Poet Asling Fox gave me an interview some time ago on my radio show on Liffey Sound FM (Behind the Lines’: every Tuesday 8.00-9.00, available on the web: see our website) which proved popular as a podcast. Some problems developed re accessing it so I have put it up again on this blog and you can access it by clicking HERE. It was a great interview with Aisling in great form (as always) and explaining here view of poetry and music and the potential for both art forms to work in unison.
August 30, 2011
August 22, 2011
Was always a fan of le Carre and continue, like many others, to marvel at the way he survived the ending of the Cold War, that is to say, the ending of the scenarios for much of his earlier work. In retrospect it was foolish to think that his inspiration would dry up just because there was now no Soviet Union to ensure an abundant supply of ‘moles’ and ‘spooks’. He just shifted gear a little so that he could produce books like ‘Single & Single’, ‘The Russia House’ and so many more. His characters continue to be rather more (or less) than he allows to meet the reader’s eye until he judges the time is right for revelation. And the sheer fanaticism of his ‘Intelligence’ investigators has not diminished: Brock (in this novel) echoes his old Cold War counterpart Smiley. I never liked novels with lacunae of fulsome poetic description. I like this direct, taut writing and startling turns of plot. A vast population of characters. And an opening chapter that hauls you bodily into the story. Recommended.
August 19, 2011
Click HERE to listen to poet Helen Dempsey talk about her work on Liffey Sound FM 96.4 in the ‘Behind the Lines’ programme with Eamonn Lynskey. Helen is a member of the Ardgillan Writers Group and has lots to say on the importance of interaction with fellow writers. And can a study of Theology help in the writing of poetry? Yes it can! (Hello Barack). Listen to Helen expound on this subject and others with perceptive comments and a lively sense of humour.
August 17, 2011
Another great Open Mic night at ‘The Poetry Place’in Betterton Street, London on Tuesday 2
August, hosted by the genial Niall O’Sullivan … I read my rather grim poem ‘Deposition’ about Dublin’s drug-related gangland killings (a rather grim subject), but then lightened things up a bit with my ‘Coming Back’ and ‘When People Say’. Lots of really good stuff, including poems in memory of the late unfortunate Amy Winehouse. Donal Dempsey had one about retrieving his soul which he had given away in mistake to a charity shop. Janice Windle read her poem ‘Agency Teacher’ which is full of black humour. I liked Betty Davies’s simple poem about London and I feel very sorry to see the mayhem that occurred just after I returned to Dublin. I like the city a lot and always feel good there, having been a resident for two periods of a few years each. I liked also John Paul O’Neill’s ‘The Pacific Ocean’, which he gave without a script. Niall informed us of upcoming celebrations due to ‘Poetry Unplugged’now reaching it fifteenth year. 15 years!!! OMG! Tempus fugit.
August 14, 2011
The theme was ‘Arrival & Departure’ at this Seven Towers reading in Chapters Bookstore in Parnell Street in Dublin. Karl Parkinson set things going with that ‘Mountjoy Jail’ poem of his which features earthy descriptions of a chap being released from the clink, a fellow you would NOT like to meet up a dark alleyway. His recent New York tour (… tour. Like that, Karl?) inspired his ‘New York Fragment‘ in which the line ‘..my Brooklyn Lager tastes like any other lager…’ just about sums up the NY hype. Great stuff, as always.
Bernie O’Reillygave some homely poems (to settle us down after Karl), one called
”Wisconsin’ and another in memory of that late great Dublin ‘character’ The Diceman. Also one about a floating candle she put some effort into making and then… it just sailed away from her! … That’s life, Bernie. Steve Conway read his very sensual ‘ballon story’ ‘Bristol Awakening’ and Bob Shakeshaft gave poems entitled ‘Dying Embers’, ‘Adam’s Soil’ and from the Census anthology ‘It Is Autumn Full’, a very evocative, pastoral piece. Oran Ryan, ever modest, didn’t bring anything but borrowed Bob’s Census to read his ‘1947 Prelininary Design for a Universe Circling Spaceship’ an enigmatic journey into a future world.
I tried out my latest ‘The Canals of Mars’ plus‘The Coming Back’
and (another new) ‘Railway Crossing’. I found a few things in the last-named which need tightening-up. All in all a very enjoyable session, MC’d with the usual aplomb by Sarah Lundberg. The next themed reading will be on Thursday Sept 15 at 6.30 on the subject of ‘Animals’. Come along and join the fun.
August 12, 2011
Click HERE to listen to a podcast of Radio DJ and writer Steve Conway talk about himself and his
work on my ‘Behind the Lines’ programme on Liffey Sound FM 96.4. The programme goes out live on Tuesdays 8.00 to 9.00pm on FM and on http://www.liffeysound.ie Steve discusses his very successful book ‘Shiprocked’ (‘Life on the Waves with Radio Caoloine’), an account of his times with the pirate station. He has lots to say about his various experiences as a rookie radio presenter and the adventures associated with his early times on air. Anyone who has read Steve before, or has seen him perform his work live, will know that there are many good laughs in store in this programme. He also reads from other work and has lots of advice for how to get published. Well, he can tell you how HE got published… and every little helps!
August 9, 2011
Click HERE to listen to poet Pauline Fayne talk about her new book ‘Mowing in the Dark’ on the Liffey Sound radio programme ‘Behind the Lines’ and many other matters to do with her poetry. Our discussion ranges widely over her life and times and her writing over the years, going back to her grandfather, a contributor to Dublin’s long-disappeared ‘Evening Mail’ newspaper, and who’s writings were an initial inspiration for her work.
August 7, 2011
Click HERE for a podcast of another fruitful event for Seven Towers at the Hammersmith Ram in London on Sunday July 31. Not so much an Open Mic as a ’round-table’ reading. Declan Dempsey, Janice Windle,
Serena Van Sickle and myself trading poems and discussing them. Serena’s poetry really remarkable: her ‘The Empty Field‘ full of anguish and regret. Also she read ‘The Old Spring Wall’ and ‘Merge’ , this last also remarkable for the way a ‘landscape’ poem can become more than just a ‘landscape’ poem when the writer manages to enter into the landscape herself. Donal, in ‘Adagio‘ provided a poetic account of a rather different type of workshop he attended recently. Yes, there’s a need for something of a new departure for ‘workshops’. Too many of them lack the ‘hands on’ element (or maybe I have had more than the usual share of empty experiences?) Janice Windle came up with a poems about gravity (‘Anti-Gravity’) and, …er … nail-biting. I read ‘When I am Become Again’ and ‘At the Museum of Occupation, Riga’ from my book ‘And Suddenly the Sun Again’ (avaialble from http://www.seventowers.ie or from amazon or from me email@example.com). Still some copies left…
All in all a very entertaining and enjoyable session which, hopefully, we can repeat in the future. There is scope for this kind of relaxed event where one doesn’t have to keep up with the (often) frenetic pace of content in an Open Mic and in which one can pause a little and examine at some leisure what has just then been read. PLUS the poet is on hand to’ answer for themselves’. So, not so much an Open Mic as an Inquisition …
Listen in to the podcast (above) for 20 mins entertainment…
August 3, 2011
During May last (2011) I stayed in the Heinrich Boll Cottage on Achill Island, thanks to the Heinrich Boll Committee which awarded me a two-week visit. It’s a wonderful place, with all needs catered for and is situated in a fairly remote part near Dugort (Dumha Goirt) village on the northern part of the island.
Wild, untamed landscapes, stiff winds and vertical rains… Well, for the second week. The first week was fairly good to very good. But, no complaints. The whole experience was wonderful. Really got down to some work on items I have been trying to get a handle on for some time. I was delighted to give a reading in a local hall (The Cyril Grey Memorial Hall, which is a very tastefully converted schoolhouse) just down the road from the cottage. Terrific acoustics. Not that it was all work and no play (you know me better than that): took the opportunity to explore into the past with the forlorn and haunting deserted village and megalithic tombs on the side of Sliabh Mor. One evening got to hear the ‘Gongmaster’ give a performance on Tibetan bells (yes, Achill is full of wonders).
There’s a bookcase in the cottage with signed copies from people who stayed there over the years. So much great stuff to read. Kerry Hardie, Paul Durcan, Ciaran O’Driscoll, to mention a few of my favourites, but best of all (sorry, guys) someone I hadn’t read before: Michael Coady. His ‘All Souls‘ book (Gallery Press) is really good. It’s poetry and story and memoir in the one book and is one of the most accomplished books I’ve ever read. His account of trying to trace back the roots of his family is fascinating. And although I’m always suspicious of book blurbs (especially blurbs written by poets about poets) I agree with what Ciaran Carson said about ‘All Souls’ in Poetry Ireland Review:
I have read it from cover to cover three times and dipped into it on many other occasions. I will read it again for its passion, its wit, its pathos, its reverence, its irreverence, and the integrity of its many connections.’
My thanks to John Smith, John McHugh, Sheila McHugh and all the other people who stayed in the background (out of their great respect for the Great Writer Wrestling With His Devils) but were always on hand if help were needed. All in all it was a splendid and unforgettable experience and much recommeded to anyone fortunate enough to be offered the opportunity. And thanks too to all the ‘islandmen’ (and women) who were so friendly. And of course a special thanks to Heinrich Boll’s family and Mayo Co. Council) who made possible this scheme for artists and which is a significant addition to our country’s cultural life. Further informationabout the Heinrich Boll Foundation and the cottage is available at http://www.heinrichbellcottage.com