Monday, September 29, 2008

Castle Chester

Isn't that a grand sounding name? That's where I spent Saturday night, chewing the writerly fat with a friend, and two new roomies that have moved into the Castle with her.

My friend is doing the MA at QUB that I've just finished; except in fiction, and one of her roomies is also doing the MA; except in poetry. My word, but her work is magnificent. She's a relatively young Canadian poet and I got to see a sample of her work. I have a feeling that the world will be seeing a lot more of Maureen Evans before long.

There's a really interesting walk along the beach front in Whitehead that takes you towards a light house. The lighthouse is located at the top of a crumbling cliff, and the walkway is designed in steps and bumps that go up and down and around and back. It would be a real treasure for my kids to investigate, that's for sure. Apparently people come from all around to enjoy this unusual walk that incorporates a good deal of cardio-vascular activity as well as spectacular nature, seascapes and bird watching.

Friday, September 26, 2008


I'm not usually very good at waiting for anything. I like to have my time mapped out, so that as I head towards goal A, I'm quietly working away on goal B. Or C or all the way down to Z.

In the next few months I should be starting work on a third collection. I know that sounds like planning ahead, but I think that ignoring the present in favour of the future is a good way of tricking myself whilst I wait.

I'll be waiting for my results. While that happens I'm getting on with the CW classes, which have kicked off again in Dundalk. They're a lot more organised this time, or so I hope. I'm also hoping to get classes going in Newry as well: there's a feature in this week's Newry Reporter about the classes and a bit about me as well. I have an idea for the future involving cross-border co-operation in creative arts that just might work...

And there's a few things that I'd like to enter the current MS in - who knows?

In the meantime a few quiet weeks wouldn't go amiss. Some new writing? Oh yes. I'm brewing a lot of ideas.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Meme thing

Liz in Gran Canaria tagged me to list six unspectacular things about myself.

1. I have size 6 feet, 0r 39 if you do European sizes.
2. I have one thumb smaller than the other.
3. I used to bite my nails. I gave them up three years ago.
4. I really, really love tea. So much so that I limit it to three cups a day.
5. I have no pets (currently).
6. I'm not mad about 'spurt' as I fondly call my husbands obsession with anything that involves a team and balls of varying sizes.

Terms & conditions!
1. link the person who tagged you: Done see above.
2. mention the rules on your blog: (these are them)
3. list 6 unspectacular things about you: (see above)
4. tag 6 other bloggers by linking them: Debi Minx and Rachel

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Time to Let Go

It is done!

It has 56 pages; 6336 words (a lovely palindrome of numbers), and contains 48 poems, which have been whittled down from about 80. The poems all lean against each other nicely after much arranging and re-arranging. It has a simple one-word name, which pleases me and feels representative of the collection as a whole.

It needs just one more proof and I will print and bind two copies of it. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you: my dissertation. Four months of hard work: editing, refining, re-editing, refining, re-writing, panicking, re-editing, organising, a bit more panicking (just for good measure) and finally some paper, a cover and some glue.

It's hard to believe that a year ago I was finishing off an End of Course Assessment for the Last module of my OU degree, whilst beginning the coursework for the MA at Queen's in Belfast. A year later, I feel a little wiser about the process of writing poetry and very, very pleased with the results of my labours. I feel I've come a good ways closer to gaining the poetry goals I set myself.

I wish I could say that I'm taking a break, but the demands of setting up Creative Writing classes for the fall term have to be sorted out... as well as a few other new ventures that may (hopefully) come on line.

In the meantime - yee-flippin-ha! :D

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Speaking of Performance

Poetry Ireland have sent out details of the brand new event being organised for October 2nd, 2008.

It's a marathon cornucopia of poetry and poets, a veritable glut of word-gorging, and you can see the full details on the Poetry Ireland website. Each county will be represented by at least two poets (some have more) and it's being billed as... tan tan ta... All-Ireland Poetry Day (I wonder are they being a little infected by the GAA and the All-Ireland hurling and football finals... :) ).

Oh, and I've been asked to represent the Wee County: Louth (so called because it's the smallest county in Ireland, not for any other reason!), alongside Paddy Dillon, amongst others... so I am really chuffed to bits to be involved in this marathon Poetry Fest!

And in other news, eldest food-muncher has just received his Junior Cert results today. He is very, very pleased with himself, as am I and all of us at home. The boy done good! Now, the teeny, tiny matter of getting him through the two year senior cycle and into college... hmm.

*Late Addendum: Patrick Chapman has also been confirmed for the Louth Lineup - I'm looking forward to meeting him - he has a collection out recently: 'Breaking Hearts and Traffic Lights.' I hope he brings spare copies!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Poetry for Performance

Well, there's something interesting (?!?) going on in the poetry world, when the Daily Telegraph gets together with Andrew Motion to see what sort of poems it can garner for a Poetry for Performance competition.

Enough has been said about what performance poetry is, and what it isn't, what it can be and when it succeeds, so I'm not about to weigh in with some lengthy considered response on what I think it is, or isn't. Sorry!

I will be interested to see what the competition throws up, though... entries are limited to 180 words on relationships: the loss or lack of, whichever suits your method. And the closing date is the 5th of October. Entries by snail mail or email, see link above.

Plenty of time to hone that gem.

Friday, September 05, 2008

No Rest for the Wicked Mummy

A very busy week this week, talk about hitting the ground running! I went up to Belfast on Tuesday employing my usual method of two-birds-one-stone.

I saw American Music Club in the Empire and got to talk poetry the next morning for almost two hours. AMC were astonishing. I've heard Mark Eitzel sing on his abums; especially Love Songs for Patriots, which I brought home from San Francisco in 2005, but nothing had prepared me for the delivery he gives live. Woah - I was near blown off me seat by the emotion he packs into his gorgeous Guinness velvet voice (I may be a little smitten).

I started reading about AMC's stormy history when I got back to my friend's house; it is she who is obsessed with them, having god knows how many of the albums, books and there's more coming, she told me yesterday. Safe to say, I think she is a fan. And now I am one too!

Wednesday, after said poetry chat, off to Dublin for the second leg of the all-singing all-dancing Babsie tour of Ireland. I was going to Poetry Ireland's launch for three Salmon books just out this year: Kevin Higgin's 'Time Gentlemen, Please,' Lorna Shaughnessy's 'Torching the Brown River,' and Susan Millar DuMars's 'Big Pink Umbrella.'

A very enjoyable evening and came home with all three books, which I've loved reading for their difference to each other. I hear Salmon have brought out Todd Swift's new 'Seaways,' and Kevin and Susan will be reading with Todd, amongst many others at a gala evening in November, in London. But I jump ahead too far there!

Last night, Thursday, I visited Virginia. That's Virginia, Co. Cavan. This seemingly sleepy town has a festival of new theatre writing happening all this week. New plays have been selected for 'reading,' on stage before an audience. I believe the plays were solicited by open competition, by the Livin Dred Theatre Company, which is based in the Ramor Theatre in Virginia. This new theatre company are already beginning to get a good name for themselves and judging by the cast reading the play, 'Leopoldville,' last night, are attracting the talent too.

The play was written by Jaki McCarrick, one of the Summer School tutors. It was interesting to hear the play read, having to insert the action in our own minds. I think this play will be one to watch in the future: it's set in a border town and is a fictionlised dramatization of an appalling murder that took place about fifteen or more years ago. Five youths attacked a run-down publican in his own pub... but that's about as much info as you really need to know. The play investigates the calibre of mind of people who would do something so evil and there are lots of connections between the play and 'Heart of Darkness.' Good old Joseph Conrad.

Anyhow, enough gallivanting about in the arts world - I have a house to clean and brats to feed.

Monday, September 01, 2008

The Sound of Silence!

Today is the first day of the new school year! I am practically dancing on my keyboard here, because the peace is simply heavenly after all the running around this weekend. There was a lot of last minute stuff to be bought: pencil cases, things to stuff in pencil cases, things to stuff into the things in pencil cases and another pair of trousers for one of the little ones, because I'd optimistically bought him a pair for his right age, forgetting that he's on the small side, because he's a twin.

Anyway, I come back after my morning walk to post. Two fine books from Salt: Me and the Dead by Katy Evans Bush, and Balancing on the Edge of the World by Elizabeth Baines. Both look extremely yummy from the quick dip I've had. But I'm restraining myself, as I've got more writing to do than can be good for you.

The dissertation is almost due: a little over three weeks, or less... :/ and I really must get my finger out and get the bleeder done. It looks like fifty poems at the moment, the order is wrecking my head and I'm veering from thinking it's a total load of rubbish, to thinking it's okay. Pffft! Revisions, revisions, revisions... if you say it enough times it begins to take on a completely new meaning.

And did I mention how happy I was to be rid of my lil' darlings..?