New book of poetry from Martha Woodcock

Poet Martha Woodcock (centre) with Edward Hayden, who launched the poetry book and publisher Angela Keogh (The Harvest Press)

“Speak, only if it improves on the silence.”

So said Mahatma Ghandi .The words rang clear as a group of fifty plus gathered at The Kilkenny Book centre for the launch of Martha Woodcocks poetry book ‘We say we will’.

The book of poems is a first collection from Martha which takes us on a journey through the everyday, the exotic, the life-changing and the heart breaking.

Her work has a deep integrity and the poems are filled with an honesty and directness that makes them immediately familiar, yet deeply personal.

It is a first collection of poems from Martha, and one would surmise that more is to follow.

According to former member of the Dubliner’s singing group John Sheahan who contributed a cover note, “Martha is a gifted and well-crafted story teller, who lures you into her word pictures, until you become enthralled as a fireside listener.”


Speaking at the launch, publisher Angela Keogh from The Harvest Press expressed delight at the opportunity to actually attend a launch. “With all that has happened over the last two years it is wonderful to see things returning to some normality”, said Angela.

Angela, who along with her husband John Mac Kenna , run the independent publishing company ‘The Harvest Press’, said it was a delight to work with Martha, and to witness the publication finally sit on the bookshop shelf was very special.

She congratulated all who contributed to the book, reserving a special word of praise for the Kilkenny Arts office, who she described as being ‘on top of their game’.

Angela thanked Yvonne and her staff at the Book Centre for their continued support and dedication to the promotion of all things literary.

In conclusion, Angela said they were thrilled to work with Martha as publishers, and congratulated her on her first book of poetry.


The fifty page book was launched by chef and radio personality Edward Hayden.

Edward said that he felt honoured to be part of what he described as ‘a powerful’ collection of poetry.

“A sense of family and authenticity oozes from the book that makes you feel all the richer for reading it”, continued Mr Hayden.

Poet and playwright Rita Ann Higgins contributed a note to the books cover and described Martha Woodcock as an evoker. According to the Galway writer, Martha pays attention to the things we forget and commented that in the poems we find an endless watcher and listener.

When Martha stood to speak, she was greeted by a warm and heartfelt round of applause.

There was, without doubt, love in the room.

Martha thanked her publishers ‘The Harvest Press’ for sharing the publishing journey with her.
She recalled the background to some of her poems, paying special tribute to her late mother Kathy in her poem ‘Not so grand out’ and to her siblings in ‘Sisters’.

The author also remembered friends Gemma McGurr and Ann Burke, both of whom have passed on.

The launch was attended by Martha’s family, and a host of friends and neighbours.

The book is dedicated to Martha’s parents Kathy and Paddy and to her sister Kathleen.

Available at The Kilkenny Book Centre and on line from www.theharvest press.

The Sports Jacket





Holding his right hand when he took his last breath
I had no idea that it was so near the end,
but the nodding of the kindest nurse that I have ever met
told the story, with no words at all.
The night before, she painted a picture of how it might be
And I already knew that people would say that ‘he was a great age.’
After the last of the morphine there was about an hour
where he sounded like he was going to get better.
He told the grandchildren to ‘keep hurling and keep up the sport’.
Last week, I found the sports jacket he was wearing
just before he went into hospital,
just before he died.
Almost musty in the wardrobe.
I took it off the hanger and wrapped it around me.
I could smell him again. And it felt good.
I closed my eyes, wrapped my knuckles tightly around the jacket.
I saw his smile
And my own smile returned to my face

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