A TRANSCONTINENTAL PERSPECTIVE ... Poet Moira Bailis (1921-2013) began writing poetry before the age of twenty in her native Ireland. Like many poets who write for the love of the art, she did not begin publishing her work extensively until later in life. Since the 1980s, she has had over 200 poetry publication credits, both in the United States and Ireland, and has authored one poetry chapbook, poems (2003). The brink of her tenth decade of life saw her still engaged in her art.
Bailis lived in Ireland, Germany, Austria, Italy, New York City, and finally, in Fort Lee, New Jersey (her home since 1966). Her poems encompass her life’s journey as well as her broad literary interests, social awareness, and activism. A lover and advocate of poetry, she taught workshops, and lectured live and on radio about poetry, poets, and writers.
David Messineo, Bailis’s friend and long-time publisher, in cooperation with the poet and her family, has assembled 450 of her collected poems into two volumes. Ireland figures large in both — a home place many times revisited over a long life, its landmarks, Celtic history, and political troubles recalled.
This first volume, The Antidote to Prejudice, is arranged geographically, reflecting the places Bailis lived in or visited (or imagined, in the case of South America, Africa and Antarctica). Ireland and New Jersey bookend this varied collection of 190 poems. The section, “To Ireland in the Fading Times,” could stand as the poet’s missive to the land of her birth. In the editor’s words, these poems “are dually interesting from the standpoints of poetic craft and the capturing of history.”
Many other poems in Volume I center on nature and landscape — those especially gleaned from her long walks and hikes exploring Northern New Jersey — and they mark her as a keen word-water-colorist of bird, tree and season.