Everywhere is Ireland

Last Saturday I was invited to take part in a project called (A)pollonia, that was taking place as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival. It was organised by the clever people over at White Label and included debate on contemporary Polish theatre, readings from the (A)pollonia anthology and an event on Saturday evening in the Workman’s Club where Irish playwrights (and a poet) were asked to respond to some of the themes raised in the readings that took place on the Saturday afternoon.

I was really happy to be asked along, as I seldom get the opportunity to wear both theatre and poetry hats at the same time. It was daunting getting up to read something myself, as the other pieces, penned by John Morton, Hugh Travers, Louise Melinn, Mairin O’Grady, Emmet Kirwan and James Hickson were all beautifully performed by professional actors (including Genevieve Hulme Beaman, Emmet Kirwan, Camille Ross, Mags McAuliffe and John Cronin).

In terms of my own response, I was struck by a quote given at the beginning of the readings: “In the old days when the word still lived by divine laws, everyone in the world was Polish…”. This, along with the crowds I encountered at the Irish Water Protest March earlier in the day, got me thinking about what the world might be like if everyone was Irish, and consequently, everywhere Ireland. Here’s my short po(em)lemic in response to that notion:

Everywhere is Ireland

“In the old days when the word still lived by divine laws, everyone in the world was Polish…”

On the imaginary steppe

where imaginary Celts

coiled up their spirals

and trudged west

across a Europe

not yet Europe:

there is a leyline –

it marks their route,

stretches from Perm to Dunquin

and when any Irish foot

treads upon this path,

there is Ireland.

And across the Atlantic

where our ‘shared bloodline’

sings tinny renditions of Clannad,

along sea-bed cables

and bounces from satellites,

while imaginary Celts

complain about the laziness

of imaginary Hispanics,

there is Ireland too.

And of course, in Ireland

there is Ireland, squared,

reflected in the water

and in the glow from the phones

we all own because we live

well beyond our means.

It’s in the heartland,

flowing from the source:

a plaza in Moneygall

where Ireland came home

to meet Ireland,

shared a bad pint, left behind

a glorious motorway Supermacs.

Because wherever Ireland returns to,

there Ireland is.

And what is Ireland?

Ireland is a derelict school,

its basement a midden.

It is a broken needle, it is

a sensory garden built

by immigrants,

it is an exported abortion,

that leaves a part of itself

behind, in any other country

that will have it, because after all,

everywhere is Ireland,

and Ireland is everywhere.

Beginning to Write Poetry Course

I’ll be teaching a six week Beginning to Write Poetry course for Big Smoke Writing Factory, starting on the 6th November.

This is the perfect course for those who’ve been dabbling in poetry, and would like to take the next step. It’s also great for those who may have written poetry in the past and who’d like to get back into it. I really enjoyed giving a version of this class earlier this year and am looking forward to getting back into it.

More info and booking here: http://www.bigsmokewritingfactory.com/Courses_btwpoetry.php

And if any of you are poetry fans, you might be interested to know that I’ve just launched my own collection of poetry, Liffey Swim. It’s available in Books Upstairs and also online from the Dedalus Press website:


Larkin’s Beard

Last week I recorded a few poems from Liffey Swim for Arena to broadcast in the coming weeks. Keep an ear out – I’ve just heard that they played a recording of my poem Larkin’s Beard on Friday evening. I like reading this poem, it’s good fun. And although I’ve taken artistic licence in my telling of a story about artistic licence, the kernel of it is true. Have a listen here (around 24 minutes in):


Mindshift – From Page to Stage at the Irish Writers Centre

I’m delighted to be taking part in a professional development day for aspiring playwrights at the Irish Writers Centre this Saturday 4th October.

There’s a great line up and I’ll be kicking off the day with some tips on submitting your play to theatres. I’d highly recommend this Mindshift event for any aspiring playwrights or theatre makers, as it’s a great way to familiarise yourself with the industry and the people who work in it promoting and producing new writing. Here’s the full programme for the day:

Mindshift: From Page to Stage with Industry Professionals

Learn the dos and don’ts of preparing your play for submission from the Abbey Theatre’s Literary Reader, Jessica Traynor. Hear from Karl Shiels (Theatre Upstairs), Anthony Fox (The New Theatre), Sarah Ling (Project Arts Centre) and Kris Nelson (Dublin Fringe Festival) as they present on the opportunities available to emerging playwrights.

Literary Managers Aideen Howard (Abbey Theatre), Gavin Kostick (Fishamble) and Maureen White (Rough Magic) discuss the kind of work they’re interested in receiving and what makes a good play. Ireland’s leading playwrights Michael West and Deirdre Kinahan will share their experiences of getting produced. All sessions will be followed by Q&A from the audience.

I think some places are still available – booking here: http://writerscentre.ie/html/courses/Autumn2014/PageToStage.html