Opre Roma! In praise of the poetic works of Raine Geoghegan
Imogen Di Sapia reviews the work of Romany poet Raine Geoghegan
Raine Geoghegan’s poetry is full of such vibrant imagery and rich language, painting pictures through her writing of the Romani way of life that feels both dreamlike and folkloric, whilst at the same time echoing the domestic experience through voices of contemporary Romani elders and her own childhood memories.
One of my favourite poems from the collection is “Aunt Ria’s Gypsy Gold” (Povel Panni, 2018); a powerful and evocative work, I imagine too my ancestral Romani grandmothers doing the same. Raine’s poetry speaks to a richness of culture that has a beautiful lightness, viewed from the outside, a care-free way of life, whilst at the core, these collections of poems convey the strength, pride and character of the Romani Spirit, an enduring people; these collected works are important way-markers of cultural heritage and oral storytelling that are intangible without lived experience.
I feel this is such an important gift held within Raine’s poetry, as I personally come from the lost generation of settled British Romani of the inter-war period, where heritage was hidden for safety, and therefore mostly lost through assimilation into settled culture. It is through this record-keeping in the arts of inter-generational accounts that enables the daughters and granddaughters of this “gypsy gold”, our collective inheritance, to find ways to meet our Romani culture across the rift in time. I would encourage readers to also speak Raine’s poems aloud to feel the music and the cadence that comes from these bardic works of humble, honest poetry.
Blessings on your work Raine; Opre Roma!
By Imogen Di Sapia, January 2020
Apple Water : Povel Panni (2018)
They Lit Fires : Lenti Hatch O Yog (2019)
Available at Hedgehog Press
Cover Artwork by Christine Ford