By Milena Williamson

Into the Night that Flies So Fast

PRE-ORDER: AVAILABLE 25 MARCH 2024

Into the Night that Flies So Fast is the debut collection of poems from Belfast-based Milena Williamson, investigating the life and death of Bridget Cleary, in 1895 burned to death by her family on suspicion of being a fairy changeling.

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Uncategorized, Poetry from Ireland

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PRE-ORDER: AVAILABLE 25 MARCH 2024

In Into the Night that Flies So Fast, the debut collection of poems from Belfast-based Milena Williamson, the speaker journeys to the small County Tipperary village of Ballyvadlea, to investigate the life and death of Bridget Cleary, in 1895 burned to death by her family on suspicion of being a fairy changeling.

Fusing docupoetry and true crime, travelogue and drama, the book introduces a compelling cast of characters as the ill-fated Bridget, her family and members of her community all come onstage to give their versions of events. In the ‘Interval’ of this play for voices, the speaker herself draws back from Bridget’s story to reflect on her own new life in Ireland, on the relationships and journey that have brought her to this interrogation of one of the darkest episodes in Ireland’s past.

“In this shape-shifting narrative, not only do we meet Bridget Cleary, the woman inside the poet’s head, but we are also given a startling glimpse of how aspects of Cleary’s story reverberate into today; of other voices that will always be an absence. A brilliant debut.”
—Moyra Donaldson

“A lyrical gymnast, Williamson’s work soars in even the most dangerous spaces. Though she delves into humanity’s darkest side, Williamson’s poetry is also dexterous, playful, and full of compassion in this formally ambitious and expansive collection.”
— Rosamund Taylor


HONEY BREATH

[Enter Mary Kennedy, Bridget’s widowed aunt,
who cares for Bridget during her illness]

Who is this? My niece flies away so fast.
She raves of planets and a pain in her head.
For her mother’s sake, I will not part with her.
To bring her back, I kill a chicken, pluck it clean
and boil fat with milk. To bring her back,
the men try herbs, medicine or moonshine.
She must swallow it. I wind the clock and stir the cinders.
If she had her mother, she would not be this way.

When she opens a coffee tin full of banknotes,
the men breathe honey beside her bed.
Tonight she will ride a white horse to the future.
If I do dream, all her wealth would wake me
and if she is dreaming, I would follow her
into the night that flies so fast.


Cover image: ‘Mirror’ by Colin Murphy, Oil on wood panel.
By permission of the artist. https://colinmurphyart.com

Into the Night that Flies So Fast, Milena Williamson
25 March 2024
ISBN 9781915629166 HB
ISBN 9781915629173 PB

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About The Author

Author

Milena Williamson is from Swarthmore, Pennsylvania and has lived in Belfast since 2017. She has a PhD in poetry from the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s University Belfast. A recipient of the Eric Gregory Award, she published her debut pamphlet Charm for Catching a Train in 2022 (Green Bottle Press). Her writing about Bridget Cleary has been supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Ireland Chair of Poetry. She was the 2023 Ciaran Carson Writing and the City Fellow.