Poems by Namra Amir
2017-11-01 14:35:00 -

Three poems by Namra Amir, a 21-year-old Irish-Pakistani from Portlaoise moved the judges to recognise her with the Spirit of Intercultural Ethics award


Roots and Rings

The Claddagh Ring originated

In Galway, Ireland.

Iconic of Irish identity.

Ironic that I wear it,

The immigrant imposter.

Culturally confused,

Days I thought

Digits didn’t deserve

An emblem of Irish heritage.

The symbol of the hands

That cradle the heart and the crown,

I felt ashamed I wore it because

I was coloured brown.

Not worthy to wear a Celtic design,

My mind reiterated

resign resign

From diamonds and diaspora.

I couldn’t slide the Irish pride

Off my swollen sausage fingers.

The ring remained red and rooted.

Was this a stubborn sign?

You don’t need to be Irish

To experience friendship, loyalty and love

The ring was resilient to olive oil and

Grease, rebelling removal,

it fit like a glove.

The ring didn’t slip off sweaty palms,

when first love fingers intertwined,

walking in St. Stephens Green park.

The ring didn’t rust,

When you threw it among

A busy crowd on Grafton Street.

Where your best friend ducked

And dodged trampling feet to retrieve it,

When you discovered he was a cheat.

The ring returned

When peers pushed pints

Towards you in Temple Bar,

They saw you fidget with your ring

Finger and smile,

you were no longer scarred.

The Claddagh Ring is

A traditional Irish ring

Worn as a token of friendship,

Loyalty and love,

With the memories I carry

I shove silver down my

Foreign fat

fraud finger.


Harp on a Passport

I have been nurtured

By Mother Eire despite

No “O” or “Ni” in my second name.

I don’t look like a Caomihe or Roisin,

My first name lacks any fada.

So why would my name be in an

Anthology of Irish women’s poetry?

The harp on my passport cover

Tells me I’m an Irish national.

So why do irrational doubts

Plague me that I’ll never be like

Ni Dhomnall or Yeasts?

Whose quotes on stamped visa pages

Lure passport control to the

Illustrated landscape

Of the emerald Island.

Poetry pulls my heart strings.

I pursue the dream of

Eileen Ni Chuilleanain,

Professor of Irish Poetry, passing

On her black and yellow gown,

that a poetic immigrant

is worthy of her hand-me-down.

Poetry pulls my heart strings.

I fantasise of the day where

Irish students mediate my name,

Like Murmurings of Meehan in class rooms,

Boland’s themes bouncing around the hall,

recitals of my work like it’s their bible,

attempts to recall the not-so-Irish poet.

Cursing me when I don’t

Show up on their leaving cert paper.

Poetry plucks my harp strings.

Writing poems, I feel more Irish

Then I look, so I pray with poetry

And no coloured photograph,

I’ll stand a chance to belong

In an Irish women’s poetry book.


Diasporic Dancer

You wouldn’t expect to see this lass

Rampant and riverdance to an Irish jig.

When she was abroad she

Sought the seisuín,

Craved the ceol agus craic.

Drafted beer drawn, spilling foam,

She floated with the fiddlers till dawn.

In her local home,

Swinging arms,

Partners switched,

Fine tuning the banjo pitch,

The homesick hammered the floor with their soles.

The bodhrán brought out,

Crowds clapped their hands,

The sight of the one-sided Irish drum

Transported the diasporic dancer

To another land.

The cultural choreographer craved

Two homes, Europe and the East,

her hybrid hips

Swayed and rotate to

bhangra beats.

She danced to the dholki,

the two-headed hard drum,

multicultural movements

reminded her where she came from.

A land of colour,

Bollywood belted

In the blazing heat and bazaar.

Though she was far from her

Second home,

The Punjabi Princess,

The Irish Empress,

The Diasporic Dancer

Relished to roam

The world.


Metro Éireann-Kenan Institute for Ethics Intercultural Writing Competition: The Winners



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