Another round of open-micery and lots of great stuff on display. Ann Tannin’s story about the changing face of Dublin struck a chord with me, being a Dubliner of some vintage. Helen Dempsey had a poem bringing back

Ann Tannin

 the awful memory of Ann Lovett and that Granard tragedy. Eoin Hegarty had another set of ‘microcosmic’ poems in which insects are not just insects and Jim Rooney brought along his octogenarian prostitute again (poetically speaking). Never thought I’d ever meet a greek called Xenophon, but yes the open mic saw him read (no, not the Anabasis) a piece about relationships between mainland Greeks and Islanders. Steve Conway gave us another piece of his book ‘Shiprocked’ and the horrors of becoming

Steve Conway (Pre-Beard)

a newsreader at short notice and, a fresh face, Alan Maguire gave a very interesting description of Bangalore, at least from what he saw on while working there. Basically a quite factual piece, it was illuminated with a lot of understated humour. Anne Morgan and Bernie O’Reilly gave their usual short, pithy contributions (though this time Anne had a longer piece on that interesting figure Elizabeth Barret Browning). Ash Fox is back again with some positively volcanic offerings absolutely full of energy and so it was up to Ross Hattaway to come up directly afterwards and calm things down with that great ‘Election Manifesto’ on behalf of his Prose Party (‘tough on rhyme, and the causes of rhyme’). Bob Shakeshaft gave a new poem on ‘Fear’ and Inez Dillon some wry poems about ‘Love’. Eileen Keane finished offf her short story and Karl Parkenson (who guested on ‘Ra’ last evening[Tuesday]) gave a series of accomplished pieces. I really liked his ‘Butterfly Poem’ and thought the accompanying hand gestures were terrific. Oran Ryan gave an unusual take

Inez Dillon

on Mr Hyde (‘Dear Jeckell…) and Delta O’Hara finished off the evening with another piece from her ‘telephone-sex call-centre’ series (She tells me she is working to pull it together as a one-woman play and I’m glad to hear this). Somewhere in the line-up I

Oran Ryan

 gave a few poems, including one written shortly afer I came out of hospital recently (‘Bon Secours’) and some off-the-wall haiku. If I’ve left anyone out, sorry and tell me. But what a night!. If you’re not at these last Wednesdays… I pity you.

I think I’m beginning to see that one either likes Bukowski or hates him, and so with his work. Depending on your view, he’s either a dirty old man, extremely male-chauvenistic, outrageously misogynistic, or a straight-forward chronicler as life as it is lived, warts and all, with little (or no) time for pretensions and hypocrasies. The truth, I suppose it will be said by fence-sitters, ‘lies somewhere in between’, but I reject that sort of old anodyne hogwash (I’ve been reading a lot of Bukowski) and plump for the latter description.

This book would make a great catalyst for another 6th form weary debate on ‘What is Pornography?’ If the graphic depiction of the sexual act, enacted in a wide selection of its possible scenarios, is pornography, then some parts of this work might be classed as  pornography. But why always the hang up about sex? Personally I find much of what passes for ‘video games’ (so popular with 6 year-olds upwards) to be extrememly pornographic in that they enact violent, mind-warping scenes in which the consideration for humanlife is non-existent.

OK. Enough soap-boxing already. This book is by turns very funny, very moving and (for me) enlightening on just how it is that Hank Chinasky (aka Charles), despite all the things he does wrong as regards ‘his’ women still emerges as human, and even ‘humane’. As a novel (and it is very episodic but just about qualifies for the genre) it is rather repetitive and a bit sermonising here and there. But it is really enjoyable to read and… Is that not enough?

This is the Virgin Books edition of 2006.

Ross Hattaway.. such great ties (no, not 'thighs'... 'ties'!)

Two readings at which I ‘performed’, or ‘delivered’, or ‘said’ my poems– The terminology is getting quite complicated these days. I shared the first reading with Ross Hattaway who read some pieces from his ‘Gentle Art of Rotting’ collection (Seven Towers 2006) but mostly from other pieces he is preparing for his next. These included some acerbic political pieces modelled on the ‘manifestos’ we get from the various political parties at election time, some which were quite hilarious ( I mean Ross’s pieces, but now that I think of it, you could apply ‘hilarious’ also to the ‘manifestos’). It slips my mind just now what it was I read because shortly afterwards I had an unexpected stay in hospital and by the time I read again with Orla Martin I had some ‘hospital poems’ to ‘perform’, or ‘deliver’… (see above). Included was a piece entitled ‘Bon Secours’ and let me take this opportunity to say what a great medical team is out there in that hospital on Dublin’s north side. Orla did a great gig, giving

Orla Martin

us her ‘When I Grow Up I Want to be a Gay Icon’ piece and also (among others) a little piece called ‘Crimson’ which is full of striking ‘s’ sound effects (there’s a word for that but I can’t think of it just now). All in all, the readings were very enjoyable and MC’d as usual by the redoubtable Sarah. Next ‘7 Towers’ Dublin event is next Wednesday 7.30pm Cassidy’s Bar in Westmoreland Street. See you there!

Caused a ‘scandal’ when published in 1955 because of its depiction of a Rome few Romans, or Italians generally, wanted to see depicted. It’s the story of Ricetto, a boy from the slums with few prospects of a career other than petty thievery and spells in jail, and his friends similarly placed. There is no ‘plot’ in the sense of a constructed series of events leading to a conclusion. There is a series of events but they flow naturally from one to another rather than being ‘constructed’. And there is no ‘conclusion’ other than Ricetto fades out of our view with the conclusion of the last chapter, like he would in life itself. The whole feel of the book is part documentary, part real-time narrative and you really do get the sense of moving around with these youngsters from place to place in a Rome you could map out accurately from the directions given by Pasolini. I’ve never read a book so topographically accurate (besides Ulysses!) and exact in its descriptions and I can say that because I know Rome a little and can follow the boys in some of their journeys around the city.

Whatever be its ‘category’ as work, as a read it is compelling. This was a ‘lost generation’: the children no one cared about, especially in a post-war Rome where politics was not just corrupt– It embodied corruption. Pasolini’s descriptive skills are astonishing. The overall impression is that of an obscene waste of human potential. The underclass he describes is firmly trapped in poverty and an easy prey to death, through disease or violence, with spells in prison along the way.

Uncompromising stuff.