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)