Ellen O’Hara was a young immigrant from Ireland at the end of the nineteenth century who, with courage and resilience, made a life for herself in New York while financially supporting those at home. Hereafter is her story, told by Vona Groarke, her descendant, in a beautiful blend of poetry, prose, and history.
Vona Groarke builds this story from historical fact, drawing from various archives for evidence of Ellen. However, she also considers why lives such as Ellen’s seem to leave such a light trace in such records and fills in the gaps with memory and empathetic projection. Ellen—scrappy, skeptical, and straight-talking—is the heroine of Hereafter, whose resilience animates the story and whose voice shines through with vivid clarity. Hereafter is both a compelling account of an incredible figure and a reflection on how one woman’s story can speak for more than one life.
One of the best poets writing in Ireland today” (Poetry Ireland Review), Vona Groarke has published twelve books, including eight poetry collections, most recently Link: Poet and World (Gallery Books, 2021). A Cullman Fellow at the New York Public Library (2018-19), she is the current Poet in Residence at St John’s College, Cambridge University. Poet, essayist, editor and critic, she makes her home in the west of Ireland, where she reads and writes.
In this launch event, co-sponsored by The Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, Vona Groarke will be in conversation with Dr. Kelly Sullivan (Glucksman Ireland House NYU).
“I seek other ways to tell the story. Wanting to fill in those stark, impersonal outlines, I cast around with my poet’s eye for color and detail; for something more than a rail of fact to hang the story on." - "Giving an Irish Immigrant's Life Poetic Justice," An interview with NYU News