Saturday, October 20, 2007

Patrick Chapman Launch

Photo: No Keats, just Chapman and Cashman

Nice to see a good turnout for the launch of Patrick Chapman's poetry collection "Breaking Hearts and Traffic Lights" at Waterstone's in Dawson Street on Thursday.

The collection is published by Salmon Poetry and includes work from previous chapbooks from Lapwing Press along with new and previously uncollected poems. And it's pretty good stuff!

Seamus Cashman (founder of Wolfhound Press, among other myriad credits) did the launch honours, with a very entertaining and interesting introductory speech. Referencing American poet Jane Kenyon, he talked about the obligation of poetry to be a communication, not only personal reflection and as a medium to 'keep places, people and things alive". This led to a look at the role of the poem in a world where it is increasingly difficult to 'be quiet" and went on to praise the value of honesty in poetry, whereby truths may emerge even long after a poem has come into being - "Better a fumbling at truth than a slickly packaged lie".

Cashman also referenced Máighréad Medb, for the performance aspects of her poetry and the excitement of it's rock'n'roll, profane qualities - with similar traits to be seen in Chapman's work. We were reminded also of Eavan Boland's praise for Chapman's first collection 'Jazztown' and how highly praise from Boland should be valued, as a critic not prone to casual endorsements!

Then it was on to the reading, with Chapman reading Cobain, Eidolan ( a type of ghost, apparently), Cicatrice, Tunisia, Winter 1998 and many others, perhaps favouring the more recent poems in the collection just a little. Some of the featured poems are already published online and can be accessed via Patrick's website here.

So, an enjoyable launch for some excellent work from 'one of the very best modern irish poets'. (That's the cover blurb talking there, but I tend to concur). Patrick's work constantly exhibits a sharp, insightful mix of play, passion and perspective. Throughout his work there's a pared back honesty on display which continues to gleam through this urbane and mature collection.

One good thing about attending these launches is the chance to catch up with old acquaintances and perhaps make some new ones. It was a pleasure to finally meet Philip Casey, Patrick's colleague over at the Irish Literary Revival, whose novel The Fabulists is generously available to read there, along with a number of other out of print titles from Irish writers.