Maurice Devitt, after thirty years plying his trade in the world of Insurance & Banking, decided he wanted to be a poet, so he retired. Now eight years and 200 poems later he has recently published his debut collection, ‘Growing Up in Colour’, with Doire Press.
During those eight years he also completed the MA in Poetry Studies at Mater Dei, won the Trocaire/Poetry Ireland Competition and was placed or shortlisted in many other competitions including The Patrick Kavanagh Award, The Interpreter’s House, Bangor Literary Festival, Over the Edge New Writer of the Year Competition, The Listowel Collection Competition and Cuirt New Writing Award.
Selected for Poetry Ireland Introductions in 2016, his poems have appeared in a significant number of journals, both in Ireland and internationally. He was a featured poet at the Poets in Transylvania Festival in 2015 and a guest speaker at the John Berryman Centenary Conference in both Dublin and Minneapolis. His poems have been nominated for Pushcart, Forward and Best of the Net prizes and his Pushcart-nominated poem, ‘The Lion Tamer Dreams of Office Work’, was the title poem of an anthology published by Hibernian Writers in 2015. He is curator of the Irish Centre for Poetry Studies site.
Loitering with Intent
I see him standing in his front garden pretending to clip his roses, but know he is waiting to snare me and I can’t turn back now. He greets me as he settles himself on the blistered railing, wonders have I heard the latest about the couple in no. 10, bemoans the rise in petty crime since the neighbours’ WhatsApp was set up, drifts seamlessly into political commentary and sport. I am watching his lips move but not listening, I am looking into his eyes, wondering if his words reflect what he is thinking or is it that he just wants to hold on, knowing that when I am gone the evening light will start to curdle and he will reluctantly retreat to a kitchen full of cat food and a table set for one?
Tricking the Light
He paints in a room at the top of the house and every morning climbs the arthritic stairs, one creak at a time, pauses for a breather on the attic return, then softly shuffles up the final few steps. He ascends in total darkness, as if to catch the room off-guard and, as his eyes take in the sooty shift from night to day, he sees that everything is just as he left it – the tree he has painted through the window every day for thirty years, is still there to reveal the lies in yesterday’s work, so he starts the story one more time, not knowing how it will end.
He opens a wardrobe full of crisp blue shirts, chooses the first in line. One less decision this early in the morning and, when he stands in front of the mirror, he knows exactly how he will look. A cloudless start to another perfect day, when everything will go to plan and on the odd occasion that a decision has unexpected results, he can normally trace it back to a hiccup earlier in the day. Most likely something someone else has done, perhaps confusing cause and effect, mind unbuttoned by a slight loss in concentration or distracted at the sight of a man crying on the corner of a busy street. He never worries, favours ostentation over content and by the time the decision is reversed, the man will be gone, the world will have moved on to its next moment of panic, and his blue shirt will still look perfectly pressed.