Over the past two weeks I’ve had the pleasure of having work included in two new anthologies of Irish Poetry.
The Deep Heart’s Core from Dedalus Press takes an intriguing approach to the anthology form by asking poets to choose ‘touchstone poems’ that mean a lot to them, and explain the process behind them. The result is a very varied and thought-provoking selection of contemporary Irish poetry. It’s especially interesting to see which poems each poet selected. You can buy a copy here.
Washing Windows? Irish Women Write Poetry is an excellent anthology of contemporary Irish women poets, published by Arlen House. It’s great to see such an extensive anthology recognising the excellent women poets working in Ireland today. Arlen have long been a champion of women’s writing in Ireland (when it was neither profitable nor popular) and long may their good work last. The book is available to buy from Books Upstairs and online here.
I got a lovely surprise this evening to discover that my poem ‘Hamelin’ from my collection Liffey Swim is this week’s poem of the week 0n RTE.com, nominated by the Poetry Programme. In fact, I was so excited when I found out that I treated myself by turning on the heating a full ten minutes early.
You can hear me reading the poem here, along with a review of Liffey Swim by Philip Coleman of TDC.
I had the great pleasure of hearing my debut collection Liffey Swim reviewed on RTÉ’s Poetry Programme last Saturday night, along with Dylan Brennan’s Blood Oranges. Philip Coleman of TCD gave really insightful reviews of both books and I was very gratified by the parallels that Philip drew between the two books, as I’m a big fan of Dylan’s work.
On tonights show we have the Pigott Prize shortlist & review Jessica Traynor & Dylan Brennan’s debut collections.
If you haven’t come across the Poetry Programme yet, do make it your business to listen in. It’s a great mix of work by up and coming and established poets, and has a fresh and contemporary feel. I think the half hour model works really well to keep the content lively!
Delighted to see my poetry book’s first review in last weekend’s Irish Times. It’s great to be reviewed in such good company too, along with new collections by Kerry Hardie, Gerald Dawe, Nessa O’Mahony and Theo Dorgan. Here’s my mention:
Although Jessica Traynor’s first collection, Liffey Swim (Dedalus, €11.50), is not grounded in elegy, one of its successes is the surreal reversal of (the bravely titled) The Dead, whose deathbed scene is clamorous with ghosts: “I didn’t want to leave her with them, / so I stayed and they promised to behave – / though they were already into the whiskey. / In the small hours she called for them / and, when her life escaped her, // it shook out its legs like a newborn foal.”
The book shows her care with form as she negotiates public and private spaces: eBay, street scenes, the Liffey swim of its title, an archaeological dig. Others imagine an animal world clearly, as when Egrets in the Tolka “becomes an aerial show // by a bird that looks through me, / seeking only the shadows / of slow-moving fish.”
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.
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:
I launched my debut collection Liffey Swim last Thursday evening in the great company of Enda Wyley and Patrick Kehoe. What to say except that it was a fantastic night, and I was really touched to have so many good friends come by to say hello and pick up a copy of the book.
It’s out there in the world now, so I’m excited about the notion of it reaching a wider audience. If you’d like to hear more about the process that went into putting it together, you can have a listen to my interview on Arena from last week:
I’ll also be reading at the Irish Writers Centre for National Poetry Day this Thursday evening 2nd October, along with Deirdre Cartmill, Alan Jude Moore, Maria McManus, Gerard Smyth, and Michael O’Loughlin. I’ll have a few copies of the book with me if anyone would like to pick one up; otherwise it’s available in bookshops and from Dedalus Press at the below link:
Here are some nice things that have been said about Liffey Swim:
“Her finely lyrical work is informed by wide travel, a meditative intelligence and an acute sense of history, in which Dublin and its three rivers become a living metaphor for the truths and felicities of one woman’s life.” —Harry Clifton
If anyone would like to review a copy of the book, please drop me a line.
I’ve a number of poems from Liffey Swim featured on Christine Murray’s Poethead blog today, and I’m delighted to also be featured on her index of Irish women poets. You could get happily lost in both, so do have a look around if you have a free moment.
Here’s the link to Poethead, which regularly features great contemporary poetry:
And here’s the link to the index of Irish women poets, an excellent online resource:
Take a look at last night’s Imeall to see readings from If Ever You Go, this year’s One City One Book. The first ten minutes features readings from Peter Sirr, Biddy Jenkinson and yours truly. It’s a lovely segment and well worth a watch. I have just now recovered from the experience of seeing my own face in wide screen close up. You can see a bit of a half-grin on my face at one point – we filmed on the board walk and there was a guy behind the camera man at that point doing his best to distract me. We also got into a bit of a turf war with another film crew just after that. I think the final edit manages to capture some of that drama:)
A quick update on some readings I have coming up in the next few weeks. If you’re around Dublin or Cork in the next while and are intrigued to know what exactly it is that I do, please drop by:
Saturday 16th March @ 5pm – Andrews Street Tourist Office, Dublin
Dedalus Press have organised a pop-up bookshop in the Andrews Street Tourist Office to celebrate the launch of If Ever You Go: A Map of Dublin in Poetry and Song, this year’s One City One Book choice. A number of poets including myself will be giving readings from the book on the hour, so it’s worth dropping by on Saturday and Sunday if you’re around town to see who’s about and pick up a copy. If you can’t make it, the book’s available here too:
I’ll be heading to Cork to read at Ó Bhéal for the first time at the end of the month. Delighted to have an excuse to go to Cork and visit this excellent well-established poetry night, now in its seventh year. I’ll be reading a selection of poems from my collection in the works. Corkonians (Corkers?), come and say hello!
As last year’s Hennessy Award Winner, I’ll be giving a short reading on the first night of the festival, introduced by Theo Dorgan (Come to see Theo Dorgan, stay for Jess!) The reading is free and as with Ó Bhéal I will be putting poems from the first collection in progress through the wringer.
I’ll be reading at the launch of this year’s One City One Book If Ever You Go this Wednesday evening at the GPO.
I’ve a couple of poems in the book alongside Dublin-themed work by Swift, Yeats, Joyce, Clarke, Kavanagh, Kinsella, Heaney, Boland, Bolger and Meehan, as well as a host of others including Leland Bardwell, Derek Mahon, Michael Hartnett, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Patrick Deeley, Macdara Woods, Enda Wyley and Ailbhe Darcy. A list that defines the meaning of ‘great company’. If I’ve missed anyone, apologies – I haven’t seen the contents page yet!
The book’s already had a great review from the Dublin Review of Books, so I’m looking forward to getting stuck in to a copy:
“If Ever You Go is one of the best publishing ideas in decades and a particular delight for those whose souls, for better or worse, are rooted in the city and its past.” — Dublin Review of Books
I got my invitation to the launch at the GPO last week and was encouraged to RSVP as security’s very tight – if I recall correctly, the last time they let a bunch of idealists and creative types into the building in springtime it burned to the ground…