Celeste Auge'

Two readers for the poetry seesion today at 1.15 pm at Chapters Bookshop. First off: Celeste Auge’ who remarked on the effect on her poetry of being something of an outsider, her father being Canadian and her mother Irish. She read a poem called ‘Lost’ which featured this theme. But then she gave a poem about Galway, touching on the different changes a city goes through and yes I did wonder myself where all those wine-drinkers and homeless went while Eyre Square was being dug up. And are they back now? These poems and several more from her collection ‘The Essential Guide to Flight’ were well worth the trip into town from Lucan. More about Celeste at http://sites.google.com/site/celesteauge/

Orla Martin followed with a selection which included ‘The Rising’, something of a study of the ‘organised chaos’ of sharing a bedroom at home with a sbling who is… em… rather untidy. Celeste had spoken of the importance of  ‘relationships’ in her poetry and so too with Orla in a piece called ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and also in her last one (today) called ‘Phobic’.  I liked particularly the one about her work-day life called ‘For a Living’ which had a line in it somewhere about Baggot Street that reminded me of Eliot’s one about the crowds going over London Bridge (‘so many’): her poem caught the same humdrum weariness, I thought.

Orla Martin

This post should be with the pictures I put up last entry but I am gone bonkers trying to fit it in with them, so here it is as a separate post!… The ‘theme’ of the evening was ‘Stars’ and Bob Shakeshaft led off with some new poems, including one very descriptive ‘Silver Bay’. Eileen Keane read part of a short story involving an astrologer… well, ‘stars‘, you know… I managed to push a poem about sunlight into the evening’s theme and then one about Gary Glitter. (He was a ‘star’, right?). Helen Dempsey did a lot better with a great poem called ‘Looking Up’ (at the stars). Oran Ryan read a prose piece from the latest ‘Census’ anthology (published by Seven Towers, and some new poems. And then Ana Maria Crowe Serrano gave us ‘Quechua’ from her ‘Hemispheres’ collection, published by Shearsman Books (www.shearsman.com) and ‘In the Andes’ from the same collection, the latter being very much in the evening’s theme. Ross Hattaway finished up with a selection from his collection ‘The Gentle Art of Rotting’, and some new stuff. Very good evening, very good attendance, and certainly did NOT conform to my ‘Haiku’:

Five poets here tonight.

Audience of four.

OK: nine poets here.

Bob Shakeshaft
Eileen Keane
Oran Ryan
Anamaria Crowe Serrano
Helen Dempsey






This reading, organised jointly by the DIT library and the Seven Towers Agency featured 2riters from the agency and from DIT. Brendan Devlin (DIT librarian) gave a number of accomplished pieces, including a fine poem ‘Opy-Days’ from which the title of the reading (‘A different kind of knowing’) was drawn. One of the DIT lecturers, Philip Cohen confessed to ‘coming out’ again as a poet (after a lengthy period in hiding) to parade a series of witty Haiku (but I think he was practising all the time in secret). Seven Towers was represented by Ross Hattaway, Anne Morgan, Anamaria Crowe Serrano, and myself…


 I don’t know whether I should call Seamus Cashman a ‘Seven Towers’ writer, but I’m sure he won’t mind my including him in the list. He gave us some of his ‘no-holds-barred’ poems on the middle-east conflict and if you want to hear top-class Political Poetry, look out for Seamus. The Creative Writing students and their tutor (Sue Norton) provided the bulk of a very receptive audience. Special thanks due to Brendan Devlin as MC and genial host for the evening.

More photos…


Anne Morgan


with some indications as to delivery ‘a la mode’


(Please strike a pose consonant with

the dignity of the lines you are about to deliver)

It is an ancient law enacted by

Aosdana that every Irish Poet be moved

to write about Newgrange once every year

for competitions, or to be declaimed

to multitudes in a monotonous poetry voice

(like this) while standing in the pouring rain

beside the ruins. Said poets should write, nay, sing

about the silence of her ancient stones,

the roundness of her ancient stones, the hardness

of her ancient stones, the ancientness

of her ancient stones, the stoniness of her ancient

stones. And how it is they yearly speak

to us (No, no! Read that again, and this time

lift the voice on ‘us’) … And how they yearly

speak to us across millenniums, nay,

millennia (Pause. Significant pause,

look up, stare at the audience, look down. Sigh).

And how the solstice penetrates her passage

yearly on the front page of ‘The Irish Times’.

And how the nation yearly feels the need

to re-discover prehistoric roots.

Or prehistoric Truths. Or. Booth.

And how the Nation casts its gaze back

to those ancient days (more feeling!) …

to those ancient days when men were men

and ate their meat raw, sucked the bones,

and dressed in off-the-shoulder furs, went clubbing

for their women, and had a deep relation-

ship with stones and knew the stars and how

to roll enormous rocks on poles (small ‘p’)

up from the Boyne Valley. Knew to carve

involved and complicated rings and loops

with their ancient tools, and knew the Mystery

of Life Itself, (pause) and how to chart

the sun (look up and pause again) to make it

strike along this passageway. Today

it can be done at any-old-tourist-time

thanks to the Board of Works installed a light

to creep along the floor when it’s switched on

like this: (*!) Excuse me, sir, but could you move

your foot a little… Thank you. (Bloody tourists!)

Now behold! (step back and gesture towards

the floor) The Sacred Light that lit the dark

before old Moses was a boy in britches!

See (step back again and mind your head)

The Sacred, Sacred Light that every year

attracts ten thousand weighty poems, replete

with abstruse references to the Druids, each poem

ten thousand times the weight, and more, of Newgrange,

and all her ancient stones. (*!)… Mind your heads

on the way out and please don’t help yourselves

to free souvenirs. It costs a fortune to replace

these old stones with new ones every year.

And there’s a bucket for tips at the entrance. Don’t fall over it.

Gregoir O’Duill

Three writers today. Gregoir O’Duill gave some of his Donegal poems (from his collection with ‘Doghouse’ books) and some from a forthcoming book from Seven Towers to be called ‘Gracenotes’ deriving from his experiences in Monaco where he had a residency recently. Clar Ni Aonghusa readtwo excerpts from her recently published novel ‘Civil and Strange’ and Pauline Fayne read some ‘vintage Fayne’ plus some new stuff. I liked particularly Pauline’s ‘Bogeyman’ poem which I thought quite chilling in parts. 

Clar Ni Aonghusa
Pauline Fayne


This biography of Jane Addams, social reformer, pacifist and champion of women’s rights, is worth reading, though it’s not easy reading. I don’t think this is the fault of the author but is rather a reflection of the complexity of her subject.

Jane founded Hull House, a kind of hostel for the poor and homeless in Chicago, and devoted much of her life to managing it and directing its associated activities. She was also a tireless campaigner for a non-violent approach to world problems and was also immersed in various ‘suffragette’ movements. Throughout all this (and more) she found time to write several books outlining the social problems of her city, and society in general, from the point of view of those on its lowest rungs. And she was still writing, though in poor health, up until her final 75th year. Born in 1860, she died in1935, having received the Nobel Peace prize in 1930. The fact that Katherine Joslin manages to give a detailed account of all this in 261 pages took some skill, not to say genius.

There are some fascinating insights into the history of, and attitudes towards, women’s rights in the United States. Jane herself was of a comfortably-off background and did not see that she should not from time to time escape for a decent holiday, or have a nice house where she could retreat when things got too tough to take. She got some criticism for this, but she gets none from me. Without those respites I fear she would have burned out long before the age of 75. She certainly would not have been able to write.

Of all the vicissitudes she endured the one that affected me most was the way she suffered during WW I because of her pacifist views. She, and others of the same viewpoint, were reviled and all the good work she had been doing, and all her championing for social reform were forgotten overnight in the heat of ‘patriotic fervour’. She took very badly the desertion by Woodrow Wilson who, it seems, had been preparing for war all along while giving the impression that America would stay neutral. That is not the impression I had of him up to this reading, and so I will have to have another look at this man.

A fascinating, very sobering, very serious, read.