Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Glór Session : Poetry Bus vs. Soundings

Went along to The Glór Session last night for the official launch of The Poetry Bus, issue 1. A brilliant evening! There were poets in abundance, most of whom read their poem from the magazine, another piece or two of their own and their choice of poem from the recently reissued, much loved school anthology Soundings. Publishers Gill & Macmillan donated a number of copies for the raffle - and I was lucky enough to take one home - Yay! My old schooldays copy has long since disappeared, so it's a treat to have a chance to revisit the texts in this snapshot of a shared past.

The video above is me doing my bit at Glór, followed by the wonderful Carol Boland doing hers, as well as reading a note from Poetry Bus editor Peadar O'Donoghue who unfortunately couldn't make it along on the night.

I had a great chat with Carol about her involvement in running the Space Inside arts nights in Wicklow town, as well as her foray into publishing, with the Boland Press due to launch its first(?) title on December 1st in the Signal Arts Centre in Bray - so mark your diaries! Great too, to chat with some of the other Poetry Bus poets who read, including Kate Dempsey, Colm Keegan, Niamh Bagnell, Mags Treanor and many more. Hugely inspiring, and the magazine sold like hot, tasty cakes on a wet November night - which bodes well for its future.

The session was run (as always) with great gusto and good humour by the man himself, Stephen James Smyth. Many thanks Stephen, for a great vibe and a great night. There's loads more video of this and past Glór Sessions over here.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Poetry Bus : Bath time

It's been a while since I've hopped onboard the Poetry Bus. Preoccupied of late. This weeks prompt comes from Jessica Maybury, over yonder, and has to do with bathrooms, water, swimming etc. Great prompt - some of the best thinking gets done in the bath - but I was all at sea for a bit (a soak is a luxury I haven't had for a while) - no Eureka moment. Instead came a short meditation on the room itself (as society?).

Here it be;


Our bathroom's going down the crapper
tiles ungrouted, mildew on the ceiling,
run-off from the bathrim pisses on the bare marine ply floor
each time the shower is used

a topograph of littered towels claim corner territories as their own
contoured lumps, damp and rank
wary of exasperated hunters blundering in
to bundle them at last into the wash

some bright morning, sunlight will see
the hot tap wink and all these grimy spells will break
with towels rebirthed as heroes born aloft, their
clear expressions creasing widely, hugging all, folded, soft

they'll hunker neatly, muffling all doubt,
dispelling damp and disarray, the lack of DIY shrugged off
until, decks cleared, we'll set our faces to the glass
pipe ourselves a welcome, all shipshape once again
from figurehead to ass.

© P Nolan 2010

Don't forget, it's the OFFICIAL LAUNCH of the Poetry Bus, Issue 1 TONIGHT!!! At the Glór Sessions, with readings by Poetry Bus poets - as well as readings from the newly re-issued Soundings. Should be a good one!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

That Dutch Dude : Cor Klaasen

Tonight sees the opening of a retrospective exhibition of the work of Irish-based Dutch designer and illustrator Cor Klaasen. Cor was one of the wave of Dutch graphic designers encouraged to come to ireland in the fifties, with a view to developing a more professional design culture here.

I was lucky enough to benefit from having Cor as a tutor during my training in Dun Laoghaire School of Art & Design (now IADT). He was an iconic mentor, a mildly rakish, intelligent, pragmatic artisan and contrarion who could charm the birds from the trees (as well as students' mothers). More than that, he took a genuine personal interest in all of his students - helping us find unique strengths, both in our talents and personalities.

Some previous graduates were lucky enough to each receive a personal letter from Cor, in his elegant handwriting (a citheog, he could also produce perfect mirror-writing, a la Leonardo da Vinci!) My good friend James Ellis has a nice piece on his blog about this. I'm quite envious as I didn't receive one of these letters - unknown to us, Cor was already unwell by the time of our graduation. He died the following year.

As well as bolstering my shaky self-belief and providing a robust graphic apprenticeship, Cor also found me my first proper job! In Dublin, in the depressed late-eighties, full-time positions in graphics were few and far between. It was the night of our graduate exhibition opening. Aware that colleagues needed a junior designer with good drawing skills, he planned to offer the job details to the first graduating student he met - which was (thankfully) me! I went for the interview and was hired shortly afterwards, soon realising I'd a lot more to learn.

The last time I spoke to Cor was by phone from that very workplace. By then I knew he was unwell, but not the full extent of his illness. I mentioned how I hoped to see him again soon - maybe pick up a few tips for this testing, real world beyond the protection of college. His reply was enigmatic and empowering - 'You're the teacher now.'

I still make daily use of principles I learned from Cor. His own work also remains a creative inspiration. For that reason alone, I am looking forward to this exhibition immensely.

The exhibition is being curated by Niall McCormack from the fantastic Hi-Tone Blog. Niall will also give a presentation about Cor's work tomorrow night at a very special OFFSHOOT event. All these events are happening as part of Design Week 2010.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Breaking News : Back to Blogger

Sooo..... it's all a bit odd right now. Comings. Goings. Turnings. Returnings.

I'm back here after my brief sojourn across the blogochannels to Wordpress. It was good - the virtual weather was fine and all that - but various glitchings and technical bewitchings made me think I'd be as well back here in Luvverly old Bloggerville for a little while yet. Spam is everywhere.

Staying put. Lots going on. Welcome.

That guy above is The Fabled Black Hole Head McFlinty - a notorious character from the depths of the imagination of Recently Crowned All-Ireland Poetry Slam Champion 2010, Colm Keegan of yonder parish.

Colm's poetry features in issue 1 of the hippididippest new poetry magazine the Poetry Bus, as does the above illustration based on his poem. I've a couple of poems in there too, alongside a whole heap of talented people.

Another whole heap of talented folk are the Brainbelt Illustration Collective, who have an exhibition opening TONIGHT! at the Centre for Creative Practices as part of Design Week 2010. Looks well sweet! I won't make it there tonight, but hope to get in later in the week. See below;

Friday, October 01, 2010

OFFSET : Something for the weekend

So, OFFSET has well and truly landed. There's fantastic stuff going on all around Dublin city centre this weekend, with most activity taking place at the conference venue itself, the Grand Canal Theatre, designed by Daniel Libeskind. Visual creative professionals from all walks and professions will be represented, with some verrrrrry impressive names (international & homegrown) giving presentations about their projects, methodologies and inspirations.

For my part, I'll be moderating the illustratorsireland panel discussion called “Getting noticed and staying busy!” featuring contributions from the ever-inspiring Nate Williams (award winning illustrator and IllustrationMundo), Darren Di Lieto (Little Chimp Society/Hire An Illustrator), Eddie Gardner, creative director at Tequila and my good pal Steve Simpson, award winning illustrator, based.... downstairs. Aimed at illustrators, it should be interesting for any and all freelance creatives.

* UPDATE : Day Tickets.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

OFFSET : Scrubbing up!

Phew. Its been busy over this last while - lots going on. For a start I've switched over from Blogger (farewell Scaldervillage) to Wordpress. A good move? We'll see - it certainly seems easier to customise. For now. Anyhoo - welcome one and all to the new space. Is it a site? Is it a blog? Is it worth a visit? You tell me!

OFFSET, that big old creative festival, is rolling into town and tomorrow (wednesday) sees myself and a bunch of other illustrators, artists, photographers and assorted 'types' airing our dirty laundry at a group show up in South Studios.

Expect all things murky, expect guilty secrets, fetishes, embarrassments and one or two skeletons to fall out of cupboards at this one-night-only show. I'll post my own image up here soon. Ciao.

UPDATE : Well, it was a great show. Lots of nice images from the night to be seen here and here - my artwork is below on the right - or see it in my folio here.

OFFSET 2010 - Laundry

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

That's it : I'm outta here!

I haven't been posting much here over the last while - been quite busy with other stuff.

One thing I finally got around to was moving my blogging activity over to the Wordpress platform, which just seems to allow a little more flexibility. Blogger seems to be attracting more spam too? So, from now on, I won't be blogging here, I'll be over there. The Scaldervillage Voice has hereby closed shop.

Hope to see you over at the new spot. Its a work in progress at the moment - plenty of tweaking left to be done. I'm also going to be on Facebook over here. As for Twitter? We'll see.

I've enjoyed the run here - and, in truth, the content will probably be quite similar at the new place - it'll just be a bit more integrated with my artwork etc.

Thanks to all the visitors and those who left comments - it's been fun! If anybody has me bookmarked or blogrolled, I'd politely ask you to please update your links to my new abode? I'll aim to reciprocate asap.

Ciao fer now!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Doodles : Post-it People

Characters that slip
from the pencil tip

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Newest Painting : Limen

This is the latest painting (I think) I've finished.

Entitled Limen it is painted in acrylics on box canvas (maybe a little graphite and shellac ink in there too) and measures 40 x 40 cm. A lot of glazing en route.

As with poems, I find I need to live with / attempt to ignore paintings for a while before deciding if they're actually finished. The temptation to re-visit is always there - to keep working it - sometimes into overworking - and I've slaughtered a fair share of paintings in that way. At least with words you can retain the early drafts. More difficult with paint. But a period of 'living time' generally sorts out whether equilibrium has finally been reached or not.

This one has been lurking in my sitting room for a couple of months - just at the edge of peripheral vision. It's there. Done. Hope you like it. Some more recent paintings here.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Poetry Bus : Early Morning

This week's Poetry Bus driver is Chiccoreal with a prompt to write about the first thing that pops into the head on waking up - so here it is;


Light bleeds along the edge of drawn blinds

Monday and the working week is drizzling to focus

beyond the window raindrops spatter sycamores

like silent neighbours popping corn

Summer shrinks away, this week our second child

is starting secondary school

soon the morning schedule won't accommodate

five minute blinks at sullen numerals

I close my eyes again - a temporary flatline - listen

to the rain shower slide away, down over Sallynoggin to the sea

rinsing early morning swimmers towelling down at Sandycove

freshwater back to salt - an opposite of tears.

© P Nolan 2010

(edited 24.8.10)

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Poetry Bus : Weirdly Visions

This week's poetry bus prompt issued from NanU The Sciencegirl. Her prompt involved taking note of those nuggets of nonsense, blogger's own verification words - a linguistic mystic in its own right, which brought some great responses. So with a tip of the hat to Lear, Carroll, Milligan et al - here's my bus pass;


In the still of morning
a-frabing I will go
along the banks of Sumet
down to the frozen shore

to search amidst the gravel
for gleaming diagoo
with rake and sieve and mopokip
my fortune I will gather

my freedom I will purchase
and return to Icitemo
to sip on silk and beermemp
and never more stir.

© P Nolan 2010

Speaking of Edward Lear, I wasn't aware until recently (University of Wikipedia) that he was also quite the accomplished artist and illustrator. His work as 'ornithological draughtsman' was favourably compared with Audubon, and he even briefly gave drawing lessons to Queen Victoria. Which allows me to segue sinuously to the image above, entitled 'Demon', my own 'demonological' contribution to a group exhibition by IGI members, launching this Thursday at the United Arts Club. I'm not sure if any of the illustrators on show have ever given lessons to royalty, but several (or rather, their art) have definitely appeared on stamps.

Your invitation to attend is hereby decreed.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Poetry Bus : Confusion, she says

So the Poetry bus rolleth on. This week's theme is 'confusion' as decreed by this weeks driver, Niamh Bagnell - with plenty of passengers over on her blog.

I'm confused. A lot. I think. Who knows? Happy July. Innit?


journeys taken
asphalt or otherwise
must abrade certainty

worthwhile destinations
require navigation and detour
often into knot and tangle

slowed along the route
strained along the rise
stopped along the level
skewed along the decline

sputtering into glare
to find the sea

swell and return

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

felt+tip+paper = marker doodles

Some doodles. Worked up a little. In marker. Remember markers? Smelly things. With caps. Not CAPS.

Friday, July 02, 2010

audio visual : words, eyes, ears

The image above is one of my illustrations for TFE's upcoming Poetry Bus magazine. Illustrating poetry is HARD! As in, creating some kind of mutually dynamic relationship which is sympathetic to the text, but not stomping all over same with big visually metaphorical boots. I hope poet and guitarist Dominic Rivron likes this take on his poem After The Rain. The first issue of the Poetry Bus is currently in production - launching soon! This illustration also features in a selection of recent work by IGI Members over at the Scamp blog. Great selection and quality as usual.

Other poetry-related news is that podcasts of most of the readings from this year's dlr Poetry Now festival are now online here, along with my own brief overview of the festival. Well worth a listen. The podcasts, that is. Paul Muldoon's keynote address is well worth checking out.

On a related, yet prosey, tip - the upcoming Mountains to The Sea festival (also in Dun Laoghaire) has just announced a new competition for unpublished writers from the area - details here. Their site also features podcasts of most events from last year's festival, including the keynote address by Paul Auster, speaking about Beckett's influence..

So, while the sun hangs around, why not load up the iPod, crack open a deckchair (and suitable libation) and tickle those cochleae!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Enniscorthy 1500 : Scalderverse

Hi there - back again after tramping around in the cyberwilderness for a few weeks. Lots going on - much of it tiresome, some of it beautiful. And now THIS!

I reckoned I should pay some attention to the weird synchronicity that arose during a recent Poetry Bus prompt. As a native of Enniscorthy, I've always been conscious of the amount of writing talent that has emerged from the town and its hinterland. So I had a chat with the good Tom Mooney, editor of local newspaper the Enniscorthy Echo, and Paul O'Reilly, driving force behind Scallta Media, publisher of local writing and music - and this is what we came up with;

Enniscorthy 1500 : Scalderverse : Call for Submissions

Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford is currently celebrating the 1500th anniversary of its foundation in 510AD. As part of the anniversary celebrations, local newspaper the Enniscorthy Echo will feature a weekly poetry column, entitled Scalderverse. (Natives of Enniscorthy town are traditionally known as ‘Scalders’. A punnet of best Wexford strawberries to anybody who can categorically explain why?)

This weekly column will feature a poem by a local writer - or which references some aspect of the town itself - in each issue of the Echo from mid-June to end of November 2010. A pamphlet of these poems may also be produced at the end of the year.

While a number of established poets have been invited to partake, it is intended that the majority of poems will be sourced by open submission from emerging writers from the town and its surroundings. Unpublished poems reflecting contemporary life in Enniscorthy are particularly welcome.

Poets from further afield are also welcome to submit poems which specifically reference some aspect of Enniscorthy or its surroundings.

Scalderverse will be curated - and occasionally illustrated - by Padhraig Nolan in association with Scallta Media and the Enniscorthy Echo.

NOTE : There is a production limitation of 40 lines of verse, including stanza breaks, for each poem. A maximum of three poems, with a short biographical note, should be emailed for consideration to scalderverse[at_symbol]gmail.com before July 15th.


We kicked off with the first Scalderverse column this week, featuring - with the kind permission of The Ollamh Himself - Heaney's Requiem for the Croppies. An auspicious start! And we have new poems to come from Eamonn Wall and Anthony Cronin, amongst others.

It's fantastic to have some serious established names featuring - but the exciting thing for me is seeing what might come from poets whose names I'm not familiar with. I'm particularly keen to see work which speaks about contemporary life in the town and its environs - so if any of you out there have something that fits the bill - please do submit!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Pavilion Theatre : The Caretaker

Went along to Pavilion Theatre last night to catch London Classic Theatre's production of The Caretaker, by Harold Pinter. Nicholas Gasson (above) was excellent as the garrulous tramp Davies, and fellow cast members Nicholas Gadd (Mick) and Richard Stemp (Aston) were also top notch in their roles - tightly wound performances all round, restrained and energetic in the right measures. Coupled with a tidily cluttered staging, it made for a real treat of a performance.

I'm currently reading Louis MacNeice's Varieties of Parable. In his introduction, he makes reference to the Theatre of the Absurd - Brecht, Beckett, Pinter & Co. - and this play in particular, saying;

"I could certainly 'identify', as they say, with either of the tramps in Waiting for Godot or, disgusting though he is, with Krapp in Krapp's Last Tape. And in Pinter I could identify with any one of the three characters in The Caretaker."

Funny to think of MacNeice enjoying this play - he seems to belong to such a different, previous world than Pinter. Easy to forget that The Caretaker was first staged in April 1960 - so we're just past the 50th anniversary(!) of this modern classic.

It is indeed possible to identify with all three characters. In fact, by play's end - after all the doubt, chattering, distraction, sprained intentions, tragic echoes and curtailed geographies - there's a distinct feeling that all three are aspects of one individual psyche. Id, Ego and Super-ego perhaps - though which is which could be a whole other conversation.

The Caretaker is at the Pavilion again tonight, before heading to the Old Courthouse Antrim from tomorrow, June 2nd. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Newest Painting : Homeland

I've quite a few paintings in progress right now - which are very slow in coming to a conclusion. Time is tight, but that's not the whole story. The Whole Story is the whole story, I guess.

Anyway, a few are nearly there - hopefully a tipping point is in reach - and this one is 100% Done! Entitled Homeland, it's mixed media on card, 21 x 30cm. Hope you like it.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Poetry Bus : Theatricks

This weeks driver of The Poetry Bus is Nevada-based writer, librarian and blogger Terresa Wellborn (great name). Hi Terresa! Her prompt was this remarkably theatrical photo by Keith Carter shown above.

I found it a tough enough prompt to start with, but the resulting piece took its own angle on things;


Saturday in May and summer arrives
the back garden a suntrap baited
with newspapers, birdsong and beer

In the cavecool kitchen I remain
a shuffling pale caucasian caveman
slicing through an orange block

of what we buy as cheese, four cut
slices snugly fit to blunted squares
of white bread licked with mayonnaise

I hover on the doorstep of kissing sun
blossom breeze, turn instead to monochromes
of costume, tragedy, reveal

the flipside of this page - another world
asleep, where now a person stirs
blinks awake, listens to the night

© P Nolan 2010

Worth noting too that fellow Poetry Busser and Connecticut-based blogger, Jeanne Iris Lakatos, is in Dublin at the mo and (I'm pretty sure) is appearing at The Glór Session downstairs in The International TONITE! (Can anybody confirm this?) Hope to make it along to this.

** Update : Jeanne's flight was delayed - it seems unlikely she'll be arriving in time for Glór tonight after all. Jeanne, drop me a line when you arrive? **

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Poetry Ireland Introductions : Round 2

I enjoyed Monday night's Introductions reading so much (some snippets above) I went back again last night!

Glad I did too. It was quite a different vibe, a slightly smaller crowd gathering in the IWC on a somewhat gloomier, more overcast, drizzly evening than the previous night. The sombre weather was kept at bay by the warmth of the chat (and a couple of glasses of wine) making for a more intimate affair. Surrounded by the centre's extensive collection of modern Irish paintings, one veteran reminisced about very different days when the upstairs rooms were populated only by pigeons. Good to chat again with Peter Goulding too, from the previous nights readings.

The first reader was Andrew Jamison, very much a poet of the locale, with themes and images drawn from his home turf of Crossgar (?), Co. Down to the fore. Bus journeys, landmarks, window views and the music of Ash featured, with Jamison making light of his fascinations. I enjoyed this work, poetry of place being a bit of a touchstone for me. The lighthearted reading never undermined a set of skillfully worked ideas, thoughtfully communicated.

Next up was Simon Leland, whose softly spoken meditations were a precise, surreal world away from the previous reader. His work read like a philosophers stone wrapped in an encyclopedeia thrown by an insomniac, exploding in a roomful of mirrors. In a natural history museum. And I mean that as a compliment! Amalgams such as Mata Hari, Good King Wencelas and "Blue herons heading for a mystical painting" made for a hugely vibrant lyrical tapestry.

Niamh McAllister graduated from Cultural Studies in IADT, going on to an MA in Creative Writing at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland (I think Jamison may have studied there too?). She spoke of how living beside the sea had infiltrated her work, one poem in particular, with an epigraph by Auden, saw her meditate on her weakness at decision-making, in the face of the tides. Poems were pared down to the hilt - I'd like to read some of these texts.

The last reader was Connie Roberts, originally from Offaly, now teaching creative writing in the US. Her work was fundamentally informed by her experience of a childhood spent in Irish orphanages. Her poems touched on remembered experiences within those walls, troubled family circumstances, affinities, affections and anger. Noting that physical and sexual abuse within these institutions had been well covered of late, she spoke of the emotional abuse, often less quantified. Referencing the classical Omphalus, she responded to the absence in her life of anything like Heaney's Mossbawn, yet left us on a bright note of alliterative rurality.

So, a very different mix to the previous night, but equally enjoyable.

I'm disappointed that I won't make Thursday's reading, featuring Pauline Hall, David Mohan, Cliona O’Connell, Edward O’Dwyer and Rosie Shepperd. But I'd recommend that you make every effort to attend. Should be a good crowd too - so get there early!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Poetry Ireland Introductions : Glóry be!

Off to the Irish Writers Centre last night, for the first reading in the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series 2010. Four poets read, each a very distinct and individual voice and the overall effect was an enjoyable, rich and varied evening of new poetry, well presented and warmly received. Judging by the quality on offer, I'd recommend making the effort to get along to the other readings in the series, tonight and Thursday.

Joe Woods of Poetry Ireland gave each poet the briefest of introductions, leaving their own voices to do the talking. Andrew Caldicott kicked things off. A former Dub, now well settled in Wexford, I became familiar with his work a few years back from the mutually encouraging ambience of the Poetry Ireland forum (a resource which seems to have unfortunately lost some of its brio of late). Andrew's work is considered, crafted and concerned with the shadows of history, travel and family. He read a body of warm, poignant poems, sourced from the soul, but with their feet firmly in the physical world.

Jessica Colley came next, a US expat, exceptionally well-travelled in her guise as travel writer, but longtime resident in Dublin. I've bumped into Jessica at workshops over the last few years, but hearing her read a body of work tonight really brought her particular voice into focus. Fragmentary and atmospheric, her poems conjured shades of their subjects as if layered together from ricepaper.

Then came Martin Dyar, winner of this year's Patrick Kavanagh award (for an unpublished collection). When this poet's first collection hits the shelves it is going to make a very big impact indeed! I'd read some of his work, yet here again his overall presentation brought new levels of poetics to the mix. Sometimes a misjudged performance style can overpower a poet's work - here the poems flourished under supremely confident iteration - his subjects never allowed to overwhelm their honed colloquial voices. This was seriously crafted material, merging the structure of tradition with the workings of today's language; formal scaffolding folding into some very original organic expression.

Peter Goulding had the unenviable task of following these three distinct voices. Within a minute, he had the room in the palm of his hand. With a track record in humorous poetry, the manner and ease of this prolific writer was apparent from the off. Irreverant, and with a fair smidgin of cheekiness, his work nevertheless displayed a depth and ability which respected subject, tradition and audience. A fitting end to as enjoyable an evenings poetry as I've experienced in yonks.

Kudos too to the Poetry Ireland crew, for their lowkey organisation and upfront hospitality.

Out the door of the IWC and the night was still young, so it seemed only logical to head across the Liffey to the Glór session, hosted - as ever - by the ebulient Stephen James Smith. I've been meaning to get to this gig for a while now. Along with Nighthawks at the Cobalt, The Brownbread mixtape, Milk and Cookies and others, Glór is part of a vibrant landscape of "old school craic" as Kalle Ryan would have it.

Being on a tight (public transport) schedule meant we couldn't stay all night, but we caught SJS himself, Eddie Keegan's street-rap-rousing, Hitman Lord's (Lord Hitman's?) urbanbeatnik ballads, Lou McMahon's whirlygig, ethereal splashsongs and the ever-mighty Bernie O'Reilly (of the Valentine poets) with fistfuls of pared back scenes of peacefulness and empowerment. A packed house. A positive vibe.

Two quite different gigs, so many different voices - and all on a mild Monday evening for the price of a few pints and a bus ticket! Folks, there's a lot to be thankful for. The weathers getting better for a start. Might be time to get off that computer and out that door!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Poetry Bus : Sign O' The Lino

This week, TFE's Poetry Bus is in the safe hands of the good Barbara Smith - and her prompt involved responding to the line;

'I got down on my knees and smelled the brand new linoleum,' from a story by Edna O'Brien, with emphasis on responding with longer lines.

Which I did - like this;


I got down on my knees and smelled the new linoleum
and blessed the modern age that threw this dreamtime down

unrolled a pristine plane across my gritty concrete cage
clapped into place a slippery playground, this stage

across which - newly confident - I'd glide, a dancer born
my encores blowing faded floral curtains wide

a technicolor faun cavorting in my den until
I'd curl to snooze - a faded star becalmed again

alas, at other times my knees would squeak and drag as if
arrested by some drogue, a limpet smacked in place

I'd stick - just like that - scabbed knees turned to roots, topple
face down, cheek pooled cool to ground - looking back I'm glad it wasn't jute

Sunday, May 09, 2010

The Poetry Bus : Scalderville Request Stop

World Wide Weird. One of the other poets mentioned a bizarre coincidence in terms of the image this project threw up for them.

Now I've just had mine. Shvvvvvr. I went with the number 12. The 12th square linked me into the image archive of the Musée McCord in Montreal. The McCord Museum is a public research and teaching museum dedicated to the preservation, study, diffusion and appreciation of Canadian history. Now here's the spooky part.

I counted down the page to image number 12, which turned out to be the photo of the august gentleman you see above. The caption describes him as "Mr. Whitney(?), Enniscorthy, Ireland, about 1885." An Irishman! What a coincidence, eh? Not major though - except that Enniscorthy is also my hometown, where I was born and raised. WTF? The universe is definitely trying to tell me something. Very 'Artists Way' indeed :-o

Enniscorthy is a beautiful place, culturally and historically rich, yet there's sadness too. The local landscape is dominated by Vinegar Hill, where the 1798 rebels were finally defeated, blasted back against the bare rock, as commemorated in Seamus Heaney's poem Requiem for The Croppies.

For a small enough town, it has produced a great many writers, including Anthony Cronin, Colm Toibin, Eamon Wall and - a more recent addition - Peter Murphy, whose novel John The Revelator, garnered noteworthy reviews and heavyweight fans.

Anyway, enough metaphysical tourism - how to deal with such a familiar subject in this particular context?

Around 1885

There was river traffic still
though the forest had long been cleared

In Deadwood they were mining seams
at home the gold was barley, harvested and brewed

Rabbits scattered - just as now - bared on stubble
cropped by hand, the season still the same

By the gate, Whitney saw a final coney jink to cover
opened his eyes to Montreal snow

© P Nolan 2010

And now, a warm Scalder welcome to my fellow Poetry Bus passengers. Tayto anyone?

Karen is thinking thrashy.

Rachel Fox Mad Max, the opera?

Dominic Rivron is having a Kiwi moment.

Enchanted Oak is laying down supplies.

Sandra Leigh is getting minty fresh.

Niamh B with a touch of Poe.

Titus the Dog is feeling a little 'ruff', yet experiencing the Poetry Bus twilight zone.

The Watercats are seeing Goblins.

Argent is time travelling.

The Bug is sizzling.

Jeanne Iris is setting sail.

Uiscebot is getting frisky.

Poetikat razzes the moneymen.

NanU is catching toads.

Swiss considers British algae.

Crazyfieldmouse is parched.

Pure Fiction is exorcising.

Great stuff and thanks to all!

The Poetry Bus conductor is hanging out the back with an outstretched hand for tardy travellers - make a dash for it!

* ADDENDUM * Here's a response to the prompt from my non-blogging friend, poet Chris Allen;

Not unlike the Trees at Dyrehaven

Tomorrow in this place the sun will shine,
The choirs of old will be recalled in the acoustic arch,
The beauty of nature reign supreme
And the holly trees squat and summer green,
Their thorns a little rounder - berries gone,
November passions fallen – their reds fired to earth.
This formal wheel - its turn in turn will take.

And I cannot imagine the face that I might have
There in the moment to carry the tides of existence,
To turn into the wind of shapes and matters
This final record of the watch.

Tomorrow as you rise above the valley
Move beyond the canopy and linger
Fluid and abiding like a river returning

The berries I saw fall here last October,
A velvet vein of wine in the still of winter
Sweetened and distilled by time and distance
A moment alive in the breath of it all to trace
Elements as periodic as a glimpse of the eternal
In which a man might make his soul a shelter.

If everything is thrown before the heavens,
Exposed to every weather in acceptance,
Home, is a memory sustained
By forces which are more than we can name
Of moments felt and entered in the heart -
A place existing always where you are.

© C Allen 2010

Friday, May 07, 2010

The Poetry Bus : All Aboard!

So the Poetry Bus has been rattling away along its circuitous route for a while now, and.. Parp! Parp! Good Lord, here it comes, hurtling with a distinct lack of decorum down Scaldervillage's main street, mit ye merrye olde buschauffeur ag gáire amach as an fuinneog. Let the dust settle, stock up on Tayto and Red Lemonade and step onboard to partake in this week's trip.

So, first things first. Before going any (ahem) furthur, please pick a number between 1 and 14.

Ok? Got it? Certain? Right, onwards.

The following link will bring you to a web page. To the right - just below the main image on that page - you'll see a group of 14 small squares. Each of these is a (randomly generated) link to a particular archive of photos. Click on the square that corresponds with your chosen number. Count down to the image in that particular collection that matches your chosen number. Let that image (or whichever tickles) be your prompt. Write.

Here's the link.

These photo archives are part of a larger project called The Commons on Flickr. Be Careful! You could quite easily spend the rest of your day (and then some) browsing the visual riches therein.

Don't do that (now). Instead, write! Then post your poem on your blog and comment here to let me know when your work is online. I'll post again on Monday.

Note : In general, the photos in The Commons are intended to be used for personal, educational or research purposes, so there are usually "no known copyright restrictions" - allowing you to reproduce them on your blog if you wish. But please respect any restrictions that may apply to any individual image, if so stated beneath the image.

Have Fun!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Poetry Bus : The Dury is Out

Well now. I've been a-walking the inner wilderness this last few weeks. Beats sleeping in airports, I guess. Really haven't had the wherewithall for blogging, nor much else beyond the necessary and rudimentary. Yet the poetry bus trundles on, and a new prompt from glorious sonicists The Watercats referenced one of my all-time favourite groups, lyricists, musicians and songs - so the universe reached out across Babylon, you could say - and here's my ting!


Lugh's weapon buried in its sack of dope
dark light under a bushel
a hunger drowned in dregs

If every sleeping spear's a gift
perhaps the loss of that vainglory
may yet prove to be the kinder cut

© P Nolan 2010

(My image above is a response to a 'memories' theme on Scamp.ie)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Time turns around : Spring Sprung Sprong

What the... ? Where was I? Where am I?

Haven't been doing much blogging in the last while - been a bit swamped with one thing and another. That's not to say I've been mad busy, or anything like that. Just gridlocked amid the tangled logistics of the self and the occupied space. Or some such something. Hooped by 'The Fallow'. Frozen in the headlights of time. It happens.

Nothing much gets written at times like this. Nothing much gets made at all. Except, bizarrely enough, mistakes; errors of judgement rattling like seeds among the wilted vegetation of the mundane. And then - just like that - green shoots! We hope.

Nick Laird had an interesting piece on 'The Fallow' (I'm getting to like his occasional columns more than his poetry - almost - but definitely more than Utterly Monkey) in last Saturday's Guardian, which somewhat relates to the above. See here.

I still have a little more to write about Poetry Now - hopefully I'll post that soon. But for now, I'll clock in and out quickly with a mention of an interesting reading at the Irish Writers Centre this Wednesday, featuring Kevin Barry (who I haven't yet heard read his wonderful short stories) and the serene Catherine Phil MacCarthy (one of a number of individuals working steadily to turn the fortunes of the centre around). Should be well worth a visit - hope to get there myself.

The image above is entitled Estuary I and is one of three paintings I've just submitted for this years RHA Annual Exhibition. This is a study for a finished painting (which, for some reason, ended up bearing little enough resemblance to the initial studies). Fingers Crossed!

Finally, best wishes to blogpal Emerging Writer aka Kate Dempsey, who's nominated in the Emerging Fiction category of the Hennessy X.O Literary Awards, to be announced at TCD on April 20. You can check out all the shortlisted writers and their work here. Go Kate! You can catch the talented Ladygirldiva herself reading in Trim this Thursday.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

South Studios : It ALL Rocks

Soooooooo - the auld brain's a bit fritzed since Sunday - so this will be somewhat scrambled.

The image above is my contribution to the DrawErs project mentioned in the previous post. This was painted from scratch last Friday 26th March, between 11am and 5pm at South Studios on a cheapo, flatpack set of drawers from IKEA (which I'd assembled beforehand).

I was heading out to the DLR Poetry Now festival to hear Justin Quinn, Luljeta Lleshanku and Philip Gross read at 6.30, so I had to miss the exhibition and social shenanigans that evening. Which is a bummer. Because there was free beer. And nice people. And good craic. And the Drawers all looked brilliant by the look of things - as you can see here.

BUT! (and its a big one) Poetry Now delivered yet again, with a weekend of striking and diverse voices. Which is why my head is still a-bit-a-babble. Of that particular reading, Philip Gross stood out as a remarkably concise and measured communicator - meticulous, almost hesitant, in the formation of ideas - drawn from the closest inspection of the simplest details of the world, natural and otherwise. Quinn worried me a bit at the outset. Poems about his home turf of Blackrock (the park in particular) felt a bit pedestrian to these ears. He was on better territory when he moved to inner landscapes - more physically immediate than nostalgic - like a great wee poem about being punched in the balls by a four-year-old who states (love this) "that's the Batman way". Striking indeed.

Lleshanaku seemed to have some gem-like ideas coming through, relating to the person and the person-to-person, but her grasp of English wasn't the best (helluvalot better than my Albanian, obviously) and her mic technique combined to let her down a bit - moreso on the poems themselves than when setting context, unfortunately - so most of what I got was fragmentary. So, a fitful start to a smashing festival.

More later - still decompressing.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

South Studios : Roomful of Drawers

Lots happening at the moment. Not much time for blogging of late.

Looking forward to the upcoming dlr Poetry Now festival which kicks off this Thursday. Not, alas, contributing to the graphics this year - can't win them all - but the line-up is cracking, including this year's TS Eliot winner Philip Gross and The Man Muldoon (who was speaking on RTE Radio the other night).

Delighted to have landed a place in Vona Groarke's writing workshop! I very much enjoyed Groarke's recent-ish collection Juniper Street and her overall tone in general, so quite excited about hearing her read AND getting some tips (hopefully).

I'll be busy this Friday daytime, taking part in Drawers - an exciting collaboration between the Illustrators of Guild of Ireland and South Studios. Organised by IGI colleague Steve Doogan, this event sees a whole bunch of illustrators, artists, designers etc. coming together to customise a wee chest of drawers from IKEA. Not the same one, mind you - we'll do one each.

Friday evening, you are all invited to drop into South Studios for a beer and to check out what all these drawers look like after the creative frenzy. All (?) will be for sale - so this could be a chance to pick up a genuinely original piece of furniture for your bedroom, office, studio, friend etc. I'll have to dash off to Dún Laoghaire for the 6.30 reading, but my piece will be on show.

The drawers are on show/sale for one day only and should be well worth a look.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Poetry Bus : Monday Poem

This week's Poetry Bus prompt is the wonderful couplet "She was wearing Stella McCartney /I was drinking Stella Artois".

As tempting a prospect as it was to flesh out this tale of designer gear and Belgian beer, I found myself tugged in a more imagistic direction - as follows;


I was struck
not by a star nor that quality
about her

stuck nonetheless
my frozen face before
the heat of her

jaw slack, molten
mouthful held stock still

grazing suspended

shocked as a calf
witnessing this meteorite
plough my pasture

© P Nolan 2010

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Winding Stair : Vintage Irish Book Covers

Anyone interested in retro book design, illustration or the history of Irish publishing would do well to check out this nice little show curated by Niall McCormack’s blog Hitone: Vintage Irish Book Covers.

“The good people in The Winding Stair Bookshop have been kind enough to ask me to put together a small exhibition of Irish book cover design. The exhibition, which will feature a small selection of books published between the thirties and seventies, will be on display in the shop for two weeks from Saturday 13th March. All of the books have been selected for their striking cover artwork. The Winding Stair Bookshop is at 40 Lower Ormond Quay, Dublin 1.”

Details: Irish Book Cover Art 1930s – 1970s

March 13th – 27th, 2010

at The Winding Stair Bookshop

40 Lower Ormond Quay, Dublin 1

Niall does a nice job of book cover and poster design himself - check out his work.

Via The Small Print.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

United Arts Club : Life Drawing Exhibition

I've spoken before about the Thursday Life Drawing group at the United Arts Club, which I attend as regularly as possible. This Thursday, March 11th, sees the launch of our annual exhibition of drawings at that venue. It's always a fun evening - an enjoyable and interesting opportunity to view (and purchase) a selection of drawings by a wide variety of artists. Consider yourself invited!

The show launches at 8pm and runs until March 29th - viewing Monday to Saturday from 5.30pm (as the UAC bar / gallery only currently opens only during the evening).

The piece above is one of two drawings that I'm exhibiting, and there'll also be work by Comhghall Casey, PJ Lynch, Aisling Dolan, Michael McWilliams, Eoin Coveney and many, many more talented people, including Brian Gallagher, who runs this drawing group.

Brian also has an interesting solo show launching next week at the Signal Arts Centre in Bray.

** UPDATE ** My IGI colleague Mario Sughi has posted some photos of the life drawing exhibition launch here.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Poetry Bussing : Training Day

Totalfeckineejit's Poetry Bus rolls along, forming an integrated public transport interlink with this weeks theme, "TRAINS". What with all the connections, I though I might as well get the ferry in there too (well, being honest, this particular image was in the old headnotebook a while now). So - no planes, no automobiles, but rail, sea and myth are present and quite possibly correct;


Winter early afternoon
the wane of waxy light

Off the west pier a ferry clots from fog
seethes beyond the carriage pane

Hybrasil unmoored and restless
looming into town for the weekend

© P Nolan 2010

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Illustrators ireland : February 2010

As I've said elsewhere, the current post over on Scamp.ie is sooooooooooo good!

This selection of recent work from members of the Illustrators Guild of Ireland shows that Irish illustration is alive, kicking and running laps with aplomb, all the time reciting poetry aloud in several different languages with charm, grace and a splash of tabasco! I love the image above, by Belfast illustrator Jonathan McHugh - but there's a shedload of other varied and beautiful images too - so check it out!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Magpie Tales : Photo Prompt Poem.

Magpie Tales is another blog running a regular photo prompt for aspiring writers to throw an eye over and see what results. Here's my first stab at this week's 'weighty' topic;


Days build like scales

each a measure, particular unto itself

accumulating combined heft

new weight thrums to composition

chiming into place a melody

which, in twining towards the familiar

cools to a carapace

© P Nolan 2010

Monday, March 01, 2010

Poetry Bussing : Monday Poem

Our good friend Totalfeckineejit continues to navigate new territory with his Poetry Bus. This week its all about the big question. As Prince might put it; Dearly beloved / We are gathered here today
2 get through this thing called life / Electric word life / It means forever and that's a mighty long time / But I'm here 2 tell u
There's something else / The afterworld.

So, in the spirit of the ehhhh.... spirit, I give you;


This ill wind they talk about

that blows some good about the place

while making a hames of all in its path

- you know the one? I think it's on the way.

My worry is this - how to get a grip

on the benevolent margins of the thing

without being swept up in the chaos.

Sounds easy, doesn't it?

No. Not really, you say.

That sounds tricky as hell.

You'd have to be some class of stormchaser

decked out with sensors, anemometers

Shining colanders with flashing lights

a wig of wires to helmet yourself

beneath the fury

- improve your chances, like?

Perhaps a freelance synaesthete for good measure

sifting various temperatures of threat

aflame under rosepaned spectacles

rating risk by hue

the findings a flittered book of scribble

to be reviewed once the storm has fled

and the land calmed.

© P Nolan 2010

Monday, February 15, 2010

Back on the BUS : Monday Poem

Well, hey! It's Monday again and the Poetry Bus is back on the road. Over at Totalfeckineejit's the theme is LURVE! (Something to do with the weather, I think). Anyways, I'm sending a little bloggerly love out to the world - in particular to Barbara over at her Bleurgh, who has posted some nice things about Crossroads. Also sending some to all those people who supported our Haiti fundraiser by buying the (admittedly bargaintastic) life drawings at the United Arts Club. We raised just under 1400 euro folks! Well done all.

Finally, a little more love to tonight's Glór session, downstairs in the International Bar, where the Poetry Divas(!) amongst others, will be spreading vibes a-plenty.

So, in the name of love, by way of love, and simply in the general loving vibe, here's my wee contribution to the LoVe BUs, baby.

(note : actual wee not used in the creation of this poem).

All of it

Everything I loved came on at once

I was pinned down, I tell you

pinned flat

under the weight of all this love I couldn't breath

but how beautiful I felt, giddy and light

slipping out of consciousness

I told myself, or rather thought (I couldn't even squeak)

you got it now, baby, L-O-V-E to the maximum!

Now here I lie

a psychedelic swirl of it

a peacock tail of love, a butterfly

under glass

© P Nolan 2010

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Help Haiti : United Arts Club Drawings

The United Arts Club, 3 Upper Fitzwilliam Street, Dublin 2 hosts regular life drawing sessions each Wednesday and Thursday evening. This Thursday, members of both drawing groups are coming together to raise funds for the victims of the Earthquake in Haiti.

A portfolio of unframed life drawings, donated by members of both groups, will be available to view in the UAC bar for ONE WEEK ONLY - from 9pm Thursday 4th February until 8.30 pm Thursday 11th February (the UAC Bar opens at 5pm each evening). Members, guests and visitors may select and purchase drawings to take away on the spot. As all drawings will be presented unframed, prices will be very affordable (maximum price 50 euro!). If people wish to donate more than the purchase price, that's fine too.

I'm a (sometimes) regular at the Thursday evening session, run by IGI colleague Brian Gallagher. The slideshow above shows my drawings, all A3 in size, which will be available for 20 euro each.

This is a great chance to pick up some really nice original drawings, from a wide selection of artists (including some well-known names) at very reasonable prices. So, do drop in for a look if you're around Dublin 2 any evening during those dates - but don't dither - 'hot cakes' and all that!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Great Scott : He's New Here

Very pleased to hear that Gil Scott Heron's new album is coming out next Monday! The guy's been through a tough old time and it'd be great to see this work out well for him.

One of the highlights of my shortlived musical career was playing support to Gil and his band at the Gaiety theatre way back in the early nineties. That gig was a real mellow blast, daddio. Our band was called Grief... sort of a hybrid of Galliano, The Blockheads and The Commitments! Brilliant, we were. Yiaow!

I've always loved Gil's music - to be fair, he's done some duff stuff in his time (and he was wrong about the revolution, it WAS televised after all!) - but the nuggets are plentiful. 'The Bottle' was one of our regular cover versions, when we had a flautist (much better than that anodyne version by The Christians too). And as for 'Beginnings' - pure balm of Gil.

He's never been afraid to try new things, and this album seems to carry on that attitude. Enjoy!

Monday, February 01, 2010

Springalingaling : Wakey Wakey!

Hey! Hello! Hoopla! (....sounds of tumbleweeds dustily bouncing down one deserted backroad of the interweb).

Where'd January go? Between winter blues, landscapes white and deadlines aglow, the month - or at least the will to blog - kinda got away from me there. For a while there I wasn't even sure if I'd keep it going here - but then, what the hell. The sap is rising and stuff, so here I am again.

I haven't been wasting my time though - lots done (with more, as ever, to do). First finished painting of the year up top. Entitled 'formburn', it's a small canvas - 195mm x 150mm - and will be for sale in The Little Picture Show, a fund-raising exhibition for the Crow Gallery in Temple Bar. The show features loads of small works from artists including Brian Gallagher, Aisling Dolan, John Nolan and many, many more, all at very affordable prices. Opening 6pm this Thursday, 4th February.