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This article is taken from PN Review 190, Volume 36 Number 2, November - December 2009.

Painting Rain: A Conversation with Paula Meehan Jody Allen Randolph

This interview took place in Dublin on 15 August 2008 and is excerpted from a longer version that will appear in an oral history of cultural change in Ireland over the past twenty years, Close to the Next Moment, to be published by Carcanet in 2010.

JODY ALLEN RANDOLPH: In your new book, Painting Rain, the title of the poem ‘The Wolf Tree’ was taken from Adrienne Rich’s poem ‘Slashes’. Was Rich’s work a strong presence for you?

PAULA MEEHAN: Yes, that particular book, The School Among the Ruins, is there always on my shelf just at my left hand at my work desk. In the making of Painting Rain, which came in fits and starts, I had difficulty finding a path at times. I came across Rich’s poem ‘Slashes’ which contains the line ‘In wolf tree, see the former field’ and it literally blew my mind the way a line of poetry can transfix you and shift all the elements of consciousness and reality around. The wolf tree grows in an open field and anything else that grows up around it is striving competitively around it for the light. Every time after when I was walking in the woods I would look for the wolf tree. It took me a long time to see my first one. And it took me even longer to see the wolf tree of my own making, my own inner wolf tree. I saw this original tree in its ...

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