Monday, September 24, 2018

Last few days to register for 'Appreciation of Poetry' course

There are just a few days left to book for 'Appreciation of Poetry' - the evening course I will be teaching for the Centre for Adult Learning at NUI Galway again, starting in early October. The NUI Galway short courses booklet is linked here with course information on page 4 and a registration form at the back. Please spread the word! 
Erato, Muse of Lyric Poetry by Charles Meynier (1800)
Here are what previous course participants said:
"Friendly, informative approach, great poems chosen to illustrate course, the fact that the tutor is a poet and the handbook. Would definitely instill a love of/appreciation of poetry." 
"I thoroughly enjoyed the variety of themes presented and illustrated. We were challenged to enter into the spirit of the course. I was encouraged to write again after a pause of several years."
"Our tutor was very encouraging as well as great fun! Access to poems from a variety of different poets – many of whom I had never heard of!"
"Enjoyed course very much. Teaching very engaging, passionate and encouraging. Relaxed, friendly atmosphere. Great to get emails from teacher, notes, slides, etc. and the half-time break!"
"This course was most interesting and a lot of fun. Each session was very well researched and presented."
"The breadth of vision of the course and the teaching style of our lecturer. The classes were enlightening and fun."

Friday, January 26, 2018

Interview about Cúirt in this weeks Galway Advertiser

Earlier this week, Kernan Andrews, Arts Editor & Political Correspondent of The Galway Advertiser, kindly invited me to an interview for the newspaper about my plans and vision as Programme Director of the Cúirt International Festival of Literature. Kernan and I had an enjoyable, wide-ranging conversation that lasted for over and hour and half, and the resulting piece has just been published on page 36 of this week's Galway Advertiser

Thanks so much to Kernan for those great questions and for his editorial skill in compressing all we discussed into this article, which I hope you enjoy!

Photo: Boyd Challenger

Thursday, November 30, 2017

On the 50th anniversary of Patrick Kavanagh's Death

Patrick Kavanagh died on this day fifty years ago - 30th November 1967 - and I cannot let the day pass without paying my respects to him and pausing to reflect on one of my all-time favourite poets. For now, I'm just going to post one of his poems below, 'Innocence' and I am hopeful of finding a quiet moment to write more in the coming days about Kavanagh and his poetry and, specifically, about my memories of curating the programme of events for his centenary year, thirteen years ago, in 2004.

Patrick Kavanagh saving the hay in 1934 with his sister, Josie and brother Peter

As I move through a different phase of life now, with two small boys of my own and the wisdom of experience, Kavanagh's words remain radiant as ever. The poet's confidence in stating that 'love's doorway to life / is the same doorway everywhere' still resonates, as does his celebration of the everyday, the simple things and 'the placeless Heaven that's under all our noses'. Kavanagh urges us to pay attention; he said that 'to get to know even a small field is a lifetime's exploration'. The subject of 'Innocence' is the little field his mother purchased for him in 1926, which is still visible under Rocksavage Fort in Inniskeen. The reluctant farmer preferred to use the hedges as shelving for his books! 

Nobody is laughing at Patrick's 'hungry hills' now. To those of you who have yet to visit Kavanagh Country, I would urge you to do so as soon as you can and, especially, to call into his former parish church, which is now the Patrick Kavanagh Rural and Literary Resource Centre. And if you are fortunate enough to encounter the very wonderful Rosaleen Kearney - Kavanagh expert and all-round exceptional human being - please give her my very best.

They laughed at one I loved—
The triangular hill that hung
Under the Big Forth. They said
That I was bounded by the whitethorn hedges
Of the little farm and did not know the world.
But I knew that love's doorway to life
Is the same doorway everywhere.
Ashamed of what I loved
I flung her from me and called her a ditch
Although she was smiling at me with violets.
But now I am back in her briary arms
The dew of an Indian Summer morning lies
On bleached potato-stalks—
What age am I?
I do not know what age I am,
I am no mortal age;
I know nothing of women,
Nothing of cities,
I cannot die
Unless I walk outside these whitethorn hedges.

Patrick Kavanagh

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Getting set to teach Appreciation of Poetry at NUI Galway again

Only a few days left - until this Friday - to book a place on the 'Appreciation of Poetry' course I'll be teaching for Adult Education at NUI, Galway, which starts next Tuesday, 3 October at 7pm. Contact Berna Morgan on 091-494055 to book your spot. Full details on page 6 of the NUI Galway Short Courses booklet here
Poems by a variety of Irish and international writers, including Louis MacNiece, William Carlos Williams, Pablo Neruda, Frank O’Hara, Elizabeth Bishop, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Paula Meehan and many others will be explored in a lively, informal atmosphere. Some of the themes addressed include: how poetry is made; the sonnet; the villanelle and forms of rhyme; poetry in free verse; language and vision in ekphrasis; image, nature and description in the haiku; poetry of common things and the antipoetic and spoken word. Let's put the adventure back in reading poetry; lets find the music and fun in prosody! Here's the inimitable Kim Addonizo doing just that:

Prosody Pathetique
Trochees tear your heart to tatters.
Lovers leave you broken, battered.
Fuck you, fuck off: spondees. So what.
Get high. Drop dead. Who cares. Life sucks.
Dactyls are you getting boozed in your underwear,
thinking of someone who used to be there.
These are iambs: Dolor. Despair.
And going on and on about your pain,
and sleeping pills, and dark and heavy rain.
Now for the anapests: in the end, you’re alone.
In the bag, in the dark; in a terrible rut.
With a smirk, in a wink, the wolves tear you apart.
Kim Addonizio

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Exciting News: New Director of the Cúirt International Festival of Literature

We are on the cusp of June and I'm surprised to discover that I haven’t blogged in a full six months! Don’t consign me to the netherworld of dormant Blogspot sites just yet though – I have some valid excuses! It’s been a roller coaster of vicissitudes since the turn of the year, replete with health scares, the tragic loss of an old friend, and our two boys catching horrible flu viruses (we are all fine again, thankfully) but also with bright new career and extra-curricular opportunities. In March I was invited to be the Guest Editor of the next couple of issues of The Weary Blues - a neat online journal of literature and art founded by writer and digital humanities scholar, James O'Sullivan of New Binary Press. I’m thoroughly enjoying the range of themes and vibrant voices in all the work I’ve received to date. While our window for submissions for Issue 8 just closed last Friday (26 May), don’t worry if you missed this submission period as it will reopen for issue 9 anon. Keep an eye out here and on The Weary Blues website for further details soon.

Another development I'm excited to report relates to my professional life. After lovingly attending the Cúirt International Festival of Literature as an audience member for many years, (since I first came to Galway to study for my BA back in the early 1990s….oops am I giving away my age now?), the planets have aligned, and last month I was appointed Programme Director of the very same festival. Cúirt has brought many joyful memories over the years, of hearing great authors read their work and interact with other writers, and then of getting to meet them in person as they signed books (see pic below), or spying literary luminaries such as J.M. Coetzee sauntering down Eglinton street in the afternoon during the festival week.
I had the pleasure of meeting Tobias Wolff at the 2016
Cúirt International Festival of Literature
It is an honour to be appointed to this post and I’m already imagining new generative possibilities for the festival, engaging themes, potential collaborations and interesting pairings of writers and interviewers, etc. (The Connaught Tribune published a short piece about my experience as an arts curator and recent appointment to Cúirt last month here.)
So maybe now I can somewhat justify the citadel of books that is our home with evidence of my sprees in Charlie Byrnes Bookshop, Kennys and the Book Depository overflowing in every nook and cranny of our house! My husband – also a bibliophile, but not as much of a book hoarder as me – is uncommonly forgiving and, thankfully, a great assembler of bookcases! Watch this space for gradual announcements of highlights for Cúirt 2018 (23-29 April) which I may be able to sneakily share with you on the QT over the coming months….!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Busy this November - Harp Studies, Winter Warmer Weekend and History Ireland

November is hurtling past this year with loads happening! Normally, around this time, I’d be digging out my cosy socks, slippers, books to be read and reaching for the hot chocolate. This year, however, I’m not quite ready to hibernate! Perhaps all the unanticipated sunny weather we were blessed with in October has energized us more than usual for the short days of November.

The discussion around the 1916 centenary has gained momentum again in the final two months of the year. Last month I highlighted the poetic contributions of some of the leaders of the 1916 Rising in a talk about revolutionary poetry from Ireland and around the world at Galway City Museum. The event drew a lively audience and a vibrant post-talk discussion ensued. It was fascinating to hear Ndrek Gjini talk about his friend and fellow Albanian, the writer, Visar Zhiti and how prisoners memorised  lines from Zhiti's poems, then how the poet himself, not allowed pen and paper in prison for twelve years, wrote furiously from memory upon his release. Thanks again to Ndrek for joining me in this presentation and thanks to everyone who attended and made the occasion a memorable one. 

Still on the theme of 1916, I’m delighted to have an article entitled ‘Summoning her children to which flag?’ in the current November/December issue of History Ireland magazine.

Focusing on the subject of flags flown during the Rising, my piece questions why the popular national flag at the time – the green harp flag – was not flown above the GPO. It addresses these issues by demonstrating that the tricolor came into increasing use at this time while the green harp flag accrued associations with the pro-Home Rule Parnellites and the British army recruitment drive for World War I. You can read my article online here.

Also in the realm of Irish cultural history, I am very pleased to have contributed a chapter to Harp Studies: perspectives on the Irish harp, the new book just released by Four Courts press, edited by Sandra Joyce and Helen Lawlor. Harp Studies brings together a diverse array of scholarship in a burgeoning field of enquiry. Taking an expansive view of the harp through history and music, the essays in this book individually engage with the variety of ways in which the harp has been interpreted and implicated in Irish culture, politics and music from the 9th century to the present day. 

Harp Studies: perspectives on the Irish harp 

Themes explored include iconography, reception history, diaspora, identity, spirituality and politics. My own chapter, entitled 'Tempering the stereotypes of Irishness abroad: the Irish harp as golden lever of temperance and respectability', explores some uses of harp iconography among Irish emmigrants in the nineteenth century and how the term 'harp' went on to become something of an ethnic slur for Irish Catholics in the latter half of the century. Harp Studies will be launched in both Dublin and Limerick - in Dublin at the Irish Traditional Music Archives on Tuesday, 29 November at 6pm by Nicholas Carolan and on Wednesday, 30 November at 5pm by Prof. Paul McCutcheon in the foyer of the Irish World Academy Building, University of Limerick. All are welcome to attend both launches and the book is available to order from Four Courts press.

Onto the glorious subject of poetry now... Last month my poem 'Birthing' was published in Issue 8 of the online journal, The Irish Literary Review and you can read it in the 'Poetry' section here. This month, I was honoured to receive an invite to perform my poetry at the fourth annual Winter Warmer Festival - a weekend of poetry - in Cork, which takes place next weekend on Friday, 25th and Saturday, 26th November. With a fantastic line up this year, as always, 22+ poets will read/perform over two days. The programme will also feature a selection of films from the Ó Bhéal Poetry-Film competition, Poetry in Performance Art, Poetry with Music and a closed-mic set for ten local poets. It all takes place at the Kino Cinema on Washington Street and all events are free of charge with donations gratefully accepted. Check out the full programme here. Hope to see you in Cork next weekend!