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!