Curator, producer, writer, and educator, Dani Gill’s, second poetry collection, Lessons in Kindness that explores identity, sexuality, strength and vulnerability is going to be on book shelves across Ireland this April.
“I chose Lessons in Kindness as my title because that was the mission of writing the book. While it sounds like a nice phrase, it is something borne out of great pain and forced overcoming. The title comes from the poem ‘Shingles’ and relates to the idea of having to learn to be compassionate with yourself and with others, in situations that could make us harden. The collection is an unraveling of stories. There is the central story of a woman (Dani) going through stages in life such as losing family members (both through death and estrangement), navigating gay relationships, and finding peace. The book is broken into four sections,” explained Dani.
Some of the themes in the collection explore the ideas of relationships, identity, sexuality, compassion, learning and faith.
Writer Elaine Feeney on Lesson in Kindness, “It is a meditative collection on the importance of the people who make us, and the kindness they leave behind. Gill writes with such a light touch, beautifully done.” And Michael Harding remarked, “Here are reflections as fragile as egg shell. They are sparse and opaque, and work like a lens, allowing the reader to be the object of their own reading. There is a sense of selfhood here which is as transient as gossamer. And what shines through is a kind of soul light. A beautiful and uplifting book.”
The collection will be officially launched in The Mick Lally Theatre on Sunday 2nd April 2023, where Dani will be Interviewed by Writer Edel Coffey.
Here Dani goes through emotions and themes within the collection surrounding Grief, Contracts, Mirrors and Truth.
Grief begins with a childhood poem featuring my grandmother and going to church with her. It begins a section of poems dealing with the loss of my grandmother (she passed away from a degenerative brain disease in 2021) and the idea of faith. My grandmother was a very kind woman, she was also a staunch Catholic. The poem deliberately brings in the imagery of faith, something that is explored throughout the collection in terms of personal journey, what we believe, right and wrong, asks, navigating.
Water Angels, Breath, Silence, Hollow are all poems set at the time or shortly after my grandmother’s death. They involve both her and my mother; the intergenerational process of grieving women.
Contracts deals with the idea that we are often subscribed / ‘contracted’ into relationships and certain behaviours. It deals with how these are broken and interrogated. The section ends with ‘The Uprooted Tree’. A poem about becoming; the constant possibility of breaking a definition to emerge as something different.
The poems in Mirrors are all about the roles of others in our lives and what they mirror back to us as well as the lessons they teach us. Friendships, romantic relationships and our wider identity in the community are explored. Poems like ‘Night Walk’ and ‘Stranger on the Beach’ are about the idea that we are all connected in the fabric of humanity, that we can and should help each other.
The ‘Perspective’ poems are poems written while doing drone photography. They are about the search and capture of moments, and how the world looks through a different lens.
Truth is the final section of the collection. It discusses personal truth, spirituality without labels and a type of call to action for active allyship of the LGBTQ community. It opens with ‘For Those Who Believe in the Unseen’, a poem about our connectedness with nature. It features the sea, something I’ve written about a lot in my poetry. As a sea swimmer it is something I’ve learned from massively throughout the past decade. ‘Masks’, ‘Raise Your Spear’, ‘Power’ and ‘Choose Your Weapon’ are poems about being part of the LGBTQ community and the challenge that it brings. They are a call to action to be aware, to be active in what you believe in, and to be brave in what matters. This section is about finding my own personal truth, but also the wider context of truth for us as a community. Who are we? What do we stand for? What world do we want to live in and how do we build it?
Publication Date: April 2nd 2023. Publisher: Salmon Poetry. Lessons in Kindness, €12 will be available from all good bookstores and online via the Salmon Poetry website: www.salmonpoetry.com. For more information on Dani get social @theedanimagic (Instagram and Twitter)
PRAISE FOR THE COLLECTION:
Here are reflections as fragile as egg shell. They are sparse and opaque, and work like a lens, allowing the reader to be the object of their own reading. There is a sense of selfhood here which is as transient as gossamer. And what shines through is a kind of soul light. A beautiful and uplifting book. -Michael Harding
A beautiful account of the lives, loves and losses of three generations of women. The poems explore how interconnected those experiences are, in love, in grief, and how they move between generations like the ebb and flow of the tide. -Edel Coffey
A meditative collection on the importance of the people who make us, and the kindness they leave behind. Gill writes with such a light touch, beautifully done. -Elaine Feeney
Fast paced, challenging, truthful, in this her second collection, Dani Gill explores the demanding landscape of personal love and loss. -Mary Dorcey
Lessons in Kindness is a finely-wrought collection exploring identity, love and loss. Whether writing about the relationships that have shaped her, the experience of coming out or how to live mindfully each day, Dani Gill’s poems are imbued with a sense of rootedness in nature.
– Jane Clarke
This gentle collection orbits grief, looking for a safe place to land. The wearing and removing of masks, the fragility of life, the stillness therein. – Rita Ann Higgins.