Listowel Writers' Week Fringe

Blogging Listowel's Literary Scene

Archive for the ‘poems’

Upcoming poems

May 31, 2009 By: Patrick Stack Category: poems, poetry, poets

I have poems by John MacNamee and Teri Murray on my mobile phone which I still have to upload here. Due to technical problems with converting the .amr files (the audio format my mobile phone uses) to .mp3 format, I haven’t done it so far.
If the worst comes to the worst I’ll just play re-record them from the mobile into the mac, though that will mean a reduction in quality. Fingers crossed I can sort it the other way.

Meet the bloggers at Lynch’s Bakery and Cafe

May 30, 2009 By: Patrick Stack Category: events, journalism, participants, poems, poetry, poets

We’re in Lynch’s Bakery and Cafe. Lynn Roberts, winner of this year’s Poetry Collection competition has just come in and sat down at Paul O’Mahony‘s invitation. Jeremy Gould is seated to my left with Phillip Byrne (a concrete poet). The room is reasonably full.
Earlier, Cathy Desmond, a music teacher based in Ennis, wandered in, having just arrived for the weekend. She had a choice of going to see “6 yachts tied up on pier” (her words) in Galway no doubt ogled over by thousands of land-lubbers (my words), the Iniscealtra festival in Mountshannon, Clare, or Writers’ Week. She opted for Writers’ week. She rushes off after a few minutes to catch as much culture as possible in the limited time left.
Mary Lavery Carrig comes in. The funeral of a local Sister passes – she was a great age, Sister Anne was, Mary tells us.
Ronan Tynan has just arrived and sits down. Paul stops recording to give his full attention to the growing assembly of poets – a couple of more and the current stanza of poets will have become a canto of poets.

Kay Donnelly, another writer, arrives – and sits. I met Kay yesterday – she’s based in Waterford.I catch the end of a story Paul is recounting that involves de Valera, poets and Poland. It’s taken from a play he (Paul) is writing in his head.
The discussion swings around to how good the story Gabriel Byrne told at the opening on Wednesday {LINK to POST}. I remark that his piece for Sunday Miscellany (to be broadcast tomorrow morning at 9.10am on RTE Radio 1) was brilliantly written.
The head Librarian from Mayo, whose first name is Austen (or is that Austin?), makes his appearance. I miss the critical bits of the conversation that ensues due to Jeremy and Kay mentioning the 6 degrees of separation theory. Headage payments comes up when Pat McCannon (from Meath) wanders in and gives Paul a copy of a story he wrote for the Special Olympics about his son Niall 12 years ago. Niall played on the basketball team for Ireland at the Special Olympics. The piece was published because of that he tells us. Pat’s grandfather wrote the song “The turf man from Ardee” – Kay knows it.

It’s the 100th anniversary of Brian MacMahon‘s birth, somebody comments and wonders why there isn’t a special event to commemorate it.

One of the multiple interweaving mini-conversations involves spelling. There is too much emphasis on spelling Kay says. Spelling wasn’t standardized until the 1700s (?) I remark.
Mary’s second boy is 13 today – he’s playing football right now.
I learn that Mary Lavery Carrig is a descendent of Sir John Lavery whose painting of Lady Lavery was on one of the old Irish currency notes.
Pauline Frayne and Teri Murray arrive in and sit at the next table.
I spy a gorgeous painting on Jeremy’s laptop and enquire about it. Jeremy tells me he took it at the exhibition in the Lartigue – he bemoans the fact that there was nobody there, as it’s a beautiful space.
Mary reads the first poem from her new collection which she wrote for her son, into Paul’s mobile, for subsequent upload.
Mary tells me that John Sheehan wrote the piece her sons played at the launch of her book yesterday – it’s called “The Marino Waltz” – and was used in the Peat Briquette (of Bord na Mona – not Boomtown Rats – fame) advert on TV.
More than an hour has passed already and it’s time to separate. Teri Murray is kind enough to read one of her poems into my mobile phone for posting on the blog. I’ll be posting it here as soon as I can get an amr to wav or mp3 converter.

My first disappointment of the festival

May 30, 2009 By: Patrick Stack Category: poems, poetry, poets

As we have a later start this morning (noon instead of 11am), I thought I’d go and purchase Georgina Edison‘s book “Standing in the Pizzicato Rain” which was launched yesterday at The SeanchaĆ­ bookshop. I was sorely disappointed to learn that the bookshop had been unable to acquire any copies of the book, and that Georgina herself had only managed to obtain 6 copies from a bookshop in Tralee, which promptly sold out. It was with a twinge of disappointment that I headed uptown to purchase some lip balm from John Maguire’s Pharmacy – the wind has been playing havoc with my lips – I had been so looking forward to gorging myself on her poetry.

Georgina read “Tragedy” at the Open Mic poetry session compered by George Rowley in the New Kingdom Bar last night. On a foray to the bar for another pint our paths crossed and I seized the opportunity to tell her how much I enjoyed her poetry. She told me that her daughter really enjoyed “Spell of the Wicked Fairy” which I had performed sometime earlier. It’s nice to get feedback, and even nicer when that feedback is of an affirming nature.

Poetry readings in John B Keane’s pub

May 29, 2009 By: jeremy Category: poems, poetry, video

Just came across these on YouTube. Whoever put them up, thanks and hope you don’t mind we’ve featured them here. If you look closely at the first one, you can make out Gabriel Byrne and John B’s son, Billy, watching intently.

The second one is hysterical!

Book launch at The Seanchai (11am Friday)

May 29, 2009 By: Patrick Stack Category: events, poems, poetry, poets

I’m at the launch of two poetry books by two up-and-coming women poets, namely Georgina Edison and Mary Lavery Carrig.
The limited space in the bookshop at The SeanchaĆ­ is filling up very quickly. George Rowley seems to be the Master of Ceremonies for the launch. Both authors are seated at a table in front with a member of the LWW Committee whose name badge I can’t make out. With 5 minutes to go it’s getting really packed as people flood in. One Gabriel FitzMaurice has just made his entrance and sits at the front after greeting one of the authors.
georgina_edison Gabriel is launching Georgina’s book “Standing in the Pizzicato Rain“, while George Rowley will launch Mary Lavery Carrig’s book “Through an Open Window “.
Gabriel FitzMaurice is standing in for Jessie Lendenning of Salmon Publishing who was unable to make the launch. He gives a short introductory speech on Georgina Edison as poet and launches the book.
Georgina speaks – she grew up in a house full of poetry and music. She reads “Duet“. She captures 90 years of silence from the WWI: a recently found letter from her grandfather in the trenches to her grandmother asking for “sweets from you” sparked the poem “Between the Lines” which ends with “Other words, hidden wounds he did not send“.
Namesake” is a poem on a 17th century atheist painter of church interiors – “a shared line on every canvas / I cannot paint him out“.
Transplanted Aunties” – on her aunts who emigrated to England – follows.
She finishes with a poem about her parents – 65 years married this year, called “Tragedy“.
I absolutely must have a copy of this book. The poems have great power and compactness.

Mary Lavery Carrig’s three sons, two wearing Kerry jerseys, play a well-known and loved tune on a dulcimer, accordion and banjo to open. George Rowley introduces Mary – the cover photograph on the book was taken by Mary’s husband Michael who stands at the back. “Detail is Mary’s strongest suit…” according to George.

mary_lavery_carrigMary reads: “Raspberries“.
Askeaton is where her mother comes from – the Deal river runs through it and “Fishing the Horizon” is about her grandfather who fished the Deal.
The Diviner” describes how a local man helps find the body of a young man who disappeared last summer with the help of his diving rods.
High Summer Mid Morning” – inspired by Mossie Langan, a local character, horse and trap and ferry traffic is what I see.
Mary finishes with “The Widow“.
All proceeds from Mary’s book are going to The Hospice.

John Montague Reading at St John’s Theatre (4.00pm Thursday)

May 28, 2009 By: Patrick Stack Category: events, poems, poetry, poets

I’ve arrived with plenty of time to spare this time. There is still a queue outside the door but it’s much shorter than this morning and I’ve managed to grab a corner seat on the raised section at the back of the room which affords a great view of the proceedings. I’ve removed my jacket because it’s very warm and I don’t want the buttons on the sleeves making a racket against laptop as I type. At the Sunday Miscellany recording this morning in the same venue the woman seated next to me told me not to type during the music as it was distracting her – I noted down the occurrence in Spanish as she was sitting next to me and had a perfect view of what I was typing. Having the algunas palabras comes in handy from time to time.

Joanne Keane welcomes us and gives a brief intro to John Montague, listing his literary awards while John readies himself by removing a couple of things from his jacket pockets before taking it off, putting it on the back of the chair and sitting gingerly down.
With a quote from Thomas MacCarthy Joanne finishes. John begins by saying he almost feels like clapping himself!

He then reads a few poems on the Leaving Certificate syllabus – “Killing the Pig” reminds me of the time in my childhood when a pig was killed in our backyard – “The walls of the farmyard still hold that scream / are built around it“. “The Cage” and “The Locket” – also on the Leaving.
Wind Harp” came to him from looking at an exhibition by Patrick Collins.

He mentions the row he had with Ted Hughes in the Listowel Arms again, and says Ted “really did think that the laureateship was part of the psyche of England“. John then reads “The Trout” in deference to Ted Hughes’ “The Pike“.

The Dolmens” – “into that dark permanence of ancient forms

John takes questions from the audience.
He is doing a sequence about his own grandfather who “is after me” because he’s done too much on other members of the family and not enough on his grandfather. He recalls his mother as an old woman taking snuff “which was the coke of the time!“. Instead of being normal he became a poet. John is a Pisces. A note received from Heaney – “we should think about 90!“.

John finishes off with “My Grandfather’s Library“, which he prefaces by recommending we read the Bible, “not for Mr.Paisley’s reason, but because it contains great stories.

At Joanne Keane’s suggestion, the entire audience sings a few bars of Happy Birthday for John who has turned 80 recently. It brings a tear or two to his eye.

Dishing the dirt on a Listowel Workshop (chapter 2)

May 13, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: historical, participants, poem, poems, poet, starting up

At least I was in a seat at the Workshop. (You can read the story so far here.)

No time for wondering whether I was in the right place. The first thing I noticed was that there were only five blokes. I always clock the gender ratio.

There were many postcards on the rectangular table.

People were picking them up, looking closey, discarding and selecting. Someone (probably Nuala NiDhomhnaill : listen to her read here) told me I was meant to pick three, and write a poem based on them.

I remember liking the poem I wrote, but I can’t find it.

Somewhere in this office in Glanmire is hiding my notebook. It doesn’t want to be rehandled. It’s been quietly minding its own business through four housemoves. But I vow to expose it to fresh air soon.

We got on with composing...

I was distracted by questions:

  • what the hell’s going on?
  • what are the rules?
  • who are these people?
  • when’s time for tea?

I’m a writer. I was doing what I do. I’m used to writing without thinking, and letting whatever comes up flow out. It was good to be doing that, rather than sitting talking in a group while I was so distracted by being late for the start.

We read. Everyone read out their piece.

There was one woman who read out a poem in Irish. Couldn’t understand a word. Or couldn’t trust my understanding. (I’d only studied Irish for about 13 years at school.) She was beautiful. A musician with the sound of syllables. I was thrilled to listen. And then she went and buggered off. Never came back for day two. She expected there would be others writing in Irish, I think. I really missed her.

And, if she’s reading this, I’d like to say thank you for that poem – whatever it meant.

It was a bit tough sitting there listening to about 15 strangers reading their poem.

At least half of them were very good, I thought. Two or three were fairly awesome, I thought. One of them had won the single poem prize. I was sat between two women whose work I did nothing but admire.

What about the men?

Yes. There was a man from the Burren, a man from the desert in New Mexico, USA, and a man who wrote concrete poems (I think that’s the technical term for a poem that has shape on the page represented by an image made from letters.)…

I’m writing from memory.

No notes. I better warn you that anything based on my memory is suspect. The only thing I trust is my notebook.

I’ll have more to say about the men, and the women, after tea… We did eventually take a break.

(to be continued)

To smash the windows of language

May 12, 2009 By: Patrick Stack Category: poem, poems, poetry

I thought I’d share a poem I wrote in 1982 as an expression of my inability to write anything of worth at the time. The title sums up my feelings of rage and powerlessness to mould language so as to properly express what I was feeling. It also expresses a long-held poetic goal for me, because I believe that the greatest poetry transcends the language by forcibly entering into its hidden interior – smashing its windows, as it were – in order to acquire any treasure that may be hidden therein.

To Smash the Windows of Language

There is nothing left to say
There is nothing left worth saying
The words have lost their potency
The images their clarity
To fecundate the same old page
The same old blankness of the same old face
Peers out between the same old lines
The same old rooms behind the same old blinds
The same old rhythm sets the same old pace
Doddering to a standstill at the same old rhymes.

Patrick Stack

Creative Commons License
This work by Patrick Stack is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Creative Commons License
This work by various authors is licensed under a Creative Commons License.