Thursday, December 6, 2012

Tommy Murray - Young Writers Launch

The launch of Golden Rhymes, the anthology of poetry by the late Tommy Murray's Meath Young Writers Group took place this Thursday evening in Navan Library.

A most impressive event with readings from the anthology by the young writers. Their confidence and reading skills were striking as well as the directness and simplicity of the work. It was clear from the attendance and from comments by writers and parents that Tommy had make a great impression on all.

Tommy's Meath Writers Circle and others marked the occasion by reading some of Tommy's poems and poems which had some connection with Tommy. Tom French of Navan Library who organised the event read a recent poem of his, a tribute to Tommy (picture above).

I officially launched the publication, having been asked by Tommy a few weeks before his untimely death. This is what I said:

I met Tommy Murray in a street in Trim about six weeks ago. We stopped for a quick chat as we usually did. And as usual he was full of vitality and enthusiasm. He was delighted that this anthology was ready and asked me to launch it. I was delighted to be asked and agreed.

Since then things have changed. Tommy has left us but, though delayed, this launch goes on as he would have wanted.

Tommy Murray started this group in 1998. This is the fifth such collection. The previous anthologies were called: Gemstones; Building blocks; Rough Diamonds; Paper Trails; And this one is called: Golden Rhymes.

Tommy was anxious from the start that group members be published. He recognised the importance of publication, of others reading your work. Tommy enjoyed reading his poems to an audience, he enjoyed entering competitions, getting his work out there and he particularly enjoyed having his work published and winning prizes.

It may be that we write for ourselves first but it is important that others read and hear our work. Our work can speak to them, bring fresh thoughts and images to their minds, surprise them, make them smile, think and sometimes even cry. Look around this library. It is full of the ideas, the stories of others recorded for all times and available to us. Just as the work of you young writers is now recorded for all time in this anthology.

Tommy’s foreword to this anthology makes poignant reading especially when, after talking about his fifteen years of working with young writers he ends with: “Long may it continue”. In one way it won’t continue. Tommy is gone now. His work is finished.

But in another way it will continue and the work that Tommy has done will continue. His own poetry and local history publications will continue to be read and enjoyed. Indeed his work with this group and previous groups continues. He helped opened their eyes to the wonderful use of language. How we can paint pictures, pass on ideas, stimulate thoughts and dreams with words. Who knows what good Tommy’s work has done and will continue to do?

Some of his young may continue to write and some even become well-know for their writing but all will treat language differently, in speaking, in listening, in writing and in reading, because of  Tommy.

Tommy’s classes were never designed to be an XFactor for young writers or Ireland’s Next Top Poet. They were intended to help young writers achieve their own goals, develop in their own way. This is evident in this anthology which is a wonderful mixture of different voices with poems of all shapes and sizes, including haiku, (one about shopping) dealing with many topics,

the everyday: the walls of a house, the colour red, oil seed rape, relaxing in the afternoon; the unusual: a mystery creature, a strange man, a weird city, monsters under the bed; global concerns: the landscape, a just and free world, a tough life; and the great issues which have concerned poets at all times: death, loneliness and there is even a poem called Scribbles which is about writing itself.

Meabh finishes one of her poems in the collection with
“Pictures are great
But not as good as books”.

And from that I take it she means that words, well chosen and well arranged, as they are here and as they are in the poetry of Tommy Murray, allow the reader or listener create their own pictures in their own minds.

One of the wonderful things about having your work published is that when others read your work, it can speak to them in ways you never imagined.

A great example in this anthology is a poem by Sarah entitled I have gone. I don’t know what the original inspiration behind it was and in a sense that doesn’t matter. When I read it and when you read it in the anthology later it will speak to us of Tommy.

We will never forget Tommy, the mischief in his eyes, the enthusiasm in his voice, the enjoyment he got from reading his work and his energy and dedication in the service of writing. Part of that was his work with this group and this anthology is a fitting tribute to that work and to him. In a real sense Tommy is with us here. As Sarah says in her poem:

“I have gone from your world
But it doesn’t mean I am not here
I will always be close”

It gives me very great pleasure to officially launch Golden Rhymes.

No comments: