I recently discovered a tape of a poetry reading from back in 2001, at the old Arcadia Coffeehouse in Belfast. It was at the back of a drawer, on the b-side of a tape of (some very dodgy) ab-libbed poetry. Although I remember the reading pretty well, I completely forgot it was recorded.
As the date shows, this was recorded an age ago. At the time, I had been reading in public for about a year: listening to this, I'm still rather nervous and unsure. It's also interesting to hear how my voice has progressed with my speech impediment: there are quite a few mispronounced words and bum notes here.
Oh, plus also, the poetry is, well, pretty weak. But as an record of a bygone time, it's still worth archiving. Arcadia's poetry nights was, at the time, the only platform for Belfast poets outside of the universities. Run by Mark and Debbie Madden, it was chaotic, friendly, and a great place to cut your teeth reading live.
Arcadia was in North Street Arcade, a 1930s Art Deco shopping arcade in the Cathedral Quarter of Belfast. It burnt down in 2004, before a time when everyone had mobile phones with cameras and easy access to digital recording. There's precious little record of the Arcadia poetry nights left. At least there's this."
I'll be reading and doing a mini-workshop at Stillorgan Library, Dublin, as part of the First Fortnight Festival.
"Award-winning poet Colin Dardis talks about how poetry bolstered his mental health after a prolonged period of depression. Reading from his collections ‘the x of y’ and ‘The Dogs of Humanity’, this event will also look at how people can improve their own wellbeing through the simple act of writing."
First Fortnight is a charity that challenges mental health prejudice through arts and cultural action. You can read an article I wrote earlier in the year for them on writing and mental health here. Many thanks to dlr Libraries for their interest and support with the event.
The event is free to attend; please email email@example.com to book
"If you’re a musician, or in a band, people like to know what they are dealing with, and tack on genres and sub-genres to your music. I don’t want or expect that in poetry. I want poetry to hold many voices, many styles, and I think it’s possible that multitudes could derive from one person."
New interview online today at those excellent purveyors of micropoetry, Black Bough Poetry. Many thanks to editor Matthew MC Smith for asking the questions and supporting my work. My partner-in-rhyme Geraldine O'Kane was also interviewed by them, you might want to read that as well...
Three new poems are now available in the 10th Anniversary edition of Live Encounters Poetry & Writing. Many thanks to editor Mark Ulyseas for including these. The entire issue is a bumper edition, well represented by many Irish poets, and well worth reading.
Fly On the Wall Press have featuring 'After Grenfell' on their site, my poem that was runner up in their recent Aryamati Prize. Many thanks to editor Isabelle Kenyon for showcasing this.
And finally, responding to the always stimulating Visual Verse prompt for November, here is 'Pseudonyms for a Disillusioned Kingdom'. The subject matter should be evident enough...
"I think every poem can be cathartic: as a writer, you are happy when you are productive. It feels good for me to produce any new poem, even if it doesn’t come out as an overly strong piece; the main thing is the creative process, that you can still produce."
The new edition of The Honest Ulsterman is out, in which I interview poet Ross Thompson about his debut collection from Dedalus Press ... and I talk to Ken Owens about my own collection 'The Dogs Of Humanity' from Fly on the Wall Poetry. Many thanks to editor Greg McCartney for including these features.
Geraldine O'Kane and myself spontaneously decided to read some poems in the garden of the recently opened Museum of Literature Ireland (MoLI) in Dublin, while visiting this week. Seemed perfectly fitting... MoLI itself is absolutely brilliant (as is its cafe). A guided tour takes 50 minutes, but we took 2 1/2 hours to explore everything. Highly recommended for anyone engaging with, or interested in, Irish literature.
Many thanks to Burning Eye Books for listing 'The Dogs of Humanity' in their Not The Forward Prize! Congrats to my Fly on the Wall Poetry label mates listed as well, good luck to them all.
The latest issue of Black Bough Poetry is also out, feature three senryū of mine. Many thanks to editor Matthew M.C. Smith for dedicated the issue to myself and Geraldine. Matthew does an amazing job with BBP, creating gorgeous issues full of micropoetry.
Many thanks to Fly On The Wall Press and judges Isabelle Kenyon and Siem Bruinsma for choosing my poem 'After Grenfell' as one of the runners-up in their Aryamati Poetry Prize 2019 competition.
This poetry prize remembers Cambridge graduate, Olga Kenyon (Aryamati), who had a rich career involving teaching, lecturing and writing. The competition sought poets who write for social change and peace, with poems on the theme of 'change'.
Many congratulationss to winner Pippa Little and all the other listed poets.
I'll be reading at Books Upstairs's Sunday Session on Sunday 20th October, 3pm, alongside Geraldine O'Kane and Tory Campbell, in a special showcase of Northern Irish poetry.
The event is free. Please note as the cafe is upstairs, disabled access is restricted unfortunately.
The Sunday Session is an ongoing series from Books Upstairs, usually featuring three readers. We'll hoping to bring down some more NI poets for future sessions.
I turn 40 this week, which is no big deal in itself, but I suppose it is a good time for a bit of a stocktake and a clearing out of the back catalogue....
Over the next month, I'll be releasing some projects that I've been sitting on, basically gathering (digital) dust. This will be partially to clear the desk for new work, and partially as a sort of creative milestone.
To commence, I've two new booklets of artwork available for download via Gumroad.
'Many Headed' is a collection of twenty-five heads (and one poem) in various mediums.
'Cartoon Truffle' is a (far) less serious motley crew of various MS Paint cartoons and sketches doodled over the years.
These will be available for free download (PDF format) during October.