So, last year I was awarded a three week bursary at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig by the Ireland Chair of Poetry. I’ve been taking the weeks piecemeal – one last July enabled me to make the final edits to Liffey Swim. Last month, I went up for another couple of days to take stock of what I’ve written since Liffey Swim was published. The guys from the RTÉ Poetry Programme lent me a zoom mic and asked me to keep an audio diary of my time there. It was a great focus for the few days and a nice net for all the loose, half-formed thoughts that float around your brain when you spend any length of time on your own. You can have a listen to the resulting ramblings (alongside a great interview with Paula Meehan and some poems by Chris Agee) here.
I’ve just found out that I’m the 2014 recipient of the Ireland Chair of Poetry Bursary, which is a shock, but the best kind of shock.
I’m Harry Clifton’s final nominee for the award before his tenure as Ireland Professor or Poetry ends. I’ve enjoyed his lectures every year which have been a real education in international poetry, providing fascinating external insights (if that’s not an oxymoron) on the Irish poetry scene. However, it’s fantastic news that the wonderful Paula Meehan has been appointed and I’m really looking forward to hearing her Imaginary Bonnets with Real Bees lecture when it comes to Dublin next year.
The next thing to mention is the sense of trepidation at following in the footsteps of such talented previous recipients: Billy Ramsell, Dave Lordan, Leanne O’Sullivan and Miriam Gamble, to name but a few.
I’ve also been keeping quiet about my debut collection Liffey Swim, which is forthcoming from Dedalus Press in next autumn, but now seems a good moment to mention it; the four weeks in Annaghmakerrig that are part of the bursary will be much appreciated as I attempt to knock it into shape.