Listowel Writers' Week Fringe

Blogging Listowel's Literary Scene
Subscribe

Archive for June, 2009

Posting is difficult at the moment

June 26, 2009 By: Patrick Stack Category: blogs

As I’m under fierce work pressure at the moment, I really don’t have any time to devote to blogging. And Paul O’Mahony is on holidays at the moment, which means that unless some of our readers would like to post, there won’t be much content going up for the next 10 days or so. Or perhaps Jeremy Gould will post something.
We will however get back to our normal output in the near future.

Heaney and Lisbon – What Gives?

June 22, 2009 By: Patrick Stack Category: poet

My jaw dropped last night when I saw on the news that the Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney is weighing in on the Yes side in the upcoming Lisbon Referendum rerun.
I find the temerity of the man galling for the following reasons:

  1. All during the “troubles” up North, Mr. Heaney was noticeably silent, when it behooved him, as a poet, to speak out against atrocity, and injustice, it being a poet’s obligation to do. What more important function does the poet serve in society if not to ask the “hard” questions, even if – especially if – that means putting him/herself at risk?
    Yet, now Mr Heaney sees fit to lend his considerable clout, at no personal risk to himself, to one side in what will no doubt be a very divisive rerun of the Lisbon referendum.
  2. As a citizen of this country, I find it highly objectionable that a poet of his stature should row in behind the Status Quo thereby lending it credibility, given the absolute shambles the said Status Quo has made of our country and economy in the past decade, and the contempt with which it regards the wishes of the people.
  3. Rerunning the Lisbon Referendum when a sizeable majority of the electorate voted against the Lisbon Treaty only a year ago is an insult to the electorate and makes an absolute mockery of our democracy. By siding with the Status Quo on this issue Mr. Heaney is in effect adding to the insult.

For all of the above reasons I would therefore ask Mr Heaney to kindly refrain from taking sides on this issue in an official capacity. He is, of course, entitled to give his views as a private citizen, as we all are. But to use the prestige of his poetic standing in an official capacity to bolster the campaign of one side or the other is not acceptable.

The height of the Irish Summer?

June 20, 2009 By: Patrick Stack Category: localinfo, Reflections

This weekend sees the arrival of the Summer Solstice 2009 for the northern hemisphere, or the Winter Solstice if you happen to live south of the equator. As I write in my office in Kilmaley, Co. Clare I can see that it is quite windy outside and the sun is shining from a partially clouded sky. It doesn’t feel at all like what I think the longest day of the year should feel like with the temperature around 15C. WolframAlpha tells me that the story is similar 40 miles south across the Shannon Estuary in Listowel – the temperature is 16C with a relative humidity of 72%, a wind of 8m/s under a cloudy sky. What became of the glorious summer days we experienced at this year’s Writers’ Week festival I wonder?

Like most Irish people, I’m eternally hopeful that one of these years we will get a proper summer – you know the kind I mean: long warm sunny days with little wind and blue skies, and the very odd light shower of rain to keep the plants from wilting altogether. The last one was in 1995, and the one before that 1984. Beyond that I can’t tell, though I do remember some very wet summers in the 1970s when it was impossible to save the hay or draw out the turf from the bog. The worst summer on record was definitely last year’s when we had rain day after day often puntuated by torrential downpours, rarely by extended sunny spells. I don’t want to go through another “summer” like that one.

So on this Solstice weekend I pray the meteorological deities will look kindly upon us and grant us a proper summer in 2009.

If I ever meet a spammer in person I’ll …

June 18, 2009 By: Patrick Stack Category: blogs, poetry, Reflections

… kick their teeth in, and that is a promise. I don’t mind the odd comment spam in Cryllic from some Russian with nothing better to do, but when we get flooded by rubbish from that bastion of rabid capitalism, the, in this case, not-so-good old U S of A, trying to sell everything from cheap insurance (automobile and home) to pharmaceuticals (a minority of which claim to increase the girth of one’s manhood) to College degrees, my normal sanguinity in the face of computer problems goes to white hot, and I have this overweening urge to shove their spam up their virtual rear ends which of course I never get to do as they remain untraceable apart from an IP address.

Now I know, as ever blogger does, that one of the downsides of blogging is that it brings with it the unwanted attentions of the bottom-feeding spammer scum (those self-styled “bulk marketing consultants“) which rarely amounts to no more than a passing, if daily, annoyance.
However, it does become a major problem when the number of spam posts dramatically increases making it nigh-on-impossible for the blog admin. (the person who oversees the proper running of the blog) to stem the tide of filth.

Some years back I suffered one such attack on my first blog and was forced to close the blog down while I searched for a solution. Not being sufficiently skilled at php coding at the time I could not implement any of the solutions I found on the web, nor could I afford to pay somebody else to do it for me. I kept a record of the IP addresses of the offending posts over a few days. The vast majority of the relevant IPs originated in China. So I banned entire ranges of IP addresses associated with China by adding them to a .htaccess file on the server. A bit extreme I know, but it worked!

Why am I telling you all of this? Firstly I’m writing it as an extension to Paul O’Mahony’s contention, in his Literary Festival in Digital Age post, that we writers ignore the tools brought to us courtesy of the Web Revolution at our peril. Secondly, because I love Web technology every bit as much as I love writing. For me the two are inextricably intertwined. There is a web site devoted to poetry written in or using the Perl programming language – Perl Monks. There has even been a Perl Poetry Contest. According to its inventor, Larry Wall, Perl stands for either Practical Abstraction and Report Language or Pathologically Eclectic Rubbish Lister depending on his mood at any particular time!

Any good programmer, mathematician, musician, or indeed scientist will be familiar with the idea that a solution, formula, function, theorem, piece or proof must have beauty if it is to be considered great. The concept of coding as poetry has always appealed to me, ever since I first came across it in Larry Wall’s classic Learning Perl or it may have been Programming Perl. What matter which?

[to be continued]

Quantitative Comparison of Listowel Writers’ Week & West Cork Literary Festival programmes

June 13, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: competition, connections, events, Reflections

After the flurry of challenging comments, comparing Listowel Writers’ Week with West Cork Literary Festival (WCLF), isn’t it time for some measuring?

I’ve gone through both programmes and offer this quantitive comparison – for what it’s worth. I suspect it’s meaning is extremely limited: I haven’t yet found a way to measure atmosphere except by total immersion.

(Numbers in brackets relate to WCLF)

Length of Festival: 4 days & about 2 hours (6 days)

No. of readings: 20 (28)

Seminars/Talks: 0 (10)

Public interviews: 2 (4)

Number of Workshops: 15 (14 [3 for children])

Children’s Programme of Events: 11 (6)

Open Mic poetry, music & song: 4 (5)

Open Mic song only : 1 (0)

Art Exhibitions: 7 (1)

Films: 5 (0)

Lunchtime theatre: 3 (o)

Evening theatre: 4 (0)

Book launches: 5 (1)

Writing Competitions: 11+ (3)

Storytelling competition: 1 (0)

Youth Poetry Slam: 1 (0)

Photographic exhibition: 1 (0)

Radio broadcasts: 1 (o)

Tours: 3 (2)

Prose: 60% (58%)

Poetry: 40% (42%)

Going to recover after thrill of writing for you

June 13, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: Imagining, painters & paintings, Reflections

I’m going to take a complete break.

Going into a different zone in south west France for 3 weeks.

Complete abstinance from any form of blogging, internetting, texting, twittering, facebooking, mobilephoning

and, hardest of all

no writing… not even a poem.

Not since I learned to write in St Philamena’s school in Limerick, not since I first practised the art of loading ink from inkwell onto a nib, not since I was in short trousers…

have I abstained from writing for 3 weeks.

Why give all that up?

I got a phone call from a wonderful person whom I met at Listowel Writers’ Week. She said:

“You need to paint. Take paint, brushes & paper with you. It’ll take you out of yourself…”

I hardly know this person. I’ve never painted more than blank walls. But, who am I to turn the messenger away?

I leave you in the hands of Patrick Stack & Jeremy Gould, to whom I leave a few draft posts for possible posting.

You, readers, can run this blog without me. You can send loads of comments in, together with photographs & pieces of your writing.

Hopefully, I’ll return a regenerated man. It’ll be really hard not to log on.

If you put “blog of a literary festival” into Google…

June 12, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: blogs

This is what you get.

At the same time as Listowel…

June 12, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: competition, connections

Rory Gallagher International Tribute Festival (28-31 May)

25th Goldsmith International Literary Festival

28 May 2009 – 31 May 2009

Carlsberg Cat Laughs Comedy Festival

28 May 2009 – 01 Jun 2009

Glen of Aherlow Walking Festival

29 May 2009 – 01 Jun 2009

DUMFRIES & GALLOWAY ARTS FESTIVAL (22-30 May)

PERTH FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS
21 – 31 May 2009

SWALEDALE FESTIVAL
23 May – 6 June 2009

THE GUARDIAN HAY FESTIVAL
21 – 31 May 2009

WORDFRINGE
1 – 31 May 2009


Photographers in Listowel in 2007 : a Mattie Lennon piece

June 12, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: connections, photographs, Reflections

Photographic Memories

By Mattie Lennon

Photography records the gamut of feelings written on the human face, the beauty of the earth and skies that man has inherited, and the wealth and confusion man has created. It is a major force in explaining man to man. Edward Steichen

Ever since Joseph Nicephore made the first permanent picture with a camera, in 1826, photography has been evolving as an art form. But a different and separate one, unrelated to any other.

In the words of Berenice Abbot,”Photography can never grow up if it imitates some other medium. It has to walk alone; it has to be itself”.

Saint John’s Arts and Heritage Centre


For the month of September, Saint John’s Arts and Heritage Centre (a former Church) in Listowel, will be home to the works of two Kerry-based photographers Tom Fitzgerald and Dillon Boyer.

Seeing how the ordinary can become extraordinary, in a frame, one is obliged to concur with the words of Elliot Erwitt, “ . . .Photography has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”

Dillon Boyer


DILLON BOYER who was born in Kent, England, has been interested in photography for almost sixty years. He was a member of Tunbridge Wells Camera Club where he won many prizes within the club and nationally. On retirement, drawn to the landscape and opportunities for portraiture in the Kingdom, he and his wife Mary moved to Listowel.

He was a founder member of Listowel Camera Club with John Stack. Under Dillon’s guidance it went on to become a major camera club within the Irish Photo scene, winning the National Shield in the mid-nineties, and also hosting the event in 1995.

Dillon has won National Medals in the Nature category on two occasions in the 90′s. He is also an accomplished Video and wedding photographer. The Canon is his favourite camera.

Tom Fitzgerald


TOM FITZGERALD, a native Kerryman, has being interested in photography since the mid sixties when, as a young man, he started taking photos with a Kodak instamatic camera. He bought his first SLR camera, a Pentax K500 in 1974 and graduated to Nikon in the eighties.

He was a reluctant convert to digital but won’t now travel (even to the shop) without his Digital Nikon SLR. A member of Listowel CC almost from its foundation, Tom has an extensive collection of photos of local people and places as well as prize shots from further afield.

And his indexing system is just as baffling, to me, as quantum Physics. If you want a pictorial record of a moment frozen in time, be it a First Communion in 1970, Mount Brandon shrouded in mist, or Bill Clinton putting in Ballybunion, the image is produced in seconds.

This is one Kerryman who doesn’t answer a question with a question.

Your query about that shepherd’s cottage backlit by the rising sun will elicit a comprehensive account of the topography of that burgage, with the unpronounceable name, in the Scottish Highlands. And what about the shot of the two ponies on Glenbeigh strand? That was taken on Sunday the nineteenth of August 1979, when the wind was blowing from the east and Seefin illuminated by a waxing moon.

Landscape (“the supreme test of the photographer”) features largely in the exhibition and includes the fruits of Tom and Dillon’s many trips to Scotland and England. And appropriately enough the exhibition (Which is supported by North Kerry Together Limited), is titled “Near & Far”.

Sunset at Kerry Head


I attended the opening and it’s amazing the snippets of information the camera-illiterate such as myself can pick up at such a gathering. Amid terms such as “Chromatic aberration”, “Macroscopic”, “Reciprocity failure” and “Tonal range” I learned that the first photograph taken in Ireland was in 1848 and was of Young Irelander Patrick O’Donohue.

Glen Inchaquinn


David Hockney said, “ All you can do with most ordinary photographs is stare at them”. Well, these are not ordinary photographs and if you are in or near Listowel during the next month you call to Saint John’s and you can browse, buy or both.

Waterville Lake


Thinking back over the experience of Writers’ Week : Mark Twain came to my side

June 12, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: connections, historical, Reflections

We should be careful to get out of an experience all the wisdom that is in
it — not like the cat that sits on a hot stove lid. She will never sit
down on a hot lid again — and that is well; but also she will never sit
down on a cold one anymore.

*** Mark Twain (1835 – 1910) American Author ***

For more information on this quotation and the author:
http://www.gurteen.com/gurteen/gurteen.nsf/id/X0013E7D2/


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