Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Twitter thread reveals identity of a muse

Thanks to a conversation on Twitter today, which was brought to my attention since my own Twitter account is currently inactive, I now have a very good idea of the identity of my muse on the bicycle with the hula hoop that day in Salthill who inspired "Poise" from my collection, Conditional Perfect (Doire Press, 2019)... She, la petite Francaise, it must surely be... This doesn't happen every day and I'm grateful to the wonderful Martina Callanan of Galway Cycling Campaign, for shedding light on the mystery. May those spokes keep turning!

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Final places left on The Craft of Poetry Writing online course - starting Thursday

There are a couple of places left on my new 'Craft of Poetry Writing' course which begins at 7pm this Thursday, 7 October. The course delivery is online, via Zoom and each session runs until 8:30pm. To bag your place, click on the short courses Eventbrite page here. (A recent cyber attack on the NUI Galway website wreaked a bit of havoc and the previous links for registration are currently undergoing maintenance). I can't wait to embark on another creative adventure with a new group of budding and emerging poets. If you think someone you know may be interested, please spread the word.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Autumn Poetry Course at the Centre for Adult Learning at NUI Galway and Recent Poetry Projects

It's that time of year again when our thoughts turn to new opportunities for lifelong learning, developing skills or delving deeper into our favourite pastimes and activities. I'm delighted to share that I will be teaching 'The Craft of Poetry' again for the Centre for Adult Education, NUI Galway. This 8-week course starts at 7pm on Thursday, 7 October and booking will close over the next few days. There are a few final places left, so don't delay if you are thinking of registering! During the spring semester I was fortunate to facilitate this course for a really talented, vibrant group of people - a mix of beginners and improvers - and we had immense fun each week, exploring great contemporary poetry, sharing new drafts and honing our craft together. That course was a great success and it was wonderful to learn that the participants have kept the group going in their own time and are actively sending work out for publication, and even winning prizes already. Ger Duffy, I'm thinking of you - heartiest congratulations again! So to say that I am looking forward to working with a new group of emerging poets as we embark on this course is an understatement! If you would like to know more about 'The Craft of Poetry Writing', you can read the description below and view the course booklet here for more information:
At the start of the Summer, I was one of five Galway-based poets invited to participate in an exciting project on the theme of climate change; the initiative involved the creation of poetry with schoolchildren to build a 'Wall of Words' for a 'Climate of Hope.' It was a pleasure to collaborate with Miss Evans and her lively, engaged groups in third and fourth class at Castlegar National School in May and June and a privilege to inspire and empower budding poets to express their voices on this crucial topic. The pupils composed an eye-opening variety of wish poems, list poems and animal poems - both as a group and individually - that reflected on the impact of climate change on our planet and envisioned steps we can take to nurture a brighter future. Focusing on our connection to nature and on positive climate action, the project clearly aided the students in developing their understanding of how human choices can affect their environment. All of the childrens' poems were displayed in the Eyre Square Centre for Cruinniú na nÓg on Saturday, 12 June and have been up for all to view and enjoy since then. Sincere thanks to Creative Ireland Galway City, Galway Public Libraries, Clarice Evans at Castlegar National School and the children of third and fourth class for a memorable experience which enriched our understanding, through poetry and art, of the long-term causes and effects of global warming, rising sea levels, extreme weather events and the thinning ozone layer. In accordance with the project goals, our 'Climate of Hope' succeeeded in "enhancing the creative and imaginative lives of young people on a topic of vital importance for our planet and one that will make a lasting impact on the collaborators and spectators it connects with - at a time when connection is more important than ever." We had lots of great fun along the way and I was advised by some of the pupils to set myself up as 'the poetry person' on TikTok! You never know, I may well heed their suggestions yet...
Emily Cullen, poet-in-residence with Clarice Evans, teacher of 3rd and 4th class, Castlegar National School at the 'Wall of Words' in the Eyre Square Shopping Centre

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Summer online poetry course… starting soon

“Poetry is the music of being human,” wrote Carol Ann Duffy, memorably. She also observed that “you can find poetry in your everyday life, your memory, in what people say on the bus, in the news, or just what’s in your heart.” Would you like to devote more time to attuning to the music of your humanity this Summer? Would you like to uncover and shape the poetry that is latent in your everyday world? James Tate rightly observed that “poetry is everywhere, it just needs editing.” I am delighted to announce that I will be facilitating another online poetry course focused on the craft of poetry starting in mid-June and running for six weeks. While the course is aimed at emerging poets or those who have some experience writing poetry and may have recently started to publish their poems, more advanced writers will also find stimulation and encouragement.
As someone who thoroughly enjoys teaching courses on Creative Writing (I have taught undergraduate students and adult learners at the University of Melbourne, NUI Galway and online from home) during the past few years, I agree with poet, Theodore Roethke's observation that "teaching is an act of love, a spiritual cohabitation, one of the few sacred relationships left in a crass secular world." For this online course, you will enjoy creating new work within a warm and supportive atmosphere. We will begin at 7pm on Wednesday, 9 June with duration of about an hour - 1 hour 15 mins. To find out more and book your place, please contact me now on: emilycullendavison@gmail.com.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Take 5 for poetry each day during Poetry Month!

Another gorgeous initiative from Galway Public Libraries - Take 5 for poetry - started at 11am today with Galway's own Gerry Hanberry reading his stunning poem, "On Nimmo's Pier". I'm delighted to be part of this 'Community of Reciters' and my own poem, "Through the Cracks", will be going out at 1pm on Saturday, 24 April and again as part of the feast of poetry on National Poetry day, Thursday, 29 April. Tune in on Galway Public Libraries Facebook and Instagram whenever you can to get your "espresso shot of thought", (to quote poet Daljit Nagra on what a poem is). The daily poetry slot times are 11am, 1pm and 4pm and the full schedule is below.
Thursday 22nd April 11.00am Gerry Hanberry 4.00pm Joan Finnegan Friday 23rd April 11.00am Elaine Feeney 4.00pm Danny McDonnell Saturday 24th April 11.00am Kevin Higgins 1.00pm Emily Cullen 4.00pm Bernie McGuire Sunday 25th April 11.00am Susan Miller duMars 1.00pm Luke Morgan 4.00pm Joan Hardiman Monday 26th April 11.00am Moya Roddy 4.00pm Carmel Dempsey Tuesday 27th April 11.00am Pete Mullineaux 4.00pm Mary Donoghue Wednesday 28th April 11.00am Nuala O’Connor 1.00pm Mary Mannion 4.00pm Teresa Dempsey Thursday 29th April – Poetry Ireland Day schedule 9.00am Kevin Higgins 9.30am Joan Hardiman 10.00am Emily Cullen 10.30am Jimi McDonnell 11.00am Gerry Hanberry 11.30am Mary Mannion 12.00pm Moya Roddy 12.30pm Teresa Dempsey 1.00pm Louis de Paor 1.30pm Bernie McGuire 2.00pm Elaine Feeney 2.30pm Carmel Dempsey 3.00pm Pete Mullineaux 3.30pm Joan Finnegan 4.00pm Susan Miller duMars 4.30pm Mary Donoghue 5.00pm Luke Morgan 5.30pm Nuala O’Connor. Here is my poem for Poetry Day: "Through the Cracks" from my third collection, Conditional Perfect.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Poetry news update – three new poems coming soon

Happy Poetry Month! It has certainly been a strange time of flux for the creative impulse during the past year. Like many others, I worried, during the first lockdown, that my pull towards poetry would be compromised - even suspended indefinitely. With the all-consuming pandemic anxiety, fear of the unknown and our national sense of grief for the casualties of covid-19, making new art was no longer a priority; it became something I genuinely jostled with. In the depths of the prevailing stasis, however, I found that my hunger for reading poetry had in no way subsided. And little by little, my appetite to create my own new work reawakened, so that when “Henrietta’s Confession” was published in the June 2020 issue of The Honest Ulsterman, I actually did a happy dance. Subsequently, when I was invited by Galway Contemporary Music Project to compose a poem in response to Debussy’s string quartet, I was truly excited to take up the ekphrastic challenge. I’ve written a short article about this experience elsewhere on this blog. By that stage, I was making my peace with lockdowns, recognising that, in spite of all, the seasons remained constant around me and life went on, albeit in a radically altered world. I also published a poem for a dear new friend, Cassie, whom I met immediately prior to the first lockdown, and about our friendship which flourished, in spite of the challenges of social distancing, and this poem appeared on that wonderful nurturing blog, Pendemic. Lastly, I wrote an essay on the value of literary citizenship which appeared in issue 13 of Skylight 47, a journal I greatly admire. Unsurprisingly, there were dodgy, existential covid-anxiety poems along the road too, but on the whole, I kept the pen moving, without forcing the words forth on stickier days. And so, when the year turned, and we had survived, all things poetic seemed to be looking up considerably. Since early February of this year, I’ve been teaching ‘The Craft of Poetry’ to a dedicated, vibrant group of poets for the Centre for Adult Education at NUI Galway and that conversation with a community of writers has been wholly energising. And I’m also delighted to share with you that three newly composed poems will be coming out shortly. Firstly, my poem “Ode to Blue Cheese” will feature in issue 14 of Skylight 47, due to be launched in early May. I certainly indulged my love of cheese varieties during the three consecutive lockdowns, and sometimes we just have to eulogise the little things that keep us going, don't we? Hopefully that ode supremo, Pablo Neruda (1904-1973), would have approved!
Another new poem of mine, “Adam’s Apple” features in a brand new anthology about climate change that has just come out from the wonderful Doire Press: Empty House: poems and prose on the climate crisis and which is due to be launched on Earth Day, 22 April. See invitation to this online launch below and please do join us!
This poem was inspired by the observation that creation myths in First Nation cultures tend to be much closer to the natural world, and in much greater harmony to it, than our own Western myth of origins, which positions us as masters lording it over earth and the food chain. Last but not least, I was recently commissioned by Strokestown Poetry Festival to compose a poem on the theme of ‘new beginnings’ as the country slowly starts to re-open and as more and more people are safely vacinated against covid-19. My poem, “Summering” takes inspiration from that famous quote, once uttered by Seamus Heaney, which gave solace to many through the various stages of the pandemic: “If we winter this one out, we can Summer anywhere.” But that’s about all I can divulge at this stage as a recording of the poem will be going out on the Strokestown Poetry Festival website during the festival between 1-2 May. Stay tuned for further updates soon. In the meantime, thanks so much for checking in, stay safe and enjoy Poetry Month to the full!