Thursday, November 12, 2009

Reading Rooms in Cavan

A very enjoyable Reading Rooms event in the Radisson, Cavan last evening featuring English poet Hugo Williams (pictured right signing books).

The evening began with an open mic with ten readers. I read my Stamp Collecting poem and my Auschwitz poem. Both seemed to go down well especially the Stamp one - Hugo Williams even mentioned it in an introduction to one of his boyhood poems and wondered if we were more or less the same age.

A nice variety of material in this section with LitLab members prominent. Three singer/songwriters took part in the open mic including Michael O'Brien from Cavan who sang at the October Windows launch in The Writers' Centre, Dublin a while ago. He sang his City of Mirrors song based on the Gabriel García Márquez novel One Hundred Years of Solitude - a great song.

The first half concluded with Lisa O'Neill, a Cavan singer/songwriter with an Electric Picnic performance among her accomplishments. Her performances of her own songs and one cover went down very well. She even sang a song to Bob Dylan - impossible to get away from him these days.

The second half started with a reading by Ciarán O' Rourke, a young Dublin poet, who has won the Cúirt New Irish Writer Award and also won an award at the Listowel Writer's Festival. Again the audience responded well to his readings and his fine introductions.

Then we had Hugo Williams. He read for at least half an hour, many "greatest hits" plus a generous selection from the new volume West End Final shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot prize. He started with the hilarious (or is it very sad) Breakfast in Bed from the new book. The hits included the four that can be listened to and read on the Poetry Archive. Some poems he introduced at length, other barely any introduction. He established a rapport with the audience straight away and they responded with great appreciation of the nuances and humour of his lines.

I envy his easy style, the effortless delivery, the wit and humour which often conceal great sadnesses and trauma. He read a number of poems about his mother including one about her cremation. One the Poetry Archive website he includes this saying by Fred Astaire - If it doesn't look easy, you aren't working hard enough - which seems to sum up his work very well.

All in all a great night with over fifty in attendance. Well done to the organiser Cavan native writer Rebecca O'Connor, who has taken part in the Caomhnú and Flat Lake arts and literary festivals. She hopes that this was the first of a series. The Reading Rooms events are funded by Cavan County Council's arts office.

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