Paul O’Reilly shows in his 2014 documentary film, Your Rivers Have Trained You, on New Irish poet Eamonn Wall, a mastery that only long and deep thought allied with empathy can give. By coming back time and again to a very small number of places in and close to Enniscorthy (the railway line, the Prom, the Old Bridge, the Slaney, an Irish home interior …) O’Reilly produces beautiful tableaux — beautiful because of their unadorned presence — that open on the elements in their essential mobility. Amidst this enduring life, the poet, immobile, reads his poems formally; or seated in the corner of a family home, his image always reflected in a mirror, he tells of his departures and journeys. The combination of this universal symbolism and natural presences confers to both Paul 0’Reilly’s sensitive film as well as to the poetic œuvre of Eamonn Wall, which it pays an hommage to, their quiet, assured, transnational and transtemporal reach.
Pascale Guibert, Senior Lecturer in Anglophone Poetry,
Université de Caen Basse-Normandie
An engaging and thought-provoking film. Through Eamonn Wall’s poetry and the images Paul O’Reilly has brought together so skillfully, I feel we’re not only informed and gratified, but also encouraged to think about the relationship of our own origins and early experiences to the selves we grow to become, about the ways our literal physical homes speak with our imagined interiorized homes, about the ways we carry our earliest selves and our earliest homes with us wherever we go. I think it’s just a smashing film.
Nathalie Anderson, Poet in Residence,
Rosenbach Museum and Library
From the Sin-é Café to wild Black 47 shows, from the Black Hills to St Louis, I’ve followed Eamonn Wall’s poetry and life. But, oddly enough, I never knew him in Enniscorthy, though my father used to drink in his family’s hotel bar, and so ‘Your Rivers Have Trained You’ fills in many gaps for me. I had always been aware of his Enniscorthy sensibility, sensibleness and sensitivity, but this film illuminates the effect his hometown has come to have on his work over the decades. One of its sterling features is that it lets you know that the best is yet to come from this remarkable poet.
Larry Kirwan, Black 47
In subtle camera glances and dazzling sleight of pen Paul O’Reilly and Eamonn Wall have captured the bubbling essence of Enniscorthy, the place that I am both yearning and beginning to know; and how easy it is to understand why Eamonn Wall is honoured – by his own words – carved into the street where people and history all meet.
Joe Neal, Actor and Poet
Directed, filmed and edited by Paul O’Reilly
Produced by Lowland Films
Music by Black 47, Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin and Niall Wall
Duration: 58 mins 29 secs; Released: 2014
Supported by Scallta Media and Enniscorthy Town Council Community Grant Scheme
EAMONN WALL: Your Rivers Have Trained You is a portrait of one of Ireland’s leading poets. Filmed in Eamonn’s native homeplace, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford, Ireland, the poet walks us through several chapters of his life, interweaving them with extracts from poems and essays that characteristically have come to reveal so much about his family, travels and influences.
From difficulties experienced in early school years, through to becoming Professor of English at the University of Missouri-St. Louis in America, Eamonn Wall takes us on a journey from childhood to fatherhood, talking candidly of his emigration to New York, of the “New Irish”, of having children, of the impact of Irish storytelling and songs on his work, of discovering new poetic forms, of being published, of politics on both sides of the Atlantic, of his regular commutes across the ocean, and of his family.
Eamonn Wall is the author of six collections of poetry: Sailing Lake Mareotis (2011), A Tour of Your Country (2008), Refuge at De Soto Bend (2004), The Crosses (2000), Iron Mountain Road (1997), and Dyckman-200th Street (1994), all published by Salmon Publishing in Ireland. His next collection, New and Selected Poems, will be published by Salmon in 2014. For more on Eamonn and to purchase his books, please visit here.
Reviews of Eamonn’s work in the past include:
“His poems are charged with a thoroughly contemporary and a profoundly literary awareness of what it means to be Irish, and a writer, in America.”
– Kathleen McCracken, Poetry Ireland Review
“Wall has disguised himself as a literary river sweeping between Manhattan and the prairies, taking on all sorts of landscapes as he goes.”
– Colm McCann, author of Transatlantic
“There is no more perceptive interpreter of the experience of immigration in our time than Eamonn Wall.”
– Charles Fanning, author of The Irish Voice of America
“Wall’s unique achievement is to understand that landscape is culture.”
– The Irish Times
Landscapes featured in the film include Enniscorthy town, Borodale, Edermine, Vinegar Hill, Ardamine and Oulart. All located in Co. Wexford, Ireland.
Archive photography featured was provided courtesy of the Ibar Carty and Ger Carty Collections, Sean Whelan, Paddy Berry, Frank Keenan, Hugh Kelly and Chris Courtney.
Also featured is archive footage filmed in New York City, 1991, for Bloomsday at the famous Sin-é Café provided courtesy of Helena Mulkerns and Ray McCarthy.
The clip below is entitled From the Sin-é Café to the Black Hills: Notes on the New Irish, filmed on Ardamine beach. In it Eamonn refers to his father and an Ireland of the 1980s, when Eamonn emigrated to New York, and yet its language and subject matter are still so relevant today.
It was selected for the Galway 30 Minute Film Festival, as part of the 2013 Galway Film Fleadh.