Monday, August 31, 2009

Feis Teamhra - Longley and Muldoon

I attended the Feis Teamhra: A Turn At Tara event at Tara yesterday. It was held in the church at the site as the weather was unsuitable for outdoors. The church was full and the crowd appreciated the mix of poetry, music and song. I was particularly interested in hearing poets Paul Muldoon and Michael Longley and they didn't disappoint. It's great to hear them together because they in a sense represent two different strands, generations even, of northern Irish poetry.

Longley is the supreme lyric poet. He read in two sections, the first mostly Carrigskeewaun poems - based on or about the Mayo townland where he holidays every year. He included some which were written for grandchildren including Remembering Carrigskeewaun. In his second slot he included poems based on The Iliad and finished with the well-known CeaseFire. You can hear Longley read both poems on this page of the Poetry Archive.

Muldoon on the other hand has moved beyond the lyric and has recently written sequences which play with poetic forms and language. He read from his The Old Country sonnet sequence from his recent Horse Latitudes volume. He introduced it as a place where words don't mean what they appear to mean and have little to do with the truth. (I paraphrase).

Muldoon's reading style is slow, dry, almost monotonous but suits the material perfectly. In LitLab we had a workshop on reading poetry aloud at one stage and Muldoon's reading style was played as an example of how not to do it. In fact his reading has a wonderfully mesmeric quality to it. Is he taking it seriously?

There's a link to the poet reading a number of his poems on Paul Muldoon's homepage.

I'm looking forward to hearing another northern poet, Tom Paulin, (though he was born in Leeds) who could not be described as a lyric poet, in Farmleigh on Tuesday evening.

The singing and music was also enjoyable especially the harp playing of Mayo-born Laoise Kelly. she played Carolan's Planxty Wilkinson, written for a family who lived close to Tara. The church actually has a memorial plaque to members of that family.

1 comment:

BarbaraS said...

Sorry to have missed you Michael at the reading. I like the way you've picked up on the differences between the way the two poets read. I felt that Muldoon didn't do justice to his work, until he read from 'The Old Country.' That's when the words seemed to come alive. It's almost like he's anti-making the poetry work in an aural sense, or trying to play around with the listener's expectations - I expect it's the latter. Interesting to hear that you've actually workshopped how to read and how not to read poems live. I like to hear poems brought to life, but not over-exaggerated, if you know what I mean.