This reading was on the theme of ‘Dublin’ (it being so near ‘Bloomsday’ and all that) and Karl Parkinson led the way with a long poem ‘City’ poem (didn’t quite catch the title: think it was ‘Song of the City’) devoted to a warts-and-all portrait of our ancient town. As he said in his intro, there is not just one Dublin in his head but many. His poem was full of the people of Dublin, and the imagery mixed the beautiful with the ugly, the despairing with the hopeful. As one expects with Karl, it was all spell-binding, and even if it seemed at times as if the ‘warts’ were a bit too plentiful, one had to ask oneself why am I expecting some kind of sanitised cityscape? There are far too many uglinesses around for anyone to become complacent about our capital, and the disappearance
of the Celtic Tiger hasn’t helped. And far too many sleeping rough and begging in the streets. Bob Shakeshaft was next and, in a new departure, sang one of the lines in one of his poems. He also gave his ‘Molly’ poem about poverty and some new pieces. Like Karl, he wasn’t into ‘romaticising’ things. Neville Keary read on the theme of coming back to Dublin after an absence, and also had poems and prose shot through with a sense of Dublin’s history, reminding us for instance of ‘Narcissus’ Marsh who gave us that great library we Dubliners are all very proud of, even if we’re never in it. I liked to his remarks about ugly monuments and his parting remarks about Sean Lemass
who, he said, was one of Ireland’s great Irishmen. I agree. Bernie O’Reilly, the master (or mistress?) of the short poem gave us an idea of life on a housing estate in the 70s and several short poems including one with the absolutely fantastic lines: ‘…the black shoes sat on the counter/waiting for a pair of feet’. Great! Ross Hattaway read from his work for his new book ( tentatively entitled: ‘Pretending to be Dead’) and also that poem called ‘The Must’ (about elephants mating… Ross is a man of many parts!). Oran Ryan obliged with an excerpt from his novel ‘The Death of Finn’ and Eileen Keane gave a piece from a short story. I read a
few ‘Dublin-centred’ poems from my just now published book ‘And Suddenly the Sun Again’ . I was a bit surprised to find there were so many in there that were heavily redolent of my native city and I do not know why I was. I think it was because this was the first time I had them in front of me all gathered together in the book. Weird experience. But a very enjoyable session in a very relaxed setting.