Tuesday, May 24, 2022

UL Creative Writing Festival - a banquet of writers and word-music

It's Tuesday morning already and I’m still lolling in the lilt of language, lingering in the spell of imagination cast by so many writers during the past, full weekend. It’s no exaggeration to say that I’m trying to sustain the euphony of the UL Creative Writing Festival where we were treated to note-perfect readings by novelists, Kevin Barry, Lisa McInerney, Roddy Doyle, Kit de Waal, Sarah Moore Fitzgerald, Sheila Killian, Danielle McLaughlin, Louise Kennedy, Donal Ryan and Sebastian Barry – not to mention poets, Seán Hewitt, Kayssie K, Jane Clarke, Rachael Hegarty and Chiamaka Enyi-Amadi. I was honoured to be reading myself, along side Jane Clarke and Kayssie K on Saturday afternoon. Indeed, I was wearing a few hats: as poetry curator, introducing our guest poets, as a staff member of the teaching team on the MA in Creative Writing and as a reader and festival participant. In addition to the above, there were richly atmospheric, moving stories read by young authors from local secondary schools that collaborated with our MA students on the Creative Writers in the Community module, led by Prof. Eoin Devereux, and the official launch of the brand new issue of UL's own The Ogham Stone - a trove of poetry, prose and creative non-fiction. Don't hesitate to pick up your copy!
The camaraderie, love of written word and mutual support that flows between my Creative Writing colleagues and the MA students (and, dare I say, myself) danced luminously and infectiously around the Irish World Academy of Music; audiences sensed the magical atmosphere that exists on the MA in Creative Writing programme where great teaching goes hand-in-hand with true mentorship. The Festival - completely sold out for the weekend - was a roaring success with a closing event, on Sunday afternoon, which saw two maestros, Sebastian Barry and Donal Ryan, reading from their stunning works-in-progress (a first for the former, who usually shares only his published work with audiences) and introduced so warmly and memorably by another literary giant, gent and Festival Director, Joseph O'Connor. The queue for the book-signing table after was a mile long and many festival attendees retreated to the nearby campus 'Pavilion' restaurant just to stay in the orbit of word-music a little longer, to prolong the enchantment of the weekend. Sincere thanks to my brilliant, truly lovely colleagues and to the wonderful student volunteers for all their hard work, to the poets and writers who performed and spoke so generously and honestly about the writing life, sharing nuggets of wisdom we will remember, to Gráinne O'Brien of O'Mahony's Booksellers, and to everyone who contributed to this masterful Festival in any way, big or small. Here's to it all happening again in 2023! Below are a few photos captured over the course of the weekend, featuring 1) Kevin Barry and Lisa McInerney, 2) Rachael Hegarty, myself and Jane Clarke, 3) Donal Ryan, Kit de Waal, Roddy Doyle and Joseph O'Connor, 4) Rachael Hegarty, Seán Hewitt & Chiamaka Enyi-Amadi and lastly, 5) Jane Clarke, myself and Kayssie Kandiwa. You can also enjoy reading (or listening to) the vivid, witty and powerful story Kevin Barry read, "The Pub with No Beer", in April's edition of The New Yorker here)

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Reading at the Eco Showboat Pavilion, Dromineer tomorrow

The Eco Showboat will dock at Dromineer harbour, Co. Tipperary tomorrow (Wednesday, 18 May) as part of Tipperary Bealtaine Festival. The brainchild of artists Anne Cleary and Denis Connolly of the innovative School of Looking, the duo have been working on the transformation of a century-old heritage barge into a zero-carbon vessel suitable for Eco Showboat expeditions on our inland waterways. A floating art studio and science lab, the solar-powered Eco Showboat aims to connect communities in building a zero-carbon future. I'm delighted to be reading with Eleanor Hooker tomorrow at the Poetry Pavilion alongside the Eco Showboat. A packed programme of free events is promised with registration in advance essential. See the event page here for all details. Hope you can join us!
Here's a poem of mine, on the theme of ecological awareness, that was published last year in the Empty House: Poetry and Prose on the Climate Crisis anthology (edited by Alice Kinsella and Nessa O'Mahony, Doire Press, 2021). "Adam's Apple" was inspired by the contrast between our Western myth of origins, which positions us as masters lording it over the Earth, and those of some First Nations peoples, whose beliefs have always been in much closer harmony with our planet. And how striking that one of our most famous economists in history was baptized 'Adam' Smith!

Friday, April 22, 2022

April is Poetry Month - four very full weeks of events!

Welcome back to my blog. This month is gloriously full with literary activities and poetry events. Below is a list of recent events I participated in and upcoming readings during Poetry Month. Some are in-person events and some are live online and all are free. I hope you can join me! Literary Events - April 2022: Poetry Readings • Wednesday, 27 April: Limerick Writers’ Centre ‘April is Poetry Month’ reading at 7:00pm, Sexton’s Bar, 91 Henry St, Limerick – reading with Eoin Devereux & Michael Durack. • Poetry Day Ireland - Thursday, 28 April: Launch of The Limerick Broadsheet – ‘April is the Cruellest Month’ – curated by Eoin Devereux and featuring work by Donal Ryan, Denise Chaila, Emily Cullen, Kerrie O’Brien, Willzee, John Liddy, Martin Dyar, Jo Slade, Imelda Maguire, Kieran Beville and Eoin Devereux at 1:00pm, The Atrium, University Concert Hall Building, University of Limerick. • Poetry Day Ireland - Thursday, 28 April: Featured poet for Lime Square Poets at 8:00pm online. See event details here: https://www.limesquarepoets.com/event-details/lime-square-poets-featuring-emily-cullen • Saturday, 30 April: Inishboffin Arts Festival - times tbc
Event Facilitation / Public Interviews with Authors • Friday, 1 April: Interview with authors, Nuala O’Connor (Nora) and Raymond Burke (Joyce County) for the ‘Nora Barnacle and James Joyce – The Galway Story’ event (One Dublin One Book) at 6:30pm in St. Nicholas Collegiate Church, Galway • Saturday, 9 April: Introduction of, and interview with, poet Roger Robinson at 8:30pm in the Town Hall Theatre for Cúirt International Festival of Literature

Enjoying my exciting role at UL

Happy Poetry Month! I'm delighted to report that my post as Meskell UL-Fifty Poet in Residence at the University of Limerick’s Creative Writing programme is gloriously busy and immensely enjoyable. The role is quite specific: I teach on aspects of poetic technique on the MA in Creative Writing, supervise MA students, offer feedback on their writing and contribute to various literary and outreach projects on the campus. My colleagues have all been so warm and welcoming since I started on 31st January and, because my passion for teaching poetry and mentoring younger writers is part of my own poetry practice, the combination of the creative and the academic is an ideal fit. It became apparent to me, early on, that there is a significant need for this kind of work at UL, both to mentor and support new creative writers, specifically poets, and to play a role in positioning poetry as an integral part of the University. In response to requests from the students about particular areas of interest, I enjoyed leading a series of poetry seminars for all MA students on aspects of prosody and poetic technique that focused on: tone, voice, diction, building tension and surprise, line breaks, punctuation, revision, ending poems and preparing a manuscript for publication. These 2-hour seminars were part-lecture, part-practical workshop and included in-class freewriting and the provision of feedback on poems in progress. I was recently interviewed about my role and about the importance of poetry by Jim Miley of the Association of Irish Universities and you can view our brief conversation here
I am also delighted to be part of a series of five women poets invited to read for the Limerick Literary Festival in honour of the wonderful Kate O’Brien and to celebrate ‘April is Poetry Month’ in Limerick. Here is my poem entitled “Time”
My next post will give more information about events I am taking part in for Poetry Month.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Exciting announcement: appointed Poet in Residence at the University of Limerick

I am thrilled to share the news that I have been appointed Lecturer / Poet in Residence at the University of Limerick. My role will involve teaching Creative Writing, supervising postgraduate work, organising some literary events and personal creative writing projects. I cannot wait to start in the new Spring semester, 2022. I view the teaching of Creative Writing and mentorship of other writers as integral to my creative practice and literary citizenship and so this is a dream post for me. The inspirational poet-teacher, Theodore Roethke once observed that "teaching is an act of love, a spiritual cohabitation, one of the few sacred relationships left in a crass secular world" and I completely agree with him. I am truly looking forward to working with the Creative Writing students at UL and with the sensational team at the School of English, Irish & Communication. My appointment was announced in The Irish Times today.
To read the full article, please click on this link.

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.