Eamonn Lynskey's Poetry and Reading Blog

September 3, 2011

Seven Towers ‘Last Wednesday’ Open Mic Aug 31

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Names out of a hat instead of our usual suave MC Declan McLoughlan (holidays)But we

Liz McSkeane

managed OK, with lots of top class stuff on display, too much to note down, but here’ s a few I found really good: Top of the lot must be Liz McSkeane‘s story ‘Mrs Gordon’, which harks back to her (Liz’s) Glasgow childhood. What a terrific story. Also very impressive was Sandra Harris with her story about Jesus going for a job in his local supermarket – Very funny, with just the right trace of satire. As for the poets, must mention Mary Wogan, now becoming a welcome regular reader in the Seven Towers events, and Phil

Mary Wogan

lynch who did full justice to his ‘Guernica’ poem. Ross Hattaway produced his very humourous ‘tanka’ poems and Steve Conway gave some of his forthcoming book ‘Running Away from the Circus’. Evan Costigan and Sean Ruane, newcomers, also impressive.

So many others (Ann Tannam with her ‘Paradise Lost’ poem… Oh the innocence! – Delta

Ross Hattaway

O’Hara with her phone-sex drama… Oh the not-so-innocence!) too many to mention in a quick blog. This Seven Towers monthly open mic remains for me one of the very best open mics I’ve ever been at, and I’ve been at more than just a few in my time. Starts early, finishes early, is regular and well-organised, and always great stuff and friendly atmosphere. What more do we want? Well, I guess we would all like to be paid a substatial fee for our contributions… but that will have to wait!

August 17, 2011

‘Poetry Unplugged’ at ‘The Poetry Place’ Betterton Street, London. Tuesday Aug.2 2011

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Another great Open Mic night at ‘The Poetry Place’in Betterton Street, London on Tuesday 2

Niall O'Sullivan

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.

July 29, 2011

Seven Towers ‘Last Wednesday’ Open Mic 27th July

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Another Seven Towers monthly ‘Last Wednesday Open Mic’ arrives 5 minutes aftet the last one.. or it seems like that! Plenty of talent on displayin the Twisted Pepper Cafe in Dublin. Oran Ryan led off with a new prose piece, followed by Helen Dempsey, Roger Hudson and Steve Conway,  also with new work. Steve’s piece was subtitled ‘All I Learned about Radio I learned by Screwing It Up, but of course he was being modest (?). A very emotive poem from Ann Tannem took us all by surprise, she being usually more understated in her work. But the subject (child abuse) deserved every bit of her direct treatment. Very sharp stuff. Silence followed. Then great applause.

Phil Lynch gave some older poems and some new and Sandra Harris gave a story which (I thought) derailed itself a bit into another story. One was a searing satire on

Sandra Harris

the seemingly never-ending stream of people who think they can write as as opposed those those who actually can (and do) which was really good, but which then turned into a satire on the X-Facor TV programme, also very good but, to my mind, a different story. More work then from Liam Ryan, Neville Keary and  Bob Shakeshaft. Had to leave after Eileen Keane’s story ‘Boy on a Window Ledge’. (When is Eileen’s story collection coming out? It’s time). Apologies to the rest of the great cast of ‘The July Seven Towers Last Wednesday’. The next one in August will arive in about 10 minutes from now…

May 6, 2011

The Seven Towers April ‘Last Wednesday’ Open Mic at ‘The Twisted Pepper’

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This basement home for the Seven Towers Open Mic in the Twisted Pepper Cafe seems just the thing. Only thing is: the acoustics are so good no mic is needed. So how can one have an open mic without… a mic…? Well, one can, and very well can one. OK, my incoherence aside, we had good night of readings and performances with Susan Walsh from Wyoming making her debut ‘Last Wednesday’ and Helen Dempsey with a rather grim offering about “Judgement Day’ (she said she was inspired by Declan McLoughlin [our genial MC] saying last time that the world would end on May 21… I heard him say it too but I haven’t been writing poetry about. Just buying up tinned food and praying…). Great to see Andre Kapoor back again with his off-by-heart lyrics (I hate him), Ross Hattaway very serious with pieces on war and its needless sacrifices and a newcomer Raphael (I’ve forgotent his second name) with writing about the


recent Japanese earthquake. This prompted me to read my ‘Kasoturi Jidai’ poem (from ‘And Suddenly the Sun Again’) which deals with the devastation suffered by Tokyo during World War II.  Alan Garvey also gave some poems and afterwards exchanged books with me and I have been reading his ‘Terror Haza’ collection (Lapwing 2009) since with great interest. Very accomplished, hard writing. Many other great contributions on the night and, as I have said before, if you are not coming to this event every month… there’s no hope for you.

April 8, 2011

Seven Towers March ‘Last Wednesday’ Open Mic

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Well, no mic, but not needed in the room we have now at the ‘Twisted Pepper’ cafe in Abbey

Tony Gilmore

Street in Dublin. Smallish, but acoustically very good. I got to start off the evening and launched into my ‘To The Memory of Edward Tenison‘ poem (included in my ‘And Suddenly the Sun Again’ collection from Seven Towers, 2010). This poem was written some time ago when St.Mary’s Church (just up the road in Mary Street) had been resurrected as a DIY store and I wrote it after reading a great deal of John Betjeman, so there are the usual traces of influence that stays in the mind after reading a master craftsman. I’m not particularly interested in old churches, certainly not as interested as Betjeman, but there was something poignant about the way the magnificence of St Mary’s internal architecture (old plaques and all) had been made to vie with modern DIY merchandise that caught at the heart.

The Twisted Pepper Open Mic

Great fare tonight. Very impressed with Tony Gilmore‘s analysis of comedy and  Ann Tannam’s poem on Irish attitudes towards the weather, which was both comic and rueful. And so much more good stuff. Also it seems to me that there is not so much doom and gloom poetry around as there once was. I think the recession is cheering us up?

March 7, 2011

Seven Towers Open Mic at the London ‘Hammersmith Ram’ Sunday Feb 27th

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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

7 Towers ‘Last Wednesday’ open mic at ‘The Twisted Pepper’ Feb. 23

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The third venue in as many months! Well, that’s the open mic and you can read all about it in

Sandra Harris

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.

February 2, 2011

7 Towers January ‘Last Wednesday’ Open Mic

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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.

December 1, 2010

7 Towers ‘Last Wednesday’ Open Mic Wed 24 2010

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The very last ‘Last Wednesday’ of the year. No open mic in December because, cliche-ridden, we’ll all be busy filling ourselves with pudding and turkey and having Good Cheer. Well, that’s the hope anyway, irrespective of Brian & Brian’s budget.

Damien Clarke kicked off with ‘Elements’, a poem to a departed friend which he read before

Damien Clarke

and is very poignant. Good Haiku too, but I think he should read these twice to allow them to ‘dawn’. His series of philosophical observations, excellent in themselves, tend to become an unconnected series of maxims when delivered one after another. Philip Lynch gave a series of short love poems and then one that took a swipe at Joe Duffy’s radio-callers, especially those mostly concerned with their own unreconstructed nimby-ism (Not In My Back Yard: infuriating as they are, I find them to be great listening!). Roger Hudson read from his recent collection from Lapwing, including one about how the Xmas lights start going on in October. (I myself saw Xmas stuff in the shops this year before Hallowe’en!). George Sweetman’s poetry took a look at war and he did a really good (serious) parody on Rupert Brook’s’ famous ‘If I Should Die..’. Sandra Harris gave another accomplished short story in the (in my opinion) O. Henry vein. Later Liz Mc Skeane gave a story ‘Innocence’ which reminded me of Joyce’s ‘Evelyne. And Eileen Keane read the conclusion of her story about that lady with the B&B and the peculiar guest. Such talented lady short-storyists! I was thinking of doing one, but the jizz is gone out of me for it after what I heard tonight! Ross Hattaway gave, among others, his very witty ‘The New Cooking’ and some ‘tankas’, that 5-7-5-7 line form of poetry writing. Must have a shot at that myself. If Ross can do it…

Oran Ryan gave his ‘Prudence Antipode’ poem, which is intriguing. I think he’s changed the

Ann Tannem

title to ‘The Revised Standard Life of…”, but anyway it is something of an elegy and great to hear. Ann Tannem announced that her collection, ‘Take This Life’, is imminent and gave us a selection from it. Her unscripted performance was quite affecting, given the human, and humane, content of her work (‘… for years and years I prayed to a false God…’). Her understated delivery always adds to the effect. Definitely must get that collection. (Great ‘houndstooth’-style coat too!). Steve Conway regaled us with a piece from his incomparable ‘Shiprocked’ (noting that, like Brian Cowen, he too had survived the raging seas. Maybe a bit too soon to say as regards Mr Cowan, Steve?). Donal Moloney read an extract from a novella and Karle Parkinson gave (among others) his ‘Positivity Manifesto’, David Murphy gave a poem on Jim Larkin and Martin Egan had some really attractive pieces circling around that eternal concern: just what the hell IS ‘love’ anyway. One he dedicated to his friend Brendan Kennelly. In some ways these reminded me of Patrick Kavanagh in his later ‘Grand Canal’ years. I thought Martin’s work very moving.

I gave my poem ‘Deposition’ on the drug-related scenario in Dublin. Then I did some ‘R-word’ poems, just to cheer people up. In fairness, I did take a somewhat humorous look at things like the bail-out and the international bond-markets and so I think people… er… enjoyed the poems. But maybe it was all forced laughter? Dunno. But what else can one do but keep smiling? (inanely)

See you-all in 2011 on January 26th at 7.30. Until then… Happy Xmas! And don’t drown in the mulled wine.

November 12, 2010

Clane Writers’ Open Mic in The Liffey Arms in Newbridge.Wed.10th November

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Some of the audience at the Liffey Arms


Time again for the Clane Writers Open Mic in the Liffey Arms in Newbridge. Lots of talent on dispaly. Some humorous stories to start things off and then back to earth with a very affecting story from Jean Crampton entitled ‘Bread’. A truly grim scenario which dealt with sexual abuse. We’ve heard/read so much about this topic recently you’d imagine the story might have been passe, but no. She managed a riveting narrative which kept everyone listening. Some more stories then in the humorous vein from Joe Murphy and Patricia Whelan and then… poetry! (my own particular poison of choice). Debbie Thomas gave us a DH Lawrence inspired piece called ‘DH you were wrong’ … a battle with a cockroach… Don’t ask! Liam Power gave a piece about ‘Arthur’s Day’ and there was story from Francis Brady. Una Ni Cheaalaigh had four very attractive poems, one of them based on an installation by Cornelia Parker which would make you want to see the artwork. She finished with a sardonic piece on Ireland’s current economic woes, a theme which surfaced a few times tonight (I think there was a couple of people from the IMF in the audience). Breda Wall Ryan gave some poems (‘The Snow Woman’… a life in two verses) and Eileen Keane gave a memoir piece. Mervyn Ennis (all the way from Tallaght: Virginia House Writers’ Group) gave a story and Oran Ryan read a poem and then a story (?) that had the cadences of a poem: ‘The Portable Prudence Antipode’. Sounded great. Martin Malone followed with a piece on the Curragh Wrens, those unfortunate camp-followers who endured so much and Mari Gallagher (who organised the evening: Thanks, Mari) gave some poems, one of which involved a Seamus Heaney lost notebook. There were more contributions from Dominic Hogan and Eleanor Dillon and many others. Steve Conway finished up the night by giving us a story about a balloon flight and I gave some of my own poems on Ireland’s Economic woes (see Una Ni Cheallaigh, above), including ‘Fresh Green Shoots’ from my collection ‘And Suddenly the Sun Again‘. I tend to write light-heartedly about our economic woes, which proves I’m living on another planet. Well, OK. It’s nicer here.


MC for the night: Rita Crampton


A round of applause for Rita Crampton who did a great job as MC. And again I commend an Open Mic that breaks the readings into four or five people at a time. No matter HOW addicted to ‘Literature’ one is, the mind goes numb after four or five people and needs a break. Or at least mine does.

If you haven’t been to the Clane Writers’ night, you’re missing out.

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