Cork Poet Laureate: The Arcades Project, by William Wall 

In the latest of his monthly poems, William Wall imagines a very different Cork city 
Cork Poet Laureate: The Arcades Project, by William Wall 

William Wall, Cork Poet Laureate.  Picture: Denis Minihane

The Arcades Project

‘The concept of progress must be grounded in the idea of catastrophe.’ Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project

they put a roof over the city
so it will never rain again
a sheet of tinted glass
the exact colour of a perfect day 

progress they say
is born of catastrophe
one terrible year
to change everything

it’s not over yet they say
in the shortening autumn days
we still can’t breathe easy
almost two years
and here’s another winter

it takes a few thousand dead
to make us see the benefit
of dining al fresco
in the great arcade 

in the Huguenot Quarter
Princes Street and Emmet Place
all of us wondering what 
to talk about when
there’s no weather anymore 

but under our feet the world
returns unasked
nature gaining access
by the city’s secret veins

under the pavement lies the beach
when tide and wind combine
a storm from the southeast
the ocean comes
to wipe our footprints out


[September 2021]

  •  William Wall is from Cork, and is currently serving as his home county's first Poet Laureate. An initiative of the Munster Literature Centre that is funded by Cork City Council, Wall writes a poem every month, providing a personal response to issues in the city and county. 
  • The Irish Examiner publishes these poems in the first week of every month, and the works will also be collected into a chapbook to be launched at next year’s Cork World Book Festival.

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