The Ripple Tank Experiment

Jean Bleakney

About the book…

Playful, witty yet firmly planted on the ground, Jean Bleakney’s debut collection is one determined to engage the reader. They show a writer fully attuned to the underlying tensions of being a poet and a woman in the North of Ireland on the eve of the twenty-first century. Deriving from their native place but not circumscribed by it, the poems of The Ripple Tank Experiment rejoice both in imaginative liberations and the formal constraints of language, demonstrating an eye for the telling beneath the apparently ordinary, an ear for the rhythms of vernacular speech. Yet underlying the poems are a unique sensibility-off-beat and tellingly individual. This debut is a collection shot through with humour, tenderness and approachability. It proclaims the arrival of a new and original voice in Northern Irish letters.

Photo of the author, Jean Bleakney

About the author…

Jean Bleakney (née Kerr) was born in Newry in 1956. Since 1991, she has worked part-time at a garden centre in Carryduff, Belfast. She studied biochemistry at Queen’s University Belfast and worked in medical research for eight years. Following the birth of her second child, she chose to stay at home.

Fear and loathing of housework triggered an interest in gardening and, much to her surprise, the language of gardening. Having exhausted the appropriate section of the local library, she discovered, a few stacks along, Wendy Cope’s 'Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis'. Interest piqued, she began putting words together and, in 1993, she started attending the weekly writing workshop at Queen’s.

Her first collection of poems, The Ripple Tank Experiment, was published in 1999, followed by The Poet’s Ivy (2003) and Ions (2011). Her poems have appeared in various magazines including Poetry Ireland Review, The Rialto, THE SHOp, Metre, TLS and The Yellow Nib. Also online at several sites including Poetry Proper Vol, 2 , Poetry International and From The Fishouse.

She has appeared in many anthologies including: 
The New North: Contemporary Poetry from Northern Ireland (2008) and (2011)
Magnetic North: The Emerging Poets (2006)
The New Irish Poets (2004)
The Blackbird’s Nest (2003)
A Conversation Piece: Poetry and Art (2002)

She was interviewed by John Brown for In The Chair: Interviews with Poets from Northern Ireland (2002).

Her poem 'Be Careful of the Lilies' was discussed in depth by John Redmond in the chapter entitled 'Diction' of his 'How To Write a Poem' (Wiley-Blackwell, 2005). The poem has also featured on the Speech and Drama Syllabus of the Royal Irish Academy of Music.