Gerard Beirne was born in Ireland. A Canadian citizen, he has lived in Canada
for over thirteen years. He received an MFA in Creative Writing from Eastern
Washington University. He is a past recipient of The Sunday Tribune/Hennessy New Irish Writer of the Year award. He was appointed Writer-in-Residence at the
University of New Brunswick 2008-2009 and is a Fiction Editor with The
Fiddlehead, Canada's oldest literary magazine.
His collection of poetry Digging My Own Grave was published by Dedalus Press,
Dublin. An earlier version won second place in the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry
Award. His collection Games of Chance: A Gambler’s Manual is forthcoming from Oberon (2011).
His novel The Eskimo in the Net (Marion Boyars Publishers, London, 2003) was
shortlisted for the prestigious Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award 2004 for the
best book of Irish fiction and was selected by the Literary Editor of the Daily
Express (England) as his book of the year “scandalously ignored by the Man
Booker judges...”. His most recent novel Turtle was published by Oberon Press,
His short story Sightings of Bono was adapted into a short film featuring Bono
(U2) by Parallel Productions, Ireland in 2001 and released on DVD in 2004.
Vision of the Underworld
Spell for preventing a man for going upside down and eating feces - The Egyptian book of the Dead
What I detest is feces, and I will not eat it
It will not fall from my belly
It will not come near my fingers
I will not touch it with my toes
I will live on loaves of white emmer
and beer of red barley
I am a bull whose throne is provided
I will eat under the sycamore
I have flown up as a swallow
I have cackled as a goose.
What I detest I will not eat
And I detest feces, I will not eat it
I will not approach it with my hands
I will not thread on it with my feet
I have alighted on the beautiful tree
In the middle of the valley
Men will thresh for me
and men will reap.
Song of the Bean Nighe
Like a plantation black mammy washing the bloodstained clothes of abandoned children
by the banks of ruptured rivers, I drove hornless red-eared heifers to the water’s dark-
skinned edge, moaning songs of the wild ox beneath my labourious breath, where I died
giving birth to countless children of indecipherable shade, the base mingling of a paler
stream next a lightening stricken tree. Dressed forever in river green with my red webbed
feet and my protruding tooth, I lay my thread-worn grave clothes to rest until bamboozled
like a darky in a shadowy minstrel show parade, black-faced death cowardly and lasciviously
snuck up on me and sucked my sagging breasts, became my foster child by cozenage, a living
man come through the ground, with nigger dogs and takes my trail to grab and pull me down.
Cursed to toil until my natural death, I exhaust all who bequest my favour, sit by the banks
of my bedchamber and rise back up, swell the water thrice-fold, a broad and foaming flood
to make trial of the ford, the bearers wading in, shoulder-high and loose of foothold, braced
against the surge, while I wet-nurse and unleash the bier, the raw-hide whip of breeding
that burst the banks to sweep the dead away and in the morning be cast upon the shore.