Derry author Shaun Traynor's Thirteen Moons a poignant keepsake for Savannah

Derry-born children's author Shaun Traynor
Gail Bell

DERRY-born children’s author and poet Shaun Traynor has added another booklet of poems to his growing collection, with the recently published Savannah And Her Thirteen Moons.

Dedicated to his young granddaughter, the collection recounts short but evocative moon poems and was inspired by the discovery that moons were personalised by actual names each month – with a little bit of history to go with them.

“It was fascinating, really,” says the author of children’s novels The Lost City of Belfast and The Giants’ Olympics. “I found all these moons – The Snow Moon for February, for instance, and the Thunder Moon in July – and learnt all the different things about them, so I thought I’d write a little poem about each one and post it on Facebook each month.

“I thought it would last for maybe a couple of months but it lasted all year, which has been brilliant, and now Riversmeet Press have put them together in a little booklet which I have dedicated to my five-year-old, granddaughter Savannah.”

The challenge to post a poem every month began as a sort of “discipline” and a means to “keep going” after being unexpectedly diagnosed with terminal cancer two years ago and given just four months to live.

Savannah And Her Thirteen Moons will also, says the writer, who has compiled several poetry collections – including the Book of Irish Poetry for Children – serve as a poignant gift to pass on to Savannah who will not have known her grandfather "very long".

“Yes, there is a poignancy to this little booklet but I have very much enjoyed the project,” says the 79-year-old former teacher and longtime Londoner. “I was also pleased to be able to add in a 13th moon on the last page – an extra moon about the state of the planet and all the plastic in the sea, and also about Covid.”

Speaking of the latter, Shaun says that while he has come to terms with his cancer, there is a certain amount of bitterness with regards to pandemic restrictions robbing him of his last chance to get through his bucket list.

“I am stoical about it all; I have had a really good life and at the start of the year I’d thought I’d done almost everything, so I didn’t mind, but I do feel cheated out of my bucket list and travelling to beautiful places," he explains. " I really wanted to hire a nice car and travel Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, stopping off at little fish restaurants, because even though I have a house in Co Mayo, I had never done that.

“It’s not easy to live with the fact that Covid has restricted me from enjoying the last few months of my life, but, on the other hand, being in lockdown with Ursula [his wife] has brought us even closer and we have really enjoyed each other’s company, so I treasure that.”

Savannah And Her Thirteen Moons by Shaun Traynor is available from Riversmeet Productions:

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