Sunday, March 27, 2011

dlr Poetry Now Festival

A very busy and enjoyable day in Dun Laoghaire yesterday at the Poetry Now Festival. I met loads of poets, old friends, new friends, some we published in Boyne Berries, and probably some we rejected. Bloggers too who may have more profound thoughts on the events - Kate and Padhraig. I bought too many poetry books of course - enough to keep me reading until - well until the history book is finished.

The workshop with Don Paterson was great, very practical. Each participant read one of his/her poems, we all had copies and we by Don we criticised it. By the time we got to the end of the poems - there were 12 participants I think - we had covered everything, title, enjambment, metaphor, rhyme, line length, the reader etc etc. More later maybe on this.

Then the Irish Times Poetry Now Award presentation. The winner had been announced in the morning's Irish Times so there was no suspense. Seamus Heaney was the winner for his 12th collection, Human Chain. Three of the other four shortlisted poets were present for the presentation, Sara Berkeley, Ciarán Carson and Dermot Healy and there were apologies from Paul Muldoon. Good addresses by Gerard Smyth of the Irish Times, Brian Lynch of the judging panel and by Heaney himself who finished by reading a poem from the collection.

And then the two readings. Dave Lordan was a great started with his performance poetry which made you smile and agree when he was attacking the usual suspects but a bit uneasy and even defensive when his attach came closer to home. Fiona Sampson, editor of the Poetry Review UK, was next - a calm quiet reading which often contrasted with the subject matter. Estonian poet, Jaan Kaplinski finished this session. He told us quite a bit about his attitude to poetry, he hasn't written much/any recently because he feels he may have written enough for a lifetime and anyway there's too much poetry or too many poets. (I forget which and there is a major difference). He then started with a recent poem - one minute of silence.

The later session featured Sinead Morrissey and Gerald Stern. Sinead was for me the star of the evening. Those lovely long sinuous lines and sentences that lead you along to an unexpected place were read with great pace and confidence. She know most of her lines by heart. Gerald Stein, a US poet born in 1925 was a great performer. His introductions, anecdotes, opinions - political and otherwise - made for a most enjoyable session. And the poems were quite good as well.

Apparently this is/was the last Poetry Now in its present form. What a shame.


Words A Day said...

Sounds brilliant.
Was that literally - one minute of silence? (Would love to hear more about Dons workshop)

Michael Farry said...

Yes, one minute of a silent poem/absolute silence. OK more on Don's workshop later.