Prologue with Epilogue

Maybe it was seven years ago – maybe it was ten – my husband bought me the an internet domain. I had recently taken a break from my journalistic career. After almost quarter of a century of writing as well as presenting and reporting on radio and tv out of my native Cork, I wanted to clear my head. Writing 1,000 words a day had become such a way of life that I thought it was me, that if I stemmed such a natural output, I would explode, and the thoughts, words and ideas would come toppling out. That was 11 years ago and since then, I have not for one minute missed the journalist’s life. I began writing a novel which didn’t have a deadline so has been at the 60,000 word mark for eighteen months and am very grateful that I have the greatest luxury in life….time to myself.


I hate anything to do with marketing, and therefore have always had a problem with self-promotion. I would, over the years, have liked to sell things I made?- engraved glass, textile and conceptual art, jewellery, clothing –  but find it so excruciatingly difficult and embarrassing to sell myself or my work that I often ended up giving it away. To compound this, I have always had a problem with intellectual espionage and my ideas being nabbed and nobbled and successfully sold (though’ ne’er so well expressed.) As I got older, and had fears that I might cease to be, I envisaged meeting St Peter at the Pearly Gates. He would look down the three columns of his book headed: Name (Isabel Healy) Talents Given(writing) and then he would look under “Use of Talents” and would find “Social networking/ e-mails”. The book would be closed, the not-quite-so-pearly gates would open and I would be sent down to spend all eternity with my fellow under-achievers. I would never get to talk with Alexander Pope or Keats, Maud Gonne MacBride or Longfellow(see above and below.) I would be forced forever to suffer the vapid personal anecdotes of bores.


Terrified by this prospect, in the past two years I opened the blog application and tried to use it.  The process was too frustrating and cumbersome so my husband promised he would sort me out on another blog tool recommended by a friend. I began to write again and put the pieces in a file, ready for export “…. when the blog is up and running”.


Over the past week, I have been sick in Berlin (because I didn’t wait to get better when sick in France before folding my tents like the Arabs and as silently stealing away to Germany…. and before that, I’d been around the world for the month of December.) As my body heroically (albeit painfully) struggled to heal itself?- I don’t bother much with pills or doctors – my mind raced. I asked my husband to lie with me on my Bed of Pain and translate plug-ins and widgets and explain the exporting of files from laptop to web. This – and the possibility of divorce – is the result.


I am up now and if not running, at least able to make it into another room. The blog is up now and if not running, at least hanging around in cyberspace…. not pretty, but the curlicues will come and sure aren’t a thousand words worth a picture? The pieces you will see here under a current date were written within the first decade of the twenty first century and have been since, like myself, merely languishing (alone and palely loitering?)


I write this introduction today because it is the birthday of the twice Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Robert Lowell, the first to establish what became known as the?”Confessional” style of poetry in America. He has a lot to answer for (but then, he was mad.) “Confessional” is the easiest form or story telling (the vapid personal anecdotes of bores?) because it requires no imagination. Journalists make the worst creative writers because to them, making up stories is anathema. Their training, their existence, is chronicling the whowhatwhywhenwhere of real people and events….not making things up.


Today, shy of putting it out there, I hear the noise of Lowell’s own voice saying something like “I’d love to be able to make something up…but yerra, feckit, why not just say it like it is and tag people?”  Thank you Bob, and on your birthday, I make your Epilogue my Prologue:


Those blessed structures, plot and rhyme–

why are they no help to me now

I want to make

something imagined, not recalled?

I hear the noise of my own voice:

The painter’s vision is not a lens,

it trembles to caress the light.

But sometimes everything I write

with the threadbare art of my eye

seems a snapshot,

lurid, rapid, garish, grouped,

heightened from life,

yet paralyzed by fact.

All’s misalliance.

Yet why not say what happened?

Pray for the grace of accuracy

Vermeer gave to the sun’s illumination

stealing like the tide across a map

to his girl solid with yearning.

We are poor passing facts,

warned by that to give

each figure in the photograph

his living name.

Isabel Healy

Isabel Healy

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