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Friday, December 31, 2010

Bright Blessings for the new year 2011

It is now time to bid farewell to the Holly King and welcome in the Oak.  May it be a prosperous year.  Love and light to all!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Southword 19

Since I have some time on my hands I've been reading some of the poems in the very impressive Southword Journal online.  It is edited by the somewhat prodigious to date Leanne O'Sullivan.  The American poet Billy Collins has two poems included.  I frequently read his collection The Trouble With Poetry and Other Poems in the bath.  He is a cool writer:

The birds are in their trees,
the toast is in the toaster,
and the poets are at their windows.

They are at their windows
in every section of the tangerine of earth-
the Chinese poets looking up at the moon,
the American poets gazing out
at the pink and blue ribbons of sunrise.

he writes in his poem Monday.  I like this poem because it makes me think how it is the mundane the poet always sees anew, and how poetry is simply a way of life.  In Southword he has a poem about Paris as does Mike Alexander.  I must visit Pere Lachaise cemetery if I return to that city. 

Vona Groake has a great poem called The Galway Train in the journal.  A lot of the poetry seems to be influenced by travel and European (is that now a dirty word?) culture.

There is a lot to read in this journal so here is a link

Myself, I've written three verses of a poem that may offer a comment on the year that is ending.  It came about suddenly when I was startled by the colour of the evening sky.

Happy New year if I'm not back again beforehand.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

NUIG Writers Exchange

I was invited by Liam Duffy of  NUI Galway's Writers Society to participate in this exchange.  I met Liam a couple of years ago when I had a poem published in The Sharp Review (the journal of the writers society).

I sent some poems to the society and recently received some anonymous work back.  I have to comment on the pieces and choosing one I like in particular email it to the society explaining why I like it.  This piece will be published in a chapbook.  At the end of January I will receive the address of the writers work I am reviewing and post my critique to him/her.  I should then receive a critique of my collection too.

Liam says "remember to give as much feedback as you feel you would appreciate as a writer, comment on individual pieces, comment on the collection as a whole, comment on style, structure, phonetics, directions you would like to see the writer go, what you enjoyed, what you didn't and why, feel free suggest to restructuring or cutting and anything else you need to say."

Fortunately I have some experience in this field already as I have helped Michael edit some poetry for Boyne Berries magazine in the past.  Concentration is now needed after the Christmas revelry.  My sister Vivian and I are pictured below on Christmas day.  She thinks I should have written a book by now, no pressure like!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

I've spent the afternoon and evening cleaning the kitchen and laying the table for dinner tomorrow, in the end a thoroughly enjoyable task.  If you can manage to enjoy your labour then it becomes no labour at all!  On the creative side of things I've had the image of some sort of blue angel popping in and out of my mind for a week now.  Who are you?  You're a pure, caring and happy guy anyway.  I think he needs to be painted perhaps, though I did paint his resemblance on a large sheet of paper that was to serve as part of the set for our Christmas carols in Montessori class.  The songs were cancelled of course due to poor road conditions.

This morning I hoped to hand in a hamper of foods to the St. Vincent de Paul but the shop was closed and I didn't know where else I could have left it.  I was disappointed by this.  It's probably about -11 or-12 again tonight and I've noticed the foxes appearing close to the roads (like last year).  I'm really looking forward to going to mass, exchanging presents, spending time with my family and having a glass of bubbly tomorrow. 

Merry Christmas everyone!

As once the winged energy of delight

As once the winged energy of delight
carried you over childhood's dark abysses,
now beyond your own life build the great
arch of unimagined bridges.

Wonders happen if we can succeed
in passing through the harshest danger;
but only in a bright and purely granted
achievement can we realize the wonder.

To work with Things in the indescribable
relationship is not too hard for us;
the pattern grows more intricate and subtle,
and being swept along is not enough.

Take your practiced powers and stretch them out
until they span the chasm between two
contradictions...For the god
wants to know himself in you

Rainer Maria Rilke

Sunday, December 19, 2010

December Boyne Readings

Pictured above is myself and below are Paddy Smith and Tommy Murray on Thursday in the Knightbridge Village Hall Library.  It was an enjoyable night and we had tea/coffee, mince pies and chat to complete the event.  Tommy Murray from Meath Writers Circle attended and it was agreed that he has had a very successful year.  He read his pieces that have been included in The Stoney Thursday Book and The Moth.

Also present was Peter Goulding who has recently won the Odes to Olympians poetry contest. 

Pictures are courtesy of Michael Farry (I'd forgotten to bring my camera).  I read three festive poems, Butterfly in December, Advent and Santa Claus.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Rainer Maria Rilke

I had a friend once, well I'm not sure if she was a friend or an angel sent to help me along my way but she was a formidable presence and so very intelligent and wise.  I knew this woman superficially yet I believe she knew me very well.  One thing I know she liked was poetry and she liked my poetry.  Rainer Maria Rilke makes me think of her:

You, You Only, Exist

You, you only, exist.
We pass away, till at last,
our passing is so immense
that you arise: beautiful moment,
in all your suddenness,
arising in love, or enchanted
in the contraction of work.

To you I belong, however time may
wear me away. From you to you
I go commanded. In between
the garland is hanging in chance; but if you
take it up and up and up: look:
all becomes festival!

Rainer Maria Rilke

I remember (love)

So long it has been but now and then
(and on dark winter nights)
it is with gladness of heart
that I greet the form of you
come back for an instant
to make me smile
like the flame from the fire
or a forgotten voice

but you are gone,
far down the river,
whispering back so that I know
you were true, shadow
that cut deeper than any blade,
that raised my eyes to the sun
and laughing, suddenly you were done!

No thanks could be given. None at all.
But I take you with me to a blue sky
to the calligraphy of the birds
with pounding chests
drenched with rains of light
on their wings.

Orla Fay

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Freeze Travel Survival Guide (Things She Learned in the Frost)

Frozen Trees, Retaine

What a trying week it has been.  We returned to work  despite the elements but it has been an adventure.  On Monday night the snow returned coming down to us from the north west.  I found Wednesday morning the coldest I have ever experienced.  (This was also the morning after the budget)  I woke up in the night to find my joints cold and when I went downstairs to open the front door the ice had come inside and even got into the lock.  I knew this was different.  I then turned on my car to see the temperature reading -13.  I had trouble getting my car to move forward and when on the Trim to Navan road I had to stop.  To conclude this much longer tale my brakes had frozen and the back right tyre locked.  Some hot water set me right and eventually on my way.

I have learned the following things from experience and observation which will leave me prepared for next year:

1) If your tyre isn't turning the brake pads are likely frozen and you should pour hot water on the pads, or de-icer.
2) Bring a shovel in your car.
3) Keep a bag of sand in your boot.
4) Bring your wellies in the boot and an extra coat.
5) Always have credit in your mobile phone in case of emergencies.
6) Don't pull into a snowy verge to allow someone to pass as you will get stuck.
7) Don't use your brakes, go down in gear instead.
8) When driving up a hill keep a steady pace.
9) Give yourself an extra half hour to get where you are going.
10) Don't stop if you can help it as it is best to have the momentum with you.

These are hard and harsh times.  Christmas is around the corner.  I hope everyone has someone to help them through any difficulties they might have.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Snow, No Work, Winterlight & Two Pairs of Socks

I've been drinking too much coffee and tea as I've been off work since Wednesday due to the snow, ice and bad driving conditions.  It is very frustrating not being able to work and slightly unnerving but I'm hoping to be back on the job on Monday.  Yesterday and today I've been wearing two pairs of socks and wellies when outside.  The King Arthur Trilogy by Rosemary Sutcliff has arrived and I read Curious Wine by Katherine V. Forrest the other night. 

On the plus side I have written two new poems, a 32 and a 38 liner of free verse.  I found myself greatly influenced by the snow, the arthurian legends and raw emotion in composing these.   Today I'm going to work on a short story that is unfinished.  I have about 1000 words and  would like to get another 1000 done!

Winterlight is a poem by Connolly that has at its heart some very personal meaning for the poet and the poetic voice she has is very strong.  In winter the sun's rays hit the northern hemisphere at an oblique angle which means that the same amount of solar radiation has to be spread out over a larger area, I fink. Now I am also wondering what are the  months of winter, are they November, December and January or December, January and February?

The River Thames was frozen sometimes between the 15th and 19th centuries.  This makes me think of Orlando by Virginia Woolf, which is just an outrageous and wonderful book:

Instead of taking the road to London, therefore, they turned the other way about and were soon beyond the crowd among the frozen reaches of the Thames where, save for sea birds and some old country woman hacking at the ice in a vain attempt to draw a pailful of water or gathering what sticks or dead leaves she could for firing, not a living soul ever came their way...

Hence, Orlando and Sasha, as he called her for short, and because it was the name of a white Russian fox he had as a boy - a creature soft as snow, but with teeth of steel, which bit him so savagely that his father had it killed - hence, they had the river to themselves.

pg. 18 Orlando, Virginia Woolf.