Another Seven Towers event at lunchtime in Chapters Bookshop in Parnell Street where Ross Hattaway and Eamonn Lynskey read from their works.

 

Ross Hattaway

 

Ross went first with some from his ‘old’ collection (‘The Gentle Art of Rotting’) and a sample from his forthcoming ‘new’ collection , the title of which he has not yet decided. It may even be called ‘The Untitled Collection’ he says. Always joking, Ross! (Or is he? Sounds like a damned good title).  He read ‘What It Is to Be Late’, ‘Rag for the Left’ and ‘ The First Law of Robotics’, the last-named being such a ‘manly’ poem that is bound to make some male listeners feel a bit inadequate. ( Moi?– Never!). He then gave us some new stuff, one of which ends intriguingly ‘…walking the house in the morning, just to stay alive”. Then some Tankas and ‘Vicar Street Dream’, a poem inspired by a visit to see Jack L perform. Finally he gave a poem from John Sexton’s book ‘Vortex’ (Doghouse Books).

 

Shameless Exhibitionsist

 

Winston Churchill, when he had to step in to take over in any emergency always represented himself as taking on the job as a matter of duty, whereas in reality he did it because he was a life-long exhibitionist and would leap at the chance of any bit of limelight. Well, I’m the same and when one of the poets today didn’t make it, who else into the breech but me (as a matter of duty of course!). And since the airwaves were recently so full of the bravery of the Chilean miners (and brave men indeed they were) I gave a few from my collection ‘And Suddenly the Sun Again’ which were poems on the theme of miners and mining. My father was a miner in Lancashire and in Wales for most of his working lifetime and my poems ‘Exiles’, ‘Times I hear of Lives Lost Underground’ and  ‘Honister Crag’ try to tell something of his story, and the story of miners generally. I finished off with that poem in praise of those who go to poetry readings to support a poet they know personally, even though they think he’s daft (Moi?– Never!). That poem? ‘His Despairing Friends’… Everyone pities the poet…

I believe everyone enjoyed themselves today. I certainly did! Thanks again to Chapters Bookshop: great hosts. And to Sarah: great MC!

 

Prepared to be scared! ... some of the audience at the themed reading

 

Because it was near Hallowe’en the theme was ‘Ghosts and Ghouls’ for this Seven Towers reading in Chapters Bookshop in Dublin last Thursday. Steve Conway led off with the story of a ghostly encounter on the old road from Dublin to Cork (I suppose the M50 is far too dangerous for any kind of havering these days?). Pauline Fayne followed with an early draft of a ‘witching’ poem and some others, also quite eerie. Bernie O’Reilly had a number of short poems, including that one about writers being like vampires, coming out at night, and one with the refrain ‘There is a Haunting Here’. And Bob Shakeshaft with ‘Bleak House’ and ‘Stairway to Heaven’ was right on the theme.  Karl Parkinson included a long poem about cosmic wars and that poem which landscapes Dublin, with the

 

... suddenly Karl saw a ghostly hand stretching towards him...

 

‘Prophet’ emerging at the end with his tambourine and mantra. Eileen Keane had a short prose piece ‘Forbidden Fruit’ about a chap being pulled into a picture he’s viewing in the National Gallery. (You have been warned!). Also a piece she (modestly) calls a bit of ‘rambling thoughts’,  but which I call a very interesting essay, on the origins of Hallowe’en and other related matters. I like her low-key matter-of-fact way of delivering her work  without histrionics and hysterics. Finally, Oran Ryan delivered a really gripping story about the slide into dementia.

 

Eileen Keane

 

I was very short on Ghouls, but contributed on the theme of ‘Ghosts’ by reading my longish poem ‘Statue Park’, from my book ‘And Suddenly the Sun Again’, which is full of the shadows of my communist/socialist past. And I don’t quite know why it is that people find my life’s travails so amusing. I thought this was a serious poem when I wrote it, but any time I’ve read it out my audience seems to think otherwise. Well, the audience is king, I know… but still and all…  Must be the way I tell ’em?

Thanks again to Chapters Bookshop for the space and to Sarah for doing MC. It was a great session, with so many people having loads of stuff on ghosts and ghouls and hauntings and eerie things in general. Does this tell you something about writers? Maybe Bernie is right…

The Lucan Festival 2010 Poetry and Prose Reading was held at 7.00pm at the on Wednesday 22nd Sept at the Festival’s art exhibition at the Douglas Newman Good offices in Lucan Village. Writers Lucan joined writers from the Seven Towers Agency to give a varied and entertaining night.

Local writer David Mohan read a couple of poems, including one highlighting the

David Mohan

bizarre names of Chinese takeaways and a dark suburban poem entitled ‘Quiet’. Ross Hattaway read from his book ‘The Gentle Art of Rotting’ and also some pieces he is fashioning towards his next collection ‘Pretending to be Dead’ (2012). Alma Brayen read from her recently published book ‘Prism’ and then it was time for another local writer Triona Walsh who gave us a ‘local’ poem: The Weir Tea Rooms and also a poem dedicated to her daughter. Then it was over Oran Ryan from Seven Towers who surprised us with his’ Polar Bear for Sale’ and ‘Dinner with Dr Mengele’, both startlingly original pieces.

Triona Walsh

After a short break, Niamh Bagnell delivered a poem specially written for the occasion ‘Don’t Bring Your Pigeon into Douglas Newman Good’ and then went on to give some poetry without a script. Steve Conway gave an excerpt from his very successful ‘Shiprocked’ book and also a new piece on ballooning. What?– You heard me. Ballooning! Another local writer, Louise Philips, gave us some poems centring on human relaltionships and on that word we (poets and everyone else) have difficulties with: ‘love’. But Louise’s uncluttered style saw her read poems of refreshingly simple directness. Raven was last up and gave hid usual strong individual performance. He is always spell-binding in both his poetry and his

Louise Philips

presence. He is every inch and artist and as soon as he starts… that’s it! You’re captured! And so I made no notes of the poems he delivered (without a script, as usual) gut I did recognise some of my favourites, including ‘Midway’, which appears in The First Seven Towers Census Anthology (2009)

As for myself, I did MC and started things off with a poem that dates back to my fist days living in Hillcrest in Lucan (1976!) entitled ‘Early Dispatches’ and which you can read in my poetry blog in the ‘poetry’ category.

Raven

It was a great evening and a terrific mixture of talent from Lucan and further afield. And a big Thank You to Niamh Bagnell for coralling all the Lucan scribes and herdng down to the fesival reading. And Thank So Much to the Seven Towers Agency for ferrying out to Lucan all that talent! Very much appreciated.

Today’s reading at lunchtime in Chapters Bookshop, Dublin, saw Anamaria Crowe Serrrano

Anamaria Crowe Serrano

give a combination reading of translations from a Mexican poet, two Italian poets and her own poetry, new and ‘old’. The Mexican poet was Elso Cross and Anamaria read ‘The Stones’ from Elso’s New and Selected poems. Then she gave a few from Lucetta Frise from Liguria, Italy: ‘I’d Like to Switch Lives…’ , ‘She Found Herself Alone Surrounded by White…’ Anamaria  thought these poems ‘quirky’, to which I would add ‘enigmatic’. Reminded me somewhat of Emily Dickinson. Anyway, very attractive and arresting pieces. Daniella Raimundi was next: ‘Lot’s Wife’ and ‘Goddess’ were longish, thoughtful poems and ‘The Poem Walks Away’ was a clever piece on the relationship between the writer and the written (These sort of poems can annoy non-writers, but not this one I think because it’s consrtucted so well and is genuinely funny). Turning to her own poetry Anamaria read some new work. A poem for an artist, friend Nicola Russell, entitled ‘Nicola as She Leaves’, and then a descriptive ‘Sea Lions at Bull Harbour’. She is now attempting a kind of absidian (?) poem … one in which the initial letter of each line is pre-determined by alphabetical order… or something. I’m not much for such artificialities myself, believing with Charles Olson that content determines form. Then again, those who’ve read my work (those ‘select, though few’) will object that my pentameter is also ‘artificial’, to which I can only reply yes, but not nearly as artificial as… Oh, please go away. But I’ve no doubt Anamaria will make a success of her poem (part of which she read out), such are her creative powers. She then had a very clever poem of a domestic kind ‘Just to Let You Know’ which collected ordinary household phrases and made a fine, arresting poem out of them. She finished with some pieces from her book ‘Femispheres’ (Shearsman Books, 2008): ‘Nature’, ‘6.45 am’ and ‘Divers’.

My Good Self

Due to a hitch in the proceedings I had to step in unprepared. Well, of course poets are always ‘prepared’ (but like to give the impression that they are ‘unprepared’: ‘What?! Oh, I’m on now, am I? …’) but I would have liked a little time sort out what I might read before I went up to the mic at a moment’s notice. However, listening to Anamaria didn’t allow for that since her stuff is so good (dammit!). All my pieces came from ‘And Suddenly the Sun Again‘ (Seven Towers, 2010) which apparently is selling very well in Chapters, not that ‘sales’ matter to poets (the hell they don’t!): ‘Early Lessons in Divine Intent’ is a poem I hadn’t read out in ages, possibly because it is such a personal recollection of my Grandmother who, more or less, taught me everything I know that is worth knowing., and some things I should have learned better, like kindness and compassion. ‘Shopping for Myself’ is amusing, but contains a few ‘home-truths’ which I don’t like to have to face up to more than I have to. ‘Honister Crag’ is another of those ‘mining’ poems that dot my collection: my family was, after all, a mining family from my grandfather and his brothers, to my father, my uncles etc. Had times and tides been different I have no doubt that I myself would have been working ‘down the mines’ in Yorkshire, Wales, Laois…  ‘Inanimates’ is a poem I often overlook  because it makes me uncomfortable to think that the very ordinary things I command the use of every day will long outlive me (teapots, cups, books… things I call ‘mine’) and eventually become part of other’s lives. And seeing as it’s the way that  our country is going down the tubes at a rate of knots at the moment I felt I had to read ‘First Green Shoots’ and then, to rescue my audience from economic depression I gave them the lighter ‘ Too Much Talk about the Muse’, which is about a visit to the dentist where Milton is the dentist. I actually had to visit the dentist recently (though the dentist wasn’t Milton) so I was able to read with some conviction. Well, I don’t know about the rest of the audience, but I enjoyed this lunchtime reading immensly. Much thanks goes to Sarah Lumsden for doing MC and to Ross Hattaway for taking some photos of me ‘delivering’. (On reflection OF COURSE the audience enjoyed it all. Anamaria and me! What’s not to like?)

Eamonn and Anamaria

Another themed reading at Chapters Bookshop, this time ‘Coming Home’, but unfortunately I had to leave early to go to the launch of the Lucan Festival 2010. I did have time to hear Jarlath Gregory read an except

Jarleth Gregory

from his novel ‘Snapshot’ which deals with the world of Northern Ireland paramilitary violance. What I heard sounded very good and would make you want to read it. It’s available in Chapters and elswhere. Jarlath was followed by Karl Parkinson, who — among other contributions — produced a poem written on his way back from Electric Picnic. I read ‘Bosnian Housewife’ from my ‘And Suddenly the Sun Again’ collection. This very sad poem, set in 1996 war-torn Visoko was published in ‘The Stinging Fly’ ten years ago and I still find its imagery unbearable. I often wonder how she got on afterwards, this woman, and her children. I also had some new poems: ‘The Poem I Said I Would Write When I Got out of Hospital’ and ‘The Coming Back’. To finish I read Eileen Casey’s fine poem ‘Seagulls’ from her ‘Drinking the Colour Blue’ collection. It has a connection in my mind with my ‘Bosnian Housewife’ because I detect some worry in Eileen’s subject as she makes her way home through suburbia. Then I had to leave,  just as Steve Conway was about to launch into a story.

The launch of The Lucan Festival 2010 went off very well with lots of chat and food and drinks. It takes place this month September 20th to 26th and my contribution is to organise a poetry reading on Wednesday 22nd in conjuction with the Art Exhibition in the offices of Douglas Newman Good in Lucan Village at 7.00. The line-up will include some local writers and some of my Seven Towers colleagues. It should be a really good night.

HelenDempsey, Karl Parkinson and Steve Conway, with a thoughtful-looking Liz McSkeane in the background

A new month brought new poems at Chapters Bookshop today at 1.15pm, and some ‘old’ poems too, although every poem acquires new life when read out since every artwork only lives in being read, heard, seen, touched… smelled? Don’t know about that last one, but it’s possible.

Eamonn

I was first up, and I read from my recently published ‘And Suddenly the Sun Again’ (Seven Towers, 2010). ‘Days Things Don’t Work Out’ is a poem that dates back to my wanderings around Dromore Wood in Co. Clare, a place comparable to Wordsworth’s great Lake District retreats as far as I am concerned. Then ‘In the Museum of Occupation, Riga’, a rather pessimistic view of how much we can actually appreciate our terrible conduct towards each other in the past and present and maybe change that conduct. Then ‘Too Much Talk about the Muse’, something of a swipe at poet pretensions. Finally, ‘Entre Sardana i Sardana’ (‘Between Sardanas’), a response to a painting by the Spanish artist Xavier Nogues (1873-1941)  which depicts the various goings-on while the band takes a break between dances. It’s great to have a chance to read out these poems, to liberate them from between the covers of the collection, so to speak.

Pauline Fayne was next with a selection from her forthcoming ‘Mowing in

Pauline

 the Dark’, new and selcted poems, to be published shortly. ‘Five Decades’ was something of a life-summary, followed by ‘Summer Fever’ and ‘Dad’s Wallet’, this last a micro-examination of the contents of a wallet, reflecting the last years of a man’s life. This is a very moving poem. I liked also ‘Fill Your Glass’, about (in Pauline’s words) ‘conversations with the dead’ and which reminded me of my own ‘Towards an Understanding of People who Talk to Themselves’ (in ‘And Suddenly the Sun Again’). After some more poems, she finished with ‘Memories’.

Ross

I hadn’t heard Ross for some time and he obliged with some old and new. ‘Singing in Choirs’ had a poignancy for him as he had just been to a funeral, he told  us, and ‘Summer New Years’, with its backdrop of New Zealand’s involvement in war, is always worth hearing again. Both poems are from his collection “the Gentle Art of Rotting’. Then he read his newer ‘The Church of the Bad Shepherd’ and ‘The Must’, this last ostensibly about elephants but just as much to do with young Irish males hvering around available young Irish females (he said, referring to the usual recent Dublin City Centre Leaving Cert Results hijinks). He finished in his usual style of handing us a ‘gift’: that is to say, he read a poem by another poet, this time by a fellow New-Zealander, Sam Hunt, ‘Ice on the Jetty’.

Another enjoyable lunch-time session in Chapters. And great thanks to Sarah for doing MC.

Lots of poetry and prose material on display at ‘The Hammersmith Ram’ pub in London last Sunday evening (22nd August), hosted by myself as MC. I started things off by explaining how Seven Towers hoped to have a regular event at the Pub, building on this evening and the one we had some months ago. A mixture of guests and open mic. I read some of my poem ‘So Where Do You Expect to Find Poetry?’ (from my collection ‘And Suddenly the Sun Again’) which attempts a potted summary of the trials and tribulations of engaging in ‘open micery’ and its importance against a background of jaded, formally organised poetry readings. We had great fun at the Ram, and ‘formality’ was not much in evidence.

Beth Pearce provided a very poignant and touching poem ‘Grandad’ which attempted a warts and all portrait of someone very dear to her. This a difficult thing to pull off, the temptation being to indulge in too much praise, or be so reluctant to criticise that the criticism is swallowed up under the praise. Beth’s poem (which I heard before at London’s ‘Poetry Unplugged’) gets the balance right. She also gave us some new poems, some still in construction. This is a feature of open mics: the stuff doesn’t have to be complete or finished. Just coherent enough to take the interest of the audience. Of course, ‘completed’ (and just when is a poem ever ‘completed’?) work is always a bonus. I liked her ‘We Don’t Need Another Charity Poem’ which reminded me of my own ‘I’m Sorry for the Grunts Get Killed’ (in ‘And Suddenly the Sun Again’) in the way that she underlines how fed up one can become of sanctimonious poetry.

Graham Buchan delivered several fine poems (just about as ‘completed’ as poems could be, I think) including ‘Bad’, an interesting

Graham Buchan

 study of how you summarise for very young people (his daughter) the terrible things that are going on in the world. You know you’ll go over their heads by ranting about despots and dictators and genocides, so you just tell them that these things are bad. You know they will, in time, discover the details for themselves, unfortinately. Lots of other stuff from Graham, whose humorously ironic traits came out very much in ‘My Gaudi House’. He also had a very funny poem called ‘Radio Pussycat’ in whch he spoke of ‘prattling discjockeys’ and I feared that my next guest Steve Conway might take ofence and leave me with a vacant slot, but no…

Takes a lot to offend Steve. He was up next to give another reading of his story ‘Schroedingers Cat’ which I heard before in Dublin and which I am just now beginning to understand (everyone else understands it immediately, it seems. Oh, well…). Too complex a narrative to summarise here,but really enjoyable to hear (even if you are little slow…). Basically its about a cat being in a box… and not being in a box. I know. I can’t help you. Great story, though.

Seamus Harrington turned up to lend his support and to give us his brand of light verse and some wel- crafted rhymes. His poem ‘Ringsend is a feat of rhymes and puns.  I finished the night with my ‘When People Say’ poem, which is one of those poems you don’t put much store in but people regularly call for it.

A great night, and let’s hope this event can get underway on regular basis soon. You can find out how things are going in this blog and also at www.seventowers.ie

Eamonn and Beth Pearce

And of course a great big huge thanks to the staff of the Hammersmith Ram who were very welcoming to us and our event.

This lunchhour reading at Chapters Bookshoop (Parnell Street, Dublin), organised by Seven Towers brought us the poetry of Alma Brayden and Tony Gilmore. Alma is also a painter and this is very evident in her poetry: the visual elements are always sharp and clear. She read from her collection ‘Prism’ (Seven Towers 2010) starting with ‘The Ineagh Valley’ which is as close to being the blueprint for a painting as you will get… besides being a fine poem in itself. She continued with this rural landscape with ‘Aran’ and then abruptly changed the scenery with ‘Towels from Egypt’ and then back home again for ‘Bulloch habour’. She finished with ‘Papillon’ and ‘His Castle’, the latter a very poignant piece about that dreaded moment when people want you to leave your home and go somewhere you would be better looked-after. Alma’s poetry is the poetry of the balanced word and the carefully chosen phrase and I like it a lot. I also like her cool, straightforward delivery which allows the poems to speak for themselves.

Tony Gilroy featured in ‘Living Streets’, last year’s anthology of the Ranelagh Arts Festival and today gave some new writings, firstly a long semi-autobiographical poem and then ‘Not Looking at Anyone’, followed by ‘Storm Coming’. I found this last-named most impressive, with its very exact descriptions of the gathering tempest as the poet walks along Dollymount Strand. And what a great description of that old poetry chestnut ‘the rainbow’ (‘…my heart leaps when I behold…’)… only Tony did it all up afresh and with stunning effect. A great poem with lots of almabraydenesque coloour. ‘He Didn’t Know What to Do’ was a very moving poem about a friend who passed away and the last poem was ‘All the Trees’.

Both books mentioned are available from Chapter Bookshop and from www.seventowers.ie

Helen Dempsey

This themed reading in Chapters Bookshop (Dublin) saw a wide variety of poetic and prose offerings. First up was Maeve O’Sullivan with a prose poem (‘Moonriddle’) and a election of Haiku. Bob Shakeshaft added to the theme with his selection, including ‘Luna’, a title also in Helen Dempsey’s readings a little later. She also had interesting poems like ‘Martin’s Moon’ (from her readings of Martin Buber) and one which dealt with that phenomenon known as ‘The Moonies’, that cult which convinces people they won’t be saved unless they follow its rules (no, not the Roman Catholic Church, the Moonies. Although…). Niamh Bagnell

Niamh Bagnell

gave us ‘Maybe the Night’ (which she delivered without a script: I find this aways contributes a lot to the overall effect, and her delivery is really food) and ‘Street Party.’ Karl Parkinson gave ‘December Frosts’ and one by Li Po. He also delivered that long poem describing the ‘underside’ of Dublin and Bernie O’Sullivan obliged with ‘Crying for the Moon’ and ‘Moonshine’, among others. Oran Ryan gave another excerpt from his novel-in-progress ‘One-Inch Punch’ and Pauline Fayne was very much on theme with ‘Night’ and

Raven

‘First Night’. I was glad to hear Raven again with his terrific delivery style. He gave a number of poems, one of which, though untitled, was about jealousy and was very impressive. He also gave some from Heaney and Longfellow. The evening finished with some story excerpts from Eileen Keane, whose stories will be published soon.

I tried to rise to the occasion and the theme (‘moonlight’) with a few from my recently published collection and this was no easy feat considering how very close all the other poets kept to the theme, and considering also my book is entitled

Bernie O'Reilly

‘And Suddenly the Sun Again’! But I gave ‘Kristallnacht on the Late Night Bus’ a poem about a rather frightening incident that happened to me some years ago (this poem appeared in a SHOp issue in 2002); and also  ‘There is an Hour of Night’ which appeared in the Galway ‘Crannog’ magazine in 2005 and is a favourite of mine. Well, there’s not really much about ‘moonlight’ in either of them, but it’s the nearest my collection can go! I made up (somewhat) by giving a poem ‘moonlght, i.e,’ and a not-so-serious one called ‘from The New Encyclopaedia of Irritating Human Behaviours, (Vol. 3)’ which I’m still working on. Only up to volume 3 yet. So much material!

A great reading and really well attended. We actually ran out of chairs: a GREAT sign for a poetry reading!!!

It’s Wednesday! It’s 1.15! It’s Poetry!…  So it must be Chapters Bookshop in Parnell Street, Dublin. And it is! And it was…  an opportunity to hear some very fine poetry from two very fine poets organised by the Seven Towers Agency:  Catherine Anne Cullen and Pauline Fayne. Catherine Anne read some from her collection ‘A Bone in My Throat’, (Doghouse Books) and some new ones. ‘The Roundabout’ dealt with childhood memories, especially those of hot summers when the tar melted on the roads… Remember them! Especially after the last few we’ve had. (It began to rain outside as she was reading). ‘Hedges’ treated of that vanishing phenomenon that used to be so aboundant between fields, and ‘Joyriders’ brought us back with a jolt to the citys: some people get prizemoney and champagne for driving fast cars around at great speed, while others get jail. I had heard her fine ‘Contraband’ poem before about her mother’s brown bread and the difficulties of getting it through customs and was glad to hear it again. She finished with an experimental poem  called ‘Jazzy Surrey Sunday’ which has terrific sound effects mimicking the ‘Surry with the Fringe on Top’ Rogers and Hammerstein song. It’s great to hear someone trying out something quite different and daring and new.

As if that wasn’t enough for us, next up was Pauline Fayne, who is on her fourth collection (‘Mowing in the Dark’, Stonebridge Press), and who started with a ‘reminiscence’ poem called ‘Flying in the Breeze’. Ostensibly a poem about her grandmother’s death, the untertow has more to do with how soon we are forgotten when we pass on. Very skillfully done. A poem called ‘Waiting’, full of cityscapes, followed and ‘Poor Little Poet Man’, a rather sardonic piece centered around the figure of a male, Irish, rather  misogynistic poet. Every male poet who hears this must be afraid to ask Pauline whom she has in mind… in case they get their own name back! ‘Copycats’ gave a look into the ways in which women’s roles are largely pre-ordained by social class from an early age. This poem ended with the line ‘… soon she will be old enough to hold an iron’. She finished up with ‘Dad’s Wallet’, ‘The Woman who Talks to the Walls’, and a new poem ‘A Desperate Man’.

I like very much the UNAFFECTED delivery of these two poets: no lengthy pompous introductions, high droning tones, or ‘dramtic pauses’. Just straight talking, and natural flow, allowing the poems enough room to escape the page (and the author) and be themselves. I could listen to these two poets any time for any length of time. And that’s not something I say to ALL the girls!.

Eamonn Lynskey