Listowel Writers' Week Fringe

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Two poems written while Anthony Cronin read

June 29, 2010 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: 2010, poet, poetry, poets

I sat watching Anthony Cronin & wrote …

Ancient voice
returned to encapsulate,
speak for past and future,
take over the moment
with his contraption for walking
into delicate places.
I see a black jacket, almost velvet,
four buttons on the cuff,
a sag that hangs down from the mouth,
leaving a little chin,
a Miltonic head shape,
huge elephantine ear,
born to hear,
flat against the skull.

Anthony Cronin rests a right elbow,
a forearm, a bottom,
the whole of his weight -
so that his brown shoes
catch a shine between wheels.

God never listens to what you say
so
God is a woman.
The more he reads,
the more the age drops from his eyes
set under brows
that could be clipped
by a woman given to improving
the appearance of her man.

As Anthony Cronin read…

Christopher Reid listens,
no breath stirs,
no blink disturbs
concentration,
even his heart respects Anthony Cronin
so much it slows the blood
to a whisper
unregistering
love.

The hiccup strangles itself before conception,
the saliva stays moist enough
to need no refreshment.
The hands hang like a limp unwound pendulum,
Christopher Reid wraps Anthony Cronin
in attention he learned at the bedside.

Oh, Wow. He blinked…

Campaign for the Right to Blog Listowel Writers’ Week

June 09, 2010 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: 2010

Blogger Paul O’Mahony to launch Campaign for the right to blog at the Listowel Writers’ Week Festival, after being attacked by Committee Member on the last day of this year’s Festival.

—- Paul O’Mahony calls on bloggers across the world to support his campaign by emailing the Chairman of Listowel Writers Week – info@writersweek.ie – demanding he be allowed to continue blogging unhindered, and without violence or intimidation.

In an incident that many might have thought only happens in China or Burma, Blogger Paul O’Mahony was attacked verbally and physically as he tried to leave Listowel Writers’ Week. His crime? Doing his work as a blogger, voluntarily and unpaid, seeking to report on a writers’ festival he dearly loves. A full report follows below from a shocked and badly shaken Paul about what happened.

But the big question now is will Paul O’Mahony get an apology from the Listowel Writers Festival Committee? Even more importantly, will he be assured no further action will be taken against him, when going about the business reporting for his blog?

You can help by standing up for the right to blog and getting in touch with the Listowel Writers’ Week Festival and making your voice heard in defense of a brave and courageous member of the blogging community…….

PAUL O’MAHONY REPORT……..

I was on my way out of the Michael Hartnett memorial event at about 2.15pm on Sunday when a cross woman came up to me. She demanded “Have you recorded that session?”

“Yes”, I replied gently – but my heart was starting to beat strongly as I experienced the woman’s anger, the rage on her face.

“Who gave you permission?”

“No one.”

“You are a disgrace. You had no right to do that” – the woman was very agitated and I was nervous.

She reached over and gripped my arm. “How dare you.” Her grip felt fierce. This was in front of at least twenty people including Christopher Reid & Anthony Cronin. I had never met the woman before.

“I’m from the Writers’ Week Committee for 23 years. You are a disgrace. You are not welcome in Writers’ Week.” I felt in a difficult situation: she would not let go of my arm.

“Please let me go. I need to go to Dublin now. I don’t have time to discuss this.”
She still held me – I couldn’t get away from her – and I was expected at Dublin Writers Festival, Abbey Theatre, for the Gallery Press celebration. This was a public confrontation and I felt vulnerable, at risk of doing something stupid like pushing the woman away from me. If I used any force to free myself from her grasp, what might she do to me? It was like being taken hostage in public.

I kept repeating “Please let me go, I have to drive to Dublin.” Eventually, she let me go, and I got out from the crowd into fresh air.

I was shaken, fairly traumatised, shocked. It was the most unpleasant experience I’ve had since returning to Ireland after 30 years in UK.

It was like some sort of secret police person tried to arrest & disgrace me – in front of people who’d been to “Two Poetic Voices in Memory of Michael Hartnett“. The incident was terrible. I hope Michael wasn’t bothered by it.
The implications of all this:

I’ve been blogging Listowel Writers’ Week in an open & transparent manner throughout 2009 & 2010. I don’t know the state of Irish law on such blogging. Never have I made a cent from blogging Writers’ Week. It is an act of love as far as I’m concerned. I wish to bring Listowel to the wider world – so that people who can’t be there can share some of the experience I’ve enjoyed so much. Until now. Do I really need permission to use my iPhone to record material I’ll later use for the benefit of Writers’ Week? If I’m breaking a law, what is the penalty? What is due process for taking a case against me? I would be prepared to defend my action in court – and stand in front of the people of Ireland. Have other bloggers been charged with an offence for recording poets?

Contrast that woman’s action with the experience of Dublin Writers Festival. On Sunday evening, Sinéad Connolly, director of Dublin Writers Festival publicly thanked the bloggers, tweeters & facebookers from the stage of the Abbey Theatre – at the final event of Dublin Writers Festival. I was moved by the honour she paid to those of us who do our best to communicate the joy, excitement and creativity of festivals in Ireland. I could not help comparing the two experiences. What do other Irish festivals think of bloggers who publish and broadcast the festival?

Did the woman who said she was from the Listowel Committee represent the Committee? Is her view and behaviour representative of the values, style and policy of Writers’ Week? Today I think of her as a single individual. But I don’t know for sure. I do want an apology. I feel I’m entitled to a public apology from the whole Committee of Writers’ Week – because I want to be assured that the official view and style is completely different from what I was subjected to. I ask the Chairperson of Listowel Writers’ Week Michael Lynch to make this clear in public not for my benefit but for the sake of others in future. Bloggers, social networkers, new media people – we won’t go away. This dreadful experience may do some good for the future. I care for the reputation of Listowel Writers’ Week and the future audience for all Irish festivals.

I rest my case.

PAUL O’MAHONY

On being locked out of Arms Hotel last night…

June 05, 2010 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: 2010, Accommodation

It wouldn’t have happened in 2009. A group of people who were looking for music, storytelling & song were turned away from the inn at 1.15am. The Listowel Arms Hotel was having none of us.

There was no room for non-residents to sit in the front room of the hotel. They were not entitled to entry. Maybe non-residents should have known they had no business looking to extent their evening.

I was one of them.
I thought of climbing up the ivy and tapping on an upstairs bedroom window. I resisted the battering-ram temptation. And it would have been irresponsible to have started a fire evacuation. We could hardly believe our misfortune.

In 2009…
there was one session in the hotel that went on until well after 4am. John Sheehan played, and there were superb singers.

Audrey Dunphy

Audrey Dunphy was there too in 2009.

In 2010…
When we were turned away, I thought first the management style and priorities had changed.

This morning, I think the hotel might have been full to overflow. There may have been a session in full flight, simply no room to fit in late-comers. I may have missed the session of the Festival.

Can anyone enlighten us?

Joseph O’Connor gets ready for Listowel 2010

May 24, 2010 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: 2010

An article in yesterday’s Sunday Independent newspaper tells the story of Joseph O’Connor’s connections with Listowel Writers’ Week.

“… Joseph O’Connor‘s new novel ‘Ghost Light’ goes on sale next weekend. He will be signing copies at Eason’s, O’Connell Street, Dublin 1, at 12.30pm on Saturday, May 29. He will also give a reading at Listowel Writers’ Week on June 4.”

Is Joseph on Twitter? I must check…

I find his website or blog but, oh dear, that’s a different Joseph O’Connor – an NLP guy. Must have a more careful look…
This is what Google gives me first for Joseph O’Connor – but it’s not up to date…
This is what Wikipedia offers – but it’s not up to date either
This is what RTE offers – bang up to date podcast.

I don’t think Joseph O’Connor is on Twitter – so I can’t contact him and ask him if he’d be generous enough to write a few words for this blog… Pity. But I’ll not miss him in Listowel.

George Rowley – the Open Mic @ Listowel

May 16, 2010 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: 2010, events, participants, workshop

I went into the White House Pub in Limerick on Wednesday evening. The poets were gathered for their weekly session. Matthew Gedden was going to read from his new collection “Swimming to Albania“…

My intention was to read a poem or two with all the other poets who surrounded the guest.

A man in a dark coat clutching a paper muttered “Hello Paul“. I didn’t know him. “Hello, how do you know me?” “Listowel” – and then I realised he was one of the poets who’d read in The Kingdom Bar last year. A Listowel poet who’d performed under the light of George Rowley.

Here’s George Rowley singing – a YouTube video shot in the poor light of the pub. Those of us who know George’s style know he sings, dances, rhymes and generally makes a lovely atmosphere for many hours during Writers’ Week.

The man in the dark jacket told me James McGrath will take George’s place this year. James will be MC (master of ceremonies) in The Kingdom Bar two or three times – when so many people crowd in to perform and partake.

I’d like to wish James well. George Rowley is an impossible act to emulate. Keep George’s seat warm in 2010.

ps I first met James McGrath at Listowel Writers’ Week in 2007. We did the Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill poetry workshop together.

Michelin Guide on Listowel Writers’ Week

April 14, 2010 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: 2010, connections, events

Michelin Guide says Listowel & North Kerry has a fine literary reputation… (a short piece)

There is a list of 14 places recommended…

Video footage from Listowel Writers’ Week 2009

March 06, 2010 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: participants, poem, poems, poet, poetry, Song

Gabriel Byrne & taxi driver

George Rowley sings

Pauline Fayne reads “Carol

John McCarthy reads

Two doves mating

LWW Takes a Great Leap Forward for 2010

January 20, 2010 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: 2010, blogs, connections, events, historical, organisers, preparations, Reflections, starting up

Today Listowel Writers’ Week joined the new world. The Festival published its revamped website, which looks great.

But it had a good website last year.

The great leap forward is the simultaneous launch of its Facebook page and Twitter identity. This change is significant. It’s just in time for the 40th anniversary of LWW Literary Festival. I’ve immediately sent a request to be admitted as a Facebook Friend.

In my opinion, it would have been better if the Festival set up its Facebook presence differently – made it possible to become a “Facebook Fan” of Writers’ Week. But the big step it to get out where the public is.

The Festival is in Listowel for a few days every year, but there is a whole world of people who can’t make it to Listowel. There are so many who would be interested to know what’s going on. This Facebook presence give everyone a chance of linking up with the spirit of Listowel Writers’ Week. John B Keane and Bryan McMahon would have approved. They always wanted the Festival to break the boundaries of the parochial.

The Twitter move is dramatic.
Once you go on Twitter, you have to engage. People follow you, and you can’t afford to ignore them – it damages your reputation if you offer nothing to your followers. You have to tweet. People can see how serious you are about sharing, linking, engaging… Twitter is a medium which exposes a lot of your soul.
As soon as I got alerted to @writersweek on Twitter, I followed. I urge you all to do the same. Nothing will do more to raise the profile of LWW, all round the world, than a really good presence on Twitter.

It’s still not clear to me what this blog’s plan for LWW2010 is to be.
We are completely independent of the Festival Committee. We love the Festival. We’d love the Committee to love us, but we have no right to expect it. During 2009 Festival, the organising committee were civil to us. But if they liked anything we did, they didn’t let us know.

I have huge emotional attachment to Listowel Writers’ Week Festival.
It would be wonderful to continue to blog it again. I am completely convinced that all Festivals that are any good should be blogged. It’s all about making the hard work of organising the Festival visible to the audience of the future. All valuable Festivals deserve to be out there, reaching round the globe.

We’ve heard a lot about the Irish Diaspora, what about the Listowel Writers’ Week Diaspora?

This is surely a day for celebration. May the Fesitival of the Future be a credit to the joyful spirit of its founders…

The Joy of Writing on the Kerry50

January 03, 2010 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: blogs, connections, events, historical

A fine piece of writing here from The Joy of Writing blog

Another report here from Global Comment …

Irish Times report on Listowel Assault & Courtroom Drama

December 23, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: connections, events, historical

Today, Wednesday 23 December, The Irish Times published these two letters…

On Monday 21 December, The Irish Times report

On 19 December, the Irish Examiner reported

Last Saturday, 19 December, The Irish Times published this…

Other newspaper articles here


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