This is an Open Mic Nite I’ve been meaning to get to for some time and finally landed last Wednesday. It’s a Reading Nite that takes place four or five times a year, organised by Mari Gallagher and the Clane Writers Group, and is held in the Liffey Arms in Newbridge. It’s an excellent venue with plenty of space and great acoustics. The start time of 8.00 pm was observed and this will come as a relief to those of us who can’t abide hanging around until after 9.30 (or later!) engaging in
chit chat and looking at our watches. Great talent on show, with plenty of interesting, amusing and downright rivetting material coming and going behind the mic. An elite force of Seven Towers personnel invaded and gave their all… well, some it. Steve Conway, Oran Ryan, Bob Shakeshaft and myself.(Eileen Keane was there too, but being a local, she doesn’t count as one of the ‘elite force’. Sorry, Eileen, but rules are rules…). I flogged my book ‘And Suddenly the Sun Again’ unashamedly (AND sold a few). During the evening I heard a great piece from Una Ni Cheannaigh drawing a comparison between the Inca sacrificial victims and the ‘Disappeared’ persons in Ireland and elswhere. There are two poems on this (terrible) subject in my book, one based on the people taken away and killed in Argentina (‘Street Demonstration, Buenos Aires’) and one which tackles the Irish version of this horror story, ‘Oh Come All Ye True Born Irishmen’. I therefore thought it fitting to read out my poem which deals with the abduction
and murder of a seventeen-year-old boy during the ‘Troubles’. I then lightened things with my new ‘When People Say’ and one from my book entitled ‘Thank You for Holding’. This is my practice: I engage with my listeners in serious vein when I start and then, depending on how serious (or gloomy) the material is, I end up on a lighter note. It’s only fair, I feel. This night, because of the horrendous nature of the subject, I changed gear immediately after the poem and read lighter material. There’s no easy way to get across serious material without ‘gloomifying’ people, and, consequently, turning them off, but a mix of material goes a long way towards having people really listen. All in all a really good night, really well organised. I will definitely go again.