Last night I attended the first of the series being run by the Oscar Wilde Centre for Writing; the home of the MPhil course in Creative Writing at Trinity College, Dublin. They are hosting a whole series of events every Tuesday evening during April to celebrate ten years of their CW programme.
We were welcomed by Stephen Matterson and the writers were introduced by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin: being three; Derek Mahon, Mary Morrissey and George Szirtes. The very sizeable crowd that turned up had to be relocated to a larger lecture theatre as the event was oversubscribed - a very happy thing to happen at a reading event like this.
I went along with two other writer friends and we sat rapt through the evening: Derek Mahon read mostly from new work, with an environmental flavour, so we were getting very recent work indeed.
Mary Morrissey is a Writer Fellow at Trinity College - a novelist with Mother of Pearl and The Pretender behind her, she read from WIP; she is writing a 'counter-novel' to Sean O' Casey's "autobiography" from the point of view of O'Casey's older sister, Bella.
George Szirtes read from Reel to Reel as well as more recent work and one or two of the poems I recalled from last year when he visited Trinity as part of the Poetry and Politics series in February. All three participants received very warm applause for their readings.
I've forgotten to record that the joint launch in Belfast with poetry colleague and friend, Enda Coyle Greene on the 7th of March went terrifically well. A large contingent of friends, colleagues and peers came along to No Alibis book shop in Belfast to hear us read from Kairos and Snow Negatives; we were honoured to have Sinead Morrissey say a few words on our behalf about poetry in general and our work in particular. The reponse was such afterwards that all the books we had brought to Belfast were cleared off the shelves. Dave of No Alibis was absolutely thrilled with the success of the evening, as were both Enda and I.
A week later, on the 14th of March, I had the pleasure of attending one of the Candle and Mirror series organised by Richard Irvine, in the Harty room at the QUB School of Music (a wonderfully resonant room for the spoken word). This time the line-up was American (Over Here): with Chris Agee who lives in Belfast and Alicia E. Stallings, who lives in Greece. Both poets read very well, but I was very taken with Stallings' work, which is snappy, clever and reveals great depth and shows how you can use form imaginatively. All the audience received a souvenir pamphlet of the poets' work to take away, which I really enjoyed reading later on. We were lucky to have had a workshop with Stallings the day before the reading; adding a new twist to the workshop series.