Friday, October 23, 2009

Falling Back

Autumn Herself

She leaves notes on the brambles:
glistening blackberry globes for stewed
desserts and jam, or damsons ready
for eager childrens' hands to scrump.

She flirts with a passer-by in the quickened
blaze she leaves on a ten year old beech,
fire licks going quickly over to bronzed yellow.
They cling until the first hard storm
spins their dry crunches into a limp mess
down the muddy street drains.

She's the crush of burnt sienna velvet
in a dress fondled in a department store.
She's low angled sunshine across a field
of beige barley-stubble. Her scent
is the must of late saucer mushrooms;
her jewellery scarlet berries hiding
in the dark, green prickles of paired Holly trees.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Gallery of Poets

Last night, like I hadn't enough to be doing, I headed to Dublin's Waterstones to a Gallery launch of five poets' latest poetry collections. The poets didn't disppoint. I ended up going home with an armful of books, and really enjoyed hearing them sound their poems out. I met the lovely Hugh O'Donnell hob-nobbing with Denis O'Driscoll and chatted to quite a few poetry g-literati (hi Teresa!).

In order of appearance: Tom French, with The Fire Step (his first collection, Touching the Bones won the Forward Prize in 2001); Vona Groarke with the very accomplished Spindrift (I've seen quite a few of her poems from the collection in various journals and papers over the last while); Kerry Hardie, with Only This Room; Eilean Ni Chuilleanain, with The Sun-Fish (a PBS recommendation this quarter); and Peter Sirr, with The Thing Is.

I like all of them very much and am having a good read of them all, being suitably impressed by their writing, skill and techique. Peter Sirr's remarks about the complexities and wrestling with the minutiae of editing, and how it is always taxing raised a few chuckles in the room, as did editor, Peter Fallon's ripostulary remarks about how we all submit to the editor - hmm.

On a more serious note, Peter Fallon referred to the dangerous currents of uncertainty in the arts world and how none of us know how these will play out, especially now that the Celtic Tiger has well and truly scampered off over the horizon - eastwards. Tough times are coming. Small comfort I know, but in the end, it was still a good turn-out last night, all things considered.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Work on Horizon and more...

I received word the other day that Horizon Review 3 has gone live this week. Yet another feast of poetry, short stories, reviews, criticism and so much more. I'm really lucky to have 3 poems on there, as well as a separate collaborative piece I wrote with poet Tony Williams during the summer. That's towards the bottom of the side-links. It's quite different to what I normally do, but I really enjoyed doing it with Tony (hmm, perhaps I should rephrase that... ;) ).

If you haven't done already, you should take a look at this fast-growing e-journal. Edited by Jane Holland, it also has Nuala Ni Chonchuir as fiction editor and George Ttouli as reviews editor. HR just grows on you!

In other news, I have work in the latest edition of Mimesis, which just arrived on Monday. There's me in the same journal as Paul Muldoon... and Rob MacKenzie, not to mention a lot of other names I recognise. Imagine!

And I've a brace of work forthcoming in the new edition of The Yellow Nib, the journal of the Seamus Heaney Centre for Writing at Queen's University Belfast. They're sonnets about Mallory. I won't say any more until it comes out, but I am very excited by it :)

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Teaching and Writing - do they mix?

I've been super-duper busy since the beginning of September - the observant among you can't have failed to notice the dearth of posts here. Why? Well, I got hours teaching for Navan VEC, as well as getting my own Saturday Creative Writing classes back up and running again (in a lovely new venue, DKIT).

So something had to give; the writing. And there's the rub. If I don't write, I don't have material to work on or send out. If I don't write, I don't develop all the ideas I have percolating away. If I don't write, I start to feel a little bit nuts.

I have just been coming back to the idea of writing this last few days - that must mean that I'm getting used to the teaching - thank goodness. And I still have one unused week from my residential bursary coming up: on the mid-term break. I should feel a little guilty about going off to write for a week at Annaghmakerrig and abandoning my husband to the six mini-monsters (okay, kids), but the truth is, I don't have time to feel guilty about it.

In that magical place I'll have the space to think, walk, eat, write and fool around with words, but more importantly I'll have the space to get three mini-projects nailed that have been rocketing around my brain for the last three weeks. The best thing about having to drive to Navan from Dundalk is the head space it allows for me to think. No time wasted, eh?

I can't bloody wait!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

All Ireland Poetry Day in Louth

So how did it go in Louth on Thursday, 1st of October 2009, All Ireland National Poetry Day? It went very, very well indeed, thanks for asking :)

First off, our radio interview on Harry Lee's Dundalk Daily turned out to be one small part in a huge poetry-packed programme. I was lucky enough to arrive just as Pat McKenna of the youth theatre programme was finishing reading a poem, and Damien Kelly gave a recital of beautiful classical guitar music. He was followed by Nessa O'Mahony who read a poem from her latest verse novel, In Sight of Home, published by Salmon Poetry, who had been workshopping in Dundalk Library with children from Realt naMara National School - and that's all I got to see of an action packed programme that celebrated poetry local and national, rhymed and unrhymed!

I, and three members of Dundalk Writing Group then read from our work, and then I had to scoot and get ready for the lunchtime reading being held at Dundalk Institute of Technology, with Susan Connolly. Our reading ended up being over-subscribed. We had just started, with about eight or ten people sitting in the room, when the door opened and about twenty more people, students and lecturers crowded into the room. We were stunned by the turn-out and delighted, naturally. I am of course, very grateful to head-librarians Concepta and Lorna who gave us a big build-up via posters and the DKIT website, and of course hosted us there.

The evening reading in Carlingford featured Catherine Ann Cullen, who read work from A Bone in My Throat, as well as new work that has been featured on Sunday Miscellany, RTE radio's early morning programme that features writing and poetry. Her work was received very well by the local audience, which included members from the Dundalk Writing Group - way to support NPD, guys! Carlingford Heritage Centre is located at the Holy Trinity Church, and is run by a very enthusiastic and friendly committee - the venue really suited the poetry reading very well indeed.

Drogheda's Poetry Slam, held in Boyne Books, Narrow West Street, Drogheda turned out to be a huge success: over 60 people turned up; 22 people took part in the slam; and the grand winner was Noel Sweeney from Dublin, with Paul Timoney from Dundalk a close runner up. Fair play to the organisers, Roger Hudson and Mark Kearns for a successful first Slam.

Now, about next year ...