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About this poet

Pádraig Ó Tuama received a BA (Div) from Maryvale Institute, Birmingham, and an MTh from Queens University Belfast. He is the author of the poetry collections Daily Prayer with the Corrymeela Community (2017), Sorry for Your Troubles (2013) and Readings from the Books of Exile (2012), all published by Canterbury Press in the United Kingdom. He is also the author of In the Shelter: Finding a Home in the World (Hodder & Stoughton, 2015), a book of spiritual reflection.

From 2014-2019, Ó Tuama was the leader of the Corrymeela Community, Ireland’s oldest peace and reconciliation organization, which works with over 10,000 people a year to transform division through human encounters, with focuses on sectarianism, marginalization, public theology and the legacies of conflict. Ó Tuama lives in Ireland.

A reading from the Book of Exile

chapter one

there are no chapters

 

chapter two

he has been moved beyond belief

 

chapter three

and he is inching toward glory
with only his own story on his back
he has patched up holes that opened
where his coverings have cracked
and some shoes were never meant for hiking so
he left them far behind
there are simple things he needs
on journeys such as these
foodandloveanddrinkandwarmthandcomfort
and a bag that’s small enough
to carry all the failures and the idols
that he’s picked up on the way

there are some days
he only moves
an inch or two

this is the pace of glory here in exile

 

chapter four

there are some things too meaningful for talking
and even feeling leaves us full of grief
at all we touch and need and
can never speak of

we are living lives that we can‘t state the name of
we are loving things that
we can never bear
we attempt belief in things that we can not explain
and we rest uneasy in this
sometimesseemingcruelgame

and we rest with tension so
beautiful
its heartaching

 

chapter five

he has grown older here.

the body speaks its own
language
and
he has started listening

 

the unwritable chapter

and the place of
pain
is the place of
survival
(and sometimes barely that)

 

chapter six

there is no ending.
everything is here.
            (so pitch a tent that you can live in
            and find a friend to whom you’ll give
            in
            times of telling
            times of testing
            times of listening
            times of resting)
there is no ending.
everything is here.

“A reading from the Book of Exile” Originally published in Readings from the Book of Exile (Canterbury Press, 2012). Copyright © 2012 by Pádraig Ó Tuama. Reprinted with the permission of the poet.

“A reading from the Book of Exile” Originally published in Readings from the Book of Exile (Canterbury Press, 2012). Copyright © 2012 by Pádraig Ó Tuama. Reprinted with the permission of the poet.

Pádraig Ó Tuama

Pádraig Ó Tuama

Pádraig Ó Tuama is the author of Sorry for Your Troubles (Canterbury Press, 2013). From 2014-2019, Ó Tuama was the leader of the Corrymeela Community, Ireland’s oldest peace and reconciliation organization. He lives in Ireland.

by this poet

poem

‘You’re too young
to know about The Troubles,’
the peaceman said.

And the youngman said:

f a t h e r s h o t d e a d
m o t h e r f e l l a p a r t
b r o t h e r f e l l i n t o h i m s e l f
o t h e r b r o t h e r s e n t t o l i v e w i t h o t h e r s
a n d m e i s m o t

poem

In-between the sun and moon,
I sit and watch
and make some room
for letting light and twilight mingle,
shaping hope
and making single glances last eternity,
a little more,
extending love beyond the doors of welcoming,
while wedding all the parted people,
even sons to

poem

And there was banging on the bins that night
and many frightened people woke
and noted down the hour.
The clock of hunger-strikers dead is not ignored with ease
and ‘please, God, please keep loved ones safe’ was then
repeated round and round and round
like rosaries told upon a bead,