Tuesday, September 29, 2009

More Public Sculpture

Also in Ardee on the other side of town stands this helmet sculpture no doubt another reference to the fight at the ford. It's an impressive sight near a busy roundabout. As far as I could see there is no plaque or information on the sculpture's title or maker on or near it. This is not uncommon a bit annoying.

The positioning of the Yield sign is unfortunate unless you consider it an integral part of the installation in which case you wonder are we the public saying "Yield" to the people of violence or are they saying it to us. Now if it was a Stop sign there . . .

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Poetry in the Cathedral - All Ireland Poetry Day

All-Ireland Poetry Day, October 1, will be celebrated in Trim this year with a poetry reading session in one of the town’s ‘cool’ venues: St Patrick’s Cathedral, Loman St.

The Boyne Writers Group is organising the event, which takes place at 11am on Thursday next, October 1.

“The Trim event will be a relaxed and very informal occasion,” said Boyne Writers Group chairman Paddy Smith. “Admission is free and it’s open to all. We expect our attendance will be made up of people who simply like poetry – either reading it or listening to it.

“You can drop in for 10 minutes or you can stay for an hour,” he said. “Just remember to duck as you come in through the door of the cathedral – in case you get hit by a stray sonnet or an odd rhyme.”

People are invited to read their favourite poems (from school, for instance), or to read their own work, or to read a poem written by someone they know. “It’s an Open Mic session,” says Paddy. “As you come into the cathedral, write your name down if you wish to read and we’ll call everyone in turn. We’d love it if people brought two or three poems each, although if a big crowd turns up we may have to confine the readings to just one poem each.

“We in the Boyne Writers Group would like to thank Rev Robert Jones for so readily agreeing to allow us to use St Patrick’s Cathedral for the readings. It’s one of the coolest ‘spaces’ in the town and I’ve always wanted to attend something there. This is it!”

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Boyne Berries Roundup

I have posted all contributors' copies of the magazine. (Almost all actually, waiting for postal addresses in one or two cases).

I have added more pictures to the slideshow on the website page. Our chairman is pretty nifty with the camera.

I have put up three pieces from the magazine as samples - the poem by the young Bulgarian yaSSen vaSSilev, a nicely enigmatic story by a young History and English student in UCD Steven Balbirnie and the final poem in the magazine by Maíríde Woods (Those fádas don't work on my website software!). Her poem is Death and Crosswords, (nice echo of cross words there) which has this wonderful beginning:

Death left the crossword
Unfinished, refused to fill in
The End.

I have added a PayPal facility to the magazine page to encourage sales - very important for survival. I know the link works because we have had an internet sale already. Thank you Peter, the magazine is in the post!

So that's Boyne Berries 6 put to sleep or whatever the phrase is.

I'm off to do some charity bag packing. Retirement, what retirement?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Boyne Berries 6 Launched

Another Boyne Berries launch has been notched up. More info on the website including a short slideshow. The usual nervousness beforehand. Will anyone turn up apart from our own members? Will we be reading to ourselves? Will a contributor come up to me and point out the glaring typograffical mistak in his/her poem? Will noise from the debs next door drown out the readings?

In the event, as usual, everything went very well. At ten to eight it looked as if we might be lucky to have ten people, at ten past eight we had to take out more chairs. The attendance was as good as we ever had.

Our new chairperson, Paddy Smith, introduced Michael Regan who officially launched the magazine. Michael is a well known Trim ex-solicitor and Paddy pointed out that one of his claims to fame was acting (I use the word loosely) in a low budget martial arts film filmed in Trim by local enthusiasts, called Fatal Deviation. Michael features in many of the funniest out-takes here.

Michael congratulated the group on the magazine and noted the geographical spread of contributors - USA, Canada, UK and Bulgaria as well as Ireland. He also noted that for some this was their first publication. He mentioned that the youngest contributor was eleven year old Ibar Quirke from Wexford.

We had fourteen readers in all. This included a reading by Nollaig Rowan who couldn't be present but sent me a recording of her reading. I played it using my iPod and that worked very well. A great audience made up of fellow writers and friends and relations really appreciated the material and were very complimentary afterwards.

A great night. We're delighted everything went so well and delighted to meet so many of the contributors in person. From reading a contribution you get a mental picture of the writer. In most cases this is proven completely wrong when you meet face to face.

Now there's the All Ireland Poetry Day reading, the Windows launch and the resumption of our Readings and Open Mic to look forward to/worry about.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Boyne Berries 6 Launch

I've got copies of Boyne Berries 6. It looks good though at this stage I'm always scared to read it for fear of finding typos I should have noticed before. I did proofread it very well didn't I?

The usual range of poetry and prose in this issue and the usual mix of established well-published writers and first timers. Highlights include poems from three members of the same family, Margaret Galvin, Philip Quirke and their son, eleven year old Ibar, from Wexford.

Other established writers included are Micéal Kearney, Gréagóir Ó Dúill, Marie MacSweeney, Jaki McCarrick and Liz Gallagher. From overseas we have contributors from England, Scotland, the USA, Canada and a young poet, YassenVassilev, from Bulgaria.

Our covers are a trademark and this one by our usual artist, Greg Hastings, is as usual striking - an image from Ardmore Co Waterford.

The launch is on in the Castle Arch Hotel, Trim at 8pm on this Thursday evening, 24 September. The magazine will be officially launched by retired Trim solicitor Michael Regan who is himself an author. His memoir, Ten in the Bed, was published in 2005 and was very well received.

All are welcome, no admission charge and many of the contributors will be reading.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Cathach Launch

Nice event in Sligo yesterday to launch The Cathach. Always nice to have an excuse to go back and visit the town and county.

The name The Cathach derives from ‘The Battle of the Book’, the Battle of Cúl Dreimhne, which arose when Colmcille copied a manuscript book and the High King of Ireland decided against him with the words: "To every cow its calf and to every book its copy". In consequence, in 561 AD, the High King and Colmcille engaged in battle on the slopes of Benbulben which Colmcille won. Thousands of men were killed and as a penance, Colmcille is said to have left Ireland and went into self-imposed exile on Iona.

The Cathach is the oldest extant Irish illuminated manuscript, dated to c. AD 600 and is kept in the Royal Irish Academy, 19 Dawson Street, Dublin. The surviving 58 folios contain Psalms 30:10 to 105:13 (Vulgate version).

The library in Sligo, a converted church, has a mural (above) by Sligo artist Bernard McDonagh of the battle of the book.

The launch was well attended and I met some old friends and some new including some contributors to Boyne Berries. I always fear meeting writers who have been rejected by Boyne Berries. Niall Williams, the editor of The Cathach and outgoing Sligo Writer in Residence spoke well to officially launch the publication. He used the metaphor (simile?) of a writer as he/she writes walking on a bridge towards the reader who may not be there. The next step of the bridge may not even be there. An editor he says is the person who supplies the rest of the bridge for the writer. A portrait of Niall hangs in the library. (right)

The Sligo County Librarian, Donal Tinney, spoke as well and mentioned the fact that in spite of "the present economic climate" Sligo has been able to advertise for a new Writer in Residence.

The online magazine looks very good, a nice mixture of of poetry, fiction, non-fiction, drama and a pictorial essay. I'm delighted to have my effort included among such names as Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Dermot Bolger, Joan McBreen, Dermot Healy etc.

Now to get ready for Boyne Berries launch on this Thursday evening and there's a computer course to prepare for as well and of course the Windows publication launch next week and that long poem I'm working on - need to keep it moving and that backlog of books to catch up on (bought another one in Sligo - ah well!)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sligo Online Magazine

I'm in Sligo today for the launch of the summer issue of The Cathach, the online journal published by Sligo Arts Office. I have a poem Destruction of Sligo Railway Station in this inaugural issue.

I'm delighted to be included especially when the poem has Sligo relevance. It's one of the series I wrote about the Civil War in Sligo.

I'll be interested to see who else is included in the magazine.

The editor of The Cathach was novelist Niall Williams who was the Writer-in-Residence for sligo town and county. I presume his term has come to an end as I see that Sligo Co Council is advertising for a new Sligo Writer in Residence.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Ardee Sculpture

After Nobber and its O'Carolan sculpture I had to go to Ardee, Co Louth. The same sculptor, Ann Meldon Hugh, has a public sculpture in Ardee. This one is entitled Cuchulain Carrying the Slain Ferdia. Ardee is near where the famous fight at the ford took place between Cuchulain and Ferdia who had been his friend. This is a highlight of the Táin Bó Cúalnge, The Cattle-Raid of Cooley, the central epic of the Ulster cycle. Ciaran Carson published a translation in 2007.

This sculpture makes an impressive statement as the hero strides towards the viewer with his dead friend in his arms and a look of horror on his face. Far from the heroic portrayal of Cuchulain elsewhere. In the light of the proximity of Northern Ireland it must also be seen as a comment on war between friends and neighbours.

The positioning of the sculpture does not do it justice. It is situated at a small car park in the town and can easily be missed. You need to drive into the car park to see it properly.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I'm in Authors & Artists Introduction Series No 9

I'm delighted to have three poems included in Windows Publications Authors & Artists Introduction Series No 9 which will be published very soon. Editors Heather Brett and Noel Monahan include thirty contributors, over half of whom are participants of the Meath/Cavan Lit Lab writers group. Fellow Trim writer, Paddy Smith, is also included.

My poems are called The Ball of Twine, Fuerteventura 2008 and Surrender. A selection of different styles and themes, about the frugality of the old days, modern tourism as neocolonialism and coming to terms with retirement and old age among a lot of other things.

I haven't seen the book yet but the cover art work by Anne Harkin-Peterson from Tuam in Galway is striking. The work of two other artists is also featured in the anthology, Elena Duff from Virginia now living in Berlin and Raymond Watson from Ballycastle in Co. Antrim.

I notice that David Rowell who won this years Trim Swift Satire competition is also included.

A number of launches have been planned as follows:

Culturlann Centre, Falls Rd Belfast on Wednesday 30th September at 7.00pm

Cavan Crystal Hotel, Dublin Road Cavan on Thursday 1st October at 8pm - This is National Poetry Day.

Longford Public Library Main St, Longford on Thursday 1st October at 8pm

Set Theatre (Langton’s) John St., Kilkenny on Monday 5th October at 8pm

Irish Writer’s Centre Parnell Sq., Dublin on Wednesday 7th October at 8pm

Castle Arch Hotel, Summerhill Rd, Trim Thursday 8th October at 8pm

Friday, September 18, 2009

Nobber Public Sculpture

Doing some part-time work this week I had reason to visit the Meath village of Nobber. Always on the look out for public sculpture I saw this impressive life size sculpture of Turlough O'Carolan (Toirdhealbhach Ó Cearbhalláin) the harper who was born near Nobber in 1690.

A simple dignified memorial well situated on the approach to the town. No difficulty recognising who it is and what his trade was. I suppose it is the equivalent in sculpture to the poem or novel where there are no difficult words or ideas - often described as accessible.

The piece was unveiled in October 2003 and was commissioned by the O’Carolan Harp Festival Committee. The sculptor was Ann Meldon Hugh, a stoneware and bronze sculptor, who lives and works in Kells, Co. Meath. She is a Dublin native. Her website has an impressive list of her sixteen public sculptures.

O'Carolan died on March 25, 1738 at the home of his patron Mrs. MacDermott Roe in Alderford, County Roscommon and is buried in Kilronan cemetery nearby. Nobber holds a Harp Festival each year in early October in honour of O'Carolan. This year's event takes place from 02 October to 04 October. It features seminars, lectures, traditional, music concert, harp and instrumental workshops, harp competitions & historical tours, art & craft exhibitions and Ceili.

Keadue in Roscommon holds a similar event earlier in the year.

More information about O'Carolan here and here.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Poets Alive in Blanchardstown Library

Blanchardstown Library is continuing their series of monthly poetry readings entitled Poets Alive in your Local Library this autumn. The next in the series will be on next Thursday 24th September at 7pm when Clairr O'Connor will read from Trick the Lock (2008) which deals with the theme of time and Breast (2004) which deals with breast cancer.

Other writers who will read in the series are: October - Dermot Bolger; November - John F Deane; January - Mary O'Donnell; February - Theo Dorgan; March - Rita Kelly.

As part of Fingal County Libraries Readers' and Writers' Festival Blanchardstown library will host For the Love of Words: A Readers’ and Writers’ Day on Saturday 26th September at 10.00am. More information and to book your place telephone 8905563. Programmed by Vanessa O’ Loughlin, Inkwell Writers Workshops.

Guests include authors, a crime journalist and private investigator, advice on writing and getting published and an opportunity to ask questions. Noelle Harrison will read from her new novel The Adulteress on the day.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Library Books and Geoffrey Hill

They'll soon know all about you.

You've taken out this book before, the librarian said as I presented my choice at the desk. I think it was meant purely as a matter of information not as a Have you forgotten you read it before? I smiled I'll try to actually read it this time and took it. It's not as if there was a queue of eager readers waiting to grab the book. There was only one other date stamp inside the cover and that for two years ago so that must have been when I borrowed it previously. The book? Selected Poems by Geoffrey Hill.

Geoffrey Hill is regarded by many people as one of the greatest living British/English poet. He is often regarded as being difficult, scholarly, highly allusive, political, inventive. Critic Peter McDonald says “His is poetry which, in making demands of its readers’ intelligence, engages them in a discourse about things—sometimes difficult things—that matter.”

Recently I read his Mercian Hymns which is a series which links the eight century king Offa of Mercia with Hill himself. They are written in a sort of prose poetry which expertly interweaves history and the contemporary world.

from Mercian Hymns by Geoffrey Hill


King of the perennial holly-groves, the riven sandstone: overlord of the M5: architect of the historic rampart and ditch, the citadel at Tamworth, the summer hermitage in Holy Cross: guardian of the Welsh Bridge and the Iron Bridge: contractor to the desirable new estates: saltmaster: moneychanger: commissioner for oaths: martyrologist: the friend of Charlemagne.

‘I liked that,’ said Offa, ‘sing it again.’

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Poetry and Prose Readings

Thinking about the two readings I was at last week I wondered about novelists reading in public. You can argue that a poem is meant to be heard rather than/as well as being read on the page so poetry readings create their own justification.

But what about the modern novel written surely to be read on the page by a solitary reader? Still in the case of a launch of a new novel, as with Noelle Harrison, there has to be a reading from the novel. Her dramatised reading was very effective and gave a real flavour of the different voices in the book.

Friday's Auster and Hustvedt reading was not dramatic in the same sense but here we have to chance to hear writers not often seen in Ireland. Also the work read has not yet been published so that was an added bonus.

Anyway there a lovely quote about poets reading in the latest issue of Iota magazine. In an interview poet Christopher James says: The one thing I'm not into is declaiming or excessive formality . . . Robert Frost sounds like a dying king at the end of a dynasty - lighten up, you feel like saying - it's only a bit of snow!

You can find an audio file of Frost reading Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening here.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Paul Auster and Siri Hustvedt in Dun Laoghaire

Writing any poetry at the moment? I asked American novelist Paul Auster last night as he signed my copy of his selected poems. I'm afraid not, he replied I wish I could. He had just read from his next novel at the Mountains to Sea dlr Book Festival in Dun Laoghaire.

He and his wife, novelist Siri Hustvedt, read from novels which have just been finished (Paul) or almost finished (Siri) to a packed Pavilion Theatre. I'm very familiar with Auster's work having read quite a number of his novels but have never read any of Hustvedt's work. I was very impressed by what she read. The novel is to be called A Summer without Men. She explained that her last two books were written from men's point of views so the narrator in this one is a woman.

The narrator has just recovered from a breakdown following her husband's request for a "pause" in their marriage. The "pause" is his female co-worker. The woman who is a poet leaves the city to go back to spend the summer in her home town where her mother still lives. A bright witty style (of writing and reading) and a narrative of self analysis without self pity contributed to a fascinating introduction. A book to watch for when it comes out.

By the way if I remember rightly in the extract she read the poet tells us she won the Zimmer Award for Experimental Poetry - a fictitious award I presume. Interestingly her husband has a character called Zimmer who becomes fascinated with a silent movie actor in his novel Book of Illusions and Zimmer is also is mentioned in Moon Palace. Also Siri Hustvedt is from Minnesota as is Bob Dylan whose real name was Zimmerman.

Auster read the first two chapters of his next novel. The familiar straightforward prose style but the usual eccentric situations and narrative shifts. A young man from New York is working in South Florida trashing out, that is clearing out and repairing houses which have been abandoned or repossessed because of mortgage arrears. He has developed a hobby of photographing the things left behind by the previous occupants. He is also involved with an under-age girl and he has to deal with an emotional crisis in his past. You almost feel that in the first two chapters Auster has gone too far, told us too much - shouldn't he have kept some of that stuff for later. But that's the attraction of an Auster novel - the unexpected and the unusual.

Anne Enright who reads herself later in the festival was there and wasn't that John Boorman, the film director, I saw in the front row. The full festival programme is here.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Ezra Pound and W B Yeats

Ezra Pound was friendly with many of the great poets of the first half of the twentieth century. He helped T S Eliot edit The Waste Land. In 1913 he met Yeats in London. He is quoted as considering Yeats "the only poet worthy of serious study." From then until 1916 he acted as Yeats' secretary. Pound on one occasion had some of Yeats' verse published with his (Pound's) own unauthorised alterations.

Pound mentions Yeats now and then in the Cantos sometimes calling him Uncle William. In The Pisan Canto LXXX he comments on Irish history and Yeats (Billyum) sitting in the Free State Senate. The spellings are Pound's own and the reference to one of Yeats' poems is typical Pound.

The problem after any revolution is what to do with
your gunmen

as old Billyum found out in Oireland

---------in the Senate, Bedad! or before then
---------Your gunmen thread on moi drreams

There are excellent readings by Pound of his own work on the PennSound Archive.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

What is Poetry?

Way back sometime in 1968-70 when I attended UCD at night doing a BA degree which included English the late Nuala O'Faolain taught us a course called The Victorian Sage. It dealt with figures like John Ruskin, (He features in the TV programme Desperate Romantics) Walter Pater, (She particularly disliked his aesthetic philosophy), Cardinal Newman (possibly soon to be made a saint of the Catholic Church) etc.

One evening she starting by saying something like Do you want to sit here and listen to another boring lecture by me on one of these long dead Victorian farts or do you want to go to Room XXX where a wonderful visitor from England (?) is giving a lecture on What is Poetry? So herself and the lot of us rushed off to the other room.

I don't remember much of the lecture, who it was or what he said. I do remember he discussed a controversy of the time about as poet, possibly English or Scottish, who had taken a prose piece from a novel and recast it as poetry and included it in a poetry collection without acknowledgement or reference. There was an outcry and he had to apologise.

Another panellist who I think was the Classics professor at UCD stood up and said All these little lyrics being written nowadays - they're not poetry! This is real poetry and read aloud from Homer's Iliad in Greek. This caused a lively debate.

Anyway I recalled that recently when I started reading Ezra Pound's poetry. Pound is well-known for his involvement with Italian fascism during the second world war. He made pro-fascist broadcasts on Italian radio during the conflict and was arrested and imprisoned afterwards, put on trial for treason. A plea of insanity was accepted and he was held in an institution until 1958. Pound has had an enormous influence on twentieth century poetry.

He wrote what may be the shortest great poem in the English language: In a Station of the Metro, just these two lines:

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.

Pound's great work is the Cantos which run to 800 pages. It is full of references to classical, european and eastern literature and mythology, quotations in Italian, Greek, Latin, Spanish and includes Chinese ideograms. It has references to then current political figures and events - Churchill and Roosevelt come in for severe criticism. Pound especially attacks the financial system based on what he calls Usura (What would he say if he were here now!). He includes no notes, no references, no translations. To read it either an exhilarating romp through world literature and history or a laborious drudge which soon comes to an exhausted halt.

No, I didn't read it all. Within the work there are separate sections and the Pisan Cantos, Cantos LXXIV–LXXXIV (You have to relearn your Roman numerals if you want to read Pound) is one the most highly regarded sections. These were written while Pound was imprisoned - part of the time in a wire cage - near Pisa and are regarded as the most interesting section. I read them in an edition which had notes, explanations and translations.

Isn't that what retirement is for? More on them some other time.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Launch of Noelle Harrison's The Adulteress

Attended the launch of Noëlle Harrison's latest novel in Dubray Books, Grafton Street, Dublin last evening. Noëlle lives near Oldcastle in Co Meath and launched an issue of our magazine some time ago. She also conducted a day long workshop for Boyne Writers Group so we keep an eye on her publishing progress.

This novel, The Adultress, is her fourth and is published by Pan Macmillan. At the launch she described it as "an erotic ghost story set in Cavan".

"Broken hearted and bruised by his wife’s infidelity, Nicholas leaves the comfortable life he has known in Dublin for a ramshackle house in rural Cavan, happy to throw himself into a project of restoration and diversion. There, the house seems to speak to him, and he catches glimpses of a presence – a fragile lady in blue, a woman trapped in the memory of one regret, her voice whispering to him."

Instead of the author reading from her book she was accompanied by two other for a dramatised reading of extracts from the book. This seemed to range over the whole book and gave a good flavour of the characters and mood. It worked very well.

In the novel the ghostly character - that fragile lady in blue - is herself writing a novel based on the life of Julia Caesar and Noëlle has written that novel as well and made it available in a special limited edition here on her website.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Iota Magazine

Iota magazine arrived today. A handsome production with poems, interviews, reviews and listings.

On first skim through a few things caught my eye. The review section begins with reviews of two recent long poems - The Broken Word by Adam Foulds and The Lamplighter by Jackie Kaye. Not everyone is writing short lyrics! (I've been reading a number of long poems recently and have become quite taken with the form)

The Broken Word which deals with the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya I have read and I heard the author read extracts at the Poetry Now Festival. The second I hadn't heard of - it was a commission to write a poem to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the slave trade. on the publisher Bloodaxe's website it is described as both a radio and stage play and a multi-layered epic poem. The book comes with a recording of a BBC reading of the work. It sounds very interesting and has been added to my must read list.

In his interview George Szirtes has interesting comments on commissions. A commission is, for me, another form of opening. The burden of conceiving a subject from scratch is shifted to the given subject. It is as if a certain undetermined, directionless stored energy that might have remained trapped and indecisive (approaching in extreme cases the condition we call 'writer's block') were delighted to take whatever outlet happened to be on offer.

I like this. I always argue against the vague notion of poetic inspiration - the idea that somehow if you lounge around enough or drink enough coffee or stronger liquid or walk in the country, something will strike you and a poem will arrive. If you want to write then you must write and the "inspiration" can be anything.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Cow Sculpture at Farmleigh

On my recent visit to Farmleigh - my first - I arrived early (So what's new!) and strolled around the grounds. I came across this interesting sculpture in light of my recent post about the cow sculptures of Markethill, Co Armagh.

An internet search found the details. Created in 2005 by an American sculpture, John M Weidman, as part of an international sculpture symposium Sculpture in Context - it's at the bottom of the page. It's entitled Remembering (not to forget). About it the sculptor says: I would like to make a visual statement about what would happen if we want such things (as COWS) when they were neglected and 'allowed to disappear' from our wonderful planet EARTH.

Interestingly on his website the work is described as abstract.
A nice quote elsewhere from the sculptor: How my work is viewed belongs to the viewer.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Boyne Berries 6 on the Way

Most of the hard work has been done for the autumn issue of our magazine Boyne Berries. The submissions have been read and those chosen to be included in this issue and the next have been informed. Those whose submissions have not been accepted have also been informed. This is the most difficult part. They are told of the large number of submissions and asked not to let this rejection prevent them from submitting again.

I arrange all the material in the magazine, prepare the bios and the contents list and produce a pdf file for the printers, ePrint, Blanchardstown. The first proof has been returned and checked. I dread making some terrible error or omission. This should be unlikely since most of the submissions arrived by email as digital files and are cut and pasted into the magazine. We (I actually) sometimes make mistakes but these are usually small misprints and more likely to occur in the biographies. "Small misprints" in the body of a piece can make a huge difference and be very embarrassing.

The cover image this time is of the church at Ardmore, Co Waterford and is the second in a series by our cover imagist Greg. Last issue has an image from the church at Tara on the cover.

The launch is provisionally fixed for Thursday September 24th in Trim. This should be confirmed in the next few days. As usual all the contributors will be invited to come and read. We usually have 14 - 18 readers on the night. The contributor from New Zealand has already email an excuse for not being able to attend!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Red Admirals in the Garden

Two days ago a couple of Red Admiral butterflies appeared in the garden. Interesting that the scientific name for the group of butterflies they belong to is Vanessa. It appears that they are named after the girl's name. This name was coined by Jonathan Swift as a nickname for his female friend Ester Vanhomrigh (Van and Essa).

There has been much speculation about Swift's relationship with Vanessa dn with Stella, the other lady in his life. Recently I wrote about attending Pat Dunne's show Only A Woman's Hair which dealt with the relationship.

There is a painting called Vanessa (1868) John Everett Millais in Sudley House, Liverpool. It is a fancy portrait depicting Jonathan Swift's Esther Vanhomrigh. Millais was one of the Pre-Raphalites who feature in the current (or recent? - I haven't been watching) Desperate Romantics TV series about the Pre-Raphalite Brotherhood of artists.

Everything is connected.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Tom Paulin and Jamie McKendrick at Farmleigh

At Farmleigh House last evening Tom Paulin and Jamie McKendrick read to a capacity or near capacity audience. A contrast in poetic styles and content though both read in a quiet friendly "at home in the sitting room" style which was very effective.

In her introduction, Farmleigh writer in residence Stella Tillyard described Jamie McKendrick as "an archaeologist of the commonplace" or words to that effect. He wrote of natural everyday things, his house being flooded, a death, each poem a neat self-contained package with a fine use of words and fresh, sometimes startling, insights. Not that these were all domestic poems, he read his ‘Ancient History’ written as he said at the time of the first Gulf War and loosely based on some of the Roman historian's Livy's work.

‘The year began with baleful auguries:
comets, eclipses, tremors, forest fires,

the waves lethargic under a coat of pitch

the length of the coastline. And a cow spoke, "

This and his Six Characters in Search of Something which you can read here, were the highlights of his set.

Tom Paulin on the other hand read poems which seemed only snippets of a fuller story, the story of his family, Irish history, Northern Protestants, the history of western Europe. All were interesting and well crafted with a mixture of the colloquial and the literary.

But it was his last poem which was the highlight. This had been written to a commission from BBC Radio 3 and so was originally written to be read aloud rather than read on the page. The original poem was 19 minutes long so he read only part of it. A collage of bits and snippets from other poems and popular songs it twisted and turned like a mad patchwork of references, some of which were very obvious some less so. You can hear Paulin read some poems here at Poetry Archive.

A most enjoyable evening.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Over The Edge - Congratulations

The shortlist for the Over The Edge New Writer of the Year Competition has been announced and the two Boyne Writers Group members - Evan Costigan and Brendan Carey Kinane - have made it onto this list of thirty. The winners will be announced at the next Over The Edge: Open Reading which takes place in Galway City Library on Thursday, September 24th, 6.30-8pm.

Good luck Evan and Brendan!