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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Poetry in Motion/Viaduct Bards Open Mic and Readings

Anti-clockwise Susan Connolly, Paul Kerr, Eamon Cooke, Michael Farry, James Linnane

James Linnane, Michael Farry, Paul Kerr, Eamon Cooke and I represented the Boyne Writers tonight in Drogheda as special guests of the Viaduct Bards.  The event took place in the Drogheda Arts Centre, Stockwell Street.  It was an intimate gathering with some great work being read  followed by warm discussion of poetry.  The group had been invited by Emer Davis who has just published her collection Kill Your Television.  I read four poems but I felt unworthy among such good poets.

At the beginning of the night I met Bernadette Martin whom I had known from New Poems of Oriel.  Its editor Mary Kearns had brought Bernadette, Brid McDonnell, Conor Duffy and I together perhaps five years ago.  Also in attendance was the lovely and talented Susan Connolly.  Her collection Forest Music was published by Shearsman in 2009.  En route to the venue we had discussed Francis Ledwidge as we were passing by Slane.  Connolly has a poem about Ledwidge in Forest Music.  There are some very visual poems in this collection and I am delighed to see an illustration of and a poem about The Five Roads at Tara in it.

Viaduct Bards

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Happy Birthday Sylvia Plath

Tomorrow is Sylvia Plath's birthday.  She was born in 1932 in Massachusetts.  She was a confessional poet and I read before that she would write a piece straight off and it would be complete to her.   Despite a suicide attempt while in college she graduated with honours from Smith and obtained a Fulbright scholarship to study in Cambridge.

At Cambridge she met the poet Ted Hughes whom she married and bore two children for.  The couple split in 1962.  It was one of the coldest winters in recent history and Plath's depression returned as she cared for her two very young children alone.  In early 1963 she committed suicide by placing her head in an oven and inhaling carbon monoxide fumes.  She was 30 years old.

Plath is remembered for her novel The Bell Jar, her first collection The Colossus and her posthumous collection Ariel.  Poems I like by her are Daddy, Lady Lazarus, Mirror and Morning Song.  My favourites by her are Blackberrying and Poppies in October.  There is something wonderful about some of her poems and I have a place in my heart for Plath though she makes me sad, she is like an old friend.  Happy birthday chick!

Poppies in October

By Sylvia Plath

Even the sun-clouds this morning cannot manage such skirts.
Nor the woman in the ambulance
Whose red heart blooms through her coat so astoundingly --

A gift, a love gift
Utterly unasked for
By a sky

Palely and flamily
Igniting its carbon monoxides, by eyes
Dulled to a halt under bowlers.

O my God, what am I
That these late mouths should cry open
In a forest of frost, in a dawn of cornflowers.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Book of Tara

After spending a wonderful afternoon exploring the Hill of Tara with my nieces we wandered into a little bookstore on the Hill.  The girls picked up some very old children's books and I a booklet on The Druids at Tara.  When we were paying the man running the store said he would sign the booklet for me, being none other than the author himself.  Michael Slavin is the author of The Book of Tara

I love this ancient place and have been reading about the 5 roads to Tara.  Today we went to Rath Grainne (Grainne of Toraiocht Diarmaid agus Grainne fame) and found our path along the woods on the slopes.  We visited the Well of the White Cow, which is also known as St. Patrick's Well, The Well of the Dark Eye, the Well of the Healer and Cormac's Well I think.  The Sons of Mil worshipped Edain Echraidhe (the white mare).  Before them the white cow was worshipped.  Around Tara the valleys belong to the white mare and the white cow where the rivers Gabhra and Skane meet.  Now the M3 cuts through the valleys and this is why so many people were against the motorway coming.  Some people say that Opus Dei are part of a conspiracy to ruin the area.  I think that it would be tragic to lose the voices of our past.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Tick Tock

I haven't had much time to blog lately as work has been so busy however I have written a couple of nice poems when alone.  Next week is mid-term so I have Monday off for the bank holiday and Wednesday.

One of the sweetest things happened to me in work yesterday when an almost 4 year old boy who doesn't have much English (his parents are Lithuanian) came up to me and taking my hand to his chest said, "Teacher, tick, tock", before smiling and marching off.  I had been getting the children to listen to my watch going "tick tock" some days earlier.  It is very difficult to get them to sit still or to have some silence.

I missed the Boyne Reading where Emer Davis was the featured guest on Thursday night.  Next Wednesday I hope to travel to Drogheda with other Boyne Writers to participate in the Viaduct Bards Readings.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Garcia Lorca

It was some years ago that I came across Gacela of the Dark Death and I found that it struck a chord with me.  Now I have been reading about the poet's life.  Garcia Lorca was murdered at the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains by Spanish Nationalists and he had to dig his own grave.  The whereabouts of his remains is unknown, how sad is that and how prophetic this poem.  Below is another translation of Gacela de la muerte oscura.  A gacela is a poem of Persian/Arabic origin (ghazal) that has a strict metrical pattern and tends to have an erotic theme.

 A ghazal may be understood as a poetic expression of both the pain of loss or separation and the beauty of love in spite of that pain. The form is ancient, originating in 6th century pre-Islamic Arabic verse. It is derived from the Arabian panegyric qasida. The structural requirements of the ghazal are similar in stringency to those of the Petrarchan sonnet. In its style and content it is a genre which has proved capable of an extraordinary variety of expression around its central themes of love and separation. It is one of the principal poetic forms which the Indo-Perso-Arabic civilization offered to the eastern Islamic world. (Wikipedia)

This now leads me back to Sufism and the poet Rumi.  I must look even more deeply into this.

Gacela of the Dark Death
by Federico GarcĂ­a Lorca
translated by Robert Bly

I want to sleep the sleep of the apples,
I want to get far away from the busyness of the cemeteries.
I want to sleep the sleep of that child
who longed to cut his heart open far out at sea.

I don't want them to tell me again how the corpse keeps all its blood,
how the decaying mouth goes on begging for water.
I'd rather not hear about the torture sessions the grass arranges for
nor about how the moon does all its work before dawn
with its snakelike nose.

I want to sleep for half a second,
a second, a minute, a century,
but I want everyone to know that I am still alive,
that I have a golden manger inside my lips,
that I am the little friend of the west wind,
that I am the elephantine shadow of my own tears.

When it's dawn just throw some sort of cloth over me
because I know dawn will toss fistfuls of ants at me,
and pour a little hard water over my shoes
so that the scorpion claws of the dawn will slip off.

Because I want to sleep the sleep of the apples,
and learn a mournful song that will clean all earth away from me,
because I want to live with that shadowy child
who longed to cut his heart open far out at sea.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

National Poetry Day, Thursday 7th October 2010

To celebrate National Poetry Day I'm revisiting 5 of my favourite poems:


there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I'm not going
to let anybody see

there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pour whiskey on him and inhale
cigarette smoke
and the whores and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that
in there.

there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too tough for him,
I say,
stay down, do you want to mess
me up?
you want to screw up the
you want to blow my book sales in

there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too clever, I only let him out
at night sometimes
when everybody's asleep.
I say, I know that you're there,
so don't be
then I put him back,
but he's singing a little
in there, I haven't quite let him
and we sleep together like
with our
secret pact
and it's nice enough to
make a man
weep, but I don't
weep, do

Charles Bukowski

somewhere i have never travelled

somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully ,suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility:whose texture
compels me with the color of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens;only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands

ee cummings

Another September

Dreams fled away, this country bedroom, raw
With the touch of the dawn, wrapped in a minor peace,
Hears through an open window the garden draw
Long pitch black breaths, lay bare its apple trees,
Ripe pear trees, brambles, windfall-sweetened soil,
Exhale rough sweetness against the starry slates.
Nearer the river sleeps St. John's, all toil
Locked fast inside a dream with iron gates.

Domestic Autumn, like an animal
Long used to handling by those countrymen,
Rubs her kind hide against the bedroom wall
Sensing a fragrant child come back again
- Not this half-tolerated consciousness
That plants its grammar in her yielding weather
But that unspeaking daughter, growing less
Familiar where we fell asleep together.

Wakeful moth wings blunder near a chair,
Toss their light shell at the glass, and go
To inhabit the living starlight. Stranded hair
Stirs on still linen. It is as though
The black breathing that billows her sleep, her name,
Drugged under judgement, waned and - bearing daggers
And balances--down the lampless darkness they came,
Moving like women : Justice, Truth, such figures.

Thomas Kinsella

The Dead

The dead are always looking down on us, they say,
while we are putting on our shoes or making a sandwich,
they are looking down through the glass-bottom boats of heaven
as they row themselves slowly through eternity.

They watch the tops of our heads moving below on earth,
and when we lie down in a field or on a couch,
drugged perhaps by the hum of a warm afternoon,
they think we are looking back at them,

which makes them lift their oars and fall silent
and wait, like parents, for us to close our eyes.

Billy Collins

Gacela of the Dark Death

I want to sleep the dream of the apples,
to withdraw from the tumult of cemetries.
I want to sleep the dream of that child
who wanted to cut his heart on the high seas.

I don't want to hear again that the dead do not lose their blood,
that the putrid mouth goes on asking for water.
I don't want to learn of the tortures of the grass,
nor of the moon with a serpent's mouth
that labors before dawn.

I want to sleep awhile,
awhile, a minute, a century;

but all must know that I have not died;
that there is a stable of gold in my lips;
that I am the small friend of the West wing;
that I am the intense shadows of my tears.

Cover me at dawn with a veil,
because dawn will throw fistfuls of ants at me,
and wet with hard water my shoes
so that the pincers of the scorpion slide.

For I want to sleep the dream of the apples,
to learn a lament that will cleanse me to earth;
for I want to live with that dark child
who wanted to cut his heart on the high seas

Federico Garcia Lorca

Friday, October 1, 2010

Boyne Berries 8

L - R Orla Fay, Tom Dredge, Brendan Carey Kinnane, Rory O'Sullivan

Last night, Thursday 30th September, saw the launch of Boyne Berries 8 in the Castle Arch Hotel, Trim, Co. Meath.  The magazine was launched by Noel French and introductions were done by Michael Farry.  Once again the magazine's cover illustration is by Greg Hastings and on this occasion an image of gravestones in Glendalough is portrayed.

It was a very enjoyable night and it was wonderful to see so many of the Boyne Writers Group present.  Evan Costigan read his poem Corncrake, Tom Dredge his poem Fruit and Brendan Carey Kinnane his poem Meath.  Well known writers included in the magazine are Connie Roberts, Emer Davis and Maire T. Robinson.  Twenty year old Rosie Rock read her poem Just Today which is the poets first published poem.

Over Coffee Over the Edge New Writer of the Year longlister Michael Farry & shortlister Evan Costigan

The Magazine can be purchased in Antonia's bookstore, Trim, or via the Boyne Writers website