Washing Windows Too contains 100 new poems, selected by co-editor Alan Hayes, by women who have not yet published a full collection. As co-editor Nuala O’Connor says in her introduction: “What a pleasure it is to see what subjects new poets love enough – feel urgently enough about – to be moved to create poetry.” The writers in the pages of Washing Windows Too have things on their minds that have exploded into that love-urgency that makes writers write. And, just as it should be, few subjects are off limits. A poet may not always love her inspirational material, but those here revere the act of writing so much – value it so much – that honing their ideas, visions, and insights into poem-shaped, concrete objects has become crucial. It is an honour to witness what has urged these writers to the process of thought, cogitation, sentence, and finally, poem. Many writers use writing as an attempt to solve life’s conundrums – to solve themselves. And to understand the self and others better, too, because writing is the best way they know to gain sight into, and survive, the vagaries of life. For me, this process of moulding words and ideas into lasting shape is tied into my well-being – I write in order to make peace with things, to figure them out, or to honour certain moments. I write because, if I didn’t, I think I would lose my mind. Perhaps the writers in this anthology are like me – maybe for them, too, writing is their sanity and their joy, their best thinking and settling tool. A poem can be a path into the deepest, purest self, and back out again – through the very act of writing – to a calmer, less frenetic place.
Because poets deal with issues that concern them – universal truths, often – certain themes emerge, as they do in all anthologies. In Washing Windows Too, particular groupings of motifs re-occur and these include birth and motherhood; child-love and empty nests; migration and refugees; women’s power and agency; bodies, the male gaze, and violence; nature and its beauties; art, creation, and the act of writing itself; uneasy relationships; politics; health and illness; and grief and death. And, because we are living in the early twenty-twenties, the pandemic naturally features in some poems.