Tamil lifestyle takes centre stage in Irish poet’s work

A couple of years ago, Irish-born Fiona Bolger happened to live in Chennai for her work. During her stay in the city, she visited a lot of places and met people who inspired her to write poems.
Tamil lifestyle takes centre stage in Irish poet’s work


Upon returning to her hometown in Dublin, she realised the influence of Chennai in her writings. Fiona has compiled the poems she has been writing since 2009 and made it into a book titled A Compound of Words.  

“This is a collection written between places and between languages. Dublin and Chennai form the two major locales in my poems. These are poems of growing up and searching for a home, falling in love, falling out of love and finding a space to be in ‘the cracks between borders’. Though I wrote these poems during my stay in Chennai, I never thought I will compile it into a book. After I returned to Dublin, I took up writing seriously. I decided to pen my experiences living in Chennai and Allahabad (where I stayed for a few months),” says Fiona during her recent visit to Chennai.

The Tamil language has influenced the Irish poet in a huge way and Fiona has used certain Tamil words in the poetry collection. “I love learning new languages, be it Tamil, Hindi or Malayalam. There is some sort of freshness in Tamil language and my readers can easily relate to the characters I have portrayed in the poems,” she adds. In the poems, The Coconut Seller, Kolam, Rasika, Mehendi Artist, Slap in a Staffroom, Golu Dolls and From Lakshmi’s Balcony, The Middle of April readers can find instances that are happening in most of the Tamil household.

“I love to walk on the streets and observe people. During an evening stroll in Dublin, I experienced certain things that I translated into a poem. Rather than giving an English title to the poem, I went ahead and named it Pattambuchi. In the poem The Middle of April, I’ve used Tamil terms like karam and vellum. Here, I am referring to how Tamils binge on green mangoes by dipping it in some spice powder,” reminisces the poet, who is currently working on a PhD at Dublin City University (DCU) entitled ‘Searching for Poems in the Cracks Between Borders’.

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