Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Poetry Day : The Recite Stuff

This thursday, October 1st, is All-Ireland Poetry Day. There's lots of activities right around the country, which you can check out here. One local gig I'd like to mention is happening at 6.30 pm at Dalkey Library. Come along to hear DLR Libraries’ Writer in Residence Paul Perry read with special guests Dermot Bolger and Jane Robinson. All Welcome. Phone Dalkey Library on 01-2855277 for further details.

In a broader context, here's a couple of poetry-related posts on UK blogs that provide some interesting food for thought.

George Szirtes has a short reflection on the role of the 'I' voice in lyric poetry.

Over in Hackney, Ms Baroque has a look at the influence of small presses in the current Forward Prize anthology.

Vibrant, literary, Salt Publishing are rolling their several blogs together into one right here - also officially launching on October 1st. Well worth bookmarking.

Also, back at home, for emerging poets with a first collection under way, it might be worth noting that the Patrick Kavanagh Award have extended their deadline until October 7th.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Monday Poem : A Teddy Buoy

So, into the choppy waves of inspiration, good old Total Feckin Eejit threw his bright, bobbing challenge; to absorb a couple of poems by Ted Hughes - namely The Thought-Fox and The Horses - and see where that might lead.

I thought this could be a tricky one. Hughes's works are a bit of a touchstone for me - I'm a sucker for all that elemental, pagan countryboy schtick - so this felt just a bit close to the bone. Often, those inspirations closest to your heart can provide very little in the way of actual stepping-off points - bringing as they do a certain 'frozen in the headlights' effect. Lamped by your likings, as it were.

However, the particular bea(s)ts in these poems felt very familiar, in many ways - before long I had a line, which bubbled and simmered for a few days, before spilling over into my notebook. So here's my response to TFE's prompt - you''ll find plenty more respondents via the comments on his blog post.


I see my youngest son lay down his head
upon our dozing hound and close his eyes

and I look on and know that kind of comfort
those several warmths of breathing ribs and what they bring

slipping among species, slow and sympathetic
within shared sureties - life's broadest senses


For now we’ll close the midden from our minds
ruffle the drum of a resting torso, settle

into one more slipped Sunday - supplemental
seeking wrestled down - no family tripping in breathable hides


Recall instead houndstooth tweed - born wiry,
unforgiving to young fingertips, later worn smooth

from the workings of a man, drowsing in his familiar chair
diaphragm at rest - yet never resting - until starting unexpectedly

awake in another place entirely, another kind of reverie
rousted by no drumroll

© P Nolan 2009

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Culture Night : Dublin Dreaming

Well that was fun. A beautiful evening, begun with the sinking sun creating a gorgeous glow over the city outskirts as I bussed into town.

Then off the bus into a pleasant Friday evening bustle, which built as the night went on. Spirits were high all round town, a very positive vibe. I started off dipping into Temple Bar for the buskers and the buzz, dropping into the Original Print Gallery to see a great selection of small works on sale for only 50 euro each! Well worth a look. They were busy getting messy in there, kids and adults making prints with great gusto. Swung up to the Gallery of Photography for a nice show by Eoin O Conaill.

A duck and a dive over Capel Street Bridge to visit the artists of New Art Studios, open for the evening. Nice work. Nice People. Chilled out on the bridge on the way back to watch changing animations on Liberty Hall as the night deepened. This worked really well from many vantage points, a beacon for the surrounding activities.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Culture Night 09 : Get Down!

Awright peeps - gather! With all the grimness of late, the poop hasn't just been hitting the fan - it's right in there clogging the mechanism, causing the whining electric motor to overheat and producing a particularly unpleasant odour. So - plug it out, wrap your head in paisley, rouge your knees and get thee to the Culture. Nama Schmama! Lisbon Schmisbon! Arts Cuts, Schmarts Cuts etc, etc.

There's so much on tonight, I won't even start listing. Just check it all out here. I'm heading into the city centre without any real plan, apart from hoping to hit a few Francis Street venues. Y'all have fun now, y'hear!

Edward Delaney : RIP

Sad to hear of the passing of Edward Delaney, that fine Irish sculptor. I love what he did with his figuration in bronze, for pieces like his famine memorial piece and Wolfe Tone statue (above) , both of which can be seen at the northeastern corner of St. Stephens Green in Dublin. The Tone statue was blown up by loyalist terrorists in 1979 - only the head surviving, to be incorporated into the statue as it appears today. Although this piece is less abstracted than many of his figurative works from the same era, it still displays the rich texture and empathy of the sculptor to his subject - seen here in a detail of the head.

In a fitting tribute, a bronze statue, Eve with Apple, recently donated to the Irish Museum of Modern Art, is due to be unveiled there tomorrow. Hopefully I might get out to see it tomorrow for Culture Night.

I've spoken before about the possibility Delaney's approach was lurking in my subconscious when I designed the logo for the Irish theatre awards. In recent years, he had been producing work in stainless steel, which has an elegance of its own and carried on his particular fascination with proportion. But it's his cast bronzes that will remain close to my heart, for their expression, tension and sheer organic beauty. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Flying Solo : The Crow Show

Just back from the framers to check details on a few paintings for 'Ecotones', a solo exhibition that I'm having at the Crow Gallery in Temple Bar in a couple of weeks. It's only a small show, about 16 pieces - all at very affordable prices ;-). The launch is Tues 6th Oct - consider yourself invited - and the paintings will be on show thereafter from 1-6pm until Sat 10th Oct. I'll be invigilating Thursday and Friday, so feel free to drop in then to say Hi if you can't make the launch.

I've been thinking about doing this for a while, and the work is ready - so... Kablooey! The right honourable Tony Strickland is curating - a helpful and experienced collaborator.

FYI, an Ecotone is a transitional area containing a density of diverse elements from bordering environments; the so-called Edge Effect. Seems about right.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Drogheda Writes 2 : The Editor's Tale

My writers group, Deansgrange Writers, are currently preparing our first anthology for publication this November (working title : Crossroads) with our editor Katie Donovan. Earlier this year, Drogheda Creative Writers launched their second anthology, entitled Drogheda Writes 2, edited by writer, tutor and fellow blogger Barbara Smith. In the interests of research and general curiousity, I asked Barbara to tell me a little about the process she went through in preparing the anthology and she kindly obliged. The result is a very interesting insight into what's involved in getting a project like this off the ground.

Drogheda Writes 2 is (logically enough) the second anthology from Drogheda Creative Writers - can you give us some background to the group?
Drogheda Creative Writers group has existed for about twenty odd years now in one form or another. In the past, various compilations took place as photocopied pamphlets, but the anthologies have come through a combination of good organisation from their leadership and steady sponsorship from the local arts office and local businesses. The group itself ranges from those who just write for themselves, to writers who are quite successful in their own right and are established nationally as well as locally.

How did the decision to publish a second anthology come about?
Basically, because the funds were there, and to help keep interest in the group growing.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Monday Poem : Hometown Thoughts

Monday again, and here's my contribution to Totalfeckineejit's Monday Poem exercise. Another quickie, broadly on the theme of hometown / leaving;


Aged five, we moved two miles outside of town
trees greened and became my playmates

hunkered snug between their roots
to shelter from a squall

toting arm-thick branch lengths, lancing
through head-spun territories

or serving as a gnarled Lee Enfield
from the comic strip trench of a laneway ditch

gleaming hazel rods forked, bronzing
some never-certain divination

early Autumn rain drummed down mystic jewels;
chestnuts, glowing burnt umber

then - older - the tempation of those lowest boughs
hoisted me, finally breaching the canopy, a head

among the beech tips, wondering how I measured
on the grey cathedral spire of a world left behind.

© P Nolan 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Stanley Kubrick : Taming Light

Curated by film critic John Maguire, this exhibition marks the tenth(!) anniversary of Kubrick's death and will feature work from Irish and international artists, including the incredible, hugely inspirational (for me, anyway) Polish poster artist Leszek Zebrowski!

Also exhibiting are my IGI colleagues Chris Judge, Steve Doogan, graffiti artists Maser and 2Cents, photographers David Cleary, Conor Horgan and Cliodhna O'Flaherty among many, many interesting others.

My own piece (above) is entitled 'Essenzseltsamliebe', (Essence of Strangelove) and features the good Doktor himself, caught in self-delusional, mid-apocalyptic erotic reverie. Or something.

Kubrick, of course, is one of those artists whose imagery has become part of the popular visual vernacular. He also retains a devoted, feverish following among other artists, right across the spectrum, far beyond the world of cinema alone. It's great to be part of this inspired tribute - thanks John - and judging by the people involved, this show should be a real smorgasbord of creativity.

There's a website due here. The show opens on October 1st - so get thee(ahem) To The Light House!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

It's all Academic : Belfast bound

It's all painting-related round this way at the mo.

Delighted to announce that both of my paintings in the recent RHA annual exhibition were sold. Yay! My humblest thanks to those exemplars of good taste who bought - long may they prosper!

Hot on the heels come somes more good news - that I've had two further paintings accepted for this year's Royal Ulster Academy annual exhibition. Yay again! The selected paintings are Poor Beast (above) and Bolg, and I'm looking forward to seeing them hanging in the old Northern Bank building in Belfast when I head up for the opening on October 1st. Unfortunately, that means I'll miss the opening of Stanley Kubrick : Taming Light, an exhibition of artwork inspired by the films of that late great visionary director, which opens at the Light House Cinema that same night - more news on that very soon.

*** UPATE : Yay! This exhibition now opens on Sep 3oth - so I WILL make it to the opening after all. Sweet.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Massive Attack : Splitting The Atom

I'm loving this beautiful cover image by Robert Del Naja (aka 3D from Massive Attack) for the Bristol group's upcoming Splitting The Atom EP. If you like your beats moody, spaced and treacle-dub-dark, a new release from the godfathers of Trip Hop is always an event. While the Bristol duo have a pretty established formula by now, they always seem to bring something new to the mix and their choice of guest vocalists is usually inspired.

This EP features Guy Garvey from Elbow, Tunde Adebimpe from TV On The Radio and ex-Tricky collaborator Martina Topley-Bird and serves as a taster for the new album, due early in 2010.

I like what I've heard so far and I lurv that image. Unsurprisingly, Del Naja has been painting longer than he's been a musician, having been wellknown as a graffiti artist before getting involved in music. The image reminds me a little of another graffito-done-good whose work I keep going back to, the tragic Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Monday Poetry : A Cafe Scene

A certain blogging acquaintance came up with the idea of making Monday a sort of rolling poetry day - with a new theme / challenge each week. The idea being to write something quickly and post it equally quickly around about 7pm. This weeks theme was a café scene - here's mine - and you can check out other participants via the comments here.

Diner Dance

each time I come back to this dining place
despite the random peppering of chairs
with varied faces never seen before
the empty ones are always waiting there

some face me while the others coyly skirt
the crooked aisle that makes my walk a dance
these passive partners frozen to the floor
I swing my hips through their feigned nonchalance

foursquare they sit, denying molecules
that whizz and dip and pirhouette inside
that kiddy's blurt of juice, the mother's lift
of eyebrow and her pressure-venting sigh

time and again I touch the wallflower chair
melt one into the other, take the floor
as watchers changed to prey avert their eyes
we turn the tables on the pack once more