Susan Lindsay

*POETRY *FACILITATION *CONVERSATION *WRITING *DESIGN THINKING - WELCOME to Posts from these perspectives on relevant subjects. Susan Lindsay's second collection of poetry Fear Knot was published by Doire Press in 2013. Doire also published her debut collection Whispering the Secrets in 2011. Drawing on thirty years experience as a facilitator she conducts Conversations mediated by poetry and read for the 2011 Poetry Ireland Introduction Series. Susan was a founding co-editor of Skylight 47, 'possibly Ireland's most interesting poetry publication'. She has recently been working on a book relating her journey as an apprentice verse-maker and mid-life move West to live on the Wild Atlantic Way. Her workshop Having a new Conversation- About Dreaming took place at the 2015 Cuirt International LiteratureFestival. Previous New Conversations about - Faith, Confusion and Beauty, were held in her neighbourhood over a number of weeks twice yearly.
Recently returned to live on the East coast of Ireland, Susan is available for poetry readings, to give talks or to facilitate New Conversation Workshops - for events, teams, or for organisations - and can be contacted by mail at, via direct message on Twitter @susanhlindsay or on Facebook

Saturday, 18 March 2017


  • Susan, Thank you for the workshop yesterday. I was amazed at how just a couple of poems could stimulate such a variety of reflections, comments and inputs. A far cry from poetry classes for the leaving cert!   I was ... struck by how the whole event lingered on after we had all departed. ... Dave
  • Hi Susan, ... You certainly have not lost the gift of how to facilitate a good session. It showed... no matter what the topic, the possibility for people to become more aware exists. Michael     
E-Mails after Conversations on Dreaming at Cuirt International Festival of Literature, 2015. More below.*
Doubt, Faith & Confusion?

Facilitated by Susan Lindsay 

For those of no religion or any religion, who love poetry or think they know nothing about it.
Four Tuesdays April 11, 18, 25 & May 2, 2017
Kilcoole Community Centre   7.30 – 9pm
Co. Wicklow

In Doubt

I want to hear about faith
about the way you put your feet
on the floor
each day and rise.    Whispering the Secrets (Doire, 2011)

Susan Lindsay is an experienced facilitator. A third book of her poetry is forthcoming from Doire Press in Spring, 2018. More biography in further Posting belong.

BOOK: Mob.086-1671524  PLACES LIMITED.
€15 a night, €48 in advance for four. Concession: €12 or €40. 


         Comments received from confidential questionnaires issued to participants
After two workshops given at the Cuirt International Literature Festival, Galway 2016
- in Roisin Dubh pub and GMIT library 
AND at the conclusion of the first of a weekly, now monthly,
ongoing Conversation in a local community in Kilcolgan, Co. Galway

4.       Overall:  What aspect/s of the workshop particularly appealed to you, or worked for you?
·         Theme, different poems, different: participants; nationalities; voices; perspectives but having a mediator/facilitator “in charge”.
·         All was good
·         Experience of contrary opinions
·         Particularly last poem, ’If the Philosopher is Right by Mary Oliver
·         Group discussion’.
·         Exposure to new poems; opportunity for discussion, how listening is an on-going practice.
·         “I enjoyed the non-threatening group discussion. The depth of the conversation that arose from people in the room – especially on ‘State of Ireland'( comment on this poem disputed in a comment about what did not appeal by another respondent).
·         Hearing different points of view.
·         Safety to express different ideas and opinions.
·         Open conversation.
·         Existential aspect of poems.
·         The social aspect.
·         New to poetry and fascinating to hear poems being dissected and analysed.
·         Loved hearing everyone’s perspective (to) diversity, just great!
·         Joined reflection and sharing.
·         The mix of gender in the conversation.
·         People sharing different opinions, stimulating, different views

In Ashes, Having the Conversation – About Faith                                                    
Questionnaire responses from Spring 2013                                         

What worked/appealed particularly?
  •  Exploring others’ ideas, thoughts
  • When a theme was being really explored – the different interpretations/perceptions which open my eyes.
  • The poetry.
  • The Structure was great and kept us on track …
  • Variety of opinions. Faith as an intro to other concepts. Listening to all. Easy flow back and forth. Listening and feedback. Inclusion of the poetry. Conversation aspect and respect. Hearing other people’s ideas, beliefs.
  • Very sensitive to all participants and giving me the opportunity – when wished – to talk. Testament to (facilitator) that people felt sufficient trust to talk honestly.
  • The flow was great, input relevant and very thoughtful and meaningful.
  • Nourished. Important that it was around faith.
  • Loved the use of symbol.




Having A New Conversation – About … 

The extra dimension poetry brings, becomes as much valued for itself as for what it contributes to the conversation in these facilitated workshops. It brings new perspective to the topic and a holding ground for the discussion, with the added benefit of providing a way into discovering poetry - or a way into further enjoying it with others.

No previous experience of poetry, or the topic under discussion, is needed. About - Faith, for those of any, or no, religion and About - Continuing in Confusion; About - Beauty & its
Possible Obligations; About – the Stuff of Life
and About Love, Loss or Death are other possible topics. Having a new Conversation – About Dreaming was the topic at the Cuirt International Festival of Literature in 2015.

Susan Lindsay

has been a professional facilitator for over thirty years. She graduated in Social Science at Trinity College, Dublin (1975) and practised as psychotherapist, trainer and consultant to organisations until her retirement in 2013. She was invited to read for Poetry Ireland’s Introductions Series in 2011 and was a founding co-editor of the poetry broadsheet Skylight 47. Her poem Gather in was included in the Irish Edition of The CafĂ© Review, Oregon US., 2016. A third Collection of her work is promised  from Doire Press in Spring, 2018.

Versevent  Spring, 2017

Facilitated conversations mediated by poetry in a variety of settings including for teams in organisations.

‘Join In    A New Conversation
 In Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow and in Co. Galway

Bookings & Enquiries

Mob +353 86 1671524.
Tweet @susanhlindsay


Fear Knot
Susan Lindsay’s poems are sometimes enigmatic, often startling. She is a poet acutely aware of the complexities of language, the levels of meaning a poem can have. When I read one of Susan Lindsay’s poems for the second time I always discover something quietly subversive lurking there which I missed first time around. Fear Knot is a daring collection of poems. A triumph.- Kevin Higgins

Whispering the Secrets                                                    
The voice of experience wrought in lines that are lucid and direct…. this testimony of a survivor is suffused with joy and passion and a clear eyed appraisal of what it means to be mortal. - Paula Meehan

…a book of courage and resolve. She writes of the “Fifth Province”, of confrontations and renewals, of dreams and shifting identities. … Lindsay writes poems of deep emotional control which communicate an affirmative celebratory mysticism. – Paul Perry

That was gorgeous. Beautiful writing. – RyanTubridy, 2005, The Tubridy Show,RTE Radio 1, on win for Carol of Our Times.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Immaculate Does Not Describe the Conception of the Children in Tuam: A Word To Fathers.

The tragedy of the ‘single’ mothers and their children - those who made it to happy adoptive homes, those who faced great challenges and trauma as they grew and those who died whose bodies have been discovered in what is described as some kind of tank– is rightly the focus of our attention, grief and rage this week. Occasionally we are reminded that these women, scourged further by being described once as ‘fallen’, are not the only parties to the conception of the children but carried the consequence and blame. Those children have fathers.

I find myself wondering about those fathers. 

We’ve heard siblings, survivors, some of the mothers themselves. It almost seems sacrilegious to consider the fathers - their absence and protection so absolute. Yet, however often I get angry with men for their mostly unacknowledged position of privilege and the hardship they’ve inflicted on women - whether actively or by acts of omission – I know that many of those fathers were also young and given little, if any, choice in how to respond to hearing (if and when they did) of the consequences of their moments of passion or early love.

Did they recognise a surname and age and wonder?

There are still fathers alive, or those who wonder if they might have been one, watching those names of the deceased children of Tuam scrolling down our television screens on Monday night. Not many but there must have been some. Did they recognise a surname and age and wonder? Did they already know, freeze as they saw that their child had died, the body despicably disposed of.

Shame corrodes and can be impossible to acknowledge.

I used to work as a group psychotherapist and leader of workshops exploring issues of gender among others. Two particular challenges the men said they faced remain with me: little support or recognition for the question of ‘where to put it’ -that is how to deal with the intensity of their early sexual desire and how to deal with their sense of, often profound, shame. Shame for actions but also, frequently, times they’ve been humiliated and shamed by others. How shame corrodes and how impossible it can be to acknowledge.

To anyone who suspects or knows they are the father of one of the children born in Tuam or another ‘mother and baby’ institution I want to say: 
don’t pretend it didn’t happen. Do consider whether there is someone to whom you can tell your story. You may have run when you ought not to have, you may have betrayed your child and the woman who thought you cared, but perhaps you did care or you may simply have been callous and self-serving and your behaviour utterly unacceptable.

 Sadly, the sense of shame is likely to be greatest in those who were in the most impossible of circumstances and least to blame 

...because you do feel and know your part in what happened. So remember: fathers are important too, young men often not supported and in those days and times very few would have supported you to support your partner. It’s never too late to acknowledge your own story and actions. Shame needs to be given air. Ultimately acknowledgement heals.

Many of you could have been and are, to later children, wonderful fathers. 

You have a grief and sense of shame to bear too. There are those who want to hear but talk advisedly and select your audience carefully. The pain of women is so often overshadowed by the concerns of men that we won’t have much patience for you now; you haven’t got it for yourself.
Soon, I hope, one or another of you will be able to stand up and add your story to the unfolding narrative of our collective shameful past. 

We need present rather than absent fathers more than ever and fathers need to support each other – not to defend their failures and absences but to stand together, alongside their sisters, in common humanity and join in the acts of reparation for what, ultimately, is our collective shame.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Between Times: Advent

 I nearly miss it in a sudden rush to get things done.

The quiet low light and deep peace of early December that is Advent in the Christian calendar and my favourite time of year.  The rush is less about truly preparing for the festivities ahead than about panicking that I may not do so in time. Then I reassure myself: that my Christmas preparations have usually been last minute; if I’m going to panic it might as well be at the last moment - having first allowed myself to feast on quietude, low light and forthcoming solstice images of the sunlight entering the passage tomb at Newgrange.

It is not a recipe for a well-prepared Christmas time and the conflict is familiar at all times of year. 

Christmas reminds me of the inspiring Child in the manger of my childhood and the gathering of gifts, going to church and to grandparents on Christmas day and to the other side of the family the Sunday before. Then there was the total magic of first visiting Dublin’s Olympia theatre and seeing sparkling ballet dancers in the pantomime on Boxing Day - more regularly known in Ireland as St. Stevens’ Day. The conflict in my Irish identity begins early. I find the material rush and hype from mid-November antithetical to everything Christmas once meant to me.

I’m a natural contrarian. 

I’ve only to know I must do something to be equally sure there are a thousand reasons not to and while I like to dream of creating something wonderful, involving myself in the necessary actions to bring it about is altogether another matter. It’s not helped by wanting to attend:  to listen and connect - rather than get on with managing, doing and administrating.

One year I began my December alone in a cottage beside the sea and bare trees reading Harry Potter. 

That was a magical time. The sojourn informed an early poem written in response to a brief piece by the poet Paul Durcan that appeared in The Irish Times Magazine one Christmas. Despite it being a poem susceptible to evoking cringes, I enclosed it in a letter of appreciation I wrote to him and he was good enough to reply with a Christmas card wishing me a flurry of snow that did indeed appear on the big Day. A few years later I made it to having a permanent home across the field from that magical small house.

A Woman’s Prayer for New Year

After Paul Durcan

Waiting for the tides to turn, I am held by the soft touch of trees and blessed by holy water from the well in a fairy wood. I dance on the shoreline and swim in the deep.

In silent prayer I wait for a compatible man who can bear the pain of touch. He will be a man of prayer and consideration who loves to have fun.

My laugher and shouts of joy at the sparkling stars and the morning sun on the rising tide will rouse him. He will not be afraid to hold my hand as, with listening and full hearts, we entrust ourselves to the ocean.

He will see the way at times when waves submerge me, carry turf when I’m weary of the burden of understanding. Sometimes he’ll proffer soothing touch and defer solutions and I will revel in the warmth of his shining light and be saved by the clarity of its beam touching land across water.

He will stay awhile before returning to his cave, more of a home now he’s free to come and go and I will savour solitude the more for knowing

he will return.

2016 has been all about taking my leave of that home on the shores of Galway Bay that verges on the Burren.

 The home that Gordon D’Arcy says in his gorgeous new book, The Breathing Burren (Collins Press 2016), is at the end – or head of a sleeping giant. I can’t remember which and my books are still, much lamentedly, in storage while I further make space for them so I can’t immediately check. But you can buy his book in most bookstores. It would make a great gift to give – to others or youself.  

The year has also been about taking my leave of so many of the artefacts of family history. 

I moved into the house the year after my mother died, my father had done so nine years earlier. It became the repository of so much. I lived there alone yet experienced it as the family home I formerly yearned. In my last days there it occurred to me it has been a kind of archetypal family home fulfilling the fissures of earlier desire and longing and having done so, leaving me free now to enjoy new terrains that appear more suitable for the next stage of my life.

As an apprentice verse-maker the process has seen me visited by Kali

The Goddess Kali is the destroyer  but also the other side of the Lord Shiva, the giver, of life inspiring one of the longest poems I’ve attempted.

Today, published in Spontaneity

I see that the poet Aoife Reilly, both a former fellow Skylight poet and a more recent incumbent of that first magic cottage, has a poem Spontaneous Love published in the new edition of the online magazine Spontaneity. There’s one of my own there too. I submitted The Line in response to an interview with Kate Dempsey talking about her book The Space Between from Doire Press  Doire also published my poetry collections Whispering the Secrets and  Fear Knot. 

You can read the poems Spontaneous Love and The Line in Spontaneity  

and follow the link to Kate Dempsey and enjoy the spectacular artwork and images and follow further Spontaneity links here at 

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Open Letter to Deputy John Halligan and Others lobbying for change in the health services.

You might be most effective backing Consultant's Report and ensuring Government act on its recommendations.

The Consultant's Report that more staff, back-up and increased opening hours in the existing cardiac unit in Waterford rather than a new cardiac unit would most effectively improve the lives of Waterford citizens probably make sense and could be by far the most effective in bringing about change in the short term. This should be good news for public representatives who could now negotiate to ensure such relatively easy-to-implement actions take place immediately. The Independents are in a strong position, given their negotiating leverage in the current government.
Building units takes time and involves a range of possible obstructions down the road when your negotiating position may not be so strong. The National Children's Hospital project might be a warning.

Long term budgets for adequate service provision not capital projects should be paramount

On a recent course (Spring 2016) with FLIRTFM in conjunction with the community radio CRAOL Programme - Speaking Up For A Change for over 50’s - it became clear, talking with retired administrative and social staff and patients who had been at the coal-face of the HSE over a long time, that when administrators are asked to find cuts - and that’s pretty much every year - the first budgets cut are those for pay and services. This could be changed relatively quickly if we had the will. Buildings and capital expenditure budgets are less easy to cut but also are for projects that take much longer to provide.  The real outcome wanted is for access to good enough service.

Maximise what we have

In the conversation it became really clear that staff and adequate resources to maximise the use of the buildings and expensive machines and to make them work are what continually get cut. This problem could be solved most easily were the will there to do it - which there isn’t. We say we want improved community care and to maximise the use of hospital resources and then cut the budgets for every initiative put in place to make it work. We were talking about mental health budgets but it was clear the finding was true across the board. We need long-term ring-fenced budgets for this first and foremost. (The resulting programmes from the Speaking Up for A Change will be broadcast on community radio across the country over the autumn/winter season).

Deputies, do you want to cut the ribbon on a new unit or ensure your constituents get the service they are desperate for? 

You may be in a position to choose the best option to get them the service it needs. Deputy Halligan, it your case it will mean retaining your position to ensure whatever you can get agreed actually happens.

Friday, 2 September 2016

The New Politics is Looking Good in Ireland this Week So Far

     An arrow of political accountability was shot across the bows of an announced ‘government’ decision before it could leave the safe harbour of the minions at the Department of Finance.

 It scores well for collective decision-making at cabinet and the right of the elected Members of Dail Eireann to have their say on an issue that could be particularly important to Ireland’s future – both economic and political.

    The Minister for Finance announced Ireland will appeal an EU decision that makes Apple liable to pay back tax to the Irish government for particular earnings. The issues involved are complex. By appealing the decision the Irish Government – if not the US government who might argue the tax should belong to them instead - could theoretically be cold shouldering significant funds.

     Such funds, as could for example, house the ‘more than at any time since the Famine’ being made homeless  

     ... and described as such by housing activist Peter McVerry  on a late night television show on Newstalk last night (1.9.2016). These are the citizens who have been and are being made homeless in the wake of the banking crisis and the nation’s bailout and the dearth of houses available – even if they could afford them. This is only part of the underbelly of Ireland’s supposed great economic turn-around.

For all those who still believe that politics works best when decisions are made by a central core few 

     – as in the last Irish Dail where the core triad consulted, it seems, by means of coaching rather than by garnering the range of views present at cabinet - this has not been such a good week. The upside of that way of governing may be coherent immediate action but the downside – the significant dangers that arise from group-think is among them – can be seen in the actions of the Tony Blair government in the UK before going to war in Iraq and in some of the decisions the Irish Government made, apparently in thrall to the EU and unwilling to give the IMF sufficient clout whilst the Troica managing the Irish bailout were in place.

 Independent members of the cabinet made it clear they would not be rubber-stamping  decisions made outside of cabinet. 

     Both the Alliance of such members and Deputy Katherine Zappone - whose contributions to the international debate on the need to properly tax global corporations  are, reportedly,  on the Senate record of her time there - have insisted on being given time to enable them to be better briefed before a cabinet decision is made. The Alliance also insisted that the Dail must be recalled and able to debate and vote on such an important decision.

Initially I stopped listening to the recurrent reporting of the known issues on radio and the media bleating about a possible cabinet crisis.

     Honestly, sometimes I wonder if a proportion of the media are jealous that their own default role as opposition when the Dail couldn’t debate in any significant way is the only issue concerning them. Now, however, I am being better educated on European process and the arguments on taxing Global Corporations by journalists who are clearly doing their homework. For example, it appears this morning that the Irish government offered legal alliance to a similar situation, a Spanish bank’s appeal to the European Courts, a few years ago when they saw the importance the decision could have for the right of EU member States to decide their own tax policies. A central issue is whether or not the tax law applied to Apple can be argued to be selective – one of the four key questions that are likely to be involved in any appeal according to a Morning Ireland reporter/expert on RTE1 this morning.

The critical line between European law and its interpretation and the political decision- making that goes into making such law may well be at stake here. 

Cabinet accountability, as in making Ministers accountable, and the beginning of a more effective Dail process is kicking into gear.

    Those who long for return to two party politics while simultaneously moaning about both parties should get over their caoining. (The traditional wailing at Irish wakes).


This has the potential to be a much better way of doing things. 

     It will not be ideal. It is in continuous danger of becoming grid-locked by indecision and divisiveness. But it is an opportunity to develop a much more mature, effective and – crucially – democratic process worthy of engaging the electorate who have put it in place.

It offers hope, and hope and its absence is becoming central to the question of what kind of Europe and world the next generation will live in. 

     To be fair, the politicians who spent the first couple of months of their tenure putting the new processes in place have served us well. I’m for giving them sufficient time to at least have a reasonable go at finding out how to make it work.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Weighing the Odds

  - Post the Brexit Vote  and Theresa May’s new Cabinet.

Is the new British Prime Minister playing an extremely smart long game or does she actually believe this is her best possible cabinet?

    The question I kept returning to this week, like a rough tooth that a tongue just can’t stay away from, is whether the new British Prime Minister is playing an extremely smart long game or actually believes her new Cabinet is the best possible.

     She acted swiftly to nail her colours to the mast for exiting the EU.

     The Prime Minister appointed Boris Johnson and David Davis, strong campaigners for the Against campaign to positions where they will be to the forefront of negotiating the deal. She has even included her rival for leadership by appointing her to the Energy and Rural Affairs portfolio and she has appointed a new Chancellor of the Exchequer. There is no question then of prevaricating in relation to moving Britain on and out of the Union, that is the European Union. She has made her commitment to the other, United Kingdom union, clear: she is Prime Minister of that Union and has made clear her urgent concern to look after it by visiting Scotland at the first available opportunity. She doesn’t want a Scexit from the UK.

     She has thus acted quickly to reassure the majority of the voters who won the Referendum for Brexit that she will honour their choice while allowing some comfort to the others, half almost, in the population who know she wasn’t on the side of exiting herself. She has also offered them leadership by demonstrating a determination to honour the decision made regardless of what her own preference would have been.

     Theresa May has even managed to clearly acknowledge and state from the beginning her commitment to resolve the underlying and inevitable sense of injustice at the root of the vote. 

     The inequity of the ever widening gap between the top echelons of society and those most alienated by their suffering as a result of austerity politics and the expanding economics of globalisation is currently at the heart of British and international politics. As David Williams cogently put it in an article in The Sunday Business Post last weekend*10.7.2016, those in power forget at their peril that every now and then in a democracy the population are all equal, that is when they exercise the power of their vote.

     A more Machiavellian perspective on the new British Prime Minister’s strategy, the one that that tongue just won’t leave alone, might suggest that the leaders of the Leave campaign have been given their just deserts by the new Prime Minister

      Johnson is not getting out of the mess he led the British into by stepping down from the leadership contest, he is going to have to face the international leaders – European and way beyond Europe – who see him as having been a main contributor to the challenges they now have to address and lead the diplomatic mission to mend and move the broken fences. A quickly masked incredulity was seen on many of the faces screened as the news broke of his appointment. While theirs was not so, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t resist an ironic smile while viewing the appointment from this perspective.

     It may indeed instead be encouraging that these Exit campaigners can be certain to work for the outcome they supposedly desired. But the caveat must be born in mind that commentators have also suggested it was not in fact their truly desired outcome. Instead their desire may have been for political power. Well if that’s it, they have it – even if not quite to the extent hoped. The curse, now it seems falsely attributed to the Chinese who have never heard of the saying, may apply: may your dreams come true. It will be interesting to see how they bring about what they desired and what they learn in the process.

Nevertheless, if I was in the Labour Party I’d be worried.

      Despite having other small things to worry about – like how the shadow cabinet and Party membership are to agree on a leader and direction for the Party -I’d be worrying just how soon Theresa May is going to call the General Election, that very possibly her carefully chosen cabinet would best position the Conservative Party to win. Presumably it won’t be called too quickly – a certain amount of stability has to be secured first from the initial chaos of the Brexit vote – but I’d be concerned that it might be as imminent as is decently possible. Would Boris Johnson and David Davison be re-appointed afterwards? Considering that future sharpens the tooth that that tongue won’t let alone.

Angel Merkyl and Theresa May are capable of procrastination when it is politically expedient

     There was an interesting piece in The Irish Times on Friday, 15th July, by Derek Scally reporting from Berlin in which he pointed out that both Angel Merkyl and Theresa May are capable of procrastination when it is politically expedient. There will be an inevitable period of stormy weather ahead for Britain and its relationship with the EU.

I think I’d put money on the possibility that the Conservatives will form the next Government in the UK and that, whether or not the EU exit clause is invoked, eventually the relationship between Britain and the EU may not be all that different from what it is now however it comes to be described.

     However, if I was a gambler - and like it or not we’re all gambling given the world we live in now, although maybe it was always case even if less evidently than in the past – I think I’d put money on the possibility that the Conservatives will form the next Government in the UK and that, whether or not the EU exit clause is invoked, eventually the relationship between Britain and the EU may not be all that different from what it is now however it comes to be described. But I wouldn’t put all my money on it. I’d take a punt against as well. If, alternatively, the UK can make Brexit work the danger to the European Union that it would encourage others to try to do the same might be offset by their example becoming the most effective agent in bringing about the badly needed change of perspective within the EU. In the longer term one possibility has still got to be that the Brexit vote could ultimately lead to a better outcome for both.