By Mary Noonan

Stone Girl

Stone Girl is the second collection of poems by Cork-born Mary Noonan, and explores, among other things, the fascination of stone, especially of stone statues of women …


All Poetry, Poetry from Ireland


The poems in Stone Girl, Mary Noonan’s second collection, are beguiled by the fascination of stone, especially stone statues of women – the statue of the Virgin carried through the streets of Seville to the bullring on Easter Sunday morning; Camille Claudel’s sculpture showing Clotho as a destitute old woman; the caryatids of Paris, seeming to carry the city’s buildings on their shoulders…Pygmalion casts his shadow, as he dreams a statue into life. The allure of stone is matched by a persistent reflection on the nature of skin, and ‘what skin remembers’.

The bodies of parents – dead or dying – come into view as the book navigates between the poet’s native Cork and Paris. Ghosts are summoned in both cities, in poems that explore the porousness of the divide between the past and the present, the living and the dead.

“Stone Girl mines her themes of family, travel, love and art with a renewed strength and confidence as the shadows darken and language intensifies. Every Noonan poem is a true performer which begs to be read aloud for its sonic delights as well as its strange and original visual tapestry.”
— Martina Evans, The Irish Times

“[a]ll in all, a deeply moving collection throughout and one so accurate in its portrayal of sharing last days with loved ones and finding a new life after.”
— Belinda Cooke, The North

Self-Portrait with Camellia Branch

homage to Paula Modersohn-Becker

Your painting of a girl in a blue worsted dress
blowing a flute in a birch forest – a cage
with knotted silver bars – could be a beginning,

a way to tell why you ran from Teufelsmoor
to Paris, where crowds were fêting a tower
on the Seine, experimenting with light.

Four times in seven years you ran to the life-
drawing classes, where they let you sketch
the nudes. You knew what you could learn from

the mummy portraits in the Louvre, those eyes
without pupils, facing into the after-life.
In Rodin’s studio, you saw it was possible to draw

and not care what people thought and you
were able to let go at last, dive into the whirring
life of skin and amber and camellia branches

held aloft in the hands of melancholy children.
How you rushed to get it all out, writing Otto that you
would never go back to him, never have his child,

asking your sister to photograph you naked so that
you could paint your nude ‘Self-Portrait on the Sixth
Wedding Anniversary’, your belly round,

a string of yellow beads between your breasts –
Schade! – the word that flew from your throat
as you died, aged thirty-one, days after the birth.

Ah Schade, Paula ! What a shame it was!
You began by painting very old women, their hands
crossed in their laps, and you finished with your portraits
of girls, pressing red and yellow flowers to their hearts.

February 2019
ISBN 978 1 910251 48 5 paperback
ISBN 978 1 910251 51 5 hardback
86 pp.

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Dimensions 216 × 140 × 8 mm
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About The Author


MARY NOONAN was educated in Cork and London, and now lives in Cork. She completed a PhD in French drama at Royal Holloway, University of London, and teaches French literature at University College Cork. Her first collection of poetry – The Fado House (Dedalus Press, 2012) – was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre Prize and the Strong/Shine Award. The manuscript of the book won the Listowel Poetry Prize. Father, a limited-edition pamphlet, was published by Bonnefant Press in 2015. Her second collection, Stone Girl, was published by Dedalus Press in February 2019. It was shortlisted for the Derek Walcott Prize in 2020. Mary Noonan’s poems have appeared in numerous magazines, including The Dark Horse, Poetry Review, Poetry Ireland Review, PN Review, Poetry London, The Spectator, New Hibernia Review and The Threepenny Review. In 2013, she was invited to contribute to the summer school of the Sierra Nevada College MFA in Creative Writing in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. She has also taught poetry workshops to community groups in County Cork. Mary has read at numerous poetry festivals including the Cork Spring Poetry Festival, The West Cork Literature Festival, King’s Lynn Poetry Festival, StAnza Poetry Festival, Novi Sad International Poetry Festival, Spur Toronto and Versefest Ottawa. In 2015, Mary Noonan curated an international poetry and translation reading series at University College Cork, funded by an award from UCC’s Creative Practice Support Fund. Entitled This Dust of Words: Poetry And/As Translation, the series featured readings and workshops at UCC by international poets and their English-language translators. Poets featured included Jan Wagner, Jo Shapcott, Juan Carlos Mestre, Jamie McKendrick, Antonella Anedda and Valérie Rouzeau. She was the Poetry Editor of the online literary magazine Southword Journal from 2016-2018, and she was the sole judge of the 2017 Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize, for which she read 2200 poems from entrants worldwide. She is the recipient of bursaries from the Arts Council of Ireland and The Poetry Trust UK. More information about her poetry can be found at (Author photo by Linda Ibbotson)