Well I suppose we can all be ‘holier than thou’ but some of the stuff laid bare by Brian Boyd in his Friday ‘Revolver’ column in the Irish Times ‘The ‘Ticket’ is fairly breath-taking. Bad enough that the likes of Mariah Carey, Beyonce, Nelly Furtado and other ‘artistes’ took millions for performing in front of the Gheddafi family, but worse that now in the light of recent events (such as the death of hundreds of civilians at the hands of the Libyan ‘security’ forces) several of these luminaries maintain that they were booked to play a private show and didn’t know who was ultimately paying them. Brian says: ‘ If you’re offered a million dollars for a 45-minute appearance (and there’s usually a private jet to and from the gig thrown in), it behoves you to find out the provenance of the money’. True, but haven’t you heard, Brian, that artistes are just that: ‘artistes’ and wholly incapable of dealing with monyt matters, so occupied as they are with their art? … No, I didn’t think you’d buy that one… Anyway, it’s good to see the rush to donate all this money to charity. Better late than never.
March 27, 2011
March 24, 2011
Download a podcast of writer Shirley Benton talking with me on Liffey Sound FM about her new book ‘Looking for Leon’, published by Poolbeg Press and available in bookstores now (Eason’s ‘Book of the Month’). It’s a great read and Shirley tells me she has no problem with labels like ‘ChickLit‘ as long as people go out and buy her book and enjoy it! It’s full of bizarre and humorous situations which will make you want to continue to the end. And who’s Leon? Ah now, did you REALLY think we’d tell you…?
You can download the podcast of by clicking on the ‘Radio Archives ‘ link in the Blogroll list on the right-hand-side of this blog (scroll down a bit!). This will bring you to Shirley on my‘Sunday Scrapbook‘ programme (and to many more luminaries). It will take a while to download, then you can fast-forward past the news and sport. Happy listening!
March 23, 2011
It was through reading Raymond Carver I got to reading John Cheever, who was something of a mentor to Raymond. Cheever’s short stories interested me both for their intrinsic merit as well-written short stories and also because their subject was, in many cases, suburbia. It was American middle-class suburbia of the 1960s and quite ‘upmarket’ in comparison to the housing estate where I lived during the 90s (and am still living) which Cheevers’ people referred to (negatively) as ‘the developments’. The houses were a lot bigger, the families wealthier, the jobs they had were more prestigious… say Blackrock, or Dalkey or Castleknock, and I don’t mean the sprawling housing estates, like mine, that appropriated the name because they were built (somewhat) near Castleknock. I mean the bigger houses near the Phoenix Park, home of Irish political dynasties. (Well, one anyway).
But there were similarities. The closeness and the distance inherent in living side-by-side. The ever-present awareness of neigbours watching. The small disagreements over kids. The Washing of the Car on Sunday. The Hosing of the Lawn.The over-indulgence in alcohol (and, later, drugs). The coming home from work each evening– from office and/or professional work, of course. The petty snobberies, the … well, suburbia. It may be that this scenario of detacheds and semi-detacheds has been written about better by other writers, but if so I haven’t found them.
So it is that I always take up a John Cheever book knowing that I and my kind are in there somewhere. As with ‘The Wapshot Chronicles’, ‘Bullet Park’ did not disappoint. I prefer his short stories because he keeps himself on a tighter reign and his writing is therefore more focused. In these novels he allows himself some largess and indulges in that episodic ‘picaresquesness’ so beloved of the Americans since Mark Twain. Being rather simple-minded I prefer my stories neater and in a straight line. But that’s me.
March 20, 2011
Listen to Phil Lynch discuss his poetry and life and times (so far!) in the Liffey Sound FM
programme ‘Sunday Scrapbook’. Download a podcast from the ‘Radio Archives’ site listed in the ‘Blogroll’ section to the right of this blog. It will take a few minutes (depending on your equipment) and then fast forward a little (unless you are a fetishist for out-of-date news and sports results). Phil covers a wide range of personal experience and explains how and (as far as possible) why he came to write poetry and his plans for a collection. A most engaging and honest assessment of his poetic journey so far.
March 16, 2011
Another Seven Towers reading in Chapters Bookshop in Parnell Street, Dublin at 6.30pm, this time on the theme of ‘Green Shoots’.
The evening was MC’d by my good(?)self and I led off with a poem featuring daffodils. Nothing original there but Liz McSkeane had a new short story
and then Maeve O’Sullivan delivered some poems and then some Haiku. By the way, Maeve’s book of Haiku is being launched at the Teachers Club (just up the road from Chapters in Parnell Square) on Thursday 14th of April at 6.30 so make a note! Bernie O’Reilly then provided some of her short poems and showed a copy of ‘Static Poetry’, a new publication in which she is represented. Congratulations, Bernie. Ann Morgan then read some of her work, followed by the multi-talented Oral Martin. Things looked like being a walkover for the ladies so I (being MC) persuaded Karl Parkinson to go on next (you know how shy he is?). His ‘Positivity Manifesto’ went down really well, as always.
Ross Hattaway finished up the evening with some ‘old’poems and some new poems from his forthcoming collection (‘Pretending to be Dead’) and then a terrific poem from a New Zealand poet Meg Campbell. This poem linked a quickening in the womb with the quickening underneath the earth’s crust when an earthquake occurs. Great stuff.
Thanks again to Chapters Bookshop for hosting this event which was enjoyed by all.
March 13, 2011
Listen to Glasgow-born (but now Dublin-based) Liz McSkeane discuss her poetry and prose and the work of other writers in a podcast of her programme on the Liffey Sound FM ‘Sunday Scrapbook’ programme. Download by going to the Radio Archives site. It takes a few minutes (depending on your equipment) and then fast forward a little to hear Liz. She’s full of ideas (as usual) and in great form. And she’s a great reader-out of her own work.
March 10, 2011
Ross Hattaway led off this Dublin Library Week reading at the Kevin Street Dublin Institute of Technology with some poems from his published collection ‘The Gentle Art of Rotting’ and then from his forthcoming book ‘Pretending to be Dead’. Brendan Devlin, the DIT Head of Library Services, read some recent poems, one an Irish/English composition and a very fine one on Anna Akmatova. Oran Ryan, whose work formed part of the library’s visual display, read poems (including ‘For the Want of Something Better to Do in Buffalo’) and some prose. Then three really outstanding ‘performers’ (hate that word!): Raven, with his stunning delivery and then Ashling Fox, who provided a terrific poem about the magic of Tory Island and its inhabitants, among others. (I didn’t know that the people had to fight the beaurocrats to remain on their island– but I’m not surprised). Unfortunately I have no picture of Aisling to put up here but she has promised to come on my radio show soon and I’ll be sure to get one then, She is a really entertaining reader, as is Karl Parkinson who was up next. I never tire of hearing his ‘Ode to Me’. Philip Cohen followed with some short observant poems and I finished the evening with some from my book (‘And Suddenly the Sun Again’) plus some new ones.
Thanks to Brendan Devlin for arranging this reading,and to the Erasmus, and other, students who attended, and to Sarah of Seven Towers for organising and MC-ing.
March 8, 2011
‘Craig- The Boy Who Lives’ by Neville Sexton (Gill & MacMillan 2011) Liffey Sound FM ‘Sunday Scrapbook’ Broadcast Sun.20 Feb 2011
I had the great pleasure last week to interview Neville Sexton about his newly published book ‘Craig, The Boy Who Lives’ (Gill & MacMillan) at the Liffey Sound FM Radio Station in Lucan. The book is about the birth and untimely death at 6 years of age of Neville’s son Craig after a long and debilitating illness. It would have been tragic for his parents he had been born with a serious condition at birth, but in fact Craig seemed a perfectly normal child for his first few years and this makes their story all the more poignant and heart-breaking. The book has many riveting passages but the account of the day that Neville and Barbara got the diagnoses which finally put paid to their hopes is one of those pieces of writing that is quite simply unforgettable.
Neville takes us into the very heart of a family caught up in a calamity that, from the outside, would seem unbearable. Once inside, he takes us along the road with him, Barbara and Craig on their journey towards the inevitable and allows us to share their experiences and something of the family’s pain. And their optimism: because this is by no means a ‘doom and gloom’ narrative—Their second son, Dean, has made his appearance before the end of the book and the sub-title (‘The Boy Who Lives’) refers not only to the way Craig lives in memory, but also to Neville and Barbara’s conviction that Craig still exists somehow in the background of their family.
It’s a humbling experience to talk with people like Neville and Barbara who have been through so much sadness together and it puts a lot of things into true perspective.
A podcast of the radio programme is available on the Radio Archives website at http://www.sundayscrapbook.blogspot.com It will take a few minutes to download (depending on your equipment) and then fast forward a little to get to the start of the programme.
March 7, 2011
The third outing for Seven Towers at the ‘Hammersmith Ram’ in London (Sunday 27th Feb 6.00-8.00pm), MC’d by Eamonn Lynskey, who also read from his collection ‘And Suddenly the Sun Again’ and from some new work, including ‘Heaven’, a somewhat wry look at the prospect of ending up in a very boring ‘paradise. (But is he not aware that, by writing this poem he has committed two cardinal sins: Presumption because he assumes he’s going upwards, and Despair because he is so afraid of what he might find? So perhaps he shouldn’t worry about ending up among the angels?) John Clarke, who also read, made the point that even if you are going down, you have to up first to get the verdict. Hmmm. Yes, John, that is rubbing it in a bit. John read poems about how art interferes with life and a nostalgic piece about three villages in Ireland his father used to talk about. He finished up with one of his verbally acrobatic ‘Jazz’ poems. The absolutely irrepressible Betty Pearse gave, among others, ‘Cocky Cockatoo’ a work-in-progress, semi-autobiographical poems and Jessica Lawrence read from her collections, the second one ‘Ravaging the Urban Wildscape’ being full of exact observational detail. All in all a great night followed by lots of talk, and some drinks. A big thank you to Sam (assistant manager) who reserved the space for us and provided mic and mic-stand and was very welcoming. And to Sarah, who organized from across the Irish Sea. For news of our next outing in the Hammersmith Ram keep an eye on Facebook and of course the Seven Towers website http://www.seventowers.ie
March 4, 2011
The third venue in as many months! Well, that’s the open mic and you can read all about it in
my poem ‘So, Where Do You Expect to Find Poetry? (‘And Suddenly the Sun Again’, Seven Towers 2010). Tonight we were in the very welcoming ‘Twisted Pepper’ café in Abbey Street, and rumour has it we’ll be there again next Last Wednesday next March 30.
Plenty of poetry and prose on display. Stories from Sandra Harris, Eileen Keane (excerpt) and Liz Mc Skeane, Oran Ryan, Oliver Collins and Steve Conway. Poetry aplenty: Phil Lynch, Ross Hattaway, Helen Dempsey, Bob Shakeshaft, Ann Tannam and Eoin Hegarty. Almost forgot Karl Parkinson in the list (and how on earth could I do that?) and two newcomers (our fame is spreading!) Michael Mullins and Mike Flynn, whose earthy poem on the birth of a calf reminded me strongly of Montague’s no-holds-barred poem on ‘Killing the Pig’. Somewhere along the line I read a few myself
What a great night! And such great value too… it’s free, folks. Muchas gracias to Declan for another night’s great MC-ing.