local_library The Famine Lecture

by Charles Turner

Published in Issue No. 282 ~ November, 2020

Gillian was slender

and talked to us in Cobh

about The Famine.

She spoke quietly of hunger

with downcast eyes,

then hurried away,

declining an offer to lunch.


She quoted the statistics of

starvation, emigration, and fever,

wrapping them in poetry

like masticated grass

on English scones.


She understood our ignorance, she said,

but took the hundred euros

we offered her for speaking—

(fifty for groceries, we hoped,

to stock the coffin holds

of dangerous scholarship).


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Charles Turner is a retired Professor of Media Arts & Design at James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA., where he coordinated the Film Studies program and directed the university's Ireland in Text & Image summer program.