The new issue of Dublin Review of Books is out, containing my review of Louis Mulcahy's The Potter's Book, available from Doire Press.
"The risk with any collection focusing heavily on one particular theme is in alienating the reader; if you aren’t familiar with the theme in hand, then why should you invest in the writing? The challenge is of course for the language to ascend beyond mere description and terminology, and to draw us in through the personal. This cannot simply be poetry by someone with an intimate knowledge of ceramics; we need to believe that only Mulcahy could have written this, that only he is at the centre of this work, cracking it open like terracotta under thermal expansion, to let us see the inner workings."
This is my first review for DRB, honoured to be a small part of their fine work!
Delighted to say I'm part of a new anthology, Switching Off Darkness: Young Irish Poets, to be released later this year by Vakxikon Publications.
The Anthologies of Young Poets series is a European poetry project launched by Vakxikon, a publishing house from Athens, Greece. Each anthology features poets not older than 40 years (so I only just qualified!), whose list of publications includes 1 to 3 books. All books in the series are bilingual (poems are printed in their original language alongside Greek translations).
The authors commented on are: Annemarie Ní Churreáin, Dylan Brennan, Doireann Ní Ghríofa, Alice Kinsella, Stephen Sexton, Seán Hewitt, Rob Buchanan, Ingrid Casey, Elaine Feeney, Jess Traynor and myself.
Many thanks to Ingrid Casey and Manuela Palacios-Gonzalez for their work in putting this together and considering my work. You can download the introduction to the anthology here:
Big thanks to Olive Broderick, Down Arts Centre for inviting me to read at Newry, Mourne and Down District Council's Narnia Festival. It was a highly enjoyable "high octane" reading as part of Poems on a Sunday Afternoon, on tour in Kilbroney Park in Rostrevor. Lots of fun sharing poems and hearing samples of local talent. And an extra big thanks to Marion Clarke for volunteering to help me read ”Dialogue for D-Day" by Joy Davidman, wife of CS Lewis.
Age UK in Gloucestershire are having a Christmas service at Gloucester Cathedral, and have asked to read my NHS70 poem at the event, which will be read out by an NHS nurse in uniform.
I hope people will find this image and the poem effective. I am incredibly moved by this request, thank you to NICON for facilitating this and Arts Council of Northern Ireland.
Here's a few more photos Including one of me apparently doing the ol' jazz hands) from the reading of the poem at the recent World Health Organization Healthy Cities conference in Belfast, written to mark the 70th anniversary of the United Kingdom’s National Health Service and to pay homage to the ideal of universal health coverage.
Photo credit: WHO Regional Office for Europe
My poem 'A Change in the Weather' has been shortlisted to be performed at Arachne Press's 2018 Solstice Shorts Festival in London. Final list of stories and poems announced soon.
The new edition of The Honest Ulsterman is out today!
I've interviewed two amazing Irish women writers for this issue: Jess Traynor, about her new collection The Quick from Dedalus Press; and Niamh Boyce, about her new poetry book, Inside The Wolf.
The ever-considerate and supportive Rob McLennan has interviewed me for his 20 questions series, about my book 'the x of y' and my writing.
There are 19 questions here, the 20th is an unwritten mystery.
For National Poetry Day, we put out a 24-hour writing challenge on Poetry NI: to write a poem on the theme of 'change'. Poets had precisely 24 hours to respond to the challenge, write a new poem, and send it in to us.
We're delighted with the results and that so many decided to take up the task. The result is this free e-pamphlet, Changing Verses in Midstream. Within, you'll find poems from Órla Fay. Trudie Gorman, David Braziel, Glen Wilson, Siobhan Elvis Atkins, Peter Adair, Jane Robinson, Jessamine O Connor, Geraldine O'Kane, K. S. Moore, Trish Bennett, Andrew Roycroft, Rosie Burrows and myself
Special thanks also to the Year 10 pupils from The Archer Academy in East Finchley, North London, who held a special writing special in school, in answer to our challenge. Well done all of them!
Happy reading, and happy National Poetry Day!
Amazed to say I've been invited to read my NHS poem at the World Health Organization 2018 International Healthy Cities Conference in Belfast in October. 500 international delegates will be there, including the UK's Chief Medical Officers and the WHO European Director. It's possibly the most prestigious audience I'll have ever addressed! (Although of course every and any audience is important.)
Many thanks to NI Confederation for Health and Social Care and Arts Council of Northern Ireland for their continued support with this.
William Styron - The Long March