Dublin Institute of Technology, Kevin Street: Workshop, May 2011

Sue Norton (back row,extreme right) and her DIT Creative Writing class

Sorry I didn’t get time to blog this before now! I mean the terrific two hours I spent with the creative writing class at DIT Kevin Street last month  doing a workshop. What a very appreciative group they are and how lucky is Sue Norton, their tutor, to have them on her timetable. We looked through a few of my poems, including ‘Returning Swallows‘ (from my first collection ‘Dispatches and Recollections’, see below) which I find always works very well to give a sense of form and personal content. The groups’ comments and analyses were very perceptive, and so much so that I was able to use the themes and preoccupations of the poem to develop towards genuine on-the-spot creative writing  within the workshop. What a great moment it is when you get to engage actively in creative writing with a group rather than be just handing out hints, tips and prescriptions  and talking about it. Not all groups are so fired up! We finished off with a bit of slam writing and, again, the material produced from the random 5-word shout was really good, and varied between the thought-provoking and the hilarious, with many combinations thereof.

My thanks to Sue for the invite to give the workshop and to her merry band of young men and women for making it work so well.


(for Mary O’Keeffe, Carrowkeal, Crusheen, Co.Clare)

What should I tell the swallows come from Egypt

to my eaves? That they can now no longer

count on reckless hospitality? My

younger neighbours, all grown modern-wise

about house-maintenance and the new emulsion paints

Remark how nests besmirch the white facade

of this my house, new renovated. How

so easily one can rid the roof of all these

singing loafers never did a hand’s turn

all these years around the place but foul

the sills…  Still, all these years to travel

from the Valley of the Kings to Country Clare–

to wheel, dive yearly find the selfsame spot

atop the brick, behind the gutter’s kind

projecting rim. And I, grown all these years

much better at defining miracles, can

merely stand out on the lawn at evening

marvelling at their punctuality, their

single-minded industry, their

self-assurance in the scheme of things.

(from ‘Dispatches & Recollections’ Lapwing Publications 1998, ISBN 1-898472-35-1)

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