Tag Archives: Jane Clarke

On Shedding Layers of Trepidation

It’s tomorrow. TOMORROW? Eek! I have done all the preparation I can, now I just have to wait and see if anyone turns up. I had no idea a book launch could be so nerve-wracking, or is it wrecking? Or racking? Who cares?

My book of 60 poems, ‘Beyond the Green Bridge’, materialised earlier this year, before I won the Hennessy, and was as much about me getting my name out there as anything. Well, that worked a treat, and I had a first launch at Strokestown International Poetry Festival in May. I’m not sure that many people noticed – there were around 80 poets doing their thing over the course of that weekend, so I was easy to miss. But I was/am OK with that.

This time, it’s just me, at Boyle Arts Festival, introduced by Jane Clarke (and I’m not going to gush, everyone knows what a poetry star she is, and how lucky am I to nab her!).

If you are curious to know more, here’s a link to the event at Boyle Arts Festival. Come along, if you can, 4pm, Thursday July 26th 2018 in King House, Boyle, County Roscommon. Free admission. I might need some folk to make up the numbers. You might even like to buy the book – it’s a snip at a tenner. And like they say in that ad, when they’re gone they’re gone. I’ve half a box left, and that’s the lot, there are no plans to print more.

Meanwhile, if you can’t come along to hear me waffling on about how I came to write ‘Fur Coat and No Knickers’, you may like to watch  a video instead. This is at  Coole Park, Lady Gregory’s place in County Galway made famous by her friend WB Yeats. I couldn’t miss the opportunity to do a reading in such a poetic location, so here I am, sandwiched between some proper poets who haven’t noticed an imposter in their midst… This Water Has Passion  (I’m at about 20:55, if you’re in a hurry. And ‘Fur Coat’ isn’t included, sorry.)

Now. Trepidation. That’s a good word, isn’t it? Sounds like there should be a poem in it.

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Making A Show of Myself

 

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On stage with the Hermits…

It’s kind of weird, but the older I get, the more ‘look at me’ I’m game for. Where on earth did that come from? Aren’t I the shy, retiring type? Well apparently, no I’m not!

When one of my poems was shortlisted for the Boyle Arts Festival Poetry Competition back in July 2013, I was too cowardly to read it to an audience and the judge, poet Geraldine Mills, did the deed.  It was an ambitious pantoum, ‘Blackout’, which needed careful delivery. Geraldine did a wonderful job, but I was left kicking myself for not getting up there to read it myself; poets have a hard enough time finding an audience, and right there had been a large one on a plate.

Fast forward to the New Roscommon Writing Awards in November 2014 when poet Jane Clarke (bless her!) chose two of my poems for the shortlist, and I was expected to read them out loud. I remember thinking that I just had to keep reading to the end and then sit down, which is exactly what I did. No-one died and no-one jeered, and I rather liked the rousing applause which followed.

My late father was a college lecturer, well used to an audience, and in his later life he used to give talks about beekeeping, Austin 7s and other wondrous things.  He advised me to speak up and then shut up, which was sound advice for when I used to give talks myself. (Healing crystals and their uses was one of my specialities, just in case you’re wondering.)

But talking about something you know about is a million miles away from sharing something you’ve written, something personal and intimate like a poem.

So I set about curing myself of the nerves involved in reciting self-penned poetry.

I turned up to the Word Corner Café  in the Dock Arts Centre in Carrick-on-Shannon and mumbled my way through a poem about my mother, and again, no-one died or jeered.  So I did it again, and then again. Eighteen months later, I’m now one of the stalwarts, attending every second Tuesday of the month to regale whoever turns up with some of my words, and often those of other writers, too.

We get through an eclectic mix of opinion, poetry, stories and songs and I’ve found it to be wonderfully liberating.  Sometimes the gathering is quite small, but no matter. We’re there again on December 13th 2016, from 6pm until 7.30pm, when anyone interested in words can come along and listen or take part. I intend airing another poem about my mother and paying tribute to Leonard Cohen.

hermits-dec-16The Hermit Collective, a band of writers, artists and musicians who put on pop-up shows in the west of Ireland, gave me a break too. They’re well used to my poems about my mother (‘Fur Coat and No Knickers’, which is now in the latest Crannóg Magazine, got its first public airing with the Hermits).

We’re out again next week, on Thursday, December 8th at 7pm in Tricky McGarrigles, O’Connel Street, Sligo. Its free – and a great evening’s entertainment is more than likely, both for the performers and the audience.

And I might even read a poem that’s not about my mother.

 

Poetry Please

more poetry swanseaIt’s Poetry Day Ireland tomorrow (April 28th 2016), when you’ll hardly be able to avoid poetry as it pops up all over the place.

I will be leading a poetry workshop in Roscommon Library (as will Jessamine O’Connor and Catherine Ryan).  The fun starts at 10.30am, when I’ll be looking at what makes good poetry (very subjective!) and revealing some of my favourite poems. Of course for the year that’s in it, the theme is ‘Revolution’ and we’ll take that as one of our writing prompts – but I intend to squeeze every drop of meaning from the word, as well as the obvious.

My personal poetry choices are fairly mainstream – I like Wendy Cope, Seamus Heaney, Roger McGough, Emily Dickinson, Billy Collins, Mary Oliver  (and many others).  I like poets who use clever language to make me think – but I also like to be able to understand what they’re getting at. Roscommon poet Jane Clarke is included in my selection – her first collection ‘The River’ was published last year, and it is now one of my favourites.  (She’ll be reading at Strokestown Poetry Festival on Sunday morning, alongside excellent poets Gerry Boland and Margaret Hickey).

Tomorrow, I will be reading some of my own poems at 12.30pm, still in Roscommon Library, as will some other writers’ groups members, showcasing some of our work with the hope of encouraging would-be writers to join one of our groups.

In Ballaghaderreen Library there’s a display of poems by local writers, which includes me (I think!) but I won’t make it there for the public reading at 6pm because I’ll be on my way to the Dock in Carrick on Shannon to join the Word Corner Café regulars to read some of my poems there at 6.30pm.

Then there’s an interesting evening ahead in King House, Boyle, with music, art and poetry, starting at 8pm. Poet Breda Wall Ryan will be reading, Helen Grehan will be singing and playing, there’ll be some of Jessamine O’Connor’s work, Gerry Boland will be reading, Siobhan Wilmot will be singing, there’ll be art by Emma Stroude, harp and words by John Wilmott and Claire Roche, and there’ll be music from some of the Hermit Collective regulars, Gregory Daly, Barry Stevens and Dee Andrews. Should be an excellent evening.

Finally, on Saturday afternoon, I get to hear how I’ve fared in the Strokestown Poetry Festival’s Roscommon Poets’ Prize – you can read the six finalists’ poems here .

PS The picture is of an otherwise blank wall in central Swansea, South Wales, birthplace of Dylan Thomas  – they love their poetry there!