Saturday, February 16, 2013

Cork Poetry Festival - Friday

After travelling all the way to Cork I reckoned I should attend all the Friday events at the Cork Spring Poetry Festival. So I did. The great variety of theme and delivery style meant that it was very enjoyable but still by the time the last reading was over after eleven I was ready for sleep.

Dennis O'Driscoll had agreed to read at the festival before his untimely death in December last and the day began with the Dennis O'Driscoll Remembered event. This was a public conversation facilitated by poet and journalist, Gerald Smyth, with Peter Jay (Anvil Press) Joseph Woods (Poetry Ireland) and Patrick Cotter (Festival Director).

This began with the playing of an interview with Dennis which included interesting remarks about reading poetry in public. He spoke about being "ambushed by your own poem" when the emotion involved in the writing of the poem hits the poet as he/she reads it in public.

The discussion was lively, appreciative, informative and enjoyable. Dennis' interest in and promotion of European poets was stressed. His themes were discussed, mortality, the working life, ageing, middle class life. Again and again his humility, his accessibility and his interest in other Irish poets were stressed.

Later in the evening a selection of Irish and international poets read from Dennis' work. It ended with his hilarious The Next Poem which pokes fun at the careless introductions sometimes indulged in by poets at public readings.Required reading for all poets before a public reading.

Anatoly Kudryavitsky, the editor of Shamrock Haiku Journal and of Bamboo Dreams, the Doghouse anthology of Irish haiku, read a selection of his haiku and senryu. He began his reading with a translation of a poem by one of the jailed Pussy Riot members. Cork poet, Gerry Murphy, whose most recent volume is My Flirtation with International Socialism read his generally short, sometimes very funny poems.

John F. Deane and James Harpur read next, both reading material which dealt with religion and spirituality though in different ways and with different emphases. Putting these two together was a great piece of programming. Two excellent readers, James (above) took some time to talk about the personal photographs which were projected at the start of his talk.

Prizewinning Irish writer, Martina Evans, poet and novelist, read extracts from Petrol, her book-length prose poem, which was published by Anvil in September 2012. This was most impressive. She held the audience spellbound with her lively delivery of carefully crafted, very sharply observed material.

The evening finished with readings by accomplished American and Canadian poets both new to me. Carolyn Forché is an award-winning poet whose most recent collections include The Angel of History, Blue Hour and In the Lateness of the World.

Karen Solie is an associate director for the Banff Centre’s Writing Studio program. Her latest collection, Pigeon, won the Pat Lowther Award, the Trillium Poetry Prize, and the Griffin Poetry Prize. Their readings were polished, interesting, nice samples of their work which made me and many others go and buy their poetry books at the book stall in the foyer.

Good audiences, good attendances, a nice friendly atmosphere, a suitably intimate venue and meeting many old and new poetry friends made the evening a very enjoyable experience.

1 comment:

Connie Roberts said...

Sounds like a great day, Michael. I'm envious.

Dennis O'Driscoll's "The Next Poem" is hilarious. Thanks for posting it.

Looking forward to hearing your feedback on Carolyn Forche's workshop.