Plenty to see and hear tonight (Tuesday 25th) at ‘Ra’ under the usual genial tutelage of Raven. Feature poet Stephen James Smith performed and also gave one from Yeats (first time I’ve heard ‘Easter 1916’ partly sung!) and also from Pat Ingoldsby and Christy Brown… Christy has become a bit forgotten, I think, and this is a shame because of his achievements, given his disabilities, though these have nothing to do with the quality of his stuff which is top class by any standard, as in the one Stephen read (‘Dunce’) following his own ‘How Is She?’. Lots of other entertainment too: Raven himself with his ‘Meat’ (poem I mean!) ‘priced and placed mid plastic garland’ in the butcher’s window. Songs from Circa O’Shea and another racy chapter from Delta O’Hara’s (still being written) novel about life in the phone-sex industry. (Well, maybe it’s a novel .. or a long narrative poem… whatever it is, it sure is interesting listening. Great humour). Delta is scheduled for ‘Electric Picnic’ too, please note. Haven’t seen Aishling Fox for ages, who gave us a Spanish poem with English translation. Heard some really good rap-style poetry from Harry Muschops. I read ‘Little Boy and Tricycle’ (see ‘My Poetry’ page) from ‘Shop’ magazine, which is produced really well by John and Hilary Wakeman in Cork (www.theshop-poetry-magazine.ie) and deserves to be more publicised. (It’s available in Dublin from ‘Books Upstairs’, ‘The Winding Stair’ and The Rathfarnham Bookshop in the Shopping Centre). Also I read some of my own polemical stuff about war and whether or not ‘commemorations’ are good things. Or very bad. I incline to think they are bad.

Another 7 Towers night with lots of stuff on show. I arrived late (don’t ask) and missed some people but caught Jim Rooney with a poem about Brien Friel and one about an ‘Angel Poet’, both very witty. I liked also Mary Wogan’s poem ‘As She battled Cancer’ (about Farrah Fawcett, recently deceased) which had that clear-edged, no frills, language that appeals to me. Jane Robinson’s poem about the extinction of a particular species of monkey also appealed to me. It was really well done. I have written on similar themes myself. Eileen Keane gave us part 2 of a story she started a few open mics ago (‘Tea at the Hotel Glengoorly’), so we finally found out what happened to the heroine (I am NOT, of course, going to tell you). Also on offer was Stephen Jame Smith who performed his work, including his very moving ‘How Is She’, and reminded us that ‘Glor’ on Monday nights at the International Bar (9.00pm), is an open mic well worth a visit. Desmond Swords read a piece about ‘default poetry’ in which (among other themes) he made a few lunges at the idea of there being a ‘correct poem’. I read some more polemicals about ‘The War on Terror’. It’s much on my mind, looking at the daily carnage in Afghanistan that has replaced the daily carnage in ‘Iraq’ in the TV newsreels. MC for the night was Declan McLaughlin, with his usual panach.

Read with Liam Aungier at Chapters (1.15 Wednesday 19th August). Liam had new stuff, very witty, including a poem with some reference to the ‘Carry On’ films. I thought no one else in Ireland still had some interest in these. I find some of them are so awful one can’t help watching them.

Liam Aungier at Chapters
Liam Aungier at Chapters

I read a few ‘war poems’, including ‘I’m Sorry for the Grunts Get Killed’ (see the ‘My poetry’ page) from ‘Shop’ magazine.

Reading in Chapters, Thursday last (13th August) on the theme of ‘animals’. Giant pandas (Catherine Ann),

Catherine Ann Cullen
Catherine Ann Cullen

a childhood memory of a frightening tiger (Alma),

Alma Brayden
Alma Brayden

and a memory from Radio Caroline (provided by Steve) of ‘little animals’ which proved very uncomfortable on board ship.

Steve Conway
Steve Conway

 I contributed my poem about my eye-opening excursion into the Ecuadorian Rain Forest and the cruelties inflicted on animals by the ‘tourist industry’. Also I read William Blake’s ‘Tyger’, one of my absolutely favourite poems of all time, which has lost none of its force since it was written in 1792.

TVIVF
TVIVF

The ‘Poetry Unplugged’ open mic at ‘The Poetry Place’ in Betterton Street in London was as good as ever last Tuesday (4th August). It takes place every Tuesday and is hosted by the redoubtable Niall O ‘Sullivan with great aplomb. Five minutes only for each poet, and Niall keeps the rule very strictly. How else would you get through 30 poets in an evening? Anyway, if you’re NOT into elitist, mumbling, high-mass style ‘readings’, this is the place for you!

Great variety. And a high standard throughout. If you are ever in London on a Tuesday evening go along to this event (nearest Underground station is Covent Garden). If you want to read, you must get your name on the list between 6.00 and 7.00pm. The mic starts up at 7.30. Cost is £5, but £3 if you read. Expect some acerbic (but friendly) comments from Niall and an enthusiastic reception from everyone. Ages range from youngsters (like myself) to ‘old hands’. The five-minute rule adds great pace to the event (no dull moments!) and there’s a 15 minute break between times. Absolutely recommended.

And by the way… Niall is a very fine poet himself with many publications and you can find out more about him (and how he feels about the importance of the open mic) at www.niallosullivan.co.uk

Our American guest today at the Seven Towers reading in Cassidys in Westmoreland Street was Lynne Knight (www.lynneknight.com) who read some stunning poems. One concerned a dream about Barak Obama which had very arresting imagery and seemed to work in the logical/illogical way that dreams do. Another, about the Irish famine, was very moving and grew out of her discovery of her Irish roots, of which she is very proud.  I liked her quiet, insistent style of delivery. Other readers were Oran Ryan with a piece from one of his novels, Ross Hathaway with a new poem about killing your husband (?!) and myself with my ‘Dublin’ poem. Steve Conway (he of Pirate fame) did MC. A good time was had by all.

Oran, Lynne and Ross
Oran, Lynne and Ross

 

... and Eamonn!
... and Eamonn!

The following is the list of poems included in my poetry page. The dates given after the poem titles refer to the date of posting on this blog. The actual date that the poem was published is given below.

Little Boy and Tricycle (’The Shop’ magazine no. 30: Cork. Summer 2009).

I’m Sorry for the Grunts Get Killed (’The Shop’ magazine no. 30: Cork. Summer 2009)

Early Dispatches (from ‘Dispatches & Recollection’. Lapwing Publications , Belfast, 1998)

Sonnet: Morning Pours God’s Plenty (‘New Irish Writing’, ed. David Marcus, The Irish Press, 1987)
 
When I am Become Again (‘New Irish Writing’, ed. David Marcus, The Irish Press, 1985)
 
Is it Possible to be Elegant on a Bicycle in Traffic in the Rain? (The Oxfam Calander 2009)