Lauren O’Donovan – A Letter to the Underworld

Lauren O’Donovan is an Irish writer completing her creative writing thesis at University College Cork. Recently published by The Echo, A New Ulster, O Bheal, Disposable Stories, and The Quarryman, Lauren is also one of three artists chosen by the Cairde Young Curators to be featured at the 2021 Sligo Arts Festival for her poem, Burlesque. Lauren has been honoured to be a featured poet at the O Bheal Winter Warmer Festival and Bookends Conference 2020. She is a member of DeBarra’s Spoken Word literary events team and co-founder of Lime Square Poets.


A Letter to the Underworld

Another rejection letter.
So many submissions,
Each one rejected
by response or silence.
If I can’t get published
in a local magazine,
How will I convince
Hades and Persephone
to listen to me.
I need a chapbook,
At least, maybe an award,
Or at absolute minimum
a shortlist on my C.V.

I’m learning guitar:
D, E, A, C,
But without F and B
I haven’t even mastered
the key of G.
I tried to buy a lyre,
But amazon is restricted
because of Brexit.
Perhaps I’d get by
with a four string ukulele —
Much more manageable,
But the tone might be
too jovial.

I’ve been practicing
not looking back.
Wearing horse blinkers
and a belt of ropes
hitched with steak
I run by stray dogs.
Race for your life,
Always forward,
No matter how close
the teeth and growls.
I drop the belt
and vault the fence.
The dogs are getting fat.

I know it’s not easy,
You never liked shadows.
The Asphodel Meadows
sound pleasant but boring.
I suggest you keep busy:
Network with fury,
Tease of the famous poet
come to visit, any day
now pending invitation.
It’s all about the marketing.
Do some research
on Persephone’s favourites,
But don’t mention pomegranates.

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