On March 26th, poet Colin Hassard hosts 'Reading & Righting' as part of Imagine! The Belfast Festival of Ideas & Politics on Thursday 26th in Crescent Arts Centre. An array of local award-winning poets and spoken word artists share their work inspired by various sociological, psychological and environmental issues. They will also each share inspiring work by a famous poet which has influenced their own writing. Also reading are Elizabeth McGeown, Michael Wilson, Abby Oliveira and Raquel McKee. Open mic slots available.
For World Read Aloud Day, here's a short video of myself reading 'Catch' from my Fly on the Wall Poetry collection, The Dogs of Humanity.
The day is "an opportunity for people all around the globe to celebrate the joy of reading aloud, and advocate for literacy as a fundamental human right that belongs to everyone". Many thanks to the excellent Rory McCarron for recording this piece.
Lit Up, the monthly poetry event with a twist, returns for a new run, with host Michael Wilson. Myself and life partner-in-rhyme Geraldine O'Kane will be kicking off the new session.
Lit Up encourages readers "to read poems that have inspired them or that they cherish. There will be two selected headliners and open mic. To perform at the open mic just put your name down on the night, you can also read your own work but we do encourage other peoples' poems as well."
Thursday 20th February, 7pm, £5
Community Arts Partnership, The ARC, Floors 1 & 2, 7 Donegall Street Place, Donegall Street, BT1 2FN, Belfast
"“[I]t’s not about writing a brilliant poem. It’s the journey and giving yourself time and space with your thoughts and translating that into writing. Anyone can benefit from that process regardless of their background.”
I've an interview in Irish Times Life & Style today, talking about poetry and mental heath ahead of my reading this Thursday at dlr Libraries Stillorgan for the First Fortnight Festival. Many thanks to Sylvia Thompson for the article, and to Lisa Jewell at Poetry Ireland for putting us in touch! Details on how to book for the event are available here.
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.