Monday, May 31, 2010
The anthology is featured on the Irish Page of the Poetry International website and there is a link to the Boyne Berries page with the poem we published.
Submissions are currently open for the next two issues of Boyne Berries. Details here.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
It's ten years since I last did any history research or writing. Neither have I been giving any talks on my special history subject The War of Independence and Civil War in County Sligo 1914-1923. I was surprised recently to be asked to give a talk at the Sean MacDiarmada Summer School in Kiltyclogher, Co Leitrim in mid-June.
I thought about it for a while then agreed. I decided to do a talk (a paper/ a presentation/ a lecture?) on the change of allegiance within County Sligo from 1914 when the Irish Party was in control to 1918 when Sinn Féin took over. It fits in well with the "Challenging Authority" theme.
Not having been on the history circuit it's not as easy as it might sound. I'm struggling with the sixth or seventh draft trying to judge length, audience expectation and interest even the tone to adopt. Anyway I have a script that should take about 30 minutes to deliver and a Powerpoint to provide focus or distraction.
I intend to start with a remark about "coming out of retirement" - a blatant effort to get the audience's sympathy. The other speakers are all currently working in universities delivering brilliant lectures every day to enthusiastic students.
Friday, May 28, 2010
I've got sturnus vulgaris in my soffit. Well maybe it's my gutter or fascia. Anyway there are starlings nesting in my roof. This is at least the second year this has happened. Some plaster has fallen from the soffit or fascia or whatever leaving a gap which they use. The chicks (at least two) have hatched and both parents are feeding them. See picture above. Apparently there may be a second brood later.
This reminds me of Yeats and his poem Meditations In Time Of Civil War one part of which is entitled The Stare's Nest by My Window:
The bees build in the crevices
Of loosening masonry, and there
The mother birds bring grubs and flies.
My wall is loosening, honey bees
Come build in the empty house of the stare.
We are closed in, and the key turned
On our uncertainty; somewhere
A man is killed, or a house is burned,
Yet no clear fact to be discerned:
Come build in the empty house of the stare.
Yeats' notes on the poem included: I was in my Galway house during the first months of civil war, the railway bridges blown up and the roads blocked with stones and trees. One felt an overmastering desire not to grow unhappy or embittered, not to lose all sense of the beauty of nature. A stare (our West of Ireland name for a starling) had built in a hole beside my window and I made these verses out of the feeling of the moment.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Paddy read some prose and a poem (A Poem Paddy!!) about his father who was the photographer in the family and so doesn't appear in any of the family snapshots. Maria read a piece about being sent as a child to the busstop yo collect day old chicks by her mother. James read about the family moving from Galway to Meath. Eamon read some poems about growing up in Cavan including one about going to see a "Love Film" on a Saturday and actually enjoying it.
Paddy also read a poem from Group member Orla Fay who couldn't be present entitled Echo Gate and from Honor Duff about cycling through Meath in the war years.
I read five poems each based on a family photograph. The Home provided a laptop and projector and I showed each photograph, explained some background and read the poem. It seemed to go down well. One of these has been published and you can read it here.
It was a very enjoyable event, a good attentive interested audience and an interesting display of old school books as well.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
The anthology 'Leave Us Some Unreality' was launched last week by Carlo Gebler. It showcases the work of thirteen writers currently studying at the Oscar Wilde Centre at Trinity College Dublin.
I've met at least two of the writers. David Rowell won the Swift Satire Competition last year and read his piece at the festival. Eleanor Hooker is a founding member of the Dromineer Literary Festival, Co Tipperary and I met her when I was a prizewinner at the festival two, or was it three, years ago.
These M. Phil in Creative Writing students represent a diverse group, coming from Ireland, the United States and Canada. An anthology consisting of both prose and poetry, Leave Us Some Unreality contains the highlights of these authors’ work to date.
The anthology is available, price € 11.99, from most bookshops.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
The view late Sunday evening from our back door. I posted a similar picture last year a week earlier so growth seems to have almost caught up. The sycamore has its leaves and small green flowers. The clematis is in full bloom on the arch and the chives and another herb whose name I forget are in flower in the herb patch. Under the tree the bluebells and the nettles are doing well.
That's a willow thingmajig under the tree. I have some willow growing around a small garden and it has to be cut back each winter. The rods are usually left to be dumped but this year I decided to make something with them. I don't know what it is but it can be seen from the window and is a conversation piece.
I saw some swifts today flying around the place. Later when the sycamore tree is home to millions of insects the swallows and swifts spend a lot of time circling it feeding on the wing.
Monday, May 24, 2010
On the last Wednesday in May, June and July the Viaduct Bards, Drogheda are organising readings from local emerging and established poets and writers.
Readings will take place at the Droichead Arts Centre cafe/bar between 7.30-9.30pm. Sean Nos Singing Session on afterwards at 9.30pm. First reading is on this Wednesday 26 May.
Today is Bob Dylan's birthday. He is sixty nine today. I understand the Tubridy Show on RTE radio has/had a mention of it this morning.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
You are cordially invited to the launch of The Moth, Ireland's new arts and literature magazine.
With readings from Dermot Healy, Noel Monahan, Rebecca O'Connor and Philip Doherty
Saturday 29 May, 8pm at The Abbey Bar, Coleman Road, Cavan.
We will ALSO be launching The Moth at the Flat Lake Festival 4-6 June, with recitals, portrait-drawing, absinthe-drinking, Limerick-writing, etc.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
A good night last Thursday at the Boyne Readings and Open Mic. Usual audience with a good turn out from Meath Writers Circle.
I decided to read the poem I read at the Battle of the Books last year to remind the Circle that we, The Boyne Writers Group, won that epic encounter (OK by one point, but a win is a win). Time to get pieces written for this year's contest which takes place on 4th July. Hmmm something with an American theme might go down well with the judges.
My poem last year was called The Celtic Tiger Recession Blues and the first verse went like this:
We’ve lived an illusion, in a house built of fool’s gold
But the bubble has burst and we’re feeling the cold
The wolf of recession howls in our landscaped avenues
Here comes the Celtic Tiger Recession Blues.
Great fun to write, lists of words that rhyme with Blues. How soon things age! The verse:
Cut the public service is their only prescription
Slash health and education like they were an addiction
We’ll end up illiterate and riddled with strange foreign flu’s
Worse than the Celtic Tiger Recession Blues.
was written in the middle of the Swine Flu scare, now almost completely forgotten.
Anyway to get back to Thursday, Willie Hodgins charmed us with his poems and one story of rural life, the changing seasons, death and new life. Frank Murphy read his wonderfully fantastic poem, recitation, what ever about a leprechaun and Tommy Murray read the poem of his which has been honoured in the Golden Pen competition this year. (Blogger Peter Goulding won this competition.)
Pictured above: Pat Duffy, featured reader Willie Hodgins, Tommy Murray and MC Paddy Smith.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Our reading in Knightsbrook Retirement Village as part of the Bealtaine Festival went very well yesterday. An attentive audience attended who were familiar with most of the poems we read and some even read along from the booklet we provided.
Myself and Paddy chose our Top Twenty Read-Aloud Poems based on readability, enjoyability, personal preference and even prejudice. Just our list. Here is it:
1. The Daffodils – William Wordsworth
2. The Lake Isle of Innisfree – W. B. Yeats
3. The Fairies- William Allingham
4. She Moved Through the Fair – Padraic Colum
5. The Fiddler of Dooney - W. B. Yeats
6. A Red, Red Rose - Robert Burns
7. If – Rudyard Kipling
8. The Cremation of Sam McGee – Robert Service
9. The Listeners – Walter de la Mare
10. On Raglan Road - Patrick Kavanagh
11. The Old Woman of the Roads – Padraic Colum
12. Ach I Dunno! – Percy French
13. Warning - Jenny Joseph
14. I See His Blood upon the Rose - Joseph Mary Plunkett
15. Oh I wish I’d Looked after Me Teeth – Pam Ayers
16. Because I Could Not Stop For Death - Emily Dickinson
17. The Village Schoolmaster - Oliver Goldsmith
18. The Brook - Tennyson
19. Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep - Mary Elizabeth Frye
20. I Remember, I Remember – Thomas Hood
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
It's difficult to believe but back in the 90s Bob Dylan was almost forgotten. Now everywhere you look he's there. Opening the latest issue of Poetry Magazine, the first poem is by Scottish poet Roddy Lumsden (above) entitled Eidolon (It means an ideal or idealized figure).
When I reach the line: an Iron Range wraith junking cue cards, I realised it's about Dylan. He came from Hibbing in the Iron Range area of Minnesota and the cue cards refer to this well-known and often imitated Subterranean Homesick Blues sequence from the film Don't Look Back. That's poet Allen Ginsberg in the background.
You can read the Roddy Lumsden poem here.
I wrote a poem about the Dylan concert I attended in Liverpool last year, a sonnet actually. Quite good, though I say it myself. I recently sent it with two others to an Irish magazine. Wonder what they'll think of it.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
I attended the first evening of Poetry Ireland Introductions 2010 on Monday evening. Four poets read and whoever organised the programme deserves great praise for presenting such a variety of talent. Four completely different styles of writing and presentation - there certainly is no bias towards one particular poetry school in the Introductions choices.
First up was Andrew Caldicott. We have published some of his work in Boyne Berries. He writes short poems about apparently simple things - a pregnancy test, his grandfather's death, the train to Wexford, worms - in a quiet, very well composed way.
Next was Jessica Colley whose style of writing is much different. You want to stop her and ask to see the text so you can read again and savour the words and meanings. A poem about a train again but as a way of writing about her whole family, also poems about dreams and a grandmother she never knew but imagines was very like her.
Martin Dyer I met at the Kavanagh weekend last year where he won the poetry collection competition. His delivery is wonderful, a great sense of timing which enhance the slightly off-beat sketches of people and situations many from the west - the gillie talking to a nun's class in secondary school, closing rural post offices and the man who writes wedding speeches for everyone but himself. Don't let the humour fool you there is a darkness at the heart of many of these poems/dramatic monologues.
Finally Peter Goulding (picture above) who has been in Boyne Berries and has attended our Open Mic sessions. He started with a joke about his speech impediment which put people at their ease. His poems were about simple things but with a wry touch which emphasised their humour. Two about Wicklow, cows, jackdaws and people, one about a small town on Route 66 in Arizona and his great take on the villanelle - The only problem with the villanelle is that the repetition grates like hell.
A great night, met lots of poets I knew and some I didn't including two who are reading tonight, Niamh MacAlister and Connie Roberts. Good luck to them and to all the others. Get along there if you can - the venue is the Irish Writers Centre, Parnell Square, Dublin, 7pm.
Monday, May 17, 2010
The Boyne Readings and Open Mic takes place monthly on the third Thursday in The Village Hall, Knightsbridge Village, Longwood Road, Trim. Each night features one or two well known writers who read from their work. This is followed by an open mic session where everyone is welcome to read their own work. Time is allocated according to the number of readers.
Next event is on Thursday May 20 at 8pm and the featured reader is poet Willie Hodgins. Willie is a traditional poet from Faughan Hill, Bohermeen, Co Meath and is a regular contributer to the Meath Chronicle Christmas Poetry page. His first collection called Sunflowers was published last year. He is a member of the Meath Writer's Circle.
Just come along on the night and sign in. Admission 5 euro, Tea/Coffee, Biscuits. For more information telephone 086 8283314.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
As I mentioned earlier Boyne Writers Group are organising some events for the Bealtaine Festival in Knightsbridge Retirement Village in Trim.
On Wednesday next myself and Paddy are reading the Top Twenty Reading Out Loud Poems. We are choosing the twenty favourites based on our experiences reading to the residents each week. That's our favourites and the audience's favourites. Some poems are a delight to read, other difficult.
Rhythm and rhyme are important in reading aloud but understanding, clever language and the unexpected are also essential. You know a poem is well written and well read when the audience reacts to such things.
I've also been googling information on the poets to find interesting facts about them. Did you know that Robert Burns' sister, Agnes, came to live near Dundalk and her cottage is still there, now a tourist attraction. Apparently that's the reason Carrolls called one of their cigarette brands Sweet Afton.
And our top three poems? I'll tell you later.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Where were you 5 years ago?
1. Sitting here in front of this computer. Is it really five years old?
2. Working in Navan Education Centre looking forward to retirement.
3. Just beginning to send poems to magazines. First one published was The Sally Basket in Crannóg 10 in Winter 2005
4. Thinking of setting up a writers group in Trim. I did that.
5. Thinking of taking up golf in advance of retirement. Didn't do that.
Where would you like to be in five years time?
1. Sitting here in front of this computer. I am getting on a bit!
2. Visiting Perth, Australia.
3. Walking around Florence.
4. Actually walking around any town or city.
5. Playing golf.
What is on your to do list today?
1. Start writing a satiric poem for the Battle of the Books against Meath Writers Circle. We have to retain the trophy. I have a great idea for - well I'd better not say - spies everywhere.
2. Try to finish a history talk I have to give at a summer school in June - difficult.
3. Do some gardening - easy, lots to do, take your pick.
4. Prepare a top twenty list of poems for reading at a local event at the Bealtaine Festival.
5. Don't eat any chocolate or crisps.
What snacks do you enjoy?
1. Black pudding
2. Chocolate - fruit and nut.
3. Crisps - any flavour.
4. Cocktail sausages.
5. Home made popcorn.
What 5 things would you do if you were a billionaire?
1. Keep it secret.
2. Buy more books.
3. Buy a really good fountain pen.
4. Give all except one million to third world charity.
5. Give all except ten thousand of that million to domestic charities.
Friday, May 14, 2010
Did I ever mention that I did an Arvon course in Lumb Bank, Yorkshire in 2007? A great week! Pictured above looking puzzled as poets often do are myself, Alex Pryce (Poetcasting), Matthew Hollis and Andrew Philip. Matthew was one of the tutors and Andrew has published his first collection The Ambulance Box.
Founded by Ted Hughes and now in its 30th year, The Arvon International Poetry Competition is one of the UK's most prestigious open poetry prizes.
The first prize of £7,500 is one of the largest available for a single poem. The competition is truly international, welcoming entries from around the world.
The Arvon International Poetry Competition is now open, you can enter online. The deadline for entries is 5pm on 16 August 2010.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
The aim of this anthology is to showcase a substantial piece of work from each of the selected poets and to feature a poetry form that is often hard to place with publishers.
Guidelines : Each sequence must contain between 3 and 12 poems/prose poems, each of up to 40 lines in length or 250 words for prose poems. Sequences can be on any subject and you may send several sequences. All submissions must be via email. There is an admin fee of £2 per person which is paid online by PayPal.
I've sent in my sequence already. Did I mention that I wrote a sequence of poems based loosely on the film High Noon? That was one of the first films I ever saw and I came across it late one evening while flicking through channels. A fascinating story behind the film involving McCarthyism and Hollywood and the wonderfully titled House Committee on Un-American Activities.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Now here's a competition worth winning. Also you can enter online. You must enter three to five poems whose total maximum length is no more than 120 lines. So you can enter that 100 line epic, so long as you can find two ten line poems to add to it.
The Manchester Poetry Prize 2010
First prize: £10,000. Deadline for entries: 6th August 2010 Entry fee: £15
Judges: Simon Armitage, Lavinia Greenlaw and Daljit Nagra
Under the direction of Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University is launching the second Manchester Poetry Prize – a major international literary competition celebrating excellence in creative writing.
The Manchester Poetry Prize is open internationally and will award a cash prize of £10,000 to the writer of the best portfolio of poetry submitted. The competition is open to entrants aged 16 or over; there is no upper age limit.
In addition to the main prize, a bursary for study at MMU will be awarded to one entrant aged 18-25 as part of the Manchester Young Writer of the Year Award.
All entrants are asked to submit a portfolio of three to five poems (total maximum length 120 lines). The poems can be on any subject, and written in any style, but must be new work, not published or submitted for consideration elsewhere.
The prizes will be awarded at a gala dinner hosted at Manchester Metropolitan University as part of the 2010 Manchester Literature Festival. Tickets for this event will be on sale soon.
To find out more about the Manchester Poetry Prize, and enter online, go to: www.manchesterwritingcompetition.co.uk
There is also a Manchester Fiction Prize - details on the website.
Alex Ferguson received an honorary degree from Manchester Metropolitan University.
Monday, May 10, 2010
Niamh Boyce in her blog mentions how short story submission and competition rules influence the length of her finished stories. The same applies to poetry, most competitions limit the entry to 40 or 60 lines. All very well but the long poem has a fascination and pleasure as well, sometimes far in excess of those finely polished precious lyric nuggets.
I finished Noel Monahan's new book, Curve of the Moon, yesterday. The third part of the volume is one long dramatic poem called Diary of a Town. The town is Granard where Noel was born and the time sometime in his youth - Lonny Donnegan is singing My Old Man's A Dustman and By the Light of the Silvery Moon is coming to the cinema next week.
It's a cross between Dylan Thomas' Under Milk Wood and Kavanagh's The Great Hunger, people with a cast of small town characters and punctuated with the memories of school chants, church ritual, playground rhymes and popular song. It's fascinating and greatly enjoyable. Presumably the names have all been changed but we can all recognise similar characters from out childhood.
The almost 40 page poem is arranged in twelve sections each dealing with a month of the year an arrangement which works very well.
It starts with:
They were all waiting for something to happen
Diving time between waking and dreaming
and ends with
Doors squeak open
Another year begins.
Saturday, May 8, 2010
I love this email I just got - poets with attitude:
Forgive this email if you've already entered but with the General Election over and everyone suitably depressed that Cameron is so close to destroying our country maybe now is the time to vent your spleen and bash out a poem or two, send them to us and give yourself a chance of £300. It may compensate for the tax credits you'll be losing soon... Details as always on our website - www.welshpoetry.co.uk
You can enter and pay online so it's one of the UK competitions I probably will enter.
I stayed up till 3am on Thursday night watching the election coverage. Mostly on BBC, though it was terrible. Dimbleby looking confused - where are we going next? - no pattern emerging - (A bit like Andy Grey on Sky Sports) - Hey David it's your job to spot the pattern! Then Jeremy Paxman doing an imitation of Paxman with that obnoxious smile/grin/sneer. I love all this talk about "hung" parliament and "horse trading". Wait until they get PR!
Did I mention that the first use of PR in "these islands" was in the Sligo Corporation election of January 1919 as a result of a campaign by the Sligo Ratepayers’ Association (consisting largely of Protestant businessmen) who claimed to be underrepresented in the Corporation. Because of its success in this election it became a key feature of elections in Ireland.
Speaking of poetry competitions I see on Orla Fay's blog that results of the Windows Cavan Crystal competition are out. Nothing on the website yet though.
Friday, May 7, 2010
Submissions for the next two issues of Boyne Berries, September 2010 and March 2011, are being accepted now until the end of July. We will choose material for the two issues from these submissions.
The full submission details including poem lengths and maximum prose wordcount are on the website. We much prefer submission by email with the material in the body of the email and as an attachment. One attachment please with maximum of three poems in that attachment.
Please please remember to include a brief two or three line biography. Every time we are sent submissions without bios or with bios which are a page long. We reserve the right to randomly cut bios which are too long - the result may not be to your liking! Also remember that the bio should be in the third person.
A postal address is essential so we can post you your contributor's copy of the magazine.
What kind of material do we like? We like variety and we also like to encourage emerging writers and beginners. Poems with very complicated formatting can cause us problems. Please be careful with punctuation - let us know if erratic punctuation is an integral part of the work. Being a retired teacher this editor is always tempted to insert or delete commas as he decides.
If you have been published very recently in Boyne Berries then you should not submit to these issues.
If you intend to submit it might be an idea to read a copy of the magazine. Some previous issues are available as pdfs from the website but it would help us a lot if you bought a copy of the most recent issue - do it on the website, pay by PayPal.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Boyne Writers Group are holding two events as part of the Bealtaine Festival 2010 - celebrating creativity in old age. Both are public events to be held in the Village Hall, Knightsbridge Village, Trim. This is building on the weekly poetry reading for residents organised by the Group for the last three months which has been very well supported and enjoyed.
On Thursday 19 May we will present the Top Twenty - the 20 favourite read aloud poems based on reaction to our weekly readings so far.
On the following Thursday, Boyne Writers Group will present a reading entitles Memories in Prose and Poetry. This will consist of prose and poetry written and read by the group members. We hope to encourage audience participation and expect that members of the audience will contribute their memories.
In conjunction with these two events we are holding an exhibition of old school books to remind people what school books, especially English books were like in the past. We have collected a small number of such book and have put out an appeal for more which was published this week in the Meath Chronicle. with the photo above. In the picture Mark Hennessy of Knightsbridge and myself examine an old school poetry book.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Padraig is a former primary school teacher who has a degree in the history of art and studied painting under the late George Collie RHA at his studio in Dublin, Ireland. The exhibition features landscapes and still lives in watercolours and oils. More information on the artist here.
I was particularly taken by a short series of still lives each of which featured a book as the centrepiece. The books included, Yeats Selected Poetry, Three Plays by Sean O'Casey and a volume of Perch French's work. This latter entitle Come Back Paddy Reilly (picture above) was the largest of these including an envelope addressed to Paddy Reilly, Ballyjamesduff and a small corner of a painting by Percy French.
I also liked a pair of still lives which had spring flowers on a table on which a mobile phone also lay. First time I've seen a mobile in a painting.
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
It seems a long time now since the holiday in Italy so it's nice to look back at some of the photographs. Dante wandered around northern Italy during his long exile from Florence. You suspect that every town and village has a "Dante stayed here" story.
Riva del Garda, where we stayed, has a Dante street and the other town at the northern end of the lake, Torbole, has a bust of Dante (above) by sculptor Fernando Ciancianaini, know as Cian (1889-1954), who lived in Torbole for many years.
The Sirmione peninsula at the southern end of the lake also claims Dante connections. He is said to have stayed in the castle there. The town has a Via Dante and a Galleria Civica Dante Alighieri.
Dante stayed some time in Verona which we visited on a day trip. The city has a very impressive full size statue of the poet in the Piazza del Signori.
Sunday, May 2, 2010
My magnolia, Magnolia Soulangiana or Soulangeana, is in full bloom, about three weeks later than last year. It will eventually grow to 4 metre high I'm told.
Listen to Paul Davis singing Sweet Magnolia Blues here on YouTube.
or instead you could listen to
The Grateful Dead singing Sugar Magnolia here.
but my favourite is Magnolia Blues by Charley Patton, listen here.
Saturday, May 1, 2010
So. The WOW Anthology has been published and my poem Waterlogged included. No prize though.
The prizewinners are:
Poetry 1. Patricia O'Callaghan; Dublin? 2. Leonora Steele, Canada; 3. Michael Massey, Kilkenny. Prose 1. James Lawless, Kildare; 2. Brendan Murphy, Galway; 3. Carolyne Van Der Meer, Canada.
Nice quick trip down, motorway from Kinnegad. Bad traffic in Galway city though. Got fish and chips in McDonaghs and a quick tour of Charlie Byrne's Bookshop. Bought only one second hand book.
A good turn out in Galway at a very pleasant function in the Galway Bay Hotel. Met a number of writers I knew, some of whom I published in Boyne Berries over the years, some not - James Lawless, Michael Massey, Seamus Harrington, Niamh Boyce, Máire T Robinson and Pete Mullineaux. Good conversation about writing, travelling, competitions, publications, how to get published, how to win competitions, the Hennessy Awards and that article in Poetry Ireland Review 100.
The anthology is a handsome production and credit is due to Tony O'Dwyer and Ger Burke for the courage to transform an online magazine into a print magazine.
Picture above: Prose winner James Lawless with editor Tony O'Dwyer and Pat Mullan at the Awards.