Listowel Writers' Week Fringe

Blogging Listowel's Literary Scene
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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…

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.

Watch out Listowel Writers’ Week – here comes West Cork Literary Festival

June 05, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: competition, connections, creative writing, events, localinfo, organisers

Coming up on the inside lane, is a cheeky Literary Festival…

Why do I call it “cheeky”?

According to Ruth Flanagan, Cork County Librarian:

“The West Cork Literary Festival can now, with some justification, be regarded as Munster’s premier literary festival.”

Does she not know Kerry is in Munster?

Does she speak with the arrogant justification of a West Corkonian?

Does she only say this because she works for Cork County Library Service?

Or might she have a pint?

We’ll return to this issue in due course.

I just want to flag it up, so that you can take a look at what they are offering & compare it with Listowel Writers’ Week.

I’d like to publicly invite Ruth Flanigan [who’s responsible for publishing my first short story, “The Ring” in Bealtaine Short Story Competition 2006] to come on here and support her contention.

It would be wonderful to welcome her on here, wouldn’t it?

If anyone knows Ruth Flanigan, please let her know of the invitation.

It would be a fine opportunity for her to market West Cork Literary Festival 2009.

It runs in Bantry, from Sunday 5 July – Saturday 11 July, so it is a ‘full’ week.

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]

Imagining the conversation between Brian McMahon & J B Keane …

June 02, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: historical, Imagining, organisers, preparations, storytelling, theatrical plays

[In the bar of J B Keane’s pub, Listowel, Kerry, Ireland, winter 1969)

Brian: John?

J B : Yes Brian. Will you take one for the road?

Brian: Go on, hit me. I’ve been thinking John…

J B : I’m sorry for your trouble Brian. Is that head of your’s throbbing again?

Brian: John, we have no Hell’s Angels in Listowel, no Black Panthers either.

J B : Tis drawing Brian. I like to let it sit until the dark has settled in.

Brian: You pull a great pint for such a young man John, as we all know. But what are we putting back?

J B : Into the youth? Is it the futute of the young people or the ancients that you’re thinking of?

Brian: Tis time we put down a foundation John. We’ll not be here for long. As they say in Paris, the youth deserve the earth left to them cleansed with the best their writers can deliver from tombstones.

J B : No wonder your head’s aglow. I see light in those eyes.

Brian: Let’s see if we can gather a fair crowd John. A fair crowd in Listowel. And get them all talking, all exciting, all doing their own thing. Let’s see if we can show them the Kerry way to revolution. Words John, imagination from the soul, for the soul. with the soul. I have a dream John, that one day there’ll be a fair in Listowel, and twon’t be cattle starring and drovers selling. It’ll be girls and fellas driving their writing into new places. I have a dream John that’ll go out from this parish, watered by the streams of the hinterland. I dream John, therefore I am, in Listowel on a damp dark night.

J B : I’m with you. If you’re going on the long road, and putting in writers to this pub, so that we can listen, and fill the town with the music of stories, I’ll walk the road with you. We’ll have one for the road together.

Mary Keane: Yee better hurry up boys.

Brian: You’re right Mary, we better hurry up. John, I hear the twittering of birds, a face-book of voices, your tube of toothpaste refilled, even the inter-netting of artist’s from Listowel with the wanderers from abroad this parish.

J B : Jaysus, that’s virtually a feast.

Brian: Yes John, a feast for sore eyes. They’ll be up fierce late in Listowel that week. Let’s make a “writers’ week”, and make a meal of it.

J B : Be Jaysus Brian, you’re some dreamer for a teacher.

Mary Keane: Good night Brian, safe home.

Brian: Good night to you both.

J B : Tis indeed Brian.

Poem for the road to Listowel (first draft)

May 24, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: poem

On the road to Listowel, I met a woman,

Ozymandiah was her name.

Covered in words from hair to sole,

dressed in syllables of the finest text,

a wagtail by her side.

“Are you the man from Abbeyfeale,

or the fellow from Kanturk?”

I’m neither dear,

nor inkwell lad you’ve met before,

with a pen at the end of his nose.”

“Oh jester fool, I’m in dire straits.

The rain is down, the hillsides gone.

I’ve passed nothing but cattle wand’ring,

the priest never came to show the way.”

“Is it Writers’ Week you’re after?”

She looked me through, and uttered back:

“You’re a lettered (or Kerry) man I see.”

I knew that flash of vision rare, it drew me out:

Come walk the miles with me.”

The wagtail passed the pothole, hopped forward on the road.

“Tis a reading hallowed in these eyes,

a voice I carry for ears,

a journey for all to hear.”

A shadow stretched, cloud open and still,

I found the gift of words:

“Tis written on your face,

inscribed on lines of smile -

paragraphs for the wise.

We have haste to make, the sun is up.

There are swallows in Listowel.”

She drew a handbag from under shawl,

her parchment from deep inside.

On blotting paper, I drew this map,

dried my lover’s name.

There are islands here, beyond Duagh,

parishes you’ve yet to know.

I’ll take you there if you hold my hand.

Her hair shone out like diamonds,

she said she was queen of the land.

Her lips apart, her tongue now loose:

“There’s no way back from Writers’ Week.

If we go there, we’re lost to dreams,

cause deep inside the fingers there,

entwined for all, beware,

is the DNA of another way

and all those streams, and all those Keanes.”

So woke the tale I share today.

We will be there, no need to care.

I’ve heard it said we’ll rendezvous,

in a public house or hotel bar.

We’ll know a friend has come to birth,

has walked this land,

has travelled the earth.


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