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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Saturday's "In Conversation With..." @ The Irish Writers' Centre

Jack Harte, Chairman Irish Writers' Centre

I strolled into this wonderful event on Saturday morning shortly after ten to find proceedings were underway.  Dublin's Lord Mayor, Andrew Montague, officially welcomed the Italian Writers and then a round table discussion took place.  Notable speakers for the Italians were Federica Sgaggio, Francesca Capelli and Francesco Facchini.  Capelli spoke about translation.  She brings her work to bed and has a relationship with it trying to understand a work's music and meaning.  The Italians showed a great passion for writing.   It was agreed that there is but a small market for translated literature in Ireland.  The lovely Catherine Dunne conducted this session.

In the second part of the morning IWC Chairman Jack Harte took the helm and June Caldwell, Niamh MacAlister, Mark Kilroy, Brian Kirk, Monica Strina and I spoke about our interest in writing and read a piece each before lunch.  I read two poems as did Niamh MacAlister.  I could not make the afternoon session which was to be dedicated to more established writers. 

June Caldwell has been shortlisted for this year's Over the Edge New Writer of the Year Competition.  Good luck to her.  She read an excerpt from a short story she had entered for this competition about Ireland's missing women.  It made me think of Margaret Atwood's poem Owl Song.  I spoke with Brian Kirk who will have a poem in Boyne Berries 10 and in The Stony Thursday Book.  The writers seemed to agree that being published is often about who you know in the business and also about the importance of having an agent.  A few of these emerging Irish Writers have completed novels and I am awed by this.

To become a member of the IWC follow this link

Owl Song

By Margaret Atwood

I am the heart of a murdered woman
who took the wrong way home
who was strangled in a vacant lot and not buried
who was shot with care beneath a tree
who was mutilated by a crisp knife.
There are many of us.

I grew feathers and tore my way out of her;
I am shaped like a feathered heart.
My mouth is a chisel, my hands
the crimes done by hands.

I sit in the forest talking of death
which is monotonous:
though there are many ways of dying
there is only one death song,
the colour of mist:
it says Why Why

I do not want revenge, I do not want expiation,
I only want to ask someone
how I was lost,
how I was lost

I am the lost heart of a murderer
who has not yet killed,
who does not yet know he wishes
to kill; who is still the same
as the others

I am looking for him,
he will have answers for me,
he will watch his step, he will be
cautious and violent, my claws
will grow through his hands
and become claws, he will not be caught.



  1. That poem is wonderful, dreadful and wonderful.
    Sounds like an inspiring event:)

  2. yes niamh, i'm an atwood fan, check out siren song, a sad child, post card and variations on the word love by her.

  3. love the Margaret Atwood piece, Orla.. Always forgot she writes or has wrote poetry as I always remember her more for her novels x