A new month brought new poems at Chapters Bookshop today at 1.15pm, and some ‘old’ poems too, although every poem acquires new life when read out since every artwork only lives in being read, heard, seen, touched… smelled? Don’t know about that last one, but it’s possible.
I was first up, and I read from my recently published ‘And Suddenly the Sun Again’ (Seven Towers, 2010). ‘Days Things Don’t Work Out’ is a poem that dates back to my wanderings around Dromore Wood in Co. Clare, a place comparable to Wordsworth’s great Lake District retreats as far as I am concerned. Then ‘In the Museum of Occupation, Riga’, a rather pessimistic view of how much we can actually appreciate our terrible conduct towards each other in the past and present and maybe change that conduct. Then ‘Too Much Talk about the Muse’, something of a swipe at poet pretensions. Finally, ‘Entre Sardana i Sardana’ (‘Between Sardanas’), a response to a painting by the Spanish artist Xavier Nogues (1873-1941) which depicts the various goings-on while the band takes a break between dances. It’s great to have a chance to read out these poems, to liberate them from between the covers of the collection, so to speak.
Pauline Fayne was next with a selection from her forthcoming ‘Mowing in
the Dark’, new and selcted poems, to be published shortly. ‘Five Decades’ was something of a life-summary, followed by ‘Summer Fever’ and ‘Dad’s Wallet’, this last a micro-examination of the contents of a wallet, reflecting the last years of a man’s life. This is a very moving poem. I liked also ‘Fill Your Glass’, about (in Pauline’s words) ‘conversations with the dead’ and which reminded me of my own ‘Towards an Understanding of People who Talk to Themselves’ (in ‘And Suddenly the Sun Again’). After some more poems, she finished with ‘Memories’.
I hadn’t heard Ross for some time and he obliged with some old and new. ‘Singing in Choirs’ had a poignancy for him as he had just been to a funeral, he told us, and ‘Summer New Years’, with its backdrop of New Zealand’s involvement in war, is always worth hearing again. Both poems are from his collection “the Gentle Art of Rotting’. Then he read his newer ‘The Church of the Bad Shepherd’ and ‘The Must’, this last ostensibly about elephants but just as much to do with young Irish males hvering around available young Irish females (he said, referring to the usual recent Dublin City Centre Leaving Cert Results hijinks). He finished in his usual style of handing us a ‘gift’: that is to say, he read a poem by another poet, this time by a fellow New-Zealander, Sam Hunt, ‘Ice on the Jetty’.
Another enjoyable lunch-time session in Chapters. And great thanks to Sarah for doing MC.