Living Water

Living Water : A Collection of Poetry by Bernie Crawford

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A collection of work by the poet Bernie Crawford that charts childhood, adulthood and the journey to becoming an adoptive mother.

Bernie Crawford, originally from County Limerick, lives near the sea in County Galway. She has taught at second level in Galway and in Lesotho. Always an advocate for women's rights, she completed an MA in Women Studies at York University after which she worked on the Irish Bilateral Aid programme in Zambia and Tanzania in the 1990's. She returned to Galway and teaching in the early noughties with her two young daughters.

Her poetry has been published in Irish and international journals and anthologies including Banshee, The Irish Times, Poetry Ireland Review, the North magazine, The Stony Thursday Book and Mslexia. She was the winner of New Irish Writing

in the Irish Times in January 2020, the 2019 North West Words competition and 2017 Poetry Ireland/Trocaire competition. She was placed second in the 2018 Blue Nib Summer Chapbook Contest and a selection of her poetry was published in the Blue Nib's third chapbook. In 2019 she was awarded a bursary by Galway County Council to work towards a debut collection.

She is a co-editor of the popular poetry magazine Skylight 47. She co-founded a Poetry Reading Group in Oranmore Library which meets every month and she facilitates creative writing classes with the Oranmore Active Retirement Group.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 78 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 4mm | 118g
  • English
  • 1838104178
  • 9781838104177
  • 1,065

Review quote


I first began to know Bernie Crawford's poetry around or about 2007 when she started attending the poetry workshops I facilitate. It was, in important ways, a different world. Pre financial crash, pre the fantastically interesting political craziness of the past several years, and long before the social and economic cataclysm that

has been 2020. Back then, the part of the world we live in retained the illusion of stability. From the off it was obvious that Bernie is someone who knows about things beyond poetry, and this is one of the fundamental strengths of this collection. Her poems are rich with moving history, and have written into their DNA the fact that how things are now is just one version of how they could be. When she writes poems set in the West Bank or Lesotho or Zambia she seems to me to speak from inside those cultures rather than as tourist or coloniser. In common with Mahatma Ghandi, Bernie's poems appear to me to think that Western civilization would be a very good idea. It's just a shame we haven't tried it yet.

In a time when even guys on Twitter with beards, and other assorted charlatans, rush to claim the label, Bernie's poetry is authentically feminist. And her poems demolish the prejudice that feminists are humourless. Her poem 'Women Like Me' memorably ends with her Mother warning her: "Never join a women's group, she said, / especially one where hand-held mirrors are used." The collection is laced with such wit. Even in a poem of grief, such as 'The Last Word', it shines warmly out: "Coffins can be bought flat-pack these days. / I picture you tossing your head / in a loud chuckle as you Google this." Most gloriously of all, in her poem 'Stealing' - a revelation to me - the narrator admits to an impressive charge sheet indeed, which leads Sister Perpetua to say, though it appears she didn't know the half of it: "the devil was on my back". There is a humanity to Bernie's poems which lead one to have some small amount of sympathy for Sister Perpetua's and her own mother's futile attempts to keep her the proper side of decorum, and away from those women's groups with their hand-held mirrors.

Bernie Crawford's debut collection has been obviously on its way for a while now. In truth, if there were any justice in the poetry world, which there absolutely isn't, it would have been already out there and up for all the prizes. Bernie is beyond serious about the art of poetry; every poem has the shine of perfect editing. And yet the authentic voice of the first draft remains. Like me, I know that Bernie believes in such a thing as a poetry community. And that radical idea of community is the only thing we have to protect poetry (and literature more generally) from the agents and publicists who are the writing world's equivalent of pimps, without the saving grace of the fetching felt hats. We as a community must not allow the ongoing profound discrimination faced by women poets, who lived lives before they had the chance to pause and sit down to write, to marginalise this fine collection. For Living Water will certainly be one of the most achieved Irish poetry debuts of 2021.

Kevin Higgins 2021
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