Laura Cronin tells Fiona McGarry how writing and poetry have helped her explore issues and navigate her life
POETRY has proven to be a lifeline for a Killaloe woman in overcoming depression and breaking a cycle of pain sparked by childhood trauma.
Two months before she came into the world, Laura Cronin’s father died by suicide and that loss sent ripples right throughout her life.
At an early age, she developed a love of writing and turned to poetry to help her explore difficult issues and the sense of having been born “irreversibly broken”.
Writing poetry proved to be cathartic and when Laura began to share poems on social media, she tapped into a network of people living through similar experiences.
Delighted as she was with that connection, she could never have dreamed her Facebook page would lead to a publishing deal and the launch, this week, of her debut collection of poetry.
“It’s a dream come true,” she said. “I am really proud, but I’m still in disbelief, I suppose.”
Her first collection is entitled Beautifully Broken and launched on January 10. Laura’s talent was spotted by Hybrid Sequence Media who discovered her work through her 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 go and Google it!”
A prolific writer, often working late into the night after putting her kids to bed, Laura had a strong body of work to draw on and plenty of material to showcase.
As she gets to grips with being a published author, Laura is very conscious that writing poetry is deeply therapeutic for her and stems from challenging times. Her poems never gloss over difficult experiences and emotions.
“The poems are often very raw,” Laura said. “I want to write from the soul. I don’t shy away from issues. It also means people contact me to say they have had the same emotions. When we write and share poetry, we realise that we are not alone. I take great comfort from that.”
The imagery, in Laura’s poetry, is often vivid and sometimes harrowing. The poem ‘Broken Porcelain Faces’, describes the morning after a violent incident in the home, through the eyes of a child.
“The child wanders into the after-effects/of a long night’s battle, where no-one won,” the poem recounts.
Laura explained the motivation for writing the poem: “I had a memory of sweeping up a collection of porcelain dolls which were broken during an argument, and some of them stained with blood. I knew I had to capture that image and begin to deal with that memory.”
Laura’s poetry is searingly honest about her life and her struggles. “It is very personal and a lot of the poetry is about my personal journey,” she said.
“Covid created a bit of a pause in my life. I was out of work for a few months and it meant I had a chance to reflect.
“I suppose I had always had some bouts of depression. I was harbouring 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 needed to deal with.
“I realised that despite these things, I had a really loving family and that my situation was also affecting them. 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 entitled ‘See Me’ deals with feelings of being rejected and unwanted.
The poet describes herself as “an inkblot on your luxury letterhead / an ominous cloud on your sunlit day / the month of April in your calendar.”
As a deeply empathetic person, Laura said she has concerns for others experiencing mental health issues, who don’t have the same support as she does.
“I think the reality is that there is very little help out there from the health services,” she said.
“I would be very concerned for those who have no support and I hope to be in a position to donate to a mental health charity.”
Born and bred in Killaloe, as a young girl, Laura would search the second-hand shops for poetry books.
“When I read poems, I began to realise that there were other people out there who felt like I did,” she said.
“Music also really helped me as a child, because I was coping with a lot at home and the lyrics of songs really resonated with me. That inspired me to write poems and stories.”
She credits one of her primary school teachers with 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 sort of lost the habit for a while. Later on, it became a coping strategy when I realised that there were difficult, painful things to face up to.”
As well as having a childhood flair for writing, Laura developed an emotional intelligence beyond her years. One of her poems ‘Dear Empath’ explores this theme.
“I was always very emotionally aware,” she said. “I was very empathetic and aware of what other people were feeling. I think that helped me to be aware of what was going on in my own life. I was able to rationalise.”
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 will not open new doors”.
“The poetry is also about healing,” Laura said. “You can either perpetuate something or you can move forward. I don’t always get it right and I have had relapses. I still grapple with self-esteem issues, but those who love me save me.
“When the publishers were getting the book’s cover designed, I asked them to include a sunflower. I’ve always loved them because they are so uplifting.”
Today, Laura combines her writing with a full-time job and being a dedicated mum of three. She is deeply grateful to her loved ones and her family.
“My granddad raised me after my dad died and until my mother remarried, that was a huge support in my life,” she said.
“The dad I have now is a fantastic dad. He treated me as if I was his own and I have wonderful brothers and sisters.
“I have the height of respect for my parents. Right now, I’m delighted that my husband and children are proud of me. I would love to have taken my own education further, so I’m delighted if they’ll be able to do that.”
Ultimately, Beautifully Broken, is a collection laced with hope and optimism. There is a deep sense that, for Laura, “as life endures, my story unfolds / another new chapter to be told.”
The collection is published under her maiden name, Laura Fitzgerald.
“That’s because that was who I was when I had those feelings and experiences,” she explained.
“What I ultimately want the collection to say is that you can be broken and still bring positivity to the world around you.”
Beautifully Broken is available from Hybrid Sequence Media, Hybridsequencemedia.com/941-2/.
by Fiona McGarry