Anne Tannam- Ireland

Anne Tannam- Ireland


Anne Tannam is a Dublin poet with two collections: Take This Life (Wordonthestreet 2011) and Tides Shifting Across My Sitting Room Floor (Salmon Poetry 2017). Her third collection 26 Letters of a New Alphabet (working title) is forthcoming with Salmon Poetry in 2020. Anne’s work has been widely published in literary magazines and journals and has been featured in The Irish Times, RTE National Radio and the Irish Poetry Reading Archives at University College Dublin.

A spoken word artist, Anne has performed at festivals and events around Ireland and abroad including Electric Picnic, Lingo and The Craw Festival in Berlin. Anne co-founded the weekly Dublin Writers’ Forum in 2011 and 2016 was awarded a writers’ residency in Chennai Mathematical Institute, India.

A qualified and accredited coach, Anne offers practical and effective support for writers through her business Creative Coaching

Picking Figs

She rings me in the early evening

 ¾my first born lately flown the nest¾

to tell me they’ve been picking figs

from trees growing on his father’s land.

She tells me of their plans to make fig jam.

I let the phrase settle in my ear,

say it to myself to taste it on my tongue;

close my eyes, see a table set for breakfast

¾ the winter Spanish sun still warm

across the walls and tiles ¾

the two of them sitting in easy silence:

one drinking the last of freshly squeezed orange juice,

the other spreading fig jam on crusty bread,

days of such mornings behind them,

days of such mornings ahead.

Unfinished Business

On their wedding day his father said

I’ll forgive you everything if you do right by this girl:

the unfinished education;

the empty table setting at Christmas;

the family name unpolished, unloved.

I never met my grandfather,

a man who lived under the glare of his wife,

but I remember my grandmother—a small woman—

her mouth eternally disappointed.

Dad bringing us down to visit her

to the small dark house on Bulfin Road

where the furnishings took themselves too seriously.

Later, in that same house, I found a studio photograph

of the polished family; my grandfather, something familiar

in the way he’s leaning against the table,

my dad, a beautiful child about three years old

sitting beside his brothers and sisters, and there

my grandmother, upright and disapproving

staring into the camera, daring it to blink.

That blond-haired little boy,

the man who loved his wife for sixty years,

couldn’t wait to cycle home from work,

gave up his wages every week,

cooked our fry on Saturday mornings,

scrubbed our nails, polished our shoes.

Still wonders if he did enough.

Still wonders if he’s been forgiven.

Turning fifty-two


It’s taken until now

to tune into the

miraculous presence of birds.

I knew there were birds before.

I’d heard them singing.

Not like this.

Not like the earth depended on it.


Finally I’ve got round

to learning the name

of the tree that grows

on the footpath

outside our house.

It’s a sycamore tree.


Last year, someone gave

me the gift of a hazel tree cutting

which I brought home

on the carrier of my bike

before throwing it

in the corner of the garage

where it lay un-watered

for six months

before the man of the house

took it upon himself to dig a random hole

in the front garden and plant it there.

When I turned fifty-two last October

I saw the knee-high hazel tree cutting

planted there in our front garden,

and took to watering it every week,

took to chatting with it,

took to admiring its

tightly held secrets

until one morning

in spring, I opened my eyes

and there,

where once was only brown,

twenty-six letters of

a new alphabet

unfurled in green

the answer to a question

I’d been too afraid to ask.

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