Listowel Writers' Week Fringe

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Jack Deacy’s Photograph: short story by Mary Lavery Carrig

June 03, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: connections, historical, participants, photographs, short story

JACK DEACY’S PHOTOGRAPH

I had entirely forgotten about the photograph.

Though in my defence, it had been all of ten years since the stranger had brought his soft blue eye to the camera lens. He had captured me forever on that early summer morning as I’d strolled into Listowel’s Square.

You have such an open face!’ he’d declared. ‘ May I take your photograph please?’ His voice was softly American.

He seemed oblivious to my sons, the youngest of whom watched from his pram and to which his older brothers were firmly attached. They peered from behind the pram handles, their mouths smeared in ice cream.

I’d come into our local market town, full of a private anticipation, to savour a little of the Writers’ Week atmosphere, to tuck it up and carefully carry it’s pleasures home with me again.

Thank you so much!’ he’d said and that moment froze in time.

What charm had I displayed? What ever had he seen in my expression?

Despite the shuffling of feet and the dizzy movements of the crowded Square, I watched closely as the American gentleman dissolved away towards the southwest corner of the Square. His white cotton jacket gleamed under the midday sun and I lost my stranger by the entrance to the Arms Hotel.

My attention must have switched then to the group of serious and bearded men who were huddled in the intensity of their talk by the bank’s railing. I’d moved closer to eavesdrop. Three tall laughing women, all in mini skirts, broke into the gathering and the banter and good natured party moved on slowly up the street.

My boys had finished their ice cream cones.

A decade passes and deepens the jagged edged crows feet that hover around my eyes.

I’m searching for a friend and am en route to the smoker’s enclave at the rear of the hotel. It overlooks the rushing river Feale and is a hub for many riveting chat up lines and some excess during yet another year of a Listowel Writers’ Week festival.

Passing through an annex room in order to reach the smoker’s deck, I am moving swiftly. A man looks up from his meal. We exchange a cursory glance.

Some moments later, he is standing by my side and the Feale is busy crooning in the background.

You’re the one!’ he whispers. ‘You’re the one I photographed!

As it does, memory finally comes in torrents. The emotional content spills back.
Gently and gradually, Jack Deacy, (that is Deacy with a ‘c’) guided the process of recollecting.

Yes he has put together a collection of faces photographed on his camera.

As one does at Writers Week, we indulge in one another’s company, in one another’s aspirations.

Stories are traded, backgrounds are filled in and e-mails are exchanged.

Jack plans to travel to Ireland once again for Writers Week. So, what of the recession? There is no credit crunch so heavy as to stop him in his tracks.

He is in the mood for celebration. He is in the mood for forging friendships and sure isn’t that the stuff of festivals anyway?

As for me, my children are bigger now and no longer hold the handles of a pram.

It is time here in North Kerry to watch each drama as it unfolds, to listen to inflections once again..…. to hear a catchy monologue, a rhyme or fresh philosophy…….. to observe ideas merge and become a promise.

I look forward to the layers of conversations where I will finally be released once more into a dappled, sweet apple world, wrapping myself in the revelry of words.

Mary Lavery Carrig JACK DEACY’S PHOTOGRAPH

[hyperlinks added by Paul O'Mahony]

Book launch at The Seanchai, Saturday 30th

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

I’m sitting next to Thomas P. Gilmartin Snr. from Ohio on the first row of the audience. Mary Lavery Carrig had introduced me to him when I was passing the stone seat opposite the statue of Bryan MacMahon as I came in. She had told him that the poem he was handing out to every and anyone for the past couple of days had been posted on the blog. He was a little startled I think, but pleased.

At the table in front to my right are seated three women which turn out to be Marian Relihan of the Writers’ Week Committee, Joan McBreen who birthed the anthology “The watchful Heart” which is about to be launched and who is the author of the collection of poetry, “Heather Island“, which is about to be launched.
Marian gets up to welcome us.
She introduces Prof. Patricia Coughlan of the School of English, UCD who is launching both books in conjunction with Joan McBreen of Salmon Poetry.
She tells us that the proceeds are going towards Cancer Care West.
“The Watchful Heart” is an anthology of new Irish poets. Reading it prompted her to think of George Herbert, the English Metaphysical poet.
She lauds a previous collection of women writers brought out in 1999 by Joan, and hopes we are all feminists.
This anthology gives “sense of room to … wander with enough from each poet to give you a sense of what they are like” and contains contributions from 10 women and 14 men. The anthology also contains prose pieces from each poet which gives an interesting counterpoint to the poetry. She thinks there is a Dublin bias [in Irish poetry], but that is not evident in this anthology. She talks about the “looser forms” in some of the Irish poems by for example Louis de Paor. Also stuff from performance poets. Leontia Flynn‘s essay about having to write – She gives a special mention to the oral poetry of Kevin Higgins which is “sassy“.
She quotes from a poem by Cherri Smith.
Joan is a poet of place – the place being the West and the North West. Her collection has 3 sections, many of the poems are place poems. “The central long section is personal experiences used as material
She ends by reading one Haiku from the 10 at the centre of the book.

Ivory
A wedding gift
The ivory handled knives
warmed by your fingers.

Joan McBreen reads. She’s been coming to Writers’ Week since 1986 and thanks Proff C. for a wonderful introduction.
She will read a few poems from her own book and then ask 4 contributors to the anthology present in the audience to read.
She reads “Mobretia on the Road to …” – ‘When you left absence and distance became companions” – a poem of loss.
She thanks Writers’ Week for the inclusion of workshops from which all writers can learn.
Loss is the tobacco smoke recalled in the lilac garden where we met”
Winter Light, Lissadell” – “The ghosts of my parents pick flowers at Lissadell
A poem at the grave of Pablo Neruda in Chile – a pilgrimage she and her husband made there.
The last poem in the volume – from her time spent living in Switzerland where the rain was what she missed most about Ireland

Cherri Smith from Co. Derry now living in London reads – she says that “we as poets are especially attuned to the changes the climate“.
About being in Spain, walking inland from the ruined shore, hearing a horrible noise from somewhere – “These Arts” – “some surgery the mountains had a taste for
John McAuliff from Listowel now working at University of Edinburgh. “Return” – about looking for destruction and enjoying it
Who is Anne Kennedy I ask myself?
Eileen Sheehan from Co. Kerry. “Where you are ” which is about displacement.
Paul Perry, originally from Dublin. “Dawn Sun” about visiting his father living in Budapest in the early 90s, with whom he had had a difference of opinion.

The four poets are asked to sit at the top so they can see the faces of those who will be asking the questions. John McGrath asks Joan to tell us about Ann Kennedy. When she died, Ann left a vacuum for a while in Galway cafe society and was terribly missed. John McAuliff adds that she was an American poet published by Salmon – she had a brightness about her as a person and a poet.

Joan is asked about putting the anthology together. She praises the professionalism of all the contributors and the ease with which it all came together thanks to them.
Cherri Smith tells how writing poetry has changed from an emotional response (writing to find out what you feel) to an intellectual response (writing to find out what you think). It’s a very mysterious thing – about transmission, heart and head.
John McAuliff talks of the danger of nostalgia when writing about Irish material while living in England.
Gabriel FitzMaurice mentions the “internal exile” of all poets.
A lady asks why publishers don’t include a CD of the poet reading. Joan McBreen says doing this is a very complicated and expensive exercise given that you need a recording studio and a recording engineer sensitive to the medium and audience of poetry. A man in the audience disagrees, pointing out the ease with which you can record on a laptop and burn to CD. Prof. C adds that lots of poetry clips are available on YouTube.

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.

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 Seanchaí 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.


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