Thursday, July 25, 2013

Reviews of The Angels's Share

Slow, slow, slow!

A year later--okay over a year later--I have discovered some reviews of The Angels' Share online. I am quite excited by this, as these are some more than the first collection got: showing that it takes a terribly long time to get going in poetry-- as well as showing that I must be terribly idle to even be looking!

First, I found one in Australia: Tintean, a journal for the Australian Irish Heritage Network. They used to be a hard-copy journal but have gone over to an online version. The reviewer is quite kind, overall, but isn't keen on Pair Bond-- one of the poems that goes down a storm at readings--nor some of the Mallory poems--where I would have 'recycled' some of Mallory's quotes from his letters and journals, which I suppose might have made the poems seem stilted, as the language of the early 20th C is more formal than our 21st C brogues. Can't win 'em all, I guess.

Then there's a very warm one from Dublin Duchess --on an aside, her reading list is quite exhaustive and worth checking out. She loves Pair Bond, but thems the breaks, as they say.

 Mike Begnal's review on Todd Swift's Eyewear blog is very generous, I got the impression he really liked the book and his favourite towards the end, Modern Fantasia is one of my favourites too. 

And lastly there's one on Magma poetry's blog but alas, I don't know what it says yet, as there seems to a problem with the website--maybe it's just me!

By the way, if you're wondering what Pair Bond is all about, click on the link for a very short video of me and some Poetry Divas giving it what for (thanks to you-know-who for putting it together for me).

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Awfully Brrr for May

Coldy, coldy coldy. Out weather here in Ireland is giving us much pause for thought, what with these unseasonable northerly winds. The garden outside was given its annual shearing about three weeks ago and has been behaving immaculately ever since.

My pinky clematis looks lovely, spread all over our neighbour's wall and all the other plants I put into a small raised bed are thriving - bar the bean plants. Is it the cold? Is it the rain? I don't know.

What I do know is that the peas I put beside them are thriving; already climbing up the string and bamboo wigwam I set up for them. But the beans are withering and looking decidedly peaky. I should have just stuck with the peas overall, perhaps.

In writing news, all is very quiet since the end of the Dundalk Book Festival back at the end of April - almost a month ago. I believe most events were well attended and we Poetry Divas helped to rock the Panama Cafe on the Square (hai). We had an interesting afternoon, with many readers and even a musical interlude. More on Michael Farry's blog.

A highlight for me was Noel McGee, doing an excerpt from a one-man play, I, Kavanagh. This is a brightly woven piece with excerpts from Kavanagh's work and work about his work. The audience loved it - what with Patrick Kavanagh being from out the road a bit - and I saw many audience members mumming the words of his poems along with the actor.

There were parts in it I remembered from Antoinette Quinn's Biography of Kavanagh, which by the way if you've never read it is a fantastic read and full of inspiration too. One to buy rather than borrow. "O he was a quare one..." Kavanagh's poetry is something I return to time and again, probably because of the local connection but also because of his way of talking about the land. When you're a country girl, like me, it's nice sometimes to be grounded by what you've come from.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Underground Competition

Ever spent any time on the tube?

Submissions are now open for the first Fire Hazard anthology, "Underground".

To mark the 150th anniversary of the opening of the world's first underground railway in London in 1863, Fire Hazard is compiling a print anthology of poetry dealing with experiences of underground railways and their impact (for better and worse) on the communities they serve around the world.

Themes could include (but are by no means limited to):

Construction of underground railways
History of the lines and the stations
The above-ground communities the underground serves
The experience of commuting / travelling underground
The art of the underground
People experienced on the underground
Subterranean geographies / cities
Mapping the underground

If you would like your work to be considered for this anthology, please send up to four poems and a brief biographical note to us at with the word "underground" in the subject title. The deadline for submissions is March 31st, 2013. All included poets will receive an electronic copy of the anthology, hardcopies of which will be available for purchase in early summer.

Turbulence Magazine subscription rates: single issue £2; annual subscription (four issues): £6 (UK rates - please email for international rates). Please send cheques / postal orders (payable to "A Fisher") to: A Fisher, 29 Finchley Close, Hull. HU8 0NU. 

Visit their website at

Saturday, November 24, 2012

More Divas? And a Divo..!

Oh boy it's a busy season for the Divas! At 6.30pm, Wednesday 28th November, the Divas read in DkIT in Dundalk, in the Tomas Mac Anna theatre, emceed by the new Writer in Residence, Ferdia Mac Anna. Us Divas will be Kate Dempsey and Triona Walsh, and meself.

This time we are featured readers with a guest: Michael Farry. I wonder does that make him a Divo - even just an honorary one!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Poetry Divas are go

Us Poetry Divas are getting around a bit these days! On Wednesday 21st November we're reading at The Grand Social in Dublin along with many other poets in support of Pussy Riot.

This event is just one of many organised across the UK and Ireland to coincide on that date, through the auspices of English PEN and our own counterpart Irish PEN.

We have a Facebook event page set up: if you're in Dublin on the night do come along from 6pm onwards, it's FREE and it promises to be a great night. Poets who have agreed to read include: Kimberly Campanello, Sophie Collins, Sue Cosgrave, Anatoly Kudryavitsky, Christodoulos Makris, Máighréad Medbh, Paula Meehan, Alan Jude Moore, Christine Murray, The Poetry Divas, Sam Riviere.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

All Ireland Poetry Day: Louth

There's a wonderful broadcast happening on Dundalk FM at 11am, called Bookends, which is hosted by the capable Eileen Corcoran. The programme will focus on two poetry books launched in Dundalk recently – “The Angels Share”, by Barbara Smith (yes, me!) and “Once Upon Reflection” by Petra Berntssen. 

Petra Berntsson is a visual artist born in Sweden, now living in Dundalk. She has combined her paintings with writing from other poets and writers. The connections happened naturally and poems emerged from paintings, and paintings grew from words. The end result, “Once Upon Reflection” is a beautiful book, inspired by Petra’s years living in Ireland.

The programme will also feature four Louth people readings poems which they love.They are: Cllr. Jennifer Green, Cathaoirleach, Dundalk Town Council; Pat Keating an active participant in the cultural life of Dundalk,; Tommy Kelly, a visual artist, comic writer, and social commentator and Cathal Cassidy, a broadcaster on Dundalk FM 100.

As if that isn't plenty to be going on with, it's then off to Dundalk Instutute of Technology for a 12.30 pm lunchtime reading with myself and John Noonan. John is a Longford native and the 2012 winner of the Goldsmith Prize for his poem 'Glass Maker'. He is also heavily involved in the Dundalk Writers Group.

There's always something happening in Louth for All Ireland Poetry Day and this year is no exception.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Pussy Riot & Poetry Divas

At our Poetry Divas gig at Electric Picnic this year, we dedicated our reading to the girls from Pussy Riot. We said, before we got started, how much we appreciated that we lived in a society where our freedom of speech was not curtailed and that we could pretty much say what we wanted, poetry wise.

Little did we know that a few hectic weeks later, we would be involved in a mammoth protest project, co-ordinated by English PEN and some very hard-working writers and poets. Two weeks ago, I noticed a call on Twitter to submit poems to Eng. PEN to show solidarity with Pussy Riot, in time for their appeal, which is this Monday, 1st October.

I responded with Pair Bond, a poem that Poetry Divas usually do together, taking various stanzas each. It's a poem about the many words for breasts, and began life as a sort of riposte to Alan Gillis' poem in Hawks and Doves. My poem has taken on a life of its own, and always seems to go down well at live gigs, especially when we use our visual aids.

Well, us Divas got ourselves together very quickly, got my son roped in and recorded ourselves all reciting various stanzas. Big son went off to UL, where he studies multimedia and music, and used our visuals and voices to bring a short video to life:

Then I discovered that there was an e-book in the offing as well: Catechism  - but wait! The book only goes live on Monday 1st Oct, so you will have to wait to read what George Szirtes says in his introduction, and to read all the varying voices contained. They are distributing it on a 'Pay What You Think It's Worth' scheme.  I've had a sneak preview, so I know what I think it's worth. Enjoy and think of the girls in Russia on Monday; here's hoping that they are freed.