Saturday, October 31, 2009


It's Hallowe'en!

There are lots of poems about Hallowe'en at also poems about Hell, about Vampires and an article about where American poets are buried.

The site also has ideas on poetic fancy dress costumes

I think I'll go as Walt Whitman - with the butterflies as well.
(Picture right from the site.)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Latest issue of Revival

The latest issue of Revival the poetry journal published in Limerick was launched on 14 October during the Cuisle Poetry Festival in the famous poetry venue The White House Pub. This issue is a tribute to Limerick's Frank McCourt and the cover has an image of Frank by Una Heaton.

It contains a piece in memory of Frank McCourt by his brother Alphie and a poem by well known American poet W.S. Merwin which was read by the author at a recent memorial held in honour of Frank McCourt at Sun Valley Idaho.

Two of our Boyne Group members, Orla Fay and Tom Dredge have poems in the issue as has a member of the LitLab, Pat Devaney.

I was in the White House for the launch which was followed by a reading by that week's featured poet Maurice Riordan. Maurice was born in Lisgoold, Co Cork and lives in London and teaches on the Writing MA at Sheffield Hallam University.

This was followed by an open mic at which eighteen writers read from their work including myself. I had intended to read a poem about death but there were so many poems touching on that theme that I read one about fish and chips instead.

It was a great night of poetry which finished sometime aroung 12.30am. If you haven't been to a White House reading then you should try to get to one. It's a great experience. You can see a slideshow of the readers here - down the page to the relevant date.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

More Luxembourg Sculpture - Final One

Down in the city near the centre is this sculpture which screams for attention. It is called "La Temperance" by French-born sculptor Niki de Saint Phalle (1930-2002). It can be found at the northern end of the Place Emile Hamilius. The sculpture was erected in 1995 when Luxembourg was European Capital of Culture.

It is a representation of Temperance, the tarot card and another version of it exists in the Tarot Garden in Tuscany, Italy which contains many of her Tarot character sculptures. She appears to be holding two joined vessels in her hands. Temperance is almost invariably depicted as a person pouring liquid from one receptacle into another. Historically, this was a standard symbol of the virtue temperance representing the dilution of wine with water.

There is a connection with the gun sculpture at the Jean Monnet building. In 1961, Niki de Saint Phalle became known around the world for her Shooting paintings. These consisted of a wooden base board on which containers of paint were laid, then covered with plaster. The painting was then raised and de Saint Phalle would shoot at it with a rifle. The bullets penetrated paint containers, which spilled their contents over the painting. She travelled around the world performing shooting sessions. She stopped making these shooting pictures in 1963 as in her own words, I had become addicted to shooting, like one becomes addicted to a drug.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sculpture in Luxembourg

At the entrance to the Jean Monnet building in Kirchberg in Luxembourg where our conference was held last week is this sculpture by Swedish artist Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd. It is one of a series he has created and which have been situated at prominent sites and buildings across the world. More information about it here.

It's not difficult to guess that it is titled Non-Violence. It's the kind
of thing that gives sculpture a bad name. Realistic it's not. If you straightened out the gun barrel it would be much longer than it should be. You may glance at it and say Great! Sculpture I can understand. But what's the point? Does it make anyone consider the question of violence or aggression? Of course not.

Not far away there's another sculpture, picture below, which is much m
ore interesting. There's no information on or near the piece to identify it and I have failed to find anything on the internet about it but to me it's much more interesting. What is it supposed to represent? It's sculpture so it's up to you to decide.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Poetry in Luxembourg

In one of the main squares of Luxembourg city centre there is a memorial to the Luxembourg national poet, Michel Rodange (1827-1876). He was a primary teacher and later a functionary in the Public Buildings Administration. He was a poet in his leisure time.

In 1872 he published the satirical epic "Rénert oder de Fuuss am Frack an a Ma’nsgrésst" ("Rénert" or the fox in human clothing). This work, an adaption of the traditional European clever fox tale, was written in the language of the country. It was well regarded for its detailed yet mocking analysis of the character of the Luxembourg people. Like many another writer he does not appear to have been appreciated during his lifetime and it was only after his death that his work was appreciated.

The monument is a fine memorial near the city hall with a sculpture of Reynard himself on top.

As for his most famous poem I haven't been able to find an English translation anywhere on the internet.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Back from Luxembourg

One of the great things about teaching over the past decades was the opportunities for travel to other European countries to experience other educational systems afforded by the various European funded projects. I enjoyed short visits to Germany, Poland, Austria, Denmark, UK and Portugal.

I thought that was all over when I retired but I was asked to attend the Safer Internet Forum in Luxembourg last week and was delighted to go.

Twenty seven teachers (and one retired teacher!) - one from each country, took part in a teacher forum on internet safety which then fed into the general debate. It was most enjoyable to meet colleagues from other countries and see that the problems are the same everywhere. What strikes one is that in spite of overload and cut-backs teachers are still enthusiastic about their job.

The conference which was held in the European Commission Conference Centre in the Jean Monnet Building was interesting, with relevant input from a students' panel comprising two students from each country, the teachers' panel and researchers, academics, ministry of education representatives and other interested parties. The working language was English but there was simultaneous translation into a number of other languages. During boring presentations in English it is always wonderful to switch to French or German and enjoy the different flow of the language without the distraction of understanding what is being said.

We stayed near the venue on the Plateau de Kirchberg, 3 km from the centre of Luxembourg city where many of the European building are - no shopping or eating areas just high rise glass walled building. And the building is still going on. We did get a little time on the last afternoon after the conference finished to do a little sightseeing in the city centre. A typical European city but it has a long deep gorge winding through it which makes for spectacular sights.

More on Luxembourg with some pictures perhaps when I recover fully.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Limerick last week, Luxembourg this week. Any place beginning with L will do when you're retired. It's a bit like coming back from retirement because I'm attending a teachers' forum and conference on Safer Internet here as the Irish teacher representative.

Forget Ryanair, LuxAir is the way to fly. Flew from London City airport on a plane with propellors, first time in a long time to do so. A great flight, a free meal, snack actually, and boiled sweets before landing. Great.

You might imagine 27 teachers talking about schools, pupils and internet safety might be dull and boring but no way! Enthusiastic teachers with all kinds of innovative ideas sharing their experiences is exciting. The general impression is how similar the experience is in all countries of the EC.

Paddy tells a story about attending a European conference in the early days of the EEC when delegations from other countries came to the hotel the Irish delegation was staying in to watch the Irish delegation eat and drink!

I always feel I should introduce myself at such a function by saying something like: "I'm from Ireland BUT I don't drink Guiness and I don't sing".

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

National Novel Writing Month


No Judges. No Prizes. Winning Manuscripts Deleted. Appeal Remains a Mystery.

There are some who say writing a novel takes awesome talent, strong language skills, academic training, and years of dedication. Not true. All it really takes is a deadline – a very, very tight deadline – and a whole lot of coffee.

Welcome to National Novel Writing Month: a nonprofit literary crusade that encourages aspiring novelists all over the world to write a 50,000-word novel in a month. At midnight on Nov. 1, 150,000 writers from over 90 countries – poised over laptops and pads of paper, fingers itching and minds racing with plots and characters – will begin a furious adventure in fiction. By 11:59 PM on Nov. 30, tens of thousands of them will be novelists.

NaNoWriMo is the largest writing contest in the world. In 2008, over 120,000 people took part in the free challenge. There are more than 1,000 registered novelists in Ireland already this year and it’s not November yet. And while the event stresses fun and creative exploration over publication, more than 30 NaNoWriMo novelists have had their NaNo-novels published, including Sarah Gruen, whose New York Times #1 Best Seller, Water for Elephants began as a NaNoWriMo novel.

Around 18% of NaNoWriMo participants "win" every year by writing 50,000 words and validating their novels on the organization's website before midnight on Nov 30. Winners receive no prizes, and no one at NaNoWriMo ever reads the manuscripts submitted.

So if not for fame or fortune, why do people do it? "The 50,000-word challenge has a wonderful way of opening up your imagination and unleashing creative potential like nothing else," says NaNoWriMo Founder and Program Director (and ten-time NaNoWriMo winner) Chris Baty. "When you write for quantity instead of quality, you end up getting both. Also, it's a great excuse for not doing any dishes for a month."

Writing is recession-proof – all it takes is paper, pencils, and imagination!

Events for The Ireland North East Region (Meath, Louth, Cavan and Monaghan) will take place in the D Hotel, Drogheda on the following dates, all events are free to participating writers;

· Saturday 31 October : 10am–noon – getting the group started
· Sunday 8 November : 7.30-9.30pm - writing
· Sunday 15 November : 7.30-9.30pm - writing
· Sunday 22 November : 7.30-9.30pm - writing
· Sunday 29 November : 7.30-9.30pm - writing
· Tuesday 1 December : 8pm onwards – a Thank Goodness it’s Over party

If you would like more information about National Novel Writing Month, or would like to talk to participants from your area, please visit our website at, or contact our local Municipal Liaison, Grace Tierney ( There is also an FAQ available online.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

More Good News

These are the emails that make it all worth while. Someone notices your work. But two in the same week! . . . first the Bridport shortlising and now this:

I am writing to let you know that you have been selected as a finalist for the International Aesthetica Creative Works Competition. Category: Poetry, Title of piece: Flying to Krakow was highly commended by the judges. Congratulations on this massive achievement. We had over 3000 entries this year.
A few more details:
Winners from each category will be announced just before publication.
As a finalist, you will receive a complimentary hard copy.
The Aesthetica Annual will be available from Borders nationwide on 1 December and from

Flying to Krakow was written two years ago after a visit to the Polish town. It, like Asking for Directions the Bridport shortlisted poem, had done the rounds of competitions and magazines without being noticed. It goes to show that you never know when someone will notice your work. Keep entering and keep sending out to magazines!

Then the doubts start. These were written a while ago.
Maybe my more recent work isn't as good.
Maybe I should try to imitate the stuff I was writing then.
Maybe I will never ever be even shortlisted in a competition ever again.
Maybe . . .

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Another thing about Limerick

One the features of Ulick O'Connor's reading in Limerick was his reading by heart - he rarely consulted his texts which were large sheets printed on card as far as I could see - a good idea actually, you know how annoying it can be when an author is searching for a poem towards the end of his third volume.

Where was I , oh yes, reading by heart. It adds to a reading when the author can do this, I must try learning a few by heart. I remember Pat Boran challenging us at a workshop in Longford (I do get around don't I?) by asking if anyone in the group could recite one of their own poems by heart. Coughs and eyes on the ground all round. Having said that I have one or two I read often and find that I need to look at the page only a few times during the reading.

I got an email yesterday saying I was shortlisted for the Bridport Poetry Prize in the UK. Or rather had been shortlisted - the prizes have been decided and I'm not among them. Still it's great to be even shortlisted in such a popular competition. The Bridport Prize, with a £5000 1st prize for short stories and for poems, is the biggest open creative writing competition in the English language. Results will be available on the Bridport website from 22 November.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Back from Limerick

Left Limerick late last night after two very busy poetry days at the Cuisle Poetry Festival . At the official opening on Wednesday Paul Muldoon translated Cuisle as Heart Throb.

Yesterday a poetry reading by Limerick poet, Paul Sweeney, at lunchtime, a presentation by self-publishing company Original Writing and a discussion on Publishing in Times of Recession which was attended by two former US poet laureates, Donald Hall and Robert Haas.

In the evening the Stony Thursday Book was launched - I was asked to read one of my poems, so was Robert Haas. The Book is a beautiful production and I'm delighted to be included with such poets as Robert Haas, Paul Muldoon, Fleur Adcock, Macdara Woods, Nuala Ní Chonchúir and many more. Because my poem, When I Returned about Auschwitz, has an unexpected twist in the end I asked the audience not to follow it in the book as I read. I told them to close the book, reminding them that I was a retired teacher (Laughter).

The launch was followed by a reading by three poets, Ulick O'Connor, Ireland, Catherine Smith, UK and Taja Kramberger, Slovenia. Wonderful. Three contrasting poets but as is usual the connections and contrasts were a major part of the enjoyment. Ulick read well with lots of references to an Ireland we have almost forgotten - Yeats, Behan, Maud Gonne, Countess Markievicz, Sean MacBride. He even mentioned Ireland's seven centuries of oppression, a phrase I don't like and which I had thought had gone out of use, rightly.

When Taja Kramberger introduced her poems with references to her country's and her family's trauma during the last century especially during and after World War 2 made me think that for all our talk of "oppression" we had it easy during most of the last century at least.

Catherine Smith's reading was wonderful. Her poems sparkled, teased, stung and swung in unexpected dark directions. She read with an enthusiasm, confidence and self mockery which contrasted with the other two readers. Most of what she read came from her collection Lip.

Dentist now, depending on how I get on there perhaps then the Over 50s Show in the RDS and the National Stamp Exhibition also in the RDS.

The Cuisle Festival continues today and tomorrow.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Boyne Readings Tonight

The Boyne Readings and Open Mic resumes tonight, Thursday 15 October, at 8.00 pm in the Knightsbridge Village Hall, Longwood Road, Trim.

Michael Regan, Trim, whose autobiography Ten In A Bed has been the surprise big hit of Irish publishing circles in recent years, will be joined by Drogheda poet Marie MacSweeney, whose second collection of poetry has just been published.

Marie MacSweeney's collection of short stories, Our Ordinary World and Other Stories, was published in 2004. She won the prestigious RTE Francis MacManus Short Story Competition in 2001 and her first poetry collection, Mother Cecily's Music Room, was published in 2005. Her latest book is a two-part collection and contains her translation into English of the famous poem of grief and love, Caoineadh Airt Ui Laoghaire and her own collection Flying During The Hours of Darkness, written around the theme of love and grief.

Michael Regan is a retired solicitor and has been to the forefront of many of the major community, sports and arts developments of the latter half of the 20th century in Meath. His autobiography is the exciting tale of his escapades over the years and of his many adventures in court. It has elicited high praise from people in all sectors of society and is still much in demand three years after its publication.

This is followed by an open mic session where everyone is welcome to read their own work. Time is allocated according to the number of readers. Just come along on the night and sign in. Admission 5 euro, Tea/Coffee, Biscuits.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Stony Thursday - I'm In

The Cuisle Poetry Festival takes place in Limerick this week. Over the four days, 14 - 17 October, there will be lunchtime readings, readings for secondary school students, book launches and evening readings.

On tomorrow, Thursday, evening this year's Stony Thursday Book will be launched by editor, poet Ciaran O'Driscoll. I'm delighted that two of my poems will be included and two poems close to my heart as well! One was written after a visit to Auschwitz and the other is an attempt to write about writing a poem and to answer the question What is a poem?

The latest issue of Limerick's other poetry magazine, Revival, will be launched this Wednesday evening in the White House and two of our group members are published in this issue - Orla Fay and Tom Dredge. Well done!

This year’s line up of poets for the festival include international visiting poets Robert Hass (USA), Donald Hall (USA), Fleur Adcock (NZ/UK), Penelope Shuttle (UK), Aonghus MacNeachail (Scotland), Lidija Dimkovska (Slovenia), Taja Kramberger (Slovenia), Catherine Smith (UK), John O’Donoghue (UK) and Irish poets Patrick Moran, Ulick O’Connor, Clairr O’Connor and Paul Muldoon, Vivienne McKechnie, Maurice Riordan and Paul Sweeney. The full programme can be downloaded from the website.

By the way look what Irish soccer manager Giovanni Trapattoni said defending his selection policy and his team's style of play:

In football, there are players who are aesthetically pleasing, and there are winning players. Some players may be beautiful to watch, but it is not enough. You need to win. There is poetry and there are novels. Novels are different to poetry.

Hmm so what novel would you compare the Irish team to?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Advice from a Published Writer

Sarah Webb proved an interesting, enthusiastic, friendly, speaker in Bailieborough last evening. She spoke about her own writing habits and history and gave advice, most of it common knowledge but worth hearing again:

Read plenty especially in the field you hope to publish in. Write if you have something to say. Write from the heart.

Be prepared to take criticism and rejection. Be optimistic as regards getting published - keep trying. She mentioned a friend who has written fifteen books without any having been published who finally appears to have found a publisher. If your work is good enough it will eventually be published.

She spoke at length about rewriting, redrafting, editing one's work and showed examples of manuscripts of hers with editors' comments. She writes what she called a "shitty" first draft and then is prepared to do a number of drafts until she is happy with it. She then makes the changes suggested by her editors at each subsequent stage of the process.

She writes four books per year and her weekly target is 8,000 words. She has written 27 books, 23 of which have been published. she is working on numbers 28 and 29 at the moment.

Her website is here and she blogs here.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sarah Webb in Bailieborough

Best-selling author Sarah Webb will visit Bailieborough Library to meet our Lit Lab group and facilitate a writers' workshop this, Monday 12th, evening. Flushed with our inclusion in the recent Windows Publication this should be good-back-down-to-earth therapy.

Sarah is the author of eight best selling novels, four children's books, and one teenage novel and has contributed to several short story collections. She regularly reviews children's fiction, and has programmed and run many successful writers workshops. Her visit to Cavan is funded by Cavan County Council.

Sarah is also the author of the very successful Kids Can Cook cookbook, a very well used copy of which was prominent in our kitchen until recently. Can't find it today, must have been thrown out in the most recent renovations. That may have been Sarah's first published book.

All are welcome to attend the Bailieborough event. For more information ring Fiona at Bailieborough Library 042-9665779

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Census 1911 - Patrick Kavanagh

The availability of the 1911 Census of Ireland online is a source of endless fascination, amusement and education.

The Kavanagh family census form for 1911 is interesting. The whole family is here in Mucker, Monaghan including the poet Patrick Kavanagh. There is also a journeyman shoemaker staying in the house presumably assisting the elder Kavanagh who gave his occupation as shoemaker. This journeyman was also a Monaghan-man and he could speak Irish as well as English as could Kavanagh senior but not Bridget his wife.

Seven children had been born in the fourteen years of marriage and all had survived. Patrick, the poet, was the only boy and was given as being seven years of age. Kavanagh was born on 21 October 1904 so in fact he was only six at the time of the census.

James Kavanagh, the poet's father, gives his age as fifty six, his wife as thirty eight on the census form.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

More Pictures from Trim Windows Launch

Thanks to Paddy who not only can write prose (and drama and poetry) but can also take pictures (and video).

Friday, October 9, 2009

Trim Windows Launch

The last of the Windows Publications launch in Trim last night went well. Nice crowd, readers, relations, friends - you can't go wrong reading to a sympathetic audience like that. Readers were Ina Olohan, Paddy Smith, Nollaig Rowan, Maireád Donnellan, Pat Devaney and myself. Some very good poems and prose introduced by editors Heather Brett and Noel Monahan. Also suitable music by duo Emily’s Eldest with Ben Tiernan and Eileen Tackney. Another most enjoyable evening. Above: Paddy Smith and Eamonn Cooke at the launch.

Tonight in Drogheda local author Marie MacSweeney will launch her second collection of poetry in the Boyne Valley Hotel at 8pm. The book is a two-part collection which has been published by Lapwing of Belfast and contains her translation into English of the famous poem of grief and love, Caoineadh Airt Úi Laoghaire and her own collection Flying During The Hours of Darkness, written around the theme of love and grief, and dedicated to the memory of the late John Walsh.

During the course of the evening there will also be an unusual auction of a selection on one page, hand printed and signed poems by authors including John Montague, Eithne Strong, John Heath Stubbs, Sorley Maclean, Gabriel Rosenstock, Pádraigh Daly and many others.

Profits from the entire evening will go to the Palliative Care Unit of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital.

Marie MacSweeney will also be one of the featured readers in our Boyne Readings and Open Mic event in the Village Hall, Knightsbridge, Trim on Thursday next 15 October at 8pm. Michael Regan, Trim, will be the other featured reader.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Dublin Windows Launch

A very successful and enjoyable Windows Publications launch in the Irish Writers Centre last evening. A perfect setting, a roomful of attentive and enthusiastic listeners and some very good poetry and music.

Three readers and myself. Nollaig Rowan from Dublin who was published in Boyne Berries 6, David Rowell also from Dublin who won the Trim Swift Satire Competition this year and Honor Duff (picture right) of Dublin and Cavan, a LitLab member.

As usual there was a wide variety of styles of poetry to be heard. Good introductions, confident readings, some unusual themes - chocolate haiku! - and a variety of forms - sonnets, haiku, a villanelle and what David called a "Rowell".

I did read the Dylan concert poem. The singer/songwriter who performed during the evening was Michael O'Brien from Cavan and he gave us a spirited version of "Tangled Up in Blue", Noel Monahan, one of the editors, mentioned Dylan in his introduction so I really didn't have a choice. My poem plays with the idea of Dylan being a Messiah and I imagined the audience as all suffering from some illness or disability and imagine them checking in their medical equipment before the concert. Some of the lines go:

check in our grave equipment,
urine bags, crutches, false eyelashes

That semi-colon got the most compliments from listeners afterwards.

I read six poems including two from the book. Thanks Heather for the pictures. That's a Sean MacSweeney landscape on the wall behind the readers. Sligo connection - I felt at home.

The show moves on to Trim tonight for the final launch. The Castle Arch Hotel 8.00 pm. We are hoping for a good attendance for what should be a very enjoyable night of poetry and music.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Windows Publications Dublin Launch

I'll be at the Writers' Centre in Parnell Square for the Dublin launch of the Windows book tonight.

Editors Heather Brett and Noel Monahan will launch Authors and Artists No 9 which has thirty contributors, over half of whom belong to the Cavan and Meath Lit Lab writing group, and it includes the work of three visual artists Elena Duff, Anne Harkin Petersen and Raymond Watson. Reading in Dublin on the night will be Honor Duff, Nollaig Rowan and David Rowell and possibly some others including myself. Should I read that Dylan poem or not?

Venue: Irish Writers' Centre, 19 Parnell Sq, D1. Time: 7.30 pm. Music and wine also.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Poetry Upfront Balbriggan

This from Poetry Upfront, a group in Balbriggan, Co Dublin who organised an Open Mic event regularly in the town in the past. The venue changed hands and so the event hasn't taken place for a while. However they are to continue:

We intend to continue the activities of Poetry Upfront. Sometimes much as before, but more often with variations. We will attempt to displace poetry a little and put it in slightly strange situations. We are interested in finding out what happens to it, and the reactions (and commitment) of its writers and readers/audience, under unusual circumstances.

We will begin this second phase of Poetry Upfront close to 'home'. The next Poetry Upfront 'open-mic' session, then, will take place on Balbriggan Beach, on Monday 19 October 2009. Start time will be 7pm. As usual, everyone is welcome and admission (naturally) is free. Poets and audience may need to bring with them the following:

a) blanket
b) flask with hot tea or similar beverage
c) light source (flashlight, lantern etc)

We look forward to it and hope to see many of you there (we have made alternative arrangements in case of rain).

Monday, October 5, 2009

Census of Ireland 1911

The online 1911 Census of Ireland is fascinating. I probably mentioned before that I spent quite a while searching this and the 1901 Census in the National Archives looking for people who had been involved in the Civil War to investigate their social background. It was time consuming, tedious work - but worthwhile in the end. How much easier that would be nowadays!

There are 138,714 Michaels in the Census record for that evening of Sunday 2nd April 1911, 6,036 Micheals, 238 Micheáls and 696 Micks. This is based on transcriptions of the actual records.

There were eighteen Michael Farrys recorded in Ireland. Fourteen of these were in Sligo, one in Dublin, Donegal, Fermanagh and Roscommon. The Dublin Michael Farry, living in Capel St, had been born in Dublin, was a baker and was married to an English-born woman called Elizabeth. They had a nine-month old daughter also called Elizabeth. The oldest Michael Farry was a seventy four year old widower who could not write but could speak Irish and English. He signed the form with an X.

The census form for Ireland in 1911 was different from that distributed in Britain. On the Irish form there was a question asking the religion of every person in a household. This question was not included in the British form. It included the advice that "Members of Protestant Denominations are requested not to describe themselves by the vague term 'Protestant' but to enter the name of the Particular Church, Denomination, or Body to which they belong".

Often where Catholics returned their religion as "Catholic" someone else, probably the enumerator who collected the form added a "R." or "Roman".

There was no indication as to how non-believers should fill the space so there was a great variety, thought not a great number, of such returns.

Years ago while looking through the Census summaries for either 1901 or 1911 I noticed in the religion summary one person in county Sligo had described him/herself as "free thinker". I always felt I would love to know who was this solitary Sligo "Freethinker" of 1901 or 1911.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Windows Publications Authors & Artists 9

I got the new Windows Publication on Thursday evening and took time to read it over the last few days. It's an impressive publication with a great variety of styles and themes. The inclusion of artwork makes it special. The art was on display at the Cavan launch and the interesting thing is that some pieces look better on canvas and others look better as illustrations in the book. Right the cover image Aperture of Longing by Anne Harkin-Peterson.

There's a mother and daughter in the book, artist Elena Duff and her mother Honor Duff who is a LitLab members. Of the thirty included in the book about half are members of the Cavan/Meath Arts Offices LitLab initiative. That means that I have already seen, heard and even criticised some of the prose and poems at LitLab meetings. Here and there while reading I think "Oh he/she didn't take what I said on board" or "I knew that poem would be better without the original first verse".

One of my poems included, Fuerteventura 2008, originally had at least twice as many lines - it now has eleven. LitLab members liked it but were strongly of the opinion that various lines were superfluous. I gave in to most of them but the last three lines were untouchable:

and pork sausages, blood puddings, bacon rashers, pounds and stones and hundredweights and tons, fat imperial measures.

(Should have omitted that comma after tons though!)

I'd better mention the contribution by fellow Trim writer Paddy Smith, prose of course but his second piece, Left, Right could certainly pass as poetry with some creative formatting. His last paragraph is:
Too much, too soon. Another five years of starting in the middle. And then, then he might just think about that right sock.

Others included in the book are Michael Massey from Kilkenny, Nollaig Rowan, Dublin, published in the latest Boyne Berries and David Rowell, Dublin, who won this year's Swift Satire competition.

The remaining three launches for the publication are as follows:
Set Theatre (Langton’s) John St., Kilkenny Monday 5th October at 8pm.
Irish Writer’s Centre Parnell Sq., Dublin Wednesday 7th October at 8pm.
Castle Arch Hotel, Summerhill Rd, Trim Thursday 8th October at 8pm. Readers there will include Patrick Devaney, Paddy Halligan, Paddy Smith, Mairéad Donnellan, Michael Farry, Lisa McKenna.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Swift To Be Remembered in Trim

For the past months a large new building has been rising above the town of Trim. Built on higher ground to the south west above the old swimming pool it is an imposing building (photo above). It is in fact a new headquarters for the Office of Public Works built as part of the decentralisation of that organisation. This project went ahead in spite of government cutbacks.

The building is almost complete and a new street has been created to provide access. This street has to have a name and a report in the local paper suggests that it will be named after Jonathan Swift though the exact name is not yet decided. This is a tribute to the Trim Swift Festival in particular which has over the last two years increased the awareness of the Dean's connections with the town. As the newspaper report mentions a new Trim street was named a few years ago and I don't remember hearing Swift being considered at that time.

By the way do you know where Swift's Row is in Dublin? I didn't until today. It's part of the north quays between Ormond Quay and Batchelor's Walk.

Friday, October 2, 2009

All Ireland Poetry Day: Trim and Cavan

The Poetry in the Cathedral event in Trim went off well. A small but enthusiastic group read and listened appreciatively to a varied selection of poems. The Dean himself, Robert Jones, read the very appropriate Diary of a Church Mouse by John Betjeman. Michael Regan read Percy French's Inspector of Drains and Paddy Smith read The Shooting of Dan McGrew by Robert Service. Jimmy Peppard read his poem on the first day of the battle of the Somme in which both his grandfathers took part. Poet Frank Murphy, pictured above, read his poem A House of Cards.

Then Cavan Crystal Hotel in the evening for the Windows Publications Authors and Artists Introduction Series No 9 launch. A large crowd attended. There was an art exhibition by the featured artists, Elena Duff, Virginia and Berlin, Anne Harkin Petersen, Galway and Raymond Watson, Co Antrim. Editor Heather Brett welcomed everyone and there were congratulatory addresses by the Cavan County Manager and by two writers who had been reading in the county earlier, Rita Kelly and Philip Casey.

This was followed by reading by four of the featured writers, Irene O Dea, Aisling Murtagh, Brendan McCann and Marian O'Rourke with music by a duo Emily’s Eldest with Ben Tiernan and Eileen Tackney. A most enjoyable evening.

Above a picture of the Cavan Crystal event: Included in the centre are Catriona O'Reilly, Arts Officer Cavan County Council talking to artist Elena Duff in front of her painting Honey Trap.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

All Ireland Poetry Day

First this morning we have the Poetry in the Cathedral event in St Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral, Trim at 11pm. According to the Poetry Ireland website this is the only event for the day in Co Meath so we have no idea how many will attend. We will bring along some anthologies of poetry so that attendees can pick poems to read if they wish. The cathedral is a superb venue, old stonework and years of history behind it.

What to read in a cathedral? I have a few poems which have religious references in them, me serving Mass, a religious carving (left) I saw in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London etc. I might read some of those.

Then at 8pm in the Cavan Crystal Hotel, Cavan town, there is the launch of the Windows Publications Introductions Series No 9 which included three of my poems. I haven't seen this book yet but if it is as well presented as previous ones then it should be very good. I may or may not have to read in Cavan - there is a Trim launch in a week.

So a full day of poetry today