Translation Tuesday: “Reading on the Tram” by Aibhe Ní Ghearbhuigh

The staccato poetry / of noticeboards

Today we are thrilled to present a frosty poem that brings us to the trains of Ireland. Irish poet Aibhe Ní Ghearbhuigh beautifully weaves together locomotive travel with the more abstract movement of reading. 

Reading on the Tram

The morning tram

I go unseen

in the concertina of life,

in the articulation

between two cars


(out with your book)


I can feel

every soft turning


rounding of the bend

(I read your poem)


because the loveliness of frost

is woken,

during the day,

at the bus stop


the staccato poetry

of noticeboards


Returning to my afternoon

a pale autumn sun illuminates

the tramline


and to a fine-tuned eye

there are

jewels in the tarmac.


Translated from the Irish by Matthew Ryan Shelton

Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh was born and raised in Tralee, County Kerry, in the Republic of Ireland. She attended University of Ireland, Galway, and studied abroad in France. She spent a year in New York as a Fulbright scholar teaching the Irish language. In 2012 her poem “Deireadh na Feide” won the O’Neill Poetry Prize. “Filleadh ar an gCathair” was chosen as Ireland’s EU Presidency poem in 2013 and was shortlisted in 2015 for RTE’s “A Poem for Ireland.” She is the author of two collections of poetry, Péacadh (2008) and Tost agus Allagar (2016), published by Coiscéim, as well as The Coast Road (2016), a bilingual volume of selected poems translated by thirteen Irish and Northern Irish poets.

Matthew Ryan Shelton is a poet and translator born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He holds degrees from Carleton College, Queen’s University Belfast, and the University of Connecticut where he is currently pursuing PhD studies. His work has appeared in Scotland and Northern Ireland in such publications as Abridged, Poetry Proper, Causeway/Cabhsair, and The Open Ear, and in the United States in An GaelMantis, The Swarthmore Review, and Coldfront. He lives in New Haven, Connecticut.


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