Thursday, November 29, 2007

I always knew it too

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Bits & Bobs

I have been in oxter-land! That's where you're so damn busy that you don't realise that the sh-loppy stuff is right up to your armpits and rising faster than you can say, 'Get me out of here, I'm a celebrity poet!'

Firstly, at another book launch last night in Belfast for an anthology of Canadian, Newfoundland and Irish poetry. The readings from the book were only inspirational and the lovely laid back setting of Bookfinder's Cafe, was completely ideal for creating the necessary ambiance for a weighty tome like this one.

The Echoing Years is produced by The Centre for Newfoundland & Labrador Studies of the School of Humanites, Waterford Institue of Technology. Edited by Stephanie McKenzie, Randall Maggs and John Ennis, the book is literally about 3 inches thick in the spine: and contains some of the great and good poetry that is contemporary now.

Placing poetry from both sides of the pond, from countries not as used to being highlighted, as shall we say the US or the UK, means that the spotlight is allowed to play a lot longer and brighter on this selection of poets. There are some real thrills and surprises in the book: such as Leonard Cohen, Michael Ondaatje and in the Irish section a wonderful translation of Barbara Korun by Theo Dorgan. I haven't even skimmed the surface with this volume - it is (and I am sorry to have to use this cliche) a veritable cornucopia; with the contents page running to 34 pages alone from a total of 1280... some mighty reading over the next few weeks! If you know someone who loves contemporary poetry, you could do a lot worse than stick this in their Christmas stocking(s).

Two: people are starting to send me virtual champagne (how did you know!) and I am awaiting my before-birthday present from my husband with the proverbial bated breath! This evening we are having a family party for me with the kids; tomorrow I set off to stomp around sarf Landin, wiv me gud OU mate (sorry, came over all cockney there!) and later on have a generally good time indulging myself at the Saturday blogmoot for Bookarazzi in London's West-End and hang with the Minx and the Debi one - you know they very conveniently decided to have the moot on my birthday ;)

I have officially decided to get on and enjoy this birthday for all I can - see you this time next year! ;)


Okay - maybe not - And my piece of knitting in the Grace story has made it into the Shameless Lion's Writing Circle; go on and have a deko (writer 15), you'll need to scroll down!

Monday, November 26, 2007

More Launches

I had the pleasure of being invited to a very glamourous poetry book launch last Thursday evening, in Damer Hall, Stephen's Green, Dublin. The book in question, Snow Negatives, is a collection by Enda Coyle-Greene, the well deserved winner of the Patrick Kavanagh prize in 2006. Check it out and put it in your (or someone else's) Christmas stocking - it's a fantastic read.

If you don't know already, this is quite a prestigious prize for poetry, awarded to a manuscript of an Irish native annually for 36 years, but you must not have published a book previously. Winners in the past have gone on to bigger and better things - think Paul Durcan, Peter Sirr, Pat Boran, Sinead Morrissey and Conor O'Callaghan to name check but a few. Funnily enough, the winner of the PK award has just been announced this weekend, making it the full year since Enda's book was selected.

The launch itself was absolutely packed to the rafters - I've never been at a poetry event so well attended in my life -which augurs well as a riposte to those that say that poetry is dying off! Pat Boran spoke a few words over the book and then Mary O'Donnell gave us a very sound and interesting introduction to the work itself. Enda then read from the book, garnering a spontaneous round of empathetic applause for her formal sequence, 'Words to Form my Mother.'

For myself, I had a very good evening catching up with 'poets all sizes,' finishing my evening in Doheny & Nesbitts of Baggott Street - my old stomping ground, from my days with News Extracts (back before child production became a business ;) ), talking about ballroom dancing -as you will do, on these occasions.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

How do you do 40?

I'm about to celebrate one of those allegedly important birthdays. You know - the ones that end in 'oh'. I'm not sure if that's more an 'oh - did I make it his far,' or an 'oh, is that it?' or perhaps it's more an 'oh!' Which we're all entitled to, I guess.

I was on the phone to a good friend this evening and she asked me, 'Well, what are you doing for it?' I was going to mention the planned trip to London as being something a bit different to do for a birthday, but I thought I might surprise her with that one. She's not forgiven me for jetting off to Paris with Insane Husband for her birthday, back in June. That's my insane husband, not her's... I think she'd definitely not forgive me that one. Sorry this is beginning to sound like a plot for a pink novel...

An-y-way. Some suggestions for milking this 'oh' birthday might be useful. As long as they don't involve chocolate and smearing in the same sentence.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

I go away for 5 minutes

...and come back to a sisterhood of the pointy heel as well as knights of besmirched countenance...

I scratch my head, momentarily and then remember that it is almost the depth of winter in the Northern hemisphere and I suppose that that may be one reason for these strange goings on.

But then, I tell myself firmly, is it really strange...? Sisters and knights have long had 'interesting' associations... just now I am thinking Keats very loudly... No 'tis not strange.