Saturday, April 30, 2011

Seven Towers Lunchtime Reading

I'm one of the readers at this Wednesday 4 May Seven Towers First Wednesday lunchtime reading in association with Third floor Expresso Coffee at the Twisted Pepper, 54 Middle Abbey St, Dublin at 1.15pm.

I'm in good company. I have met Drogheda writer Roger Hudson at some readings and he has been published in Boyne Berries. I'm looking forward to meeting and hearing widely published poets, Bernadette O'Reilly and Liz McSkeane. It should be a good varied programme so if you are in the neighbourhood do drop in for coffee, muffins, poetry.

So what to read? Lunchtime in central Dublin suggests short, sharp pieces, no time for wandering through deep philosophical alleyways or the back roads of Sligo. So have I any short sharp pieces? What about my Manchester United poem? Or those coffee and scones poems? It is a cafe reading.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Boyne Reading and Open Mic - April

Our Readings and Open Mic on a balmy end of April night in the Knightsbridge Coffee Shop was enjoyed by the attendance. The new venue worked out very well, more intimate than the Village Hall, bigger than the library and very good acoustics.

The featured reader was our own James Linnane (top) who read from his Life and Times of a Gotcha. The more I hear of this the madder it sounds. James has a lovely habit of saying in an aside This really happened as he starts to read an episode.

A good number of our own members read, mostly prose and we had members of the Meath Writers Circle, Michael Shields (above) and Frank Murphy, as well. Both read prose, Michael a short piece inspired by our MCs strictness as regards length of reading and Frank a great story about . . . well about some characters in an Irish pub and a coat which went to Katanga and back.

Meath Cavan LitLab was ably represented by Honor Duff (above) who read a poignant well-crafted poem about her father's experience in the trenches in the war.

Frank Murphy and Orla Fay were taking pictures so look out for their comments and photographs on their blogs.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Poetry Slam in Drogheda

The Third Great Drogheda Poetry Slam will take place at 7pm on this Saturday 30th April in McHugh’s Pub, Chord Road, Drogheda as part of the of the Drogheda Arts Festival Fringe.

Last year’s Slam saw over twenty poets compete in two categories: Page Poets, defined as those writing to be read and themselves reading from the page to compete, and Performance Poets, who write to be heard and will present their work from memory without script First prize in each category will be €100. Those wishing to compete should come to the venue at 6.30pm to sign in for a start time of 7pm and bring at least two poems.

MC for the evening is Roger Hudson, well-known Drogheda poet and author, whose collection Greybell Wood and Beyond, also published by Lapwing. He was himself a finalist in the recent Cuirt Grand Slam competition.

Key rules are that poets may enter only one category, should bring at least two poems which must be their own work with a maximum length of three minutes each but in any style, and that no costume, props or music are allowed. A full set of rules on request from Competitors may also pre-register for the competition at this address.

This year’s Guest poet is Marie MacSweeney who will read from her two collections; Mother Cecily's Music Room and Flying During the Hours of Darkness, both published by Lapwing. The Slam is sponsored by Coca-Cola International Services and presented by Drogheda Creative Writers.

Last year’s winners were Drogheda poets John ‘Dixie’ Nugent and Patrick Dillon. Strong talents are expected this year from other parts of Ireland promising an even fiercer battle!

Enquiries to: Mark Kearns, Event Organiser, 087 939 5217.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Boyne Readings - James Linnane

The Boyne Readings and Open Mic this Thursday evening, 28 April, features our own James Linnane who had recently published his book The Lift and Times of a Gotcha. James is a native of Galway but now lives in Ballivor, Co Meath. He writes poetry and prose and was a member of our Battle of the Books Swift Festival team last year. He holds the distinction of being the only Boyne Writers Group member who is also a member of the other Trim-based group.

The event will take place at 8pm in the Coffee Shop, Knightsbridge Retirement Village, Longwood Road, Trim. We will also include the usual open mic session where everyone is welcome to read their own work. All welcome!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

The annual Dicentra Spectablis photograph. These gets larger each year.

Some poems for the festival.

An Easter poem by Robert Pinsky here.

The classic Easter Wings by George Herbert here.

Easter in Pittsburgh by James Laughlin here.

Happy Easter!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Boyne Writer in WOW!

Congratulations to Boyne Writers Group member, Tom Dredge, whose poem Progress is on the WOW poetry shortlist. It will appear in the WOW Anthology and is in the running for one of the three poetry prizes. Well done Tom! Above: Tom reading at one of our open mics last year.

Some familiar names on the lists. Peter Goulding and Kevin Graham are in our current Boyne Berries and Eleanor Hooker of the Dromineer Festival is in the Poetry Ireland Introductions this year. Well done everyone!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Rebecca O'Connor Workshop at LitLab

Our LitLab group had a workshop last night in Bailieborough with special guest Rebecca O'Connor, poet, novelist, editor and publisher of The Moth magazine. My third such workshop this year. Rebecca fitted in very well and made it feel just like another meeting where we comment on each other's work.

She was very complimentary to the group, "incredible" was how she described the standard. She suggested that we consider putting together an anthology of our work - something to think about for next winter. We will be involved again in the Fleadh in Cavan in mid-August.

She stressed that the writer should be able to articulate clearly what he/she is trying to convey in the work. Can you explain the poem in clear language? Sometimes I agree with that other times I don't. There are times surely when you're not quite sure yourself where the poem has come from or what it is "about".

The question of the reader came up as it did at the other two workshops. How much do you tell the reader? This usually refers to introducing poems at reading but it's also relevant when considering how much information to include in the poem itself. The consensus seems to be say only a little when introducing a poem - the poem should speak for itself.

Some things to think about when I choose my poems for my ten minute Poetry Ireland Introductions.

Picture, Myself, Rebecca and Tony in Bailieborough.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Aesthetica Creative Works Competition

I was lucky enough to be successful in this competition two years ago and had a poem included in the annual.

The 2011 Aesthetica Creative Works Competition is now open for entries! Aesthetica Magazine is inviting all artists, photographers, writers and poets to submit their work into the Creative Works Competition, Now in its fourth year, the competition is dedicated to celebrating and championing creative talent across the disciplines and welcomes entries from poets and writers as well as artists working in any medium, including sculpture, textiles, photography, ceramics, paint, digital art and more!

The Competition has three categories, Artwork & Photography, Poetry and Fiction. Winners and finalists are published in the Aesthetica Creative Works Annual. Winners of each category receive £500 prize money plus other prizes.

Entry to the Creative Works Competition is £10. The entry fee allows the submission of 2 images, 2 poems or 2 short stories. The deadline for submissions is the 31st August 2011.
More guidelines on how to submit can be found on the website.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Noel Farrell - Booker's World

Friday and Saturday nights a new play by Trim author is premièred. Today, Sunday, a new novel by another Trim writer is launched. What a town of talent!

A very enjoyable function, speeches (well short chats), readings and music, this afternoon in the Bounty Bar, Trim saw the official launch of Noel Farrell's first novel Booker's World.

Noel, a past pupil of mine, has been writing for some time, novels, poetry, screenplays and is deeply involved in film production as is clear from his other blog. We published a poem of his in Boyne Berries a couple of issues ago.

And the novel?

Booker’s World is a coming-of-age fiction novel, told through the eyes of Don Booker, as he lives in recessionary Ireland. As he slides toward his fortieth birthday, he is unemployed after the economic collapse in Ireland. He finds himself in a self enforced state of recluse; with nothing more than his Alzheimer’s suffering Mum for company, and his gay cousin Mitch who helps with her care.
Don begins writing a daily journal in an effort to amuse himself as he wearily limps through his everyday drab existence. As we are introduced to the many things that antagonise that existence, Don delves deeper into his mind-set and the things that have been contributory to his present situation.

A most suitable read for these times. You can buy it on the website or in Trim in Antonia's Bookshop.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Edward Lear on Trim Stage

A first for Boyne Writers Group last night. The premiere of a member's play. Paddy Smith's What a Hoot! was one of the short plays included by Trim Drama Group in their evening of fun, food and entertainment in the Knightsbrook Hotel last evening. A dinner, punctuated by four ten minutes plays, three by Bruce Kane and one by Trim's own Paddy Smith.

The Bruce Kane plays were amusing reflections on love, marriage and relationships often using fairy tale and/or Shakespearian characters and they went down well with the salad and salmon.

Paddy's started with a reading of The Owl and the Pussycat by a starchy Edward Lear who was then accosted by a PR guru out of somewhere like Killnascully, Cavan who advised him on rewriting his poem to include product placement and remove objectionable stuff. Well they spent a year and a day in a small boat together before getting married - what were the sleeping arrangement? he asked.

If it all sounds a bit crazy, it was and in the end Lear becomes just as mad as the PR man and spotting another poet in the audience suggests amending that poet's line to include 57 not 9 bean rows. The audience loved it!

The second performance is on tonight.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Limerick On the Nail Reading

Dominic has put up the video of last week's Limerick On The Nail event including Susan Millar DuMars' story, my poetry and the open mic. Difficult to watch myself. Slow down even further!!

Available on On The Nail Channel.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Swift Satire Competition 2011

An unusual writing competition, launched by the Boyne Writers Group, Trim, has been prompted by the sudden interest among prominent dignitaries – so far, Queen Elizabeth and President Obama – in paying a visit to Ireland this year.

‘Travels Into Several Remote Nations Of The World: Ireland 2011’ is the subject set for the €1,000 competition, which is for satirical writing and is being held to commemorate Jonathan Swift, the author of Gulliver’s Travels and many other works of satire.

The competition is sponsored by the Trim Swift Festival which this year runs from Thursday, 30th June, to Sunday, 3rd July.

Announcing the details of the competition Boyne Writers Group chairman Paddy Smith said they expected to receive lots of entertaining entries because of the latitude provided by the subject matter. “Gulliver saw many strange and wonderful things in his day,” he said, “and we’re looking forward to reading what the modern visitor would find in Ireland.”

Entries will be judged on the basis of satire, irony, absurd humour, acute political insight, grotesque imagination, and lacerating wit – the hallmarks of Swift's best works. Extra explanatory material of not more than 100 words may be included with each entry. “This is to facilitate judging of entries,” explained Paddy Smith, “because this type of material sometimes lends itself to allegorical references which may not be immediately clear.”

Entry fee: €7 (or £5 or $10) per entry. There is no limit to the number of entries, but each must be accompanied by the fee of €7 (or £5 or $10). Cash is acceptable.

Length: Prose - minimum of 600 words, not more than 800 words. Poetry – minimum 30 lines, maximum 100 lines.

Prizes: 1st €500, 2nd €300, 3rd €200. Closing date is Tuesday, 7th June, 2011. Entries (by email or post) will be judged by members of the Boyne Writers Group and a Guest Judge.

Entries should be sent to Boyne Writers Group, c/o P Smith, 25 Saintjohns, Trim, Co Meath, Ireland, OR emailed to (and please put Boyne Writers Competition in the subject line of the email).

Full details on the group's website where you can also find details of winners from previous years.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Poetry Ireland Introductions Readings 2011

The line up for the Introductions readings has been finalised.

Venue: The Irish Writers Centre, Parnell Square, Dublin 1 .
Poets Reading at 6.30pm on Thursday May 12th 2011.

Ainín Ní Bhroin
Kimberly Campanello
Michael Farry
Donna Sørensen

Venue: The Irish Writers Centre, Parnell Square, Dublin 1 .
Poets Reading at 6.30pm on Wednesday May 18th 2011.

Eleanor Hooker
Susan Lindsay
Barbara Ann Morton
J.S. Robinson

Friday, April 8, 2011

On The Nail Reading Limerick

There's two ways to look at being a featured reader at an event which includes an open mic.

1. Most of those present are going to read themselves after you so they are likely to be very sympathetic and appreciative.

2. Most of those present are going to read themselves after you so they are likely to be hyper-critical, thinking they could do better.

At the On the Nail Reading in the Locke Bar, Limerick last evening it was definitely the first. Susan Millar DuMars read first. She read one short story, Lennon and McCartney, from her recently published collection Lights in the Distance. She did a fantastic job. It's a great story - the first line is a real attention grabber: He used to love my boobs. The story takes what could be a very hackneyed situation and makes it new. The wedding dresses, ghost white in a row among the graves is brilliant.

It was a tough act to follow. I followed all the instructions in the previous post, had my poems ready in a folder, timed, rehearsed, introductions ready. I read fourteen, each less than a page. They seemed to go down well, suitable audience reaction at various points. From comments afterwards they particularly liked the Auschwitz one, the one about my clothes carpeting the road back to where I was born, the one about being asked for directions in Florence and the male guilt one.

This was my first reading at this venue. A very comfortable place, very well organised by Dominick and his committee. A great selection of books for sale many published by Dominick and the gang at the Limerick Writers Centre. We sold a number of Boyne Berries also.

Met some familiar faces, Patricia who blogs here and who is working on a factual book and Ed O'Dwyer who is published in the most recent issue of Boyne Berries and was one of the Poetry Ireland Introductions last year.

Susan's book of short stories has just been published by Doire Press, and a very good job they've done. This is the second book I've seen from this new publisher, they also published Susan Lindsay's poetry collection Whispering the Secrets.

Photo: Susan and I at the reading.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Advice on Reading Poetry

Common-sense advice from last Saturday's workshop.

Always prepare in advance for your reading.
Try practising in front of a mirror and time yourself.
Prepare what you are going to read carefully and have it in order, as shuffling papers or looking for poems on the podium does not instil confidence.
Never read beyond the required time.
Long poems rarely work in a reading but never in a short reading.
By all means explain a term or an incident in a poem but don’t over explain the poem.
A poetry reading is not a story telling session, however, a few words between poems can aid the poems reception.
If a subject is very emotionally sensitive for you it might not be best suited to a public reading environment.
Generally speaking, singing or encouraging audience participation usually doesn’t work.
Never say you are going to finish with three more poems, it is sufficient to say this is the last poem.
Read a selection of poems that show your range of abilities.
One of the best ways to improve your reading presentation is to attend other readings.

On to Limerick tonight to put all that into practice!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Annual Primrose Photograph

And cowslips. Getting bigger every year. Unharmed by the frost.

The fuschia I bought to replace the ones killed by the frost in January 2010 were killed by the frost of December 2010.

And I'm beginning to worry about my large clematis and even my ferns - a hard frost surely wouldn't kill them.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Dublin Poetry Events

Kimberley Campanello (who is one of the Poetry Ireland Introductions 2011 poets) and Rachel Lehrman are giving a reading with the Wurm im apfel series at 8 pm on Tuesday (today) at the Cat and Cage pub, Drumcondra. More information here.

On Thursday and Friday the Contemporary Music Centre on Fishamble Street is screening Scenes from Crow, a major work of contemporary music by composer Benjamin Dwyer. It is based on Ted Hughes' Crow poems and uses visual images by David Farrell. Dwyer will give a lecture on Thursday at 6 pm in the Contemporary Music Centre. The screening will be on Friday at 6 pm in the Contemporary Music Centre. more information here.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Poetry Ireland Introductions Workshop

Another Saturday, another workshop. I feel a bit criticised out. A good gathering and sharing of opinions based on actual poems on the page. The eight of us Poetry Ireland Introductions 2011 poets (I was the only male) gathered under the gentle guidance of Alan Jude Moore and read and had our poems critiqued. I can't wait to hear other poems from each of the participants. A great variety in subject matter, form and approach made for an enjoyable and very worthwhile workshop which ranged over the usual topics - the title, line breaks, how much to tell the reader, poetic form.

I brought my Christ on an Ass, a response to this piece in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Strangely (not actually, this always happens, someone once said that poems begin to talk to each other) there was another poem at the workshop which was also a response to mediaeval German wood carvings, one of these Ars Memorandi. See picture above. A completely different approach but wonderfully effective.

There was a city/country reflection, a regular sonnet, a very subtle but extremely troubling Bail Out poem, a response to the London underground called A Stranger's Diagram of the City (Great title) and a poem on Palmyra which took its time, made you feel you were there and could feel the heat and see the desolation. Nice to read a poem which takes its time and doesn't feel it has to hurry. Almost all the poems, mine included, are probably going to have new titles as a result of the workshop.

It was also stressed that while it's good to listen to what others say about your work and their input is very useful, it is your work. If you have a strong feeling for the way you have composed a piece sometimes it's better to go with that feeling.

Sometimes it's not.

More on the line up and dates later.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

April On The Nail Reading Limerick

My Limerick reading this week. I've read at the White House there but the On The Nail readings are relatively new so I'm looking forward to it.

'On The Nail' Reading @ The Locke Bar, Limerick Thurs. 7th April 2011, 8.00pm

Organised by The Limerick Writers' Centre this popular monthly reading and open-mic continues to attract audiences with a mix of poetry, prose and music.

In April the Guest Readers are Susan Millar DuMars and Michael Farry.

Susan Millar DuMars teaches creative writing at various Galway venues. She also organises literary events, including the Over the Edge open readings, begun in 2003. She also teaches special needs groups as well as the general public. She published her first full book of short stories in December of last year. The book Lights In The Distance from Doire Press has thirteen stories, most of which have been published individually.

Michael Farry was born in Coolaney, Co. Sligo in 1947. He attended Rockfield National School and St Nathy's College, Ballaghaderreen. He trained as a primary teacher in St Patrick's Training College, Drumcondra, Dublin 1966-68. He has been writing poetry since 2004 and has been published in a number of small magazines and has been commended and shortlisted in a number of poetry competitions. He is a founder member of Boyne Writers Group.

Everyone is invited to take part in the open-mic after the main event, poets, storytellers, musicians and writers . Even if you don't write you are welcome to bring something along to read. The night begins at 8.00pm and admission is free. So join us on the night and make this event something special.

The Limerick Writers' Centre acknowledges the support of The Arts Council of Ireland.
Further information contact: Dominic Taylor 087 2996409; email web

Videos of previous On The Nail reading here.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Poetry Ireland Introductions - Workshop

I'm off to the Poetry Ireland Introductions workshop today in Dublin.
PI Introductions, that's for young upcoming poets isn't it?

Yes. No! Age doesn't come into it.
But most will be a bit, even more than a bit, younger won't they?
Maybe, I don't know. So what. It's the poetry that's important.
So you need a workshop to straighten the poetry out.
No to . . well to assist us.
So he'll take your poem and tear it to bits and everyone else will rewrite it - a committee poem.
No it will be constructive criticism in a respectful environment.
Right. So they'll tear it to bits and rewrite it.
It'll be a better poem.
But will it be yours?
Stop it. I need the help.
Indeed. So did you pick your best poem?
No I did that last week for the Don Paterson workshop and it has to be shortened by one third.
Tore to bits and rewritten! So this week?
This week it's Christ on the Ass. I like the poem but it could do with a little editing.
Dumping maybe. Who's giving the workshop?
Alan Jude Moore.
Never heard of him.
He's well known, I attended the launch of his third collection and was very impressed.
Did you buy it?
Well no. I did buy his first collection. Enjoyed it.
I have limited resources and limited shelf space.
Just dump any book you've read. That's my rule.
That's enough. Where's my notepad and pencil and what's that word I learned from Don Paterson last Saturday - metonymy, metonymy - must use it .
Older and wiser indeed. That's a laugh.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Boyne Berries 9 Launched

Another Boyne Berries launched with style and enjoyment. A good crowd, appreciative and interested. Some great reading of fine material. Noel Dempsey set the tone for the evening by saying how delighted he was to be with us and how he had feared when he launched our first issue that the magazine would not survive. He congratulated everyone involved in the magazine over the years and spoke of the quality and variety of the contents.

He said he was full of admiration for those who have the courage to express themselves and expose themselves in so many ways. He spoke of a number of individual pieces in the magazine which he had noticed in particular including Vietnam by Paddy Halligan, Peter Goulding's The Rat beneath the Shed and Paddy Smith's story The Back Seat. The Group presented him with a hefty volume, The Penguin Book of Irish Poetry, to help him pass the time in his retirement.

We then had about fourteen readers including Susan Lindsay from Galway who has just published her first volume Whispering the Secret, Steven Balbirnie from Dublin and C.P. Stewart who made the journey from North Yorkshire to read his poem And Still the Daily Gift of Days. C.P has just had his first full collection of poems Considering the Lilies published in Galway. I thought all the readings were great and that our own members excelled themselves. Well done!

Then tea and coffee and lots of chat about prose and poetry and reading aloud and Bob Dylan and Irish history and Irish poets and editing your work and publishing your work. Then someone found the usual typo in the magazine. Oh Dear!

Boyne Berries 9 can be purchased on our website, in Antonia's Bookshop and Spar Trim, and will be available in Dublin at the bookmarket in the Twisted Pepper Building on Abbey Street each Saturday afternoon from 1pm – 6pm and in Galway in Charlie Byrne's Bookshop.

Orla Fay took more photographs that I did so check out her blog for more.