Asking for Directions. A great audience of 60-70 friends, relations, fellow-writers, former colleagues and others made the evening a memorable one.
Paddy Smith was MC for the night and as usual did a great job. Paddy combines very careful preparation with a delightfully casual, audience-teasing delivery. He has this great knack of letting the audience in on the process with comments like "There's a word I've been dying to use for a few years and this is the chance" (the word was polymath) and "I've come up with a wonderful phrase to describe Michael" (something about Gulliver in Lilliput!) though he did use that for a shameless plug for the Trim Swift Festival.
And then Pat Dunne, whose speech I was really looking forward to, it being the first public comment on the collection, the first review in effect. He did a great job, pointing out the strands of travel and fascination with foreign places but the constant references to my past and places in my past. He chose three poems for special attention, read them and offered analysis. Hearing one's poems read by an expert reader is a pleasure too seldom experienced. He chose Bolton Abbey, The Church of St George and Ashes and Snow. I was delighted with his choice since none of those were on my reading list for the night. The last of those three is a very early poem which I had almost forgotten about but he reminded me how good it actually is!
After introductions like those from Paddy and Pat it was easy to take the podium and read. I thanked the many family and friends who attended, some whom had travelled long distances to be there; fellow poets, those who attended and those further afield who represent a community which has been a constant source of encouragement; members of the two writing groups, Boyne Writers and LitLab which have been so important to me and which were well represented; Meath Arts Office which generously supported the publication; Noel Monahan and Tom French who read the manuscript and supplied blurbs for the back cover; nephew Peter Farry for supplying such a wonderfully suitable photograph for the front and Noel King and Doghouse for accepting and the collection and doing such a fine job in its production.
Then a short 'mission statement': Many of these poems have memories of growing up in Sligo in them. This has nothing to do with nostalgia. All we have is our past. How we deal with our past individually and collectively, makes us what we are. So you could say that these poems come from my dealing with my past. But they are poems not autobiography though based on memories and events often altered to create a good striking truthful
poem. The truth in the poem may not be the truth of what actually happened.
I read nine poems, tried to give a flavour of the collection. I started with The Ball of Twine and ended with If I could Lay Down all Clothes I ever Wore. It's easy to read when you have such an attentive, positive audience and I really enjoyed it. A few words from Doghouse editor, Noel King and Paddy wrapped up the evening with speculating about a possible collective noun for a group of Farrys. He came up with a philharmonic of Farrys!
Lots of books to sign afterwards and plenty of chat. Thanks again to everyone who made the evening such an enjoyable one.
Tonight the Doghouse roadshow moves on to in the Springfield Hotel, Leixlip where at 7.30 pm James Lawless' first poetry collection Rus in Urbe will be launched by Catherine Murphy, Independent TD.
And on Wednesday evening 23rd May The Angels' Share by Barbara Smith to be launched by Enda Coyle-Greene, poet. Venue: The Basement Gallery, Dundalk Town Council, Crowe Street, Dundalk, Co. Louth. Time: 6pm.