Chapters & Verse: Lunchtime Poetry at Chapters Bookshop Wed. July 21

It’s Wednesday! It’s 1.15! It’s Poetry!…  So it must be Chapters Bookshop in Parnell Street, Dublin. And it is! And it was…  an opportunity to hear some very fine poetry from two very fine poets organised by the Seven Towers Agency:  Catherine Anne Cullen and Pauline Fayne. Catherine Anne read some from her collection ‘A Bone in My Throat’, (Doghouse Books) and some new ones. ‘The Roundabout’ dealt with childhood memories, especially those of hot summers when the tar melted on the roads… Remember them! Especially after the last few we’ve had. (It began to rain outside as she was reading). ‘Hedges’ treated of that vanishing phenomenon that used to be so aboundant between fields, and ‘Joyriders’ brought us back with a jolt to the citys: some people get prizemoney and champagne for driving fast cars around at great speed, while others get jail. I had heard her fine ‘Contraband’ poem before about her mother’s brown bread and the difficulties of getting it through customs and was glad to hear it again. She finished with an experimental poem  called ‘Jazzy Surrey Sunday’ which has terrific sound effects mimicking the ‘Surry with the Fringe on Top’ Rogers and Hammerstein song. It’s great to hear someone trying out something quite different and daring and new.

As if that wasn’t enough for us, next up was Pauline Fayne, who is on her fourth collection (‘Mowing in the Dark’, Stonebridge Press), and who started with a ‘reminiscence’ poem called ‘Flying in the Breeze’. Ostensibly a poem about her grandmother’s death, the untertow has more to do with how soon we are forgotten when we pass on. Very skillfully done. A poem called ‘Waiting’, full of cityscapes, followed and ‘Poor Little Poet Man’, a rather sardonic piece centered around the figure of a male, Irish, rather  misogynistic poet. Every male poet who hears this must be afraid to ask Pauline whom she has in mind… in case they get their own name back! ‘Copycats’ gave a look into the ways in which women’s roles are largely pre-ordained by social class from an early age. This poem ended with the line ‘… soon she will be old enough to hold an iron’. She finished up with ‘Dad’s Wallet’, ‘The Woman who Talks to the Walls’, and a new poem ‘A Desperate Man’.

I like very much the UNAFFECTED delivery of these two poets: no lengthy pompous introductions, high droning tones, or ‘dramtic pauses’. Just straight talking, and natural flow, allowing the poems enough room to escape the page (and the author) and be themselves. I could listen to these two poets any time for any length of time. And that’s not something I say to ALL the girls!.

Eamonn Lynskey

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