Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Pivot Dublin : World Design Capital 2014

Absoulutely excellent news from the Pivot Dublin camp. Dublin has just been announced as one of three cities worldwide shortlisted to become World Design Capital 2014. The International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (ICSID) announced today that the prestigious designation, awarded biannually to cities that use design to benefit people socially, culturally and economically will be awarded for 2014 to either Dublin, Bilbao or Cape Town. The winning city will be announced this autumn. Details of the Dublin bid can be seen on

The shortlisting itself is a huge achievement. Congrats to all concerned for stepping up - in difficult times - and putting a very creative and positive set of shoulders to this particular wheel. The Dublin design scene has been ticking away over the years, often fuelled by enthusiasm more than hard resources. Recent years have seen a blossoming of creativity, to the extent that Irish designers in all disciplines are making a their presence felt right across the international scene. More power to the elbows beneath the shoulders that turn the wheel! And best of luck in the next stage.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Airfield Writers : Launch & Open Mic

Herb Garden

The lovely Shirley McClure was in touch to let me know about an upcoming event that her writers group is hosting;

Open Mic Night
to celebrate the launch of our broadsheet
The Mews

Airfield Writers
are hosting an open-mic evening
on Wednesday June 22nd at 7.30 pm
in The Library of Airfield House

Bring your poem/ flash fiction – no longer than two minutes, please. Or just lend an appreciative ear and enjoy a complimentary glass of wine.

For directions to Airfields, check their site here.

Should be an enjoyable evening, Airfield is a fantastic venue. Hope to make it along there myself.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Naomie Ross : Luvverly, Luvverly Letterpress

Letterpress from Naomie Ross on Vimeo.

A quite lovely wee video from graphic designer Naomie Ross. Mmmmmmm, smell that innnnnkkkkkkkkk.........

Monday, May 16, 2011

Eurovision 2011 : Not So Lucky then.

Dammit. Really thought that the fairy unicyclist would swing it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Me Diggity : Brandt Brauer Frick

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Poetry Bus : Yard Brush

So this week's Poetry Bus prompt comes from NanU, and the theme is one of Excess. Of Far Too Much. Of Going Over the Edge. I've done something I've never done for the Poetry Bus before ( I think?) - i.e. I've used a poem already written. Reason being, I'm a wee bit 'writ out' right now - after a bit of a purple patch, thankfully - and, in keeping busy outdoors (while the Irish sky deigns to remain conducive to such activity) I remembered something written a few years ago, which seemed to suit this prompt, albeit on somewhat of a tangent. An ode to a loyal implement which has somewhat exceeded its life expectancy, perhaps only due to a lack of excess in its usage? To wit....

Yard Brush

Old friend, I know you longer than my wife.
I brought you from my parent's home - a gift,
for you were on the way out - your acolyte
had deemed you ill-equipped. Yet here you are

your handle slick and sheened by years
of palms that regularly furled to working fists
(though woodworm traffic in your cambered
head suggests a cheese particularly Swiss).

Your nylon bristles, once bright cherry red
and eager as a pup's tumescent tip,
are clogged and grey like ancient natty dreads,
but still upstanding - equal to the chore.

At least to any I might yet inflict.
For that you labour still speaks volumes too;
my yardwork - yes, the sparsity of it -
has kept our union true.

© P Nolan 2008

That's the implement itself, pictured above in all its woodworm-headed holiness. Still in (sparse) use - even earlier today. The reference to 'clogged and grey, like ancient natty dreads' refers to another brush entirely, one my father used when building our family home, which acquired said appearance from sweeping up after mixing cement. But hey, if a poem can't conflate a little......?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

dlr Poetry Now : Fresh from Dún Laoghaire

Photo : Mischa Haller

The podcasts from this year's dlr Poetry Now festival have been uploaded to the festival website - they're all available to listen to here. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

New Painting : La Madone de Lune

lamadonedelune (La Madone de Lune)
mixed media on paper, 210 x 145mm

Friday, April 01, 2011

Scamp : IGI recent work

There's a very cool selection of recent work from some of my Illustratorsireland colleagues over on the Scamp blog today. The image above is by good mate Fintan Taite - a section of a new comic strip which you can see in full on his site. Some of my favourites in this month's batch are a new book by by Isabelle Reyes Feeney and images by Steve Doogan, Diarmuid Ó Catháin, Stephen Synnott (loads of Steves in the IGI!) and inistioge-based Ale Mercado, whose work Stinging Fly readers may recall from his graphic fiction collaboration with Kevin Barry in the Winter 2010 issue.

Kevin Barry himself is interviewed in today's Irish Times about upcoming novel City of Bohane (along with appropriate shivering-writer-in-Leitrim-barracks-lifestyle-colour-angle). Sounds like a cracker!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

dlr Poetry Now : Pause. Breathe. Plunge.

Photo : Mischa Haller

Considering dlr Poetry Now essentially takes place over a long weekend, over time it has developed a unique shape and impact that nourishes the Irish poetry community, at home and abroad, throughout the year.

The festival has ended now. Over for the year. Or rather year-and-a-half, as the next festival won't take place until September 2012, when it will run in tandem with the newer Mountains to The Sea Book festival. This year's audiences were assured that dlr Poetry Now is to retain it's own identity alongside that festival, with its own curator. Whoever that should be, they will have the unenviable role of following Belinda McKeon, whose agile and progressive oversight has, for the last four years, honoured the heritage of the festival and the poetry itself, while fine-tuning to fresh, contemporary frequencies.

I'm still reeling. This year was a classic. The calibre of featured poets, precision of introductions, themes and organisation, and the vitality, generosity, insight and inclusivity of the audiences made for a fitting end to McKeon's tenure.

Whither from here? The move to Autumn is a significant change. There are aspects to the Spring timing of the festival that are hard to quantify - a vernal spur to tap into, or absorb, which may be underestimated. Perhaps autumnal energies will bring their own, unforeseeable fructuations. Let's hope so. Let's hope, also that the ground is well prepared over the longer than usual interim - that the incoming curator is selected promptly, clearly and efficiently resourced in order to establish continuity and maintain the quality of programming that a loyal audience will wish to support.

Some personal highlights;

- Anne Carson's keynote address (here in a slightly alternate version) was a meditation on translation, the smithing of meaning from silence, risk - the dreaming of new languages into being. Illustrated by the work of Francis Bacon and Tyree Guyton.

- The Friday afternoon fringe reading in Readers Bookshop. Little Old Man: "Is this a party?" Helena Nolan: "No, just poetry."

- The inspired teaming of Joseph Woods, Luis García Montero & Paul Farley - a three course serving of place, dreams and wit throughout.

- Don Paterson's workshop - acute generosity of craft from a remarkable artist, "Allow words to magnetize to the initial rhythms."

- The planned and accidental sychronicities - specific silences from Jaan Kaplinski & Paul Farley, the spirits of Czeslaw Milosz and Giordano Bruno

- Michael Longley's transmutation of the language of war into a new kind of citation, even new life.

- Seamus Heaney, in accepting his Irish Times Award... "the poem... read by two is autobiography... by six or seven, becomes culture."

- The audiences; poets, peers, friendships new and old.

Far too many other individual high points to recount in detail here - so I'll share some impressions from other attendees:

Thursday's Keynote address, by Kenneth

Saturday, by Michael, Kate and Lia. And Kate again!

An excellent overview of Saturday's Don Paterson workshop , again by Michael.

Grace Wells, winner of the Strong Award for a first collection, reviewed and interviewed a little while ago by Nuala  - who was there in spirit ;-).

Kenneth again, wrapping up with an overview.

Thanks to all. Here's to sharing inspiration, continuity and change in Dún Laoghaire again in eighteen months or so.

Friday, March 25, 2011

dlr Poetry Now 2011

In glorious sunshine, this year's dlr Poetry Now festival got off to a flying (and quite cerebral) start yesterday. I went along to Belinda McKeon's inaugural lecture 'The Eye of The Poem' at lunchtime. Beginning with a mention of The New York Times' recent celebration of World Poetry Day via Twitter, McKeon moved into a consideration of what happens within a poem from the reader's perspective and otherwise. Quoting from a number of the festival poets, she visited the place of the poem in today's world of information overload, referencing William James and the Psychology of Attention.

Last night I had the pleasure of attending the keynote address by Canadian poet Anne Carson. Carson's presentation, The Untranslatable (In All of Us), looked at the difficulties of actively representing in translation the various unknowables which fill the spaces within, around and among words. Sounds heavy, yeah? Well it definitely required a level of concentration which the audience seemed intent on reciprocating. (There may have been one drowser - but we'll allow him the excuse of jetlag!) Illustrated with a variety of imagery, from paintings by Francis Bacon to photos of the snowbound exterior of a house dressed with soft toys (I kid you not), a key theme was Hölderlin's translation of Sophocles which, though widely derided on it's publication, has evolved to become a key moment in the initiation of modern principles of poetic translation. Phew.

It was nice to meet blogging pal Emerging Writer and that most vigorous of poets Dave Lordan at the event, sharing memories of previous Poetry Now keynotes, somewhat more 'agitated' in terms of audience participation.

Lots more activity today - the full programme is here - including a new development; a fringe reading at Readers' Bookshop in Dún Laoghaire, featuring poets Helena Nolan, Mark Granier & Jessica Traynor among others.

Loads to look forward to - hope to see you over the weekend!

*** UPDATE : Get Kate's take here. ***

Friday, March 11, 2011

Exhibition : Graphics Unleashed

The image above is a new painting entitled, 'Conduidiot'. It's one of three pieces of mine which feature in an upcoming Blue Leaf Gallery show "Graphics Unleashed" at their project space at The Observatory Building, 7-11 Sir John Rogersons Quay, Dublin 2. The show itself will run March 15 - 25 (although unfortunately closed on Paddy's Day itself, I think?).

I'll be showing alongside a number of my IGI colleagues, including Una Gildea, Chris Judge and Steve Simpson. A round-up of some recent work from these and other IGI Members can be seen over here on the Scamp blog.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Poetry Bus : Pancake Day

So, time to dust off the bus ticket again.

This time the prompter is the one-and-only Peter Goulding, with a selection of prompts over here. I went for the option of writing an homage to Pancake Tuesday (tomorrow, yay!).

The requirement was to write in the voice of a wellknown poet. I felt that the particular mix of religion and sensual pleasure involved might suit a certain Canadian Troubadour - one of the first poets that ever hooked me with his work - AND I thought I might as well go the whole batterin' hog and record the damn thing too. So, as a Fierce Pancake treat(!?!) - Nolan sings;

Happy Pancake Day, fellow passengers :-)

Pancake Day by scalder

Pancake Day
(with sincere apologies to Leonard Cohen)

Epiphany passed
and the time came at last
to shrive our omissions and misdeeds away

We met in the middle
I brought flour and a griddle
what you brought you just couldn't say

the future was fast
riding free in its stirrups
we buried the past
turned gold into syrup
and danced

and we danced
we danced
on pancake day

As twilight grew angry
we pillaged the pantry
hardly seeing each other for smoke

A crackle of light
turned linoleum white
thunder muffled the words that you spoke

the future was meagre
the past tried to smother us
hungry and eager
we battered and buttered
and danced

and we danced
we danced
on pancake day

The sky boomed and rain fell
we cracked open the shells
mixed the yellows down into the whites

The gutters were flowing
The storm it was blowing
Like Lucifer and all of his lipsmacking sprites

I asked would you rather
Azores malassada
but you just lay stroking your legs

I sprinkled mine
with cane sugar and lime
and we gorged in the night till we ran out of time
and eggs

and we danced
we danced
and we danced
on pancake day

we danced
oh we danced
and we danced
on pancake day

with Mardi Gras spent
we woke up in Lent

© P Nolan 2011

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Poetry Bus : Tumulus

The Poetry Bus has rolled into town again, this time under the peerless driving of TheManHimself, Mr. TotalFeckinEejit.

A few nice options on the prompt - including some class sepia photos. But I went for the audio prompt - a track from Van Morrison's Veedon Fleece. Which reminded me of the Golden Fleece, which reminded me in turn of Jason & The Argonauts, who were sometimes call Minyans, who, I discovered, were a prehistoric Aegean tribe, who also made use of that familiar feature of the Irish landscape - Tumulus graves. To wit.....


Lying senseless under sun
troubadours emerge at night
to citizens of twilight trading
fading hues of bottled light

I stir, the world beside me wakes
creaks on her scale beneath
the measure of diurnal pitch
each trace a blessing, firing

livid, time initiating space
from no mere spark, instead
an ember coaxed to flare,
two mysteries refracted there;

a song from time beyond recall
a voice built new from broken things

© P Nolan 2011

You can read some more responses to this prompt HERE.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Poetry Bus : Amber

Not being all that bloggerly of late, it's been a while since I posted something in response to a Poetry Bus prompt, but this weeks's prompt by 120 Socks caught the imagination. The combination of photo and word sparked off some kinda scenario and voice, resulting in the following - hope you like it.


All the missing days went down and met the rest of my life
gliding in that morning on the clearest skies money could buy
I began to cook with foggy disregard for the outcome

by the time my first guest arrived I had already begun to swoon
coming around each time to spit the metallic taste from my mouth
and scrape off the burnt offerings now clouding the kitchen

beginning again beginning again beginning again
like the audio track set to loop in the limited seating area
seemed the best chance of breaking through charred surfaces

with my home now full of people I could only hold my place
as crowds swam around me, those people asking questions
seemed to be in the minority, most were complacent

while some were advocates, extolling the benefits of exiting
or building a mezzanine or turning off the heat
others ate, glared, belched, smiled, kissed, fucked

it was all I could do to stay on my feet and even sleeping upright
I kept one eye open because I knew that if I went down this time
there'd be nobody, possibly even no thing to share when I awoke

so it was ordained.

© P Nolan 2011

Loads more responses to the prompt here.

Friday, February 04, 2011

New Artwork : UPSTART

UpStart is a non-profit arts collective which aims to put creativity at the centre of public consciousness during the Irish General Election Campaign in 2011. I originally planned to submit something from my archives, but then decided to create something new. I've been pretty busy since the holidays, so only got around to it this week, with the deadline looming. (Funny how deadlines can focus your mind like that.)

The images above are 2 versions of the artwork. The first is what I submitted in the end, but the one below it (with the scruffy type) has a lot of energy too. I guess I just felt that - as the image would compete with 'actual' election posters for attention - it needs to work as a strong, simple graphic. Also, I wondered if the very dark hand was a good idea, as it could possibly be misconstrued as some kind of racist invective? Which it ain't.

So, I'd be interested to get your thoughts? Did I send them the right one? Should I let even more scruffy type feature in my graphic work? Have you been upended by any large hands lately?

PS. This artwork (or rather the earlier version of it - from before I changed my mind) also features in the monthly round-up of work from IGI illustrators over on the Scamp blog.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Poetry Bus : L'esprit d'escalier


in memoriam C.T.G.

If words came as bidden
opened avenues
brushed ego aside
began flinging stuff through

conceits, longheld prejudice
bottles of piss
re-heated revenge
served up with a kiss

self-righteous tirades
unilateral, shrill
a teacup of toxins
from bitter old pills

vomitted eloquence
sparked by a slight
accusation from someone
or something not right

drummed down fusillades
released inner kids
broke down your guard
called out my id

Sent crusaders, stormtroopers
brickbats and bile
with the wink of an eye
and a twinkling smile

Could petulant spatting
still do me some good?
Re-write the outcome?
You betcha. It could.