• slide
  • slide
  • slide
  • slide
  • slide
  • slide
  • slide
  • slide
Admin loginReadings Confirmed for 2018

<-- Back to Archive -->



T wave-dancer-3-2-col-txt-1mb23.jpg


Crossing was a multi-media piece produced by Waterford’s Animated State Dance Theatre for the Tall Ships Festival in Waterford in 2011.


It was performed on June 30th and July 1st, 2011, at the Theatre Royal.


The artists involved were: Libby Seward, Choreographer and Director; Ezekiel Oliveira, Dancer; Aine Ui Cheallaigh, Singer; Mark Roper, Poet; Composer and Sound Technician, Joe Harney; Filmmaker and Projection, John Loftus; Visual Artist, Ben Hennessy; Costume and Textile Design, Violeta Pserackaite.

To see a sequence of clips from the production.


Animated State hope to tour Crossing in 2013.

This was my sequence of poems for the piece, which formed the sung and spoken narratvie:






In the mirror the sea leaves shining

on the sand, the print of their feet –

curlew sandpipers,

touched down on my home shore

on their way far North to far South –

crossing the planet, thousands of miles.


What must it be to go like that,

leaving not the slightest print

on the way,

each wingbeat dissolving in air

until you are nothing but wingbeat –

wingbeat on wingbeat on wingbeat.



I have always known

the moan of a foghorn,

from a time it seems

before I was born.


It can only be heard

when the light has died,

like a mother calling

Come to my side.




No one holds me back,

no one holds me close,

I could leave my life

as quick as a ghost.


What would I need

to help me cross the sea?

I’d not need my past,

I’d not need company.


Land would disappear

as if never been,

salt air and salt water

wash my slate clean.


But how could I go

like the bird overhead?

Why do my hands reach

for needle and thread?






A shaped piece of material

extended on the rigging of a vessel

so as to catch the wind and cause it

to propel a vessel through water.

A wind-catching apparatus.

Of any colour.




Middle English. Old French Saillir, from Latin Salire, to leap.

Also, in Middle English only, to dance.


When a wind fills the sail

I leave no trace


To sail is to dance


When a wind fills the sail

I become that bird


To sail is to dance


A wind fills a sail

a vessel propelled


A wind fills a sail

a coloured square of air


Wind and sail

carry me with you


Wind and sail

help me across




Rise and shine. Set the sail.

Slop out. Scrub deck.

Reckon course. Write log.


All required safely stowed.

O shipshape! O seaworthy!

Rise and shine. Set the sail.


The thousand sounds of ocean.

Creak of timber. Rigging

whispers. Gull call and cackle.


Always changing, every day

fresh as the first – just what,

I thought, I always wanted.


Always changing, every day

fresh as the first – why then

so lonely, so tired?


Above the wind and wave

the voices rise

and lay their claim.


In the middle of the sea,

how many of me

are there – though the hold


is empty, what a cargo

I carry, what a crowd I am

alone out here on the sea.




And now the Shipping Forecast, issued by the Met Office on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency at 0500 GMT today. There are warnings of gales in all areas. Rockall, Malin, Hebrides: Southwest gale 8 to storm 10, veering west, severe gale 9 to violent storm 11. Sole, Lundy, Fastnet: North 7 to severe gale 9.


Out of the storm the faces came

and the shrieks of accusation


and the things done and the things not done

and the endless recrimination


and the sail is torn

and the ship is wrecked


such a small matter

for the likes of me to drown




The water closed over me, darkness on dark,

I sank to the bottom, darkness, darkness on dark,

I lay there alone, for a hundred long nights,

the sea I tried crossing my gaol and my grave.


The crabs pinched out my eyes and the currents cleaned my bones,

the fish picked off my skin and the shark ate my heart.

And when there was next to nothing left, something rose

and slowly through the darkness floated up to light.


The warm sun found it there and grew again its bones,

water turned into blood and set its heart a-beating

and the salt gave it skin and the wind gave it breath

and its voice said I, and its voice said Sail.




I came to with my past in my arms,

myself holding myself,


my poor human arms bearing what

they must, memory and hope.


My rigging and my rudder.

My spectres, my skeleton crew.


I’m their captain. I’m their captain.




All day I stare at it,

the many-named Sea, all day

I try to see through it.


The Briny. The Waste.

The Herring Pond. The Main.


Let each name come.

I shout it out and let it go.


The Atlantic. ThePacific.

The Seven. The Great Waters.


What separates me from what is?

Names, only names.


The Deep. The Deep Blue Yonder.

The Great Mother. The Drink.


Each name that comes

I throw out into the wind.


And at last, nothing. Emptiness.

No sea. No me. For a moment


there is only what there is.


In the morning I wake refreshed.

I look out. The Briny. The Waste …


One by one the names come back.

Tonight I start all over again.




When I heard birds again

I knew land was near.


I saw myself in its mirror.


My eyes the blue

of sea not of sky.


Cracked hands, skin of leather.


Every piece of clothing

a bleached rag.


The crossing will never be over.


Turn around, turn back.

Let the sea be your wing,


let its salt be your shelter,


let its beat lead you

where it will.




Three kinds of people,

there are only three,

the living, the dead,

and those who go to sea.