Wednesday, February 27, 2008

In other news...

Did I mention that I was going to Rome?

My dearly beloved hub lost the thread of himself early last winter and booked a weekend away to the Eternal City, as a present for me on the occasion of me getting older than I already was.

It's taken no mean feat of organisation to arrange the finer details, which is what I had to do in order to be able to go anywhere. There will be children stashed in other people's under-stair cupboards; there will be children stashed in other people's dog kennels; there will be children hanging out of other people's lightbulbs - but not out of me!

Yes - a child-free two and a half days, in the company of the hub. Just you watch me move across Rome!

I've always wanted to visit Rome, since I read Middlemarch and then Portrait of a Lady. The female protagonists of both novels go to Rome and visit all the sights: one with her newly married dry, dusty old fart, the other is single but ends up seduced by another American exile (entirely the wrong man for her, but there you go).

In both cases the authors used their knowledge of the 'Grand Tour,' as visiting all the important European cities used to be called, to extend the emotional backdrop - using settings intertwined with the emotional state of the heroines.

Now, I'm not as dramatic as that, but I do like a good ruin - I shall be taking pictures but will be looking for the quirky ones, like the one in my guide book: he's headless, handless and ahem-less, with a set of testicles any bull would be proud of! Hmm. Wonder who he was meant to be, then...

Monday, February 25, 2008

Post Match Analysis

Well! What a magnificently relaxed afternoon Pipe and Slippers turned out to be: some rare talent and a good mix of music and spoken word as well.

After stuffing myself with the best humous, salad and pitta breads (and chocklit cake - yum) that London has to offer (thanks Debi - as always the best hostess I know!), and meeting a brave load of bloggers, we set off on foot to the Ivy House.

First out of the blocks was John T. Ahearn reading from his brand new publication, Pomes. John's work uses form to hang his poems on and he gave an interesting reading of his work, giving us a nice taste for the poems. I read next and was then followed by Rebecca Jade a singer-songwriter whose songs and voice reminded me a lot of Kristin Hersh (in her acoustic phase).

A natter with all the bloggers who bravely came out in support of us showed a strong turn-out: Meloney Lemon, Minx, Debi, Pundy, Lee L. Lowe as well as Emma Darwin of BWBD (her novel is The Mathematics of Love).

We then heard Ben Holden rendering 'Mynatour,' a long poem with deft humour giving a new slant on the metamorphosis theme, followed by 'Starlings' by Wes White.

A rare treat was Jack Blackburn in the best tradition of performance poetry. One of his pieces, a re-working of Macbeth had me and the audience riveted; his nimble wordplay and rhyming worked very well together and he got a huge round of applause for his slot.

Without doubt the organisers saved the very best until last: Ricardo Garcia's beautiful flamenco/classical style of playing guitar had a lot of women stirring longingly ;) in their seats (and perhaps not a few men) and his three pieces earned him a strong call for an encore when he was done. I'm listening to his CD as I'm typing and I hope that he will tour in Ireland in the not too distant future. What a huge talent!

I don't have any pictures, but Debi has already, so check them out! Now I must get some clothes/kids/hair washed in preparation for the exodus to Rome on Friday (sans kids of course).

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Pipe and Slippers

Off travelling again today to London to take part in Pipe and Slippers. I am of course very excited and can't wait to hear John Ahearn reading from his brand new publication, Pomes.

I shall be playing my favourite game of 'spot the blogger' while there - it'll take me mind off the reading.

Wish me luck: I shall read those suggested poems you mentioned and will be thinking of you tomorrow when I read!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Shameless Lion Writing Circle

The plot of the longest piece of literary knitting I have yet seen, has been stirred, thickened and made very interesting by the latest contributor, Meloney Lemon.

There is now talk of how the whole thing will be finished off - and what will Shameless do then...?

In other news, I have a very exciting poetry development to relate - but I can't say anything about it yet!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

How do you top a day like today?

I spent most of today workshopping poems with Michael Longley.

Let me just repeat that: I spent most of today workshopping poems with Michael Longley.

I swear if I never did another thing in my life, I could die quite happily right now! :)

This is the poem by which I first knew his work: Ceasefire. Published just days after the ceasefire in Northern Ireland was declared.

Monday, February 18, 2008

So, you think you like to...

What Be Your Nerd Type?
Your Result: Literature Nerd

Does sitting by a nice cozy fire, with a cup of hot tea/chocolate, and a book you can read for hours even when your eyes grow red and dry and you look sort of scary sitting there with your insomniac appearance? Then you fit this category perfectly! You love the power of the written word and it's eloquence; and you may like to read/write poetry or novels. You contribute to the smart people of today's society, however you can probably be overly-critical of works.

It's okay. I understand.

Artistic Nerd
Social Nerd
Drama Nerd
Gamer/Computer Nerd
Science/Math Nerd
Anime Nerd
What Be Your Nerd Type?
Quizzes for MySpace

I blame Bonnie for this! Seriously, it's just for fun :)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Pipe and Slippers

It seems timely just a week and half before the gig in South London to find out that Chief Biscuit has written a very handsome review of Kairos in a review blog that she keeps.

Kay McKenzie Cooke , as CB is better known, is no mean poet herself: her first collection 'feeding the dogs' (2002) won the Montana New Zealand Book Award's 'Best First Book,' in 2003. Her second collection, made for weather, has just come out recently and is an even stronger collection of work.

Kay's reading of the poems in Kairos is helping me to think of the poems I must select for reading on Sunday 24th February at Pipe and Slippers. The organisers have placed John Ahearn and myself at the head of the bill, kicking off proceedings, and allowing us each a good fifteen minutes for getting a good flavour of our publications across to the listeners, which means that I need to think about more poems to read, rather than the small selection I had already been contemplating.

You should click on the link above to discover who else will be there: for example, Barcelona-based Flamenco guitarist Ricardo Garcia will be stopping by, fresh from a slot at the Royal Albert Hall... and that's just one highlight!

Maybe now is a good time to ask you for your favourite poems from Kairos. You might not be able to be there, but I'll read them all the same, thinking of you as I read. Who knows, something might just come of it.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Oh what a glorious feeling...!

...Everything's going my way...

Well, a bit. Ish. For a while. Yes, I am in a terrific mood, but it's just sun-induced. Imagine. A whole sunny day with mine brood. In the purple transportation machine. On the side of a small bohereen. Beside the sea which was full tide-in. Which sported a pebbly beach with large, jagged rocks, nice bit of yellow lichen too. But the sea made lovely soothing shushing noises... when I sent the children to run off down the road a bit. Okay, a good bit.

An award from Belle. Well, two actually. Let's see if I can insert one of them here somewhere...

Nice, isn't it?

Now, how about Apprentice, Inner Minx, Debi, Shameless and hey, how about you post it on your blog! It's the weather - call me sun-mad!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Joys of...

..writing! O, but spring has sprung here, even if it is cold and I am enjoying my return to college: full as this year's semester is going to be.

On Wednesdays, I attend a class on Life Writing, facilitated by the bould Ian Sansom. I have come across his writing in The Dublin Review (great round-up of the great and good in Irish (and beyond) writing) and The Yellow Nib (journal of the Queen's Seamus Heaney Centre). I believe he also writes for the Guardian (of a Saturday) and he organised a poetry appreciation class last semester, which alas I was unable to attend. You might get a flavour for his writing here, on his well-organised, informative and amusing website.

Yes, I'm gushing, aren't I? It's hard not to gush when you've attended one of Ian's classes: the sheer energy of his delivery; his enthusiasm for books and book recommendations; the simplicity with which he sets sparks blazing in you and the good sound advice he gives on the subject of writing alone, have been worth the fees for the MA alone (not to mention Sinead Morrissey, Medbh McGuckian, Daragh Carville - but enough name-dropping already!).

So, the subject is Life Writing, and the various forms thereof: biographical; essays - whatever you want to explore - it's all there. And the reading list alone is throwing up some wonderful books that I'd never come across: Jack Barzun's Simple and Direct: A Rhetoric for Writers is a lucid example. This book will serve either the beginner writer, or the writer who's ready for a brush-up. It's full of great examples of how not to write and contains exercises for helping you re-appraise how you use your words.

Last week's opening salvo was a twenty point 'Things Writers ought to Know:' otherwise billed as an undergraduate's course in Creative Writing Techniques. Now, I know that some might say that that is terribly reductive - but there is a sense in having it all there; simple and direct, I guess. That's just fifteen minutes from the class!

Anyway. I must go and do my homework while I still have some finger-stumps left to work with: An Essay of 1000 words on a subject from a list I made earlier of 'Things That I Would Like to Write About Before I Die.' When you look at it like that you really don't want to mess about in what's left of your writing career, do you?