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Poet Profile: Glen Wilson

Welcome to our seventh poet profile! Here, we'll be looking at Glen Wilson's poem The Grey Mare is the Better Horse, the eight track on the 11 Whispers album. To hear the poem, click here: Many thanks to Mark Sheridan of Liffey Sound 96.4 FM for his lovely reading of the poem (if you tune into the station between 8-10 on Saturday mornings, you can hear the Wake Up to Mark segment). Without further ado, here's the poem:

The Grey Mare is the Better Horse

I line up the coin with the horse in the distance,

the embossed stallion is as still as I can hold the image

but the grey mare is content to let me compare

tarnished effigy to her powerful breath.

A shift of wind makes light of the coarse hair,

She would not be censured with a blinker hood.

The coin glints just now, slave to the sun’s empire rising

and setting. When I found it trodden in the dirt

I had to rub it to make out the design. I spin horse

and harp, hinting at the music of the past.

The mare has a kink in her gait that no amount of training

could correct, many have been shot for less.

The evening’s warmth is in her flank, woven through

with rivers of mottled white and black,

a result of a foreign father brought to stud, to dominate,

to propagate the germ of pure bloodlines.

I throw the coin into the space she has just galloped over;

let her trample it again, someone else can catalogue it.

I can still see her mother in the way she holds herself,

unadorned with brass buckle, leather reins or gnashing bit.

She clears the fences not through speed or strength

but by how she acts on the going,

as something new and free in an ancient field,

galloping towards the horizon.

A bit about yourself

I am married to my wife Rhonda with two children who I adore, and my day job is in the civil service. I also lead worship at my local church, so music and poetry are my two big passions and thankfully they complement each other very well. I studied English and Politics at Queens University Belfast and did Journalism studies at the University of Ulster. I have had some success in poetry competitions, winning the Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing 2017, The Jonathan Swift Creative Writing Award 2018, Trim Poetry Competition 2019 and These 3 Streams Poetry competition 2022.

What makes you tick?

My family and my Christian faith are especially important to me, and they inspire and infuse my writing. I have always enjoyed creative writing and it is how I best think through issues.

Who inspires you?

Firstly, I go back to those who went before; the likes of Seamus Heaney and Yeats are huge influences, but I really enjoy hearing new voices, new writers always open up fresh ways of looking at the world and that gives me permission to try new ideas as well. At the moment I am really enjoying Roger Robinson, Stephen Sexton, and Victoria Kennefick.

What are your plans for the future?/Anything in the pipeline?

I am currently working on my second poetry collection which is loosely based on the history of Portadown where I live. It has been an interesting experience finding out more and more about the place where I live, its startling and surprising history and people, I hope to be able to send it off soon. I have also started writing some poems in Ulster Scots and done quite well in competitions with them, finishing as runner-up in the Ulster Scots writing competition and in the Frances Browne Poetry competition.

Your advice for writers

Write into what interests you and what you feel passionate about, if you feel like you are also breaking new ground that will come across to anyone who reads your work. There is nothing more exciting than finding out and creating something that requires exploration of some sort. I would also recommend keeping a notebook with you at all times, the creative antennae often pings with an idea at the most random moment!

"There's a great beauty to this poem; it's a majestic portrait of a beautiful animal. It gives me chills when I read it." - Lee Sheridan
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