Listowel Writers' Week Fringe

Blogging Listowel's Literary Scene

Archive for May, 2009

It’s not Terry Jones fault that I’m flagging #listww09

May 30, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: Uncategorized

Now’s the time for the second shift of bloggers to come on…

Take up the reins and ride with the sort of energy you get when you finally get into the saddle…

If only we’d found a way to lure some of the punters coming to the festival to take up blogging…

Imagine someone from the hinterland of Listowel coming up to out little gang and saying

You have missed some important issues. You are presenting a false, partial view of Writers’ Week. I can do better. Move over, let me become the sort of author that’s needed to speak for the people on whom Listowel depend…”

“Let the Hinterland speak…”

“Stop giving a towney perspective…”

Have we privileged one view of proceedings above others?

Are we guilty of giving the wider world a partial impression, as if we’ve been painting with half the primary colours?

These sort of questions come to me while I listen to Terry Jones. Have we absorbed a particual view of the Roman, a one-sided view?

Terry Jones in history rather than film-making #listwwo9

May 30, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: events, historical

I wonder if Terry Jones had to make a choice:

(1) to give a dynamic lecture on the history of how Rome dealt with the “Barbarians”

(2) to give a talk about how they made a film series about all that.

He’s saying very little about film-making. Focussed on his subject rather than his process…

Celtic roads were wooden, that’s why they haven’t survived.

Now he’s on to clockworks in 80BC. A model of the solar system speculative reconstruction …

Terry Jones on fire… Barbarians too listww09

May 30, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: historical

Terry Jones has more energy than I’ve ever heard perform.

No mic. Absolutely no amplification. Clad in black with open necked shirt. Even the shoes are black.

This man looks hypermaniac… reminds me of how I can be sometimes…

Nothing wrong with that. It’s wonderful. Fun stuff. He seems in love with his subject. Enjoys the Romans being killed. Describes the emperor of Rome so that we laugh.

No rest for Terry’s performance: he keeps going and going, sentence after sentence… No pausing.

He plays with the names of tribes and Romans. He’s all movement in front of a big screen with slides, photos and text that’s hard to read from the side where I’m sitting. He’s going to be exhausted after this.

Reminds me of a stand-up comic.

Romans trained the Barbarians to fight, military service: the Germans later turned these skills agains them.

Tribes: statues remarkably like those I’ve seen in Egypt. Tomb of Cyrus the Great (580- BC ) He freed the Jews from Babylonian captivity…

“Happiness for man” appears…

Inverted domes… deliberately destroyed…

Hafid the great poet (never heard of him)

Caesar killed a million Gauls.

Henry Ford was more wealthy than Bill Gates…

Pouring molten gold down Crassus’s throat… of course they could always get it back…

Terry’s excitement makes what could be a boring old lecture about history come alive with fun.

A short conversation in the lobby

May 30, 2009 By: Patrick Stack Category: Uncategorized

A man walks past me just as I get set to write up the Rebecca Miller reading, stops, comes back, and asks “Are you one of the bloggers?”. Thus begins a short, but interesting conversation with Noel Keenan of the Writers Week Committee. I answer his questions about the blog. He tells me the technology nowadays is amazing (I think that is the word he used), and we talk briefly of the festival. He is a teacher who lives in Kilmorna across the river from my home village of Duagh. He tells me that not many people realize that the committee are all volunteers, giving of their time, energy, and talents throughout the year so that the festival can happen. I tell him that is what makes Writers’ Week such an amazing place.

Rebecca Miller reads from her novel

May 30, 2009 By: Patrick Stack Category: events, novels

The large, though not yet packed out, crowd is buzzing in anticipation of Rebecca Miller‘s arrival. For the first time this festival, both Paul O’Mahony and I are at the same event. This is entirely unplanned – but will afford two different impressions of the same happening which is both useful and interesting, adding a contrast in impressions to the contrast in styles already evident from our posts as it were.
The two older ladies seated to my left – I’ve strategically positioned myself on the outside seat near some wall sockets – are deep in conversation. A few minutes ago one of them asked what I was doing and wanted to know what a blog was and how to access it. She told me she wrote her first page of memoir at the 1970 Writers’ Week festival (the year I started first year at St. Michael’s College), and talked of her admiration for Archbishop Simms. I nodded sagely in an endeavour to hide my stygian ignorance of who Archbishop Simms was, the name ringing some very faint bells at the disant edge of memory in my head.
It’s now 10 past and something appears to be happening at last – Miss Miller (for I presume it is she) and a member of the committee – a large woman in a white dress and whiter hair whose face I know but whose name escapes me – have taken their seats at the top table. The podium remains, as yet – should I say “unmanned” (seems a trifle sexist in the circumstances) or “unpersonned” (sounds wrong somehow)?

Miss Miller begins her talk on her book “The Private Lives of Pippa Lee“.
Marigold Village has everything from sex therapist to herbalist (she drops the h) to tennis courts. Having never read any of Miss Miller’s work, my initial impressions are of a fast-paced style reminiscent of what? Perhaps of film narrative.

Listen to extract 1

She explains that as the book progresses Pippa gradually becomes overwhelmed by her past. She then reads a section from the middle of the book.

Extract 2 from Rebecca Miller’s reading

Extract 3 of Rebecca Miller’s reading

The reading goes on for some time – my mind wanders a little, despite the pleasant tone of her soft American accent. I look up to my right to see the large screen displaying a close-up of Ms Miller as she reads. My eye is drawn inexorably toward her gorgeous cleavage… She is a stunningly attractive woman, tall, svelte, cultured, natural.

There is time for 4 or 5 questions from the audience at the end of the reading as follows:

Question 1

Question 2

Questions 3 and 4

Question 5

And then the queue for the book-signing. I purchase two – one for my wife Ana, and the other for myself. When it comes my turn, I tell Ms Miller truthfully that I’ve been “converted”, having never read any of her work – I realise later that this is her first novel! I ask her to write “For Patrick Stack” on the second book. Patrick? she queries. I spell Patrick. She writes it. I repeat “Stack” – do I detect a hesitation (or is it my over-active and increasingly fevered imagination at work?)? I spell S-T-A-C-K. She writes it and finishes the dedication. Meanwhile the large woman in the white dress has come in through the open door and taken the seat to her left. I look at her badge and realise, of course, she’s Marian Relihan. I earnestly thank Ms Miller again, with a slight bow of my already bowed and hatted head and bolt for the door.

In anticipation of Rebecca Miller

May 30, 2009 By: Patrick Stack Category: events

I’m seated in the reception area of the Listowel Arms Hotel blogging. With 20 minutes to go people are beginning to go in to the large conference room where Rebecca Miller will be doing her thing. Jeremy Gould has just arrived and is frantically trying to locate Paul O’Mahony who has his recharger which he ungently needs. Jeremy rushes off again.

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.

What’ll we do on this blog after Writers’ Week ends on Sunday?

May 30, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: blogs, connections, events, participants

Many people are asking this question.

“Will that be it? Will you just go away? Move on? Or what?”

How do I know. We haven’t even seriously discussion the afterlife. God only knows.

But there won’t be an end. There will be an end of the beginning.

There is too much material to plumb.

Breakfast with George Kimball, a spontaneous, surprise, unplanned event threw up enough connection to keep me going to Christmas.

How’s this…

(1) Boston & Limerick – the links thru the Boston Maraton, Southill Estate in a rough part of Limerick and Dan Doyle (pro boxing promotor, J P McManus, cops & kids training together, George Foreman, baseball in Southill field, 200 kids to feed with apples, Adare Dunraven Arms…

(2) A commercial idea for George Rowley to consider…

(3) The possiblity of Paul O’Mahony meeting Kevin Hough (Limerick) today, for the first time in 42 years… We grew up in adjacent houses…

(4) Lemon marmalade… none of us had ever tasted it. I think Sue Kimball intends to take some home in her handbag. I photographed a packet of it for the blog – so the can all get to know it exists… Those of you in USA can think of importing it… We all need ideas these days, eh

I’m so glad everyone’s gone off and I have time to reflect my way into the day.

How, when where and with what am I going to interview Rebecca Miller (1962-). She’s on at 1200.

My son Benjamin O’Mahony, the student actor @Drama Centre, London, England, played in two of Arthur Miller’s plays. I better do a good interview for him.

The street market will be back in Listowel on Sunday

May 30, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: connections, events, localinfo, photographs, Street drama

And I promised several stallholders I’d publish photos of what they have for sale.

I’ll put photos up here later.

So much I could be doing.

Relax, relax, relax

Breakfasting with George Kimball and his mother

May 30, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: Accommodation, connections, journalism, participants

It was Patrick Stack I went to meet in the dining room of the Listowel Arm hotel.

Feeling delicate and fortunate to have been lifted into town by Malcolm Payne, my b&b host.

Patrick and I were getting sorted when George Kimball arrived. I was quick to say ‘good morning, George. Would you like to join us?’

He did and, shortly later, Sue Kimball arrived. She’s from Louisville, Kentucky. George was in a Kansas sweatshirt.

Like me, Patrick Stack hasn’t read a word of George’s work. I introduced them, and George was interested to find out how he could get to see the blog. He wanted to know how much of his session yesterday we had captured.

In case I forget it: if you are ever going to blog a festival, have a business card made specially for the occasion. Carry them and give them out to everyone so that they can find the blog after. It’s a mouthful to say “you can find it by googling ‘’. I wouldn’t be able to remember whether you have to put the Listowel in or not, and, if you don’t get thru quickly you probably give up looking and do something simpler.

Jenny Dorn joined us. She lives in Colorado and visits London, England, to see her mother who is 92. Mine is 83, so she a teenager in comparison.

John Sheehan stopped to have a few words with George.

Across the room I watch the poet from Cavan, which he pronounces like “quavan”. He’s with four others, all conversing.

Better split this experience into short bits, rather than try to present it in one fell swoop.

Remember your readers Paul.

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