you up inside the library of me,
flip all the pages
you will ever need to see.

Reddened now, greedy
under the eye-blinking rain.
It seems like an hour has gone.

Pruned, I drag a towel,
wipe droplets away
but smell you in
to draw upon all day.
I was imagining a far away love being with me for this all important daily ritual, hence the delayed length of the shower... smile.

Your Coat

I found your coat today,
squashed beneath all the clothes
I’ll throw away soon.
Its flattened fur collar kissed my cheek,
cooled by approaching winter.
I hugged a cliché of fists
to my chin, closed you around me.
Your perfume, six months old,
clings to the woollen thread that
once warmed your neck in a freeze.
I daydreamed of the moments
you would have written about
if you were not swept up so soon.
Two hands slid into pockets,
fingers slithered, lost in silken fathoms,
found fibres scraping their tips.
An old, worn tissue jumped
from the past into this moment and
thrust its scent deep into my chest.
Your life passed before me
brighter than a lightning bolt,
fleeting crest of a cracking wave.


The pain of the death of a family friend came flooding back when her coat appeared in a cluster of stored clothes and a tissue she had used lay in the pocket.  It was like having her back again for a brief moment.


What She Touches

 Not pave or pebble dash on paw,
not parquet lath or forest leaf,
but golden velvet under claw
and lap-lie talons piercing knees.

Not cement step or backyard silt,
not craggy wall or corrugate,
but chenille rugs and downy felt
and rip curls off the fire's grate.

Not mucky nook or scraggled tom,
not fallen eave or rain-dripped shade,
but carpet shag to roll her form
and warm the soft turns of my bed.

Turned-under paws are not to suit
the stormswept night in alleys felt.
This tabby purrs on sensual fruit,
soft things remind her of herself.


A local alley cat has taken to coming into my house.  She is odd for a wildcat as she has quite
a regal taste in where she sits and what she will rub against.  She doesn't like rain and she wails outside my door when it starts, so as to avoid it.  She will only sit on the velvet cushions and whenever she can solicit a tummy tickle, she will!