From the time she was a young child, Breda always had her head in a book.
“There were 10 of us,” she says. “I was number two. It wasn’t a bookish house, but I loved the mobile library. As a teenager, I read the classics and Herman Hesse and Dostoyevsky.”
She wrote journals full of teenage angst.
“I wanted to be a journalist, but the only course was in Rathmines, Dublin. It was too far.”
After university Breda spent two years in Kenya. Returning, and interested in spirituality, she took a Diploma in religious education, and then became a secondary school teacher of French and Religious Education in Cahir, County Tipperary. She taught for 33 years.
“In 2007, I was ill, and had a year off work. I started writing and began a novel. But when I returned to work, I switched to poetry. With less time available, it was easier.”
And when, in 2014 she attended an outreach course, her poetry improved. After she retired, she fulfilled a dream and took an MA in Creative Writing.
“I felt in a threshold place,” she says.
Who is Breda Joyce?
Date of birth: 1959 in Galway
Education: Headford Presentation College; NUI Galway, French, Economics, Sociology and Maths; University College Cork, MA in Creative Writing.
Home: Between Cahir and Clonmel.
Family: Husband Mark. Caoimhe 28 and Muireann 26.
The Day Job: A writer. “And I volunteer for the Irish Cancer Society.”
In Another Life: “I love sea swimming. I’d like to have been a good surfer.”
Favourite Writers: Leanne O’Sullivan; Brendan Kennelly; Michael Longley; Margaret Galvin; Mary O’Gorman; Patrick Kavanagh.
Second Book: “I have some material to work on. I hope to have another collection in 2 or 3 years.”
Top Tip: “It’s never too late.”
The Debut: Reshaping the Light. Chaffinch Press: €11.99.
In this lyrical collection Breda writes from the personal, from issues of the day, from history, nature and from mythology. She credits poets Leanne O’Sullivan and Thomas McCarthy for their encouragement, but her best moment was reading a poem in public with Donal Ryan.
“The poems start with an image, a glimpse, or a phrase that won’t go away,” she says. “I experiment with form.”
The Verdict: Thought provoking, tender, and deeply felt.
Published in the Irish Examiner 13th November.
© Sue J Leonard 2021