Spring Sky Summer

It’s been a busy Spring and Summer promises more fun to come.

To open 2016, Skylight 47 kindly published my poem “London Trans Port” in Issue 6. As both my first poem in print and first publication in Ireland, am doubly delighted.  Skylight 47’s catchphrase is: “possibly Ireland’s most interesting poetry publication” and it has a rightly deserved excellent reputation. It was brilliant to be included in Issue 6.

Early March saw my first trip to Doolin Writer’s Weekend. A boutique festival,  it offered an astonishing range of events for readers and writers alike.  The poetry workshop, run by Stephen Murray was an absolute eye and door opener.  Drawing on the idea of The Deadly Sins, it created the space to access stuff that’s normally uncomfortable. It also provided plenty of ideas for further poems  and I only wish Stephen did more workshops.

 

HotelDoolinWritersWeekend

 

Doolin itself is a wild spot, full of panoramic scenery, close to the Cliffs of Moher. It sits about an hour from Shannon and an hour and a half from Galway city. The time of year means that the various shops are closed and so if you wanted to buy a chocolate bar, you’d have to go into Ennis. The ferries to the Aran Islands are closed as the weather generally doesn’t permit. If you’re on public transport, the timetable is sketchier too.

 

Doolin

 

The rewards are walks like this and a weekend jam packed with the cream of Irish writing talent, in all areas. Plenty of people you’ll have heard of and plenty more you may not, but whose work you ought to know.  Workshops, readings, an open mic, with plenty of live music and craic.  The very well priced weekend ticket includes two lunches and one supper, all good homey food, perfect for the weather, with choices available. Get in early though, as once the Paddywagon tour buses are in, you could be waiting!

Late March saw the publication of a featurette over at Wild Words on my creative process. Another first, it was interesting to have been part of this and made me think more closely about creative process in general.

 

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Early April saw the inclusion of my poem “Myth Wife” in the Beltane 2016 anthology from Three Drops Press.  Another first (inclusion in an anthology), I was absolutely delighted when I saw the cover.  The image “Midsummer Eve” by Edward Hughes, is one of my all time favourite fairytale images.  It felt like a little bit of magic that my poem had found it’s home there.

I’m mentioning firsts a lot. If I’m lucky, there’ll be a few more and then most of the possible firsts of publishing poetry will be done.

Workshop-wise, I did a day workshop at The Poetry School with Mona Arshi. In keeping with Mona’s legal background and thought process, she took us through her well developed arc of creative process, helping us to generate new work and encouraging a mixed level group.

The editing I do for The Bogman’s Cannon continues; I am presently working on two journalism pieces, one of which will be an essay on the treatment of vulnerable adults in Ireland.

The Bogman’s Cannon is breaking new ground, as always, and moving towards video production and live streaming of events and workshops. Keep an eye on the Facebook page or Twitter for more.

For the West Cork Literary Festival this year, I’ve booked to attend Jo Shapcott’s workshop. This seems like an opportunity too good to miss and the festival programme this year looks like another stunner.

 

Publication at The Screech Owl

Delighted to say that a poem has been published over at The Screech Owl. Unfortunately, The Screech Owl website has had to pack it’s bags since, and so I was very lucky to get an acceptance note before that happened. Thanks to the editor. Here is the poem.
 
Swim
 
Diving, a lungful

of held breath

slowly exhaled.

As the world is

restored aqueous.

 

A selkie emerges.

Unconfined by

noise, gravity or

theories of beauty.

 

The ghosts of

ancestral gills

wish to breathe.

Keep me

under their spell.

Air molecules

cascade.

Breathe.

Review of Dave Lordan’s “Lost Tribe of the Wicklow Mountains”

“Lost Tribe of the Wicklow Mountains” is Dave Lordan’s third collection of poetry, all of which are published by Salmon Poetry. Dave Lordan is a poet, performer, playwright, editor and creative writing teacher based in Dublin. He works in Irish radio and press, in person and with groups. One of Ireland’s avant garde and foremost young poets, he is an arresting performer of his work and infectiously enthusiastic about fostering young people’s natural writing talent. This third collection offers much to readers old and new alike, and is accessible to those new to Lordan’s work, dealing with topics such as fatherhood and everyday working lives.

Who are the Lost Tribes and why have you never heard of them before? The Lost Tribes are not only the mythic people who once lived in the mountains; they are you and me in the modern world, having lost touch with ourselves, with beauty and truth.

Loss is one of the overarching themes of this carefully crafted collection: the loss of truth, innocence, trust, freedoms, identity, life itself – all the things that make us both free and human. Lordan begins this exploration beautifully in “Fertility Poem”. In coming down from the mountains, Lordan takes us from being unflawed, free beings, through the ways in which we are required to leave ourselves, by modern life’s dilemmas. Thus we lose ourselves and realise that “lies are the womb and the seed of us”. Armed with this truth and knowledge, our flaws exposed, we are once again freed to be ourselves.

This freedom to be ourselves unencumbered is another theme throughout. Each poem leads smoothly into the next, creating a dynamic, cohesive collection. As much an examination of the political as the personal, Lordan weaves the reader in and out of mythic lands, either as an echo of the modern politician’s broken promises, resulting in losses of cultural identity and security, or Ireland’s myths and fairytales that have become lost in the modern world. And so we have lost touch with some of our magic.

Almost as if to reassure the reader that the poet is not lost himself, Lordan returns to one of his old forms – the use of Hiberno-English, in “Hope”. In his work, this continues to be an engaging and potent syntax. This is however, no backward glance. It is a moving forward, retaining one of the things that Lordan does best, while integrating this collection with previous collections, weaving another thread for readers familiar with his work.

Using ethereal imagery, these poems are both savage and tender, kicking the reader in the guts at times; considering difficult truths such as the high rate of suicide amongst young Irish men, in “My Mother Speaks to Me of Suicide”, or where our food comes from and who works to provide it, as in “Discover Ireland”. Nothing is taboo. The unseen and unheard are made tangible.

At times, the view is apocalyptic, such as in “The Return of the Earl” and “I Dream of Crowds”. But it does not follow here that this has to be an end. This diverse collection is uncompromising in uncovering the truth, knowing that this is a requirement of recovery of both self and hope. Ultimately, this collection strikes a fine balance between the loss of hope, without leaving the reader hopeless.

Dual II

Afloat in the new sea.
Wake to dreams of
the old country.
This curious mix of
wanting the familiar,
while hating how
it alters the now.
Reality’s tumble dryer.
No better than
yesterday’s messes.
A visitor now
where once
part of the scene.

Kiss the Accent

A mutual attraction instinct,
preceded by sexual innuendo.
Honourable intentions
or desire for perverse pleasure.
You offer no indication
as to your motivation.
Tell me it’s my accent.
But you can’t kiss an accent.

But I would kiss you.
In the still of a
Lexington Avenue night.
Kiss your tanned body all over.
Til morning interrupted
the pleasure with the pain
of trivial matters wanting attention.
Awake to fear and insecurity.

Disconnection

Now I am the dark well.
Grief rendered me watery.
Gushing in unguarded moments.
When another too close
to these bones.
The remnants left me,
after lakes wept.
All impressions of
solidity, dissolved.
Disconnected from you.
Drowned in water and the deep.

Indian Opportunity

Bright, crisp
September mornings.
The elusive magic
of railway stations,
foreign faces.
Chai in clay cups,
red earth recycled.

As life’s own cycle.
Adventure on every corner.
Sadhu’s promises
of grace and nirvana.
Reflections of life’s
second chances.
Sunrise itself
their metaphor.