Monday, September 30, 2013

All-Ireland Poetry Day - Meath

Boyne Berries launched, now for All-Ireland Poetry Day!

All-Ireland Poetry Day 3 October 2013
‘OUR MOST LOVELY MEATH’ - A Tribute to the Poets of Meath

12 noon:   Laracor Graveyard  F.R. Higgins.
1pm    St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Trim  Jonathan Swift.
4pm    Ledwidge Museum, Slane   Francis Ledwidge.
5pm    O’Reilly Memorial, Dowth  John Boyle O’Reilly.

Boyne Writers Group, Trim, are marking All-Ireland Poetry Day on Thursday 3 October  by holding a series of short readings celebrating the poetic heritage of Meath at places associated with well-known Meath poets. Two of the poets are Meath-born and two others spent many years in the county. At each venue there will be readings from the works of the featured poets.

People are invited to attend at any or all of the venues, to listen to the poetry, to join in by reading their own favourite poems either by the featured poets or by any other poet irrespective of county or country of origin.

At 12 noon they will read at the grave of F.R. Higgins in Laracor Graveyard. Higgins was a native of Foxford, Co. Mayo but spend much time around Trim. He served on the board of the Abbey Theatre from 1935 until his death in 1941. His Father and son: Selected Poems has recently been published by Arlen House.

Then on to Trim where at 1pm they will celebrate the poetry of another “blow-in” to Meath, Jonathan Swift, at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Loman Street. Though more famous for his satiric prose Swift also was a prolific poet and his poetry often has the same sharp wit.

At 4pm there will be a reading in the Ledwidge Museum, Slane to remember the most famous Meath poet, Francis Ledwidge. Sometimes known as the "poet of the blackbirds", he had not reached the age of 30 when he was killed in action at the Battle of Passchendaele during World War I.

Finally the group will congregate at the John Boyle O’Reilly Memorial, Dowth at 5pm to read some of the poems of the Dowth born poet, journalist and fiction writer. As a youth in Ireland, he was a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, or Fenians, for which He was transported to Western Australia as a Fenian but escaped to the United States, where he became editor of the Boston Pilot newspaper.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Boyne Berries Launched

A most enjoyable launch last evening in the Castle Arch Hotel. We had, I think, the largest number of contributor-readers ever.

Paddy Smith, our chairman, made everyone welcome and introduced our guest editor who also launched the issue. Paddy's introduction was his usual mix of seriousness and fun, setting a nice tone for the evening. Be careful what personal details you mention on Facebook - they may be used in a Boyne Berries introduction!

Kate then spoke about the experience of editing blindly. She mentioned her fears - omitting friends and well-known writers - and told us how carefully she read each of the three hundred or so submissions.

She discussed what got a piece omitted and what ensured selection. She stressed the importance of spelling, grammar, punctuation, knowing where to start and finish, creating something fresh and new, including the unexpected, the off-beat, the memorable line.

Then we had the readings - twenty or so, mostly from the Leinster area but some from further afield, Galway for instance. A great mixture of prose and poetry, varied topics including the light-hearted as well as the tragic.

We ended the formal proceedings by presenting Kate with a framed print of Greg Hastings' cover image.

And the chat afterwards over tea and coffee is a vital part of the event. Thanks to all who submitted, to those who attended and read on the night and to those who would have loved to be there.

Next launch March or April 2014!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Boyne Berries 14

It's ready! There have been times, twice I think, when copies of our magazine Boyne Berries were collected from the printers on the afternoon of the launch - no fault of the printers.

This time it's ready in plenty of time and boxes are in the office and in the boot of the car ready for the launch on next Thursday evening. It looks good and reads better - seventy two pages of prose and poetry from all parts of the country and also from the UK, USA, Canada and France.

The cover is by Greg Hastings who has designed all our fourteen covers. This is the fourth in a series of photographs of windows in derelict Irish houses.

Our guest editor, Kate Dempsey, has done a great job of selection and arranging the material. Among those whose work is included are Nessa O'Mahony, Breda Wall Ryan, Edward O'Dwyer, Patricia Byrne, Noel King and Dimitra Xidous. We are also delighted to include many lesser known writers, some gaining their first publication here.

The launch is in the Castle Arch Hotel, Trim at 8pm on Thursday next 26 September 2013. The guest editor, Kate, will launch the issue and many of the contributors will be present and will read their contributions. All welcome, no entry charge. Looking forward to a great evening.

Boyne Berries 14 can be purchased by PayPal on this page:

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Irish Writers Centre Courses

Whether you wish to write a best-seller, take up a new hobby or write because you can't imagine not writing, the Irish Writers Centre have a course for you!

All their courses are taught by published authors and stretch across several genres. They have classes for people who are picking up a pen for the first time and writers who are going through the hard slog of finishing and editing their work.

This year they are hosting their first online course, taught by Nessa O'Mahony and focusing on creative writing for beginners. Nessa has a poem in Boyne Berries 14 which is being launched on Thursday 26 September in Trim. She is also reading and conducting a workshop at the Bailieborough Poetry Festival the following week-end.

Other new additions include: a food writing course, Delicious Words, taught by Catherine Cleary; a poetry appreciation course, Reading The Great Tradition, with Harry Clifton; Introduction to Playwriting with Michelle Read; Crime Writing with Louise Phillips; Experimental Fiction with Dave Lordan; How to Self-publish and Sell Your eBook with Catherine Ryan Howard and a novel writing course for people who are part way through writing a novel, Lost The Plot?, with Niamh Boyce.

Further details on the Centre's website.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Bailieborough Poetry Festival

Full details are now online of the inaugural Bailieborough Poetry Festival which takes place on the weekend of 4 and 5 October this year.

The organisers, LitLab group of writers, are hosting a weekend of readings, workshops, a poetry competition and launch of an anthology of the group’s work edited by Barbara Smith.

Visiting poets will include, Nessa O’Mahony, Heather Brett, Rebecca O Connor and Noel Monahan.

Venues include the town library in the old Market Square, Bia restaurant and the Wesleyan Church. In conjunction with the poetry festival there will be a quilt exhibition in the arts space of the library.

A poetry competition is being held in conjunction with the festival and the quilt exhibition. I'm the judge for this and the shortlist will be announced on 30 September. Prizes will be presented and winning poems read on Saturday 5 October.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Francis Ledwidge Drama in Dublin

I recently mentioned the Francis Ledwidge play, To One Dead, which was being staged in Dublin. Unfortunately I was unable to attend but I'm delighted that it was a great success and that there is talk of putting it on again soon. Well done Liam O'Meara and the Inchicore Ledwidge Society!

The Inchicore Ledwidge Society are pleased to announce that the play To One Dead, was a great success. After a hesitant first night, audience levels perked up from Tuesday, right through to Sunday, with full houses experienced on most nights.

One aspect of the production which particularly delighted author Liam O’Meara was the awareness of the audience to the humour interspersed in the story:  They got every witticism: dashes of humour were essential for light relief as it was a sad, indeed, tragic story. The cast were excellent, I wouldn't have changed one of them. I am new to play writing and production; this has proved to be a wonderful adventure for me and the members of the Inchicore Ledwidge Society. I would like to give a special mention to Frank Allen for his superb direction and for his duel role as army-chaplain, Fr. Devas, the narrator.

A lot of the Francis Ledwidge poems were interpreted in the unfolding of the tale. Quite a number of those attending had never before heard of this greatly overlooked poet of Meath and were much taken by the quality of his verse. Midweek, we had a group of people here from Slane who were, of course, well informed. They thoroughly enjoyed the show.

To One Dead  ended its run on Sunday 8 September, but such is the demand for its return, there may well be another showing in the coming months.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Work of Michael Farrell exhibition

This exhibition, currently on in the Solstice Arts Centre, Navan, is well worth a visit. I'm not an expert but I was fascinated by the range of the work on display. It is difficult to know sometimes when Farrell is being humorous and when he is being bitterly satiric. Often the two are combined as in his Madonna Irelanda series.

There are a number of his Miss O'Murphy series in the show. These were based on paintings by François Boucher for whom the model was Marie-Louise O’Murphy, later a courtesan and mistress to Louis XV.

Many of his titles are poems in themselves An Incomplete History of Ireland for example. One of the works in the show has a title (with a small alteration) from Wilde's Ballad of Reading Jail: That little tent of blue that sometimes prisoners call the sky.

The work above used on the poster and notices is one of Farrell's Presse series and uses newspaper headlines dealing with the Dublin bombings 1974.

Micheal Farrell (1940-2000) was born in Kells, County Meath and is one of Ireland’s best-known artists. He won the Biennale des Jeunes Paris Laureat in 1967 and the Douglas Hyde Gold Medal in 1976. This retrospective highlights the scope of Farrell’s skill. Produced by Solstice, this exhibition will then tour to Crawford Art Gallery and the RHA.

Well done Solstice!

Aidan Dunne in the Irish Times on the exhibition.
Meath Chronicle report of the exhibition opening.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Academy of American Poets Prizes

The Academy of American Poets has just announced its annual series of poetry prizes. This year, the organization has awarded over $200,000 to poets at various stages of their careers.

I'm delighted to see that Carolyn Forché has won a major award. I was one of about ten poets who attended a workshop facilitated by Carolyn at the Cork Poetry Festival earlier this year and found her a gracious and most engaged and effective communicator. She also did an outstanding reading at the festival.

Some of the awards:
Wallace Stevens Award: $100,000 for outstanding and proven mastery in the art of poetry: 2013 Recipient: Philip Levine

Academy of American Poets Fellowship: $25,000 for distinguished poetic achievement: 2013 Recipient:  Carolyn Forché

Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize: $25,000 for the most outstanding book of poetry published in the United States in the previous year: 2013 Recipient: Patricia Smith's Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah (Coffee House Press, 2012)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Seven Towers Second Thursday - Cities

Every Second Thursday of the month at the Workmans Club, Wellington Quay, Dublin, Seven Towers holds a special themed reading. In this reading four writers/poets read on a specific theme for five to seven minutes.

This Month the Theme is Cities. I'm one of this month's readers. The others are David Murphy, Fióna Bolger and Anna Maria Crowe Serrano. After the featured readers there will be a short open mic. So come along with your prose or poem on the theme - widely interpreted.

David Murphy is a Cork born, Dublin based, award winning Science Fiction Writer. He is co-founder of Irish fiction magazine, Albedo One, and has published two novels, Akron Chronicles and Longevity City and a collection of short stories Lost Notes.

Fíona Bolger's poetry has appeared in many journals including Southword, The Chattahoochee Review, Brown Critique, Can-Can, The Poetry Bus, and Outburst. She is a member of the Dublin Writers' Forum and Airfield Writers. Her collection The Geometry of Love between the Elements has recently been published.

Anamaria Crowe Serrano's publications include Paso Doble (Empiria, Rome, 2006), co-written with Italian poet Annamaria Ferramosca as an experimental poetic dialogue; a collection of short stories, Dall’altra parte (Leconte, Rome, 2003) and a one act play, The Interpreter (Delta3 Edizioni, 2003). Her first full length collection, Femispheres was published by Shearsman, UK, in 2008.

I'm looking forward to this! Workmans Club, Wellington Quay, Dublin. Thursday 12 September. 6.30pm.


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Higgins Selected Poems Launch

I attended the launch of the the Father and Son: Selected Poems, at Higginsbrook House, Trim, Co. Meath. This is a handsome volume published by Arlen House with an introduction by Joe Woods, former Director of Poetry Ireland.

Higginsbrook House is a fine Georgian house in which F.R. Higgins spent many summers. The house was used in the films Becoming Jane and Northanger Abbey in 2007.

A most enjoyable celebration of the poet with interesting contributions by local historian Noel French and Aidan Gray of Higginsbrook, a relative of the author.

There were a number of fine readings of poems from the volume and English poet, P.J. Kavanagh, had the honour of reading Higgins' best known poem, Father and Son. He did it with style.

P.J. Kavanagh is a most interesting writer. He knows Irish writers well, having written Voices in Ireland: A Traveller's Literary Companion in 1994. We talked about T.H. White who had lived near Trim for a while during World War II, Francis Ledwidge and also the Gloucester poet, Ivor Gurney, whose Collected Poems Kavanagh edited in 2004. Guardian Review here.

Two more launches of the book will take place:
The Abbey Theatre, Dublin City – Monday 9th September from. 5.30pm.
The Mayfly Hotel, Foxford, Co. Mayo – Tuesday 10th September from 7pm.

For further information please contact: Aidan Gray (Tel: 087 682 6934, Email:

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

F.R. Higgins : Selected Poems

Arlen House in partnership with Poetry Ireland and the author’s relatives are celebrating the poetry of F.R. Higgins with the publication of his Father and Son: Selected Poems, to be launched in September in Dublin, Meath and Mayo.

Father and Son also serves to honour Dardis Clarke (1939-2013) who championed Higgins’ work – Dardis’s father was the famous poet Austin Clarke who was a close friend of F.R. Higgins.

Frederick Robert Higgins (1896-1941) was born in Foxford, Co. Mayo, he spent summers with his relatives in Higginsbrook, Co. Meath, and much of his working life in Dublin where he reached the position of Managing Director of the Abbey Theatre. Four of his books were published, Island BloodThe Dark Breed; Arable Holdings and The Gap of Brightness. In the 1930s he became a great friend of W.B. Yeats and worked with him on several poetry projects.

Dardis Clarke and Aidan Gray, a relative of the author from Higginsbrook, Meath, worked together to compile this volume. Joseph Woods, poet and former director of Poetry Ireland, has written a stimulating introduction honouring both F.R. Higgins and Dardis Clarke.

Three launches of the book will take place:
Higginsbrook House, Trim, Co. Meath – Sunday 8th September from 4pm.
The Abbey Theatre, Dublin City – Monday 9th September from. 5.30pm.
The Mayfly Hotel, Foxford main street, Co. Mayo – Tuesday 10th September from 7pm.

For further information please contact: Aidan Gray (Tel: 087 682 6934, Email: