Tara Bergin’s first collection of poems, This is Yarrow, was awarded the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry Prize and the Shine/Strong Award for best first collection by an Irish author. She shares five things she’s reading, watching and thinking about right now.


1. The Locked Door

A painting that’s been locked in an attic near Toulouse for 150 years has been discovered, and hailed as a long-lost masterpiece by Caravaggio. It shows Judith beheading Holofernes – a story, the paper says, from the Apocrypha. A story, the paper could say, from today. What convinced the experts of its authenticity was the depiction of the hand of Holofernes. ‘It is the hand of someone who is dying.’

2. Fake is Forbidden

A reporter for the BBC talks to girls in north-east Nigeria who have returned after being rescued from the Sambisa forest, where they were forced to live under Boko Haram. One girl was pregnant when she returned home, and later gave birth to a boy. But the people in her village could not accept him. ‘They hated my child,’ she says. ‘He fell sick and no one took care of him. Nobody liked him.’ Four nights ago, the boy, who was nine months old, was bitten by a snake. He died. Half the village celebrated what they called God’s will. The girl talks of wanting to go back to the forest.

3. Prince at the Chemist

Somebody took a photograph of Prince leaving a pharmacy in Minnesota. It’s a poor quality picture – a low resolution shot of a man dressed in black – but it has a very high value, because of what happened next.

4. The Hour of Our Death

Woman’s Hour: will women be allowed to join male colleagues in combat? They need to find their killer instinct, says Captain Rosie Hamilton. ‘How easily did you find your killer instinct?’ asks Jenni Murray. ‘Not easy,’ says Captain Rosie Hamilton. ‘Not impossible.’

5. Bad Tablet

Yesterday, a little boy on the train: ‘Don’t worry mummy. If you hear people dying, it’s just a game.’


Photograph © Wikimedia Commons

First Sentence: Mary O’Donoghue