I LOVE YOUR POEM!: Kathleen Willard on Amy Irish’s “When the Ladies Tell All”

This is part of the “I LOVE YOUR POEM!” series, in which people submit on behalf of local poets whose work they admire and write about why they do. The idea is not only to highlight great work, especially from those who may not submit the work themselves, but also to create a big gushy lovefest in the community. If you’re interested in submitting on behalf of a local poet you love you can check out the submission guidelines here

Amy Irish spotlights how a conspiracy of poets can lead any revolution. I watched Amy write this poem using inventive language on the whiskey menu at the Snitching Ladies Distillery in Fairplay, Colorado. In an ordinary distillery, her mind ignited into poem making.

We were on a poetry adventure and had escaped our domestic life to attend a Climate Change Grief Workshop at the Rocky Mountain Land Library, located on an historic ranch.  We left the workshop early. It was too depressing and we wanted to be wild and free.

We decamped to the Snitching Ladies Distillery. The owners of Snitching Ladies Distillery learned how to brew whiskey from their fathers in the backwoods of North Carolina. This is a legacy brewery. The cat on their label is their cat. 

It was post-pandemic and as a duo of poets, we were unleashed and free. As I drank a flight of whiskey, Amy jotted down words in her journal from the whiskey menu and asked me to describe the whiskey I was tasting. 

We talked about poetry, our families and our obsessions.  From this cauldron, this poem emerged. I watched her poetry magic in action. The Distillery still had whiffs of the Old West and we were starting our new revolution, free from lockdown and contagion.

Amy Irish inhabits a world full of mystery which fuels her poetry. Her poetry questions, defines and illuminates the world’s secrets. She mines what is underneath calling up her Celtic heritage using her precision and skill with words. Reading her poems is like exploring new worlds.

Kathleen Willard’s first publication was in her high school literary magazine, Beverwyck and she has not stopped writing since her poetry debut. Her chapbook, Cirque & Sky, a series of pastorals and anti-pastorals about Colorado, won Middle Creek Publishing’s Fledge Poetry Chapbook Contest. Middle Creek has published her book This Incendiary Season. In 2023, Middle Creek will publish her second book on conservation, The Next Noise is Our Hearts, and Luna Press will publish, Electric Grace, the poetic biography of St. Francis of Assisi. Willard publishes an online newsletter called Occasional Papers.  Visit her website: kathleenwillard.com.

Amy Wray Irish grew up near Chicago, received her MFA from Notre Dame, then fled the Midwest for Colorado sunshine. Irish was recently selected as the winner of the Poetry Mesa Chapbook Contest, judged by Judyth Hill. Her manuscript Down to the Bone: Poetry for a Post-Roe World will be published in 2023. Her 2020 chapbook, Breathing Fire, is still available at middlecreekpublishing.com. Or read more of her work at amywrayirish.com.