After spending all day reading the Sligo Independent for 1912 in the National Library I headed to the Damer Hall for the launch of the two books of poetry by Bradshaw Books. What Joseph Woods from Poetry Ireland called "a technical hitch" - the fact that no poetry books had actually arrived held up proceedings for a little while and gave an opportunity of saying hello to people I knew or had met at prize-givings or had published in Boyne Berries.
A full audience and the readings and launches were well worth the wait. Poet Maurice Harmon launched Roderick Ford's second collection The Green Crown. I met Roderick at a Francis Ledwidge prize giving in Inchicore a couple of year ago when he won and I was commended.
Roderick has a speech impediment and likes to play a tape of himself reading rather than read live. He does however introduce each poem and this worked very well. He read seven poems.
His poems are a fascinating mixture of the commonplace and the fantastic, often starting in traditional lyric style but moving into fantasy, dreams or nightmares. The figure of Christ appears in many of these but always in a form imagined afresh by the poet. There is something unsettling about them a kind of darkness waiting in the next line effect.
Shirley McLure's collection Who's Counting? was launched by writer Katie Donovan. Shirley has been published in Boyne Berries and I met her at the Kavanagh prize giving, she was joint second, I was joint third. Her poems are humorous, wise and subtle comments and accounts of human relationships, love, desire, death and breast cancer. The title poem is on her website.
They are full of double entendres and wit and a perfect riposte to the review I quoted from a couple of days ago from Poetry Ireland Review. It is possible to write about these things- love affairs, deaths of relations etc again and again so long as you make it new. This is what Shirley McLure and indeed Roderick Ford do so well.
And the Sligo Independent 1912? Fascinating reading, everyone should have to read an old newspaper once a year.