First thing we did was drink a glass in mourning for the demise of Cassidy’s of Westmoreland Street which closed suddenly during the week and necessitated our 7 Towers Last Wednesday Open Mic relocation to Chaplins nearby in Hawkins Street. Turned out to be an excellent venue and with acoustics so good that most people didn’t need the mic.
All the usual supects were there, plus one or two newcomers. Oran Ryan
started us off with the opening from his new novel followed by Steve Conway with a piece from HIS next book. (not to be outdone!), which was folloowed by a new face, Susan Roe who read an excerpt from HER new book (‘The Unknown’). All these books! And it takes me so long to write one short poem! (But then, poetry takes so much more concentration, right?). Phil Lynch gave two poems with a heavy ‘political’ content, one about the terrible ‘Granard’ case some years back, and another to do with the Saville enquiry, with eachoes of Wordsworth’s ‘The Sloitary Reaper’ adding poignancy. (I always like to hear Wordsworth appreciated). Then Ross Hattaway: He awoke one night convinced that he was dead. Walked the house at 2 in the morning trying to stay alive… Don’t ask. On a more serious note, his ‘Song from Normandy’, an elegy for 90,000 dead, was very impressive. Next, Bob Shakeshaft, with his continuing focus on people living (or surviving ) on the margins of society, and the Sandra Harris with her direct and in your face treatment of very raw sex. And then (after a long absence from The Last Wednesday in Dublin… well, he lives in New York) Quincy Lehr. I clapped in the wrong place during one of his long poems, but since poets appreciate ANY kind of applause he wasn’t too hard on me. He also had a poem deconsrtucting that type of annoying film we call ‘Art House’. He took his analysis to the French art house type, and these are maybe the best of their kind at being pretentious, but the
field is really wide open. Helen Dempsey was up next, asking herself why she had so many poems about birds. Patrick Chapman read, among others, the poem published in ‘Census’ (The second Seven Towers Anthology) ‘The Golden Age of Aviation’, and Damien Clarke gave a really good poem (‘Elements’) recalling a friend who died. Anne Tannem gave her ‘Woman in the Mirror’ poem (paradise lost and regained) and Karl Pakinson gave his ‘Mushrooms and Vodka’. Eileen Keane left us wondering what came next in one of her stories… we have to wait a month it seems. The evening finished with poems from Eoin Hegarty, Chrisodolous Makris (I thought his ‘Impressionists’ poem was very good) and a newcomer, an Australian poet called MelissaPetrakis with poems mourning her mother’s death.
Somewhere in among all this talent I gave my ‘Visiting Dachau’ poem from my recently published ‘And Suddenly the Sun Again’ collection. Not much sun about this poem, written some years ago and first published in ‘The Stinging Fly’. Its basis is the realization that, for some things that happen, the old cliche comes into its own: some things are indescribable. ‘There are no words’. It’s one of the themes of the book. Indescribable, yes, but the attempt must be made, and, in the attempt, maybe we get a little nearer to the truth of the matter. It’s a fairly long poem, and NOT cheery and so I lightened things up with a recent piece called ‘When people say…’ in which I try to decode the usual politenesses, such as ‘If I offended you, I apologise’ (Watch that ‘if’). Fairly ordinary stuff, but gives few laughs. And people should be allowed at least some laughs. Even during poetry evenings.
If you are not coming to this open mic you are missing out on A LOT of great stuff. You have been warned.