"If we feel this need to write, to explore our feelings and reactions, our compulsion is to indulge in that need. And if we are nurturing a need, then there must be a benefit to us in doing so.... Writing is a solitary, reflective experience. In the age of mindfulness, and being told to live in the moment, writing has always exercised this."
I've a short essay up today on First Fortnight's blog talking about mental health and the urge to write. Many thanks to Fiona Smith at First Fortnight for the invite to appear on their blog.
We're bringing a taste of our open mic night to Seamus Heaney Homeplace on Friday 20th September, 7.30pm for Culture Night.
"Are you a professional or aspiring poet who would like more experience in reading your work to an audience? Would you like to hear the freshest new poetic voices from the area? Whatever your interest, come along to this informal and supportive Open Mic session, hosted by poets Colin Dardis and Geraldine O’Kane."
Admission is free, but tickets must be booked in advance.
A round-up of reviews so far for The Dogs of Humanity. Many thanks to the reviewers and site editors for these kind words.
"...a dredging up of emotions, feelings and darkness.... full of separation, or the protagonists pulling away from the world around them."
Mat Riches reviews Dogs for London Grip
"There is a very human need to be social and connect... [t]he analogies and ambiguities are thought-provoking and encourage readers to look again at familiar situations and blur the boundaries between animals and humans... timely and engaging."
Emma Lee reviews Dogs for The Blue Nib
"In poems that are inventive and beguiling, Dardis creates a starkly insightful version of the present, using fresh, direct language... [t]he voice in these poems is insightful, urgent but compassionate, making the collection an enjoyable but unsettling read."
Michael Farry reviews Dogs for Neon Books
Many thanks to The Poetry Question for inviting me to briefly writing about my top five authors and titles, for their #TPQ5 series. Within, I muse on Samuel Beckett, Paul Durcan, Richard Brautigan, Primo Levi's If This Is A Man, and the Gospels of the Holy Bible.
I'll be reading at 'The Art of Conversation' on Sunday 8th September, 1pm, as part of the Mount Stewart Conversations Festival.
Organisers Karen Mooney, Gaynor Kane and Byddi Lee present a programme of readings by local writers within the theme of ‘The Art of Conversation’ reflecting conversations and the issues that provoke and stimulate conversation in today’s society.
The full line-up for the weekend includes:
Saturday 7th September
David Braziel, Maureen Boyle, Kerry Buchanan, Sue Divin, Ray Givans, Doreen McBride, Paul Rafferty, Conor Shields, Liz Weir MBE, Jo Zebedee
Sunday 8th September
Trish Bennett, Cathy Carson, Colin Dardis, Moyra Donaldson, Malachi Kelly, Byddi Lee, Réaltán Ní Leannáin, Anesu Mtowa, Maria McManus, Roy Uprichard
"The poet, at the starting point, is drawn to every poem they write as they are compelled to write them. In some ways, your best poem is always your most recent poem, as that has been the one that allows the poetic muscle to continue flexing. Only with time and distance however does the poet realise which pieces will continue to speak to them, and for them."
Thanks to Ellie Rose McKee for interviewing me for her blog, with me discussing Dogs, alongside giving advice to posts, and looking ahead to future projects.
A few snaps from last night's book launch at Eastside Arts Festival. Many thanks to everyone who came out to support the book!
Big thanks also to Dan Eggs for reading alongside me, Damian Smyth of Arts Council of Northern Ireland for his kind, generous introduction, and to Festival Director Rachel Kennedy for allowing it all to happen, as well as the festival staff and volunteers.
"Suddenly, I’m overwhelmed by a pounding headache, a sense of dizziness… I feel like monsters are rushing at my from off the walls, creatures I can’t really see but it feels like a video game where you can’t shoot fast enough. I close my eyes and lower my head. The sensation lasts a minute and then passes. I don’t know what to make of it, and do not mention it to anyone.
Years later, I came to realise that this was my first panic attack."
To mark launch day for Dogs, I've a guest blog post on Nessa O'Mahony's website, writing about poetry and mental health. Many thanks for Nessa for hosting the piece.
Verbal Arts Centre is launching a new FREE poetry competition, looking for new pieces on the theme of ‘resilience’, which I will be co-judging.
The Seamus Burns Creative Writing Competition has been made possible through a generous, anonymous donation as a tribute to Seamus Burns, father of Derry-Londonderry writer Mark Burns.
Submissions will engage with an audience aged 18-24, dealing with the themes of resilience and explore how individuals adapt to overcome setback in their lives.
1st place - £250
2nd place – £150
3rd place - £100
DEADLINE EXTENDED: Now 20th September (originally 6th Sept)
The winning entries will be published in The Honest Ulsterman, with the authors invited to read their poems at Youth 19's ‘We are Poets’ initiative which will take place in November in Derry/Londonderry.
The Blue Nib has their review of The Dogs of Humanity on their blog. Many thanks to them for featuring the collection.
"The analogies and ambiguities are thought-provoking and encourage readers to look again at familiar situations and blur the boundaries between animals and humans... The Dogs of Humanity is timely and engaging."