Faculty member Daniel Tobin’s essay “A Traveling Tradition,” and his poem “The Creature Has a Purpose” both appear online at berfrois.

A Traveling Tradition

The apartment building where I grew up in Brooklyn during the Sixties and Seventies had strangely much in common with the kind of close-knit Irish townland from which my grandmother emigrated in 1913. Tucked just beyond the entry on the first floor landing, her small one bedroom flat was the first stop for virtually everyone coming home from work, as well as family and friends from nearby neighborhoods—many of them also immigrants from townlands outside Balinrobe or Claremorris. Over the years, her kitchen had become a New World hearth, and my parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, my brother and I, and the crowd of neighbors, gathered there daily for talk and tea or a quiet drink. Sometimes a man named John Gibbons, an accordion propped on his wooden leg, would play and sing. Little wonder I identified as Irish, though born in the United States, the same way my friends in the schoolyard also born in America identified as Syrian or Lebanese or Italian, our nationalities bandied like favorite sports teams in the school yard...[Keep Reading]…

Daniel is the author of Awake in America: On Irish American Poetry (2011, Notre Dame Press) and Belated Heavens (2010, Four Way).

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