This Seven Towers reading at Chapters Bookstore, Dublin, at lunchtime Wednesday 3 November was from novelist Clar Ni Aonghusa and poet Eamonn Lynskey.
Clar read a piece from her novel ‘Civil and Strange’, which covered some aspects of Irish life
which were prevalent in the recent past, such as: a curious shrinking away from the sexual act and some really extraordinarily cruel and unfeeling attitudes towards women who suffered miscarriages and stillborn births, not to mention the callous treatment of their unfortunate babies. It is hard nowadays to credit such infamous views, but they were widely held and part of ‘our’ culture until at least the mid-sixties. Clar also made reference to ‘the marriage bar’, by which a woman HAD to retire from her job on becoming married. Unbelievable? Maybe, but that’s the way it was then. Anyway, to brighten us up a bit after that particular trip down a rather dark memory lane, Clar then read some attractively descriptive poems dwelling on more congenial memories, one about her grandmother and one about the experience of living on the Great Blasket Island for a while when she was a schoolgirl. She was well prepared for it, she told us, having read Tomas O Criomhthain’s ‘An tOileanch’. And what a great book that is! Must dig it out again.
I read ‘The General Takes Command’, a new poem about David Petraeus arriving in Kabul July 3 this year
to see what can be done about that dreadful ‘war’ (or, more accurately: ‘hopeless mess’) in Afghanistan. Petraeus had some success in putting together the ignominious ‘exit strategy’ that got American troops out of Iraq (though there is still a lot there) and so there is much is expected of him in Afghanistan. Then I read ‘Black Saturday‘, a poem which is about the London Blitz of 1940 and the problem of seeing war as a kind of hero-sum game. My ‘Colloquy in Mile End Park’ (a conversation I had with William Wordsworth one morning: What a great place London is!– You never know who you might meet) went well with’ Black Saturday’ since Mile End Park in East London is itself a former bomb site. I then read my ‘Early Christian Chronicles‘ which covers much the same ground as that dark period in recent Irish history that Clar had referred to in her reading: I tried to give a somewhat humorous treatment to it– Not easy, considering the ferocious and uncharitable attitudes then prevailing toward human failings . And, like Clar, I tried to brighten things a little by finishing with a few of my (by now) infamous ‘fast-food’ haiku.
Cats in the Garden
stalking birds all day.
I really must get out more.
Well, a rather SERIOUS reading overall. We promise loads of jokes next time around… And thanks to Oran Ryan for a great job as MC. Next ‘Chapters & Verse’ lunchtime reading is on Wed. 10th Nov. with Neville Keary and Catherine Ann Cullen.