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Monday, October 31, 2011

Samhain ar Teamhair na Ri

The Mound of the Hostages, Tara, which has an alignment close to Samhain with the sun. It is a meagalithic passage tomb, dated c. 3000bc

Hi everyone.  Happy Hallowe'en.  I finished my murder ballad this morning, 52 lines, exciting!  It was hard though.  I'm even more excited as I've written a poem as Gaeilge for the first time and it's pasted below.  As it's a first and it is about the feast of Samhain on the Hill of Tara I'm letting it appear on my blog. 

Oíche Shamhna

Teamhair mo chroí, Teamhair mo chroí,               
táim ag lorg an púca agus an cailleach
ar do sliabh.

Tá an Samhain ag teacht agus táim caillte
leis an gaoth atá ag séideadh
trasna na duilleoga

agus atá ag tiomaint na scamaill
sa spéir liath agus brúite
leis an tráthnóna.

Beidh an capall ag rith suas an bóthar
tar éis tamaill. Beidh Cormac an rí
ag marcaíocht

go dtí an tine mór. Beidh féasta ar siúl
agus feicfidh mé na daoine aosta
ag siúl leis na daoine beo.

Orla Ní Fhéich


Tara my heart, Tara my heart,
I am looking for the ghost and the witch
on your hill.

Samhain is coming and I am lost
with the wind that is blowing
across the leaves

and that is driving the clouds
in the sky grey and bruised
with the evening.

The horse will be running up the road
in a  while.  King Cormac
will be riding

to the big fire.  There will be a feast
and I will see the ancient people
walking with the living.

Orla Fay

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Murder Ballads

Busy day in work and I've been painting my bedroom, second coat tonight and it will need another, it's harder to go from green to cream than I thought.  I've also been writing a murder ballad -

daDUM da DUM daDUM daDUM
              daDUM  daDUM daDUM
              daDUM daDUM daDUM

- but it is unfinished and I will work on it again tomorrow.  It's also harder to write than I thought but it is a good way of telling a story in a shorter form than a novel.  That's not a cop out by me, just a thought!  Some examples of murder ballads in song form that I like are Where the Wild Roses Grow by Nick Cave and The Pines/Where Did You Sleep Last Night by Leadbelly, and covered by Nirvana. 

Jake Adam York, an American poet, writes In the murder ballad, the singer undertakes to narrate a horrific crime, at times in the first person, but does so in a melody so sweet, that though at first it seems perversely insensitive to the horror comes to act as a kind of consolation for the terror of the narrative and thus functions as a measure of remorse or loss. So, the poems of Murder Ballads seek to find a music in language that can act as a melodic consolation for all the poems must relate. 

Some of his work here

Hmm it's a lot to think about.  The funniest part of my day was hearing a four and a half year old break out into the chorus from The Wanted's song Glad you came -

The sun goes down
The stars come out
And all that counts
Is here and now
My universe will never be the same
I’m glad you came

Monday, October 24, 2011


I've been google imaging venetian masks but the trouble is I want all the images of masks.  I love these masks and I do own one.  Of course it's Hallowe'en soon and people wore masks in case they would encounter spirits, in the hope that the spirits would take the mask wearer for one of their own, thus not running off with their souls, or something like that. 

I received the second issue of the new Batwoman comic in the post today.  It's a DC comic and it's really cool.  And oh my god Kate Kane (aka Batwoman) kicks ass. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sunday Morning, Tea, Toast and Poetry

Hello blog.  I'm back to poetry this morning.  I've just been editing a poem which I think is good to go now.  I'll have one final read before I approve it.  And I had to go looking for a sheet of paper I'd written on during the week.  I found it on the chest of drawers in a book.  I hope that these scribbled words will form the foundation for a new poem.  I had some haunting thoughts which I had mentioned in the previous post.  I've also thought of a title for a poem, just the title.  It struck me yesterday while I was driving.  Just the title.  It seemed to have weight or it was like the lid of a well with a deep bottom.  These are a couple of ways that poems begin for me.  One can also pick a subject to write about and work on that base. 

The picture above is meant to be an empty well but I don't see it that way.  I mean water to be found at the bottom.  I think I'll have another cup of tea.  The sky is fairly clear so we could have a day without rain and I'll be able to spend some time outdoors later.

Be back soon.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Cuisle Poetry Festival 2011

I would dearly love to be going to Limerick on Thursday night for the launch of The Stony Thursday Book but work committment will not allow it.  The editor of this year's Stony Thursday is Mary Coll from what I can gather.  I can't wait to see the book but I'll just have to.  Thanks very much for including my poem dear editor.

The festival has some star attractions:

British Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and the hugely popular Paul Durcan; Catalan poet Joan Margarit; a night of Slovenian poetry with Iztok Osojnik and others; Dubliner Paula Meehan and Mary O’Malley from Galway; Lee Harwood and Clare Best from Sussex; Limerick poet Mark Whelan reading from his new book Brighton Suite.

There will be discussions, socializing and crack, open mic sessions, book launches, including The Stony Thursday Book edited this year by Mary Coll, and the much-loved Cuisle Poetry Slam.

I haven't written anything in well over a week but I opened my mind a little today and allowed it to enter my heart.  Now that sounds profound doesn't it, I must be onto a winner.  Or as Madonna quotes at the end of her Express Yourself video "Without the heart there can be no understanding between the hand and the mind."  I remember learning to use quotation in school.  It just goes to show that so much work goes into forming us as individuals and so much time passes.

I love old books I've decided.  A copy of Sword at Sunset by Rosemary Sutcliff came into my possession at the weekend.  By old I mean aged.  It's second hand.  I got it in the book shop on Tara.  This is currently my source of inspiration.  It makes me feel like I could fall in love with language all over again.  I have a great desire to make what I see and feel visible, "So it must have been after the birth of the simple light In the first, spinning place..."

Sunday, October 2, 2011

West to Galway - Boyne Berries 10

Kevin Higgins

It was then that we packed up and went to Galway, on Friday, 30th September for the second launch.  This launch was performed by Kevin Higgins.  It was a warm occasion and contributors from Galway and hinterland who read were Alan McMonagle, Mari Maxwell, Rachel Coventry, John Pinschmidt and Kevin Higgins.  Evan Costigan recited his poem Leaving Nagasaki from memory.

Evan Costigan

Greg and Catherine Hastings and Paul Kerr made the trip to Galway too.  Catherine read The Skate and Paul, A Trim Trek to the Reek.  Later Carolyne Van Der Meer taught me to pronounce la coquille from my poem O Sonho do Mar properly, the l's are not pronounced.  I hope I have that right!  Many thanks to Charlie Byrne's Bookshop for providing the venue.  When we woke, in the morning, it was October.

Evan Costigan and friend, Carolyne Van Der Meer, Michael Farry, Alan McMonagle

Boyne Berries 10 Magazine Launched in Trim

The castle, majestic, rises - Cover art by Greg Hastings

Despite missing one of her captains (Paddy Smith) Boyne Berries 10 was launched in Trim on Thursday last into a sea of welcoming crowd.  Peter Fallon performed the launch here and it was so very interesting to hear him speak about his life, the Gallery Press, poems, lines of poetry he had liked from past issues of the magazine.  It was a privilege to be there on the night, a night of glittering stars in the firmament.

Michael Farry acted as master of ceremonies and many of the contributors read their pieces; Susan Connolly, Brian Kirk, James Lawless, Peter Goulding, Honor Duff and of course those from our own group, Boyne Writers.  Peter Fallon read his poem The Fields of Meath to end the night.  And one poet, Carolyne Van Der Meer had travelled from Canada to attend the launch. 

This issue is a special issue, in colour and featuring images.  It is available to purchase for 12 euro in Trim in Antonia’s Bookshop and in Spar, and in Galway in Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop and can be bought by PayPal here: