Laura’s life between the lines

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Laura Cronin tells Fiona McGarry how writing and poetry have helped her explore issues and navigate her life

POETRY proved to be a lifeline for a Killaloe woman to overcome depression and break a cycle of pain triggered by childhood trauma.

Two months before her birth, Laura Cronin’s father committed suicide and this loss had repercussions throughout her life.

From an early age, she developed a love of writing and turned to poetry to help her explore difficult issues and the feeling of being born “irreversibly broken”.

Writing poetry proved cathartic and when Laura started sharing poems on social media, she tapped into a network of people with similar experiences.

Delighted as she was with this connection, she could never have imagined that her Facebook page would lead to a publishing deal and the launch this week of her first book of poetry.

“It’s a dream come true,” she said. “I’m really proud, but I’m still in disbelief, I guess.”

Her debut collection is titled Beautifully Broken and launched on January 10. Laura’s talent was spotted by Hybrid Sequence Media who discovered her work through their Facebook page, Wielding Words.

“They got in touch and asked me for a manuscript,” Laura explained. “To be honest, I didn’t even know what a manuscript was, I had to google it!”

A prolific writer, often working late into the night after putting her children to bed, Laura had solid work to build on and plenty of material to present.

As she comes to terms with being a published author, Laura is keenly aware that writing poetry is deeply therapeutic for her and stems from difficult times. His poems never gloss over difficult experiences and emotions.

“Poems are often very raw,” Laura said. “I want to write with the soul. I am not afraid of problems. It also means that people contact me to tell me that they had the same emotions. When we write and share poetry, we realize that we are not alone. I take great comfort from that.

The imagery in Laura’s poetry is often vivid and sometimes heartbreaking. The poem ‘Broken Porcelain Faces’, describes the aftermath of a violent incident at home, through the eyes of a child.

“The child wanders in the aftermath/of a long nocturnal battle where no one has won,” says the poem.

Laura explained the motivation for writing the poem: “I remembered sweeping through a collection of porcelain dolls that were broken in an argument, and some of them stained with blood. I knew I had to capture that image and start dealing with that memory.

Laura’s poetry is extremely honest about her life and her struggles. “It’s very personal and a lot of the poetry is about my personal journey,” she said.

“Covid has created a little pause in my life. I was out of work for a few months and it gave me time to think.

“I guess I’ve always had bouts of depression. I harbored a lot of pain, but I had been in denial about it.

“In 2021, I admitted to myself that there were deeper issues and painful things in my life that I had to deal with.

“I realized that despite those things, I had a really loving family and my situation affected them as well. If it wasn’t for the love of my family, I wouldn’t be here.

Laura’s poems are compelling and captivating in equal measure. The poem titled ‘See Me’ is about feeling rejected and unwanted.

The poet describes herself as “an ink stain on your luxury letterhead / an ominous cloud on your sunny day / April in your calendar”.

As a deeply empathetic person, Laura said she worries about others struggling with mental health issues, who don’t have the same support she does.

“I think the reality is that there is very little help from the health services,” she said.

“I would be very concerned for those without support and hope to be able to donate to a mental health charity.”

Born and raised in Killaloe, as a young girl Laura searched second-hand shops for poetry books.

“When I read poems, I started to realize that there were other people who felt the same as me,” she said.

“Music also helped me a lot when I was a kid, because I was dealing with a lot of things at home and the lyrics of the songs really resonated with me. It inspired me to write poems and stories.

She credits one of her elementary school teachers for encouraging and validating her writing.

“Sr Marian was a teacher of mine and we really connected through English,” she explained.

“On Fridays, Sr. Marian would read my stories to the class. She really encouraged me to write, but as life went on I kind of got off the habit for a while. Later, it became a coping strategy when I realized that there were difficult and painful things to face.

Besides having a childhood flair for writing, Laura has developed an emotional intelligence beyond her years. One of his poems ‘Dear Empath’ explores this theme.

“I’ve always been very emotionally aware,” she said. “I was very empathetic and aware of how other people were feeling. I think it helped me to be aware of what was going on in my own life. I was able to rationalize.”

Beautifully Broken is also about surviving and thriving, as well as making peace with the past. In a poem called “Breaking Cycles”, Laura writes that “old habits won’t open new doors”.

“Poetry is also about healing,” Laura said. “You can either perpetuate something or move forward. I don’t always do things right and I’ve had relapses. I’m still struggling with self-esteem issues, but those who love me save me.

“When the publishers designed the book cover, I asked them to include a sunflower. I’ve always loved them because they’re so uplifting.

Today Laura combines her writing with a full-time job and a devoted mother of three. She is deeply grateful to her loved ones and family.

“My grandfather raised me after my father died and until my mother remarried, it was a huge support in my life,” she said.

“The dad I have now is a fantastic dad. He treated me like I was his own and I have wonderful siblings.

“I have the utmost respect for my parents. Right now I’m delighted that my husband and children are proud of me. I wish I could have continued my own education, so I’m delighted if they can. .

Ultimately, Beautifully Broken is a collection of hope and optimism. There’s a deep sense that, for Laura, “as life goes on, my story unfolds / another new chapter to tell”.

The collection is published under her maiden name, Laura Fitzgerald.

“It’s because that was who I was when I had those feelings and those experiences,” she explained.

“What I want the collection to ultimately say is that you can be broken while bringing positivity to the world around you.”

Beautifully Broken is available from Hybrid Sequence Media, Hybridsequencemedia.com/941-2/.

by Fiona McGarry

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