Today on Patricia’s Pen is returning guest, a talented poet who I greatly admire, the lovely Raine Geoghegan. Raine has come along to chat about her brand new collection The Talking Stick. Without further ado, it’s over to Raine.
The Talking Stick: O Pookering Kosh
It’s such a wonderful feeling when you have a full collection published. The book becomes a sort of refuge or a home for all the work that you’ve produced over a long period of time. This is how I feel about my latest book, The Talking Stick: O Pookering Kosh. I remember the time that I sent my manuscript off to my publisher, Salmon Poetry Press, a fabulous Irish and International publishing house based in Ennistymon in Ireland. Jessie Lendennie, the founder and Chief Editor there knew my work and loved the fact that I was writing about my Romany heritage and the Gypsy, Roma, Traveller community which has always been marginalised. She promotes the work of diverse voices from Ireland and the world. Signing the contract was a highlight of my writing career. My book was published in June and was launched in a beautiful art gallery, just opposite the Salmon Bookshop and Literary Centre in Ennistymon. There was poetry, music and song and I was joined by a fellow poet Fiona Bolger who was launching her full collection, Love in the Original Language. It was a great success and such an enjoyable event.
The title of the book came easily to me. I had written a poem called ‘O Pookering Kosh’. It’s told from the perspective of a young boy who is in a vardo, witnessing an old Romanichal ritual.
A Note on the Talking Stick
Although it’s not practised anymore, it was once a custom in some Romany families that when an elder died, a ritual was performed using the blackthorn stick as a way to pass on wisdom and knowledge from that elder to a small child.
‘I’m crouching by the door when an ol’ mush comes in/ carryin’ a stick of blackthorn./ ‘ere’s the pookering kosh’, me granny says./ She picks up the youngest, our Emily and puts ‘er on the bed./ The ‘ole mush gives the kosh to me granda, who can barely ‘old it./ Me granny takes the chavies vast and squeezes the other end of the kosh into ‘er little fingers.
Mush – man; kosh – stick; chavies – child’s; vast – hand. (P. 30)
Jessie had the notion that the book was very much like the talking stick and could be passed around thus sharing the wisdom and knowledge of the Gypsy characters whose voices were captured in it. I loved this idea and it has brought me closer to my ancestors. I strongly believe in the power of storytelling as a way of healing our ancestral ties and connections. For me writing this book has been a wonderful way to re-connect with my, family, especially those I do not remember or didn’t know that well. I like to think that they would be proud of my work.
Thank you, Raine, that was so interesting, and your book sounds amazing.
If anyone fancies ordering a copy of The Talking Stick pop over to Salmon Press
About Raine Geoghegan
Raine Geoghegan, Poet, Prose Writer, Playwright and Tutor of Gypsy heritage, has an MA in Creative Writing from Chichester University. She is a Forward Prize, Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee. Her three pamphlets are published with Hedgehog Poetry Press. Her full collection, ‘The Talking Stick: O Pookering Kosh’ is published with Salmon Poetry Press. She has performed in the UK and Ireland and her work has been published internationally in both print and online. He essay, ‘It’s Hopping Time’ was featured in the anthology ‘Gifts of Gravity and Light’ with Hodder & Stoughton.