Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tess Gallagher : Dublin Reading

Yes, I know the photo's just a bit out of date, and yes, I know it features Ray Carver as well as Tess Gallagher (some commentators take issue with Gallagher being consistently referred to in the context of her relationship with Carver). Of course Gallagher herself has no qualms about her role as executor / protector of Carver's legacy to the point where she's probably more well known for this role in Europe. The fact remains, however, that she is a fine writer on her own terms and is very highly regarded in US poetry circles. I've been mixed in my reaction to her work in the past and was genuinely curious as I headed along to the Unitarian Church last week for her Poetry Ireland reading.

Gallagher has a remarkable voice. Very youthful, a lilting mix of the Pacific Northwest and our own Atlantic Northwest (Sligo - where she spends several months each year). She spoke fondly of Ballindoon, the area she visits there and where she met her new partner, the painter Josie Grey. Her latest book is a collaboration with Grey. Barnacle Soup : And other stories from the West of Ireland, sees Gallagher trascribe stories from the oral tradition, as told to her by Grey. After an introduction by Joe Woods, she began her reading with two of these: 'A Genius of a Dog" and one other 'Tommy Flynn and his Bealding' about an unfortunate courting incident involving said 'bealding (an infected boil on a finger). Both were charming, light and read with panache.

Then we were into a selection of poetry from her back catalogue. Among those featured were One Kiss, Sah Sin (Hummingbird) , Talking with (to?) Children and she finished with Lie Down With The Lamb, to a warm response from the audience.

Gallagher is well represented online - you can listen to recordings of her reading some of these same poems at the Seamus Heaney Centre in 2007 here, and a couple of interesting older interviews with Don Swaim on the wonderful archive of his Wired for Books radio show here. Enjoy.