Niamh Bagnell has been running ‘Sunday Scrapbook‘ at the 4.00pm slot on Lffey Sound for some time now and has welcomed to the mic so many poets, scholars, artists, commentators… Life’s too short to continue this list! Her easy relaxed manner has encouraged them to reveal much about themselves and their preoccupations. Listening to the programme over the while I am struck by the way that, as well as being entertaining radio, it has become almost a ‘confessional’ for people engaged in various creative endeavours, a chance to reveal influences and motives and take stock of developments so far.

Niamh is moving out of the slot for pastures new and I hope I can continue her style of interviewing and allowing people to open up and give our listeners a quck glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes while the poem, the play, the film, the painting — or whatever artefact — is being assembled.

My first programme had as guests two film makers, Richard (Richie) Conroy and Eimear O’Kane. Richie, together with Mark Hodkinson, has written over 70 hours of TV and in 2006 set up ‘Snowluke Pictures’. He has lots of cresdits to his name by this stage but maybe is best known at the moment for his series of short films about ‘Fran’, a wannabe football manager, whose hapless aventures are aired on Setanta TV and are also available on DVD. Health Warning: If  you don’t want to split your sides, don’t watch this video!

Eimear is an IFTA nominated film producer with several successful productions to her name and it was very interesting to get a producers ‘business / commercial’ view of the film-making process. Apparently, being ‘creative’ and ‘full of ideas’ is essential to the business of making films… but is not enough! Eimer was able to clue us in on the importance of budgeting and accounts in the whole process, as otherwise things can get quite messy (Why didn’t our last government have people like her in it?)

I thought it a well-rounded programme giving an insight into the complexities of film-making. But I hope you don’t get the impression that it was a ‘heavy’ discussion. Our guests were full of good humour and anecdotes about their adventures so far in the world of the big (and small) screen.

You can download a podcast of the show the Radio Archives site at It will take two or three minutes to download and there’s a bit of music at the beginning before the ‘Divine Comedy signature tune. Be patient. It’s worth it.  You can also catch up with ‘Fran’ on Setanta TV and also on DVD.

Once again a thank you to our guests, and also to Niamh for all her help in easing me into my new role as ‘Sunday Scrapbook’ host on Lfffey Sound FM.

Just my kind of book. Sad, witty, caustic, disgruntled… but scarifyingly honest. First and foremost it is a book delving into the character and characteristics of  Hans Schnier, a professional clown, absolutely flat broke and confined to his apartment by (among other things) a knee injury From here he forces himself to phone acquaintances to see if he can drum up a loan. I say ‘acquaintances’ because by now he has fallen out with practically everyone he’s ever met. The circumstances of these ‘fallings-out’ as retailed by Hans are simultaneously both hilarious and sad.

Except for a few opening pages (his arrival at his apartment) and some at the end (when he goes busking) the apartment is where the ‘action’ stays for the rest of the novel. But don’t be put off. I usually find this kind of introspective, one-scene-only type of book hard to read and I  don’t continue beyond the 50 pages or so I always allow before I fold. However, Boll’s book is different. ‘Captivating’, I’d say, without the usual twee associations that usually go with that word. The downside to this ‘captivation’ of the reader is that it gives him/her a feeling of claustrophobia, though this may be intended by the writer. And I never knew there was such a range of religious groupings in Eastern Germany (the book was first published in 1963): both Catholics and Protestants get short shrift from Hans. Also the Communists, so you see what I mean about him having fallen out with everybody.

Two women dominate the book, though absent from it. Hans’s former partner Marie, who has left him for someone else, and his sister Henrietta who was killed in the last days of the war. Marie is particulary an obsession and in this the book remeinds me of that iconic novel  ‘The Catcher in the Rye’  (by JD Salinger) where  the main character is similarly troubled by an absence. The self-confessional style also reminds me of Salinger’s hero,  Holden Caulfield,  with his very personal angst-filled narrative of events.

Absolutely recommended.

Download a podcast of the Liffey Sound FM 96.4 ‘Sunday Scrapbook’ programme in which Anne Tannam discusses her new poetry book ‘Take This Life’ . Go to to find ‘Radio Archives’ and click on the ‘Ann Tannam’ entry and, when the download window comes up, close the pop-up advert and click to download the podcast. It will take a few minutes, and then you’ll have to fast forward a couple of minutes through the news, but it will be worth it to hear… The Fabulous Anne!


And another series of themed readings at Chapters Bookstore got underway last Thursday

Catherine Ann

with ‘Love and Chocolate‘  as the focus and with a star-studded cast headed up by Catherine Ann Cullen who gave us a poem on chocolate (and the making of it). Then she read from her Doghouse collection: ‘Cicatrice’ (about a love that didn’t go as planned) and one she wrote for her husband about meeting at the Chester Beatty. So romantic! Pauline Fayne began with one from her book with (not-so-romantic) title of ‘Killer of Fishes’, followed by one I’ve heard before and never tire of: ‘Poor Little Poet Man’, Pauline’s mini-essay on misogyny — It always bring to my mind that era when the poet world was a ‘Men Only’ enclave.


(Remember that Leaving Cert poetry anthology of yore that had only ONE woman poet in the whole book!). Ross Hattaway promised to read about Love and apologised about the Chocolate bit. He read from his ‘Gentle Art of Rotting’ and also a new poem ‘Skating’. Karl Parkinson finished the evening with his usual style: no shortage of love poems here, with also a running commentary on their genesis. Great to hear again his ‘Ode to Me’ with its breathtaking arrogance and narcissism. And the women love him for it! (Even Pauline Fayne!). How does he do it!

Somewhere in the line-up I obliged with a few love poems, including one called… ‘Love Poem’. A highly original title, doncha think?

A very entertaining evening, ably MC’d by multi-talented Oran Ryan.

Not in Chaplins of Hawlins Street ‘due to circumstances beyond our control’ so if you turned up there and had a lonely night… sorry, but unfortunately these last minute changes of venue are a part of what makes all Open Mics so wonderful since time began. It was Doyles Pub,  just around the corner,  on January 26th last … and the February Last Wednesday open mic will be in the Bad Ass Cafe in Temple Bar. Anyway, the year got off to a fine start in Doyles with a great range of readers.

Myself and Ross Hattaway, Glen Hyland and Ann Tannam started the proceedings. Ann’s book, ‘Take This Life’ is being launched at the Exchange in Dublin next Saturday (6th: at 6.00pm) and so she read a few from it: ‘Curriculum Vitae’, ‘The Great Escape 2’ and recited the lyrics of a favourite song by Randy Newman, ‘In Germany Before the War’. This is a fine collection and well worth buying. So please come along to the Exchange on next Saturday, listen and buy!

Other great reads followed Ann: Noel O’Brian with some vintage sonnets, really well-wrought,

Noel O'Brian

on ‘ageing’ and other matters;  and then Jim Rooney, Hugh Doolin, and Steve Conway. Then Sandra Harris with another tight narrative, beginning ‘That bitch! How dare she ditch him…!’ so you just HAD to keep listening. Phil Lynch had a poem entitled ‘Progress’ but he meant it ironically, and Damian Kennerk, Bob Shakeshaft and Oran Ryan finished the

Sandra Harris

evening, Oran with a particularly apocalyptic piece about a strain of virus that made people eat each other. Well, great literature is not all fun and games you know.

Apologies, by the way, to Damian Kennerk whom I have been calling Damian Clarke in this blog up to now.