Monday, November 30, 2009

Poems in Shops - an example

So to kick off

"International put your poem in a shop month"

here follows an example of the type of thing we might be looking for:

Foil tops crow pecked in history
Remember friendly face who delivered
Now milk agrows in cartons, plastic shapes,
Fresh dairy cows watch and shiver

And that one would go.... yes you've guessed it (my clever blogeens)... next to the milk etcetera etcetera.

The beauty of placing a poem in a shop in this way is of course that you get to put it where you want, when you want, and with no pesky editors deciding it's not good enough (those astute poetry judges among you will have noticed that the standard in the above is certainly far from prohibitively high) - the biggest difficulty I suppose is going to be the placing and the proof.
Picking up things off shelves in shops is easy, we do it all the time, but putting something there, and taking a photo of it? That could be a bit more difficult. If you want - you could follow last years template of putting up a sign in the ads section of your store, example to be seen here.
Good luck poetry gorillas, I'll be putting my first shop poem up somewhere sometime soon, so keep an eye out next time you pop out for milk, and do let me know how you get on yourself, any tips for how to secretly place a poem would be welcome.

Here's the above poem undergoing rigorous poem testing on my domestic test kitchen replica of a real litre of milk.

(By the way - do have a look at Honey Fungus' chicken poems over on their blog...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Another Monday Poem in preparation for International put your poem in a shop month

Yes it's that time of year again - the three weeks or so that I loosely call a month, and urge all great poetry writers out there to get their poems into shops, for


replacing capitalism and consumerism with art. It's inspired by the ShoP magazine, but involves you physically going out there and placing a short poem in a shop and taking a picture of it there. The noticeboard was the target of choice last year, but this year I think we should open it up and put the poem anywhere in the shop - afterall people don't just stare at notice boards...

Write a short poem - no more than 4 lines - decide if it goes with the fruit, the frozen food, the cleaning products, or maybe you're in a different kind of shop altogether. Place the poem, and get a pic, let me know about it and we'll do a grand list of all the links at the end of the "month". Poetry to the people!!

Have fun. Here's how last year's poems in shops month was kicked off.

Back to Words

Do words slow down the mind? Thinking Shhhhhh shhhhhhhhhhhhhh shhhhhhhhhhhhhhh & keeping words out of your head might seem like a pointless exercise, but it is interesting to see how hard it is. Please try this - look at the following gap for a minimum of one minute and see if you can stop any words from passing through your head while you do it.

go on do it - set the alarm now and do it - don't just scroll down to the next bit

For you impatient ones - your loss, shame on you, you're as bad as thierry, but it's only yourself you're cheating, for those who tried it, how did ye get on? Dorothea Brande believed being able to empty your head of words like that is the key to allowing your subconscious break through with more creative and clever ideas than your conscious mind would ever be capable of. This was her big secret of success for writers in her excellent book, Becoming a Writer, and it explains the phenomenon of how some of the best thinking is done without words, how an idea for a brilliant story surfaces after a night's sleep or a long period of non-thinking - ie some writer's swear by scrubbing floors, or organising files, some kind of thoughtless exercise which puts them into a trance-like state - this can then lead to better thinking at a deeper level. And where are we without this? We can't physically go one whole 24 hours without sleep (and thus allowing the subconscious a decent gap in our chattery wordy thoughts to do it's work) without noticing a huge impact on our own well being. (Longer periods of sleeplessness can even lead to psychosis, in one extreme example New York radio DJ Peter Tripp went 201 hours without sleep and suffered serious delusions and eventually a total personality change as a consequence. - but the function of sleep is perhaps a subject for another time)
So maybe let your subconscious do its job from time to time, get your mind away from the world of words, see what difference it makes to the way you think, feel or write...

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Blathnaid Nolan on the Radio

My guest on the radio this week is the talented Blathnaid Nolan, a recent addition to Lucan Writer's group. Blathnaid grew up in South Dublin where she currently lives with her husband and two children. While always scribbling throughout her adult life – diary entries, letters, bad poetry, it was eight years ago that she decided to take it more seriously and started writing short stories. She is currently attempting a novel set in the 1950’s. Her main interests are character, emotions and the everyday dramas that we all experience. Last year she was published in Dermot Bolger’s critically acclaimed anthology “Night and Day”.

She has chosen the ever interesting theme of

Unrequited Love,

and will be sharing two of her brilliant short stories with us. Do tune in - 11 am Sunday morning... Liffey Sound - link over on the right there somewhere...

That's uploaded now onto the radio blog - link on the right as well... hope you enjoy. Another link worth looking at is Honey Fungus' latest entry - the teen writing group have posted up 2 of their brilliant poems on the ever intrigueing poetic theme of chickens.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Laughs and Shivers and 7 Towers

Poetry is definitely getting more popular and trendy, as comedy was in the 90's, poetry open mics seem to be opening every other day - am thinking of starting one myself, maybe in my house, Niamh's Salon de Póit's, or some such, but that's a story for another time.

On Wednesday night however I ventured into town alone to visit, for the first time, one of the older, more established nights in the city, that being the 7 Towers last Wednesday series, I'd been trying to check it out for ages, and just hadn't made it until now. Like the Glór sessions it's another downstairs kind of place, you feel hidden away in the depths of the pub, with fanciful gossamer drapings behind the stage and red glass chandeliers.
It starts early, 7.30, which is nice, because it then finishes early 10.45, great for those of us who are unable for the late late nights, (except on fridays when the late late makes it acceptable). As I say it's a well established night, run by the folks at 7 towers publications since long before it was cool. There is a great mix at it of young and old, so it feels like a more multigenerational thing than anything I've been at before, and there was a really impressive range of talent on display, about 12 readers, at about 7 minutes each.

The highlights? Steven Conway had a lovely story called Shrodinger's bus, there was a poem about an earthworm surfacing on the M50, Anamaria Crowe Serrano gave us some breath taking poems, literally - catch your breath kinda stuff, there was Andrej - a regular from the Glór nights who blew the crowd away with a cover of a great poem about Tommy Cooper's death, and his own poem was pretty amazing too. Ross Hattaway, Oran Ryan, and Eamon Linskey too made for really very enjoyable and thought provoking listening. A few other really striking readers whose names I didn't catch also gave us a few good laughs and shivers.
I liked the feeling of experimentation there as well, one lady read a poem she had written that very day, it felt very fresh from that point of view, felt like the work was all new to that environment, no reading the same old same old... a challenging thing but also very exciting.
All this, and a good sized crowd at it on a night when we were spoiled for choice with another new open mic The Brown Bread Mix Tape happening at the Stag's head (which I'm reliably informed was also brilliant and which I'll have to try and get to next), and lots of other literary happenings/ launches etc in the city. SPOILED we are.

(Speaking of spoiling if you've read this far I might as well tell you it's Mr VC's Birthday today, he started a blog yesterday - An Flíp - feel free to go over and wish him a happy day, but you don't have to)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Odd one out results - Elementary my dear Watson -

As TFE brilliantly deduced - (see my comments page frm 2 days back) - no 4 was the fib. Indeed I didn't dream of creepy parrots as a child, sure parrots are lovely things, and anyway - you don't dream in colour.

1. I recieved a letter from George Bush Snr - It was a response to my request for an interview for my newspaper, which I ran weekly or whenever I felt like it at the time, 20p per copy for an A4 page back and front. He declined my request - obviously knew of my brilliant and probing interview skills even then.

2. I was a backing dancer in a Bollywood film
- very far back, very very far back, a short film, filmed in dubland earlier this year.

4. I was offered a job on the Statue of Liberty and declined.
This was for the J1, a job in the gift shop, minimum wage, in a city where rent would've been astronomical, you basically would have had to be able to pay for the priviledge - and I wasn't.

5. I had a job breeding fruit flies - this was in a lab in Germany, as part of my college course, I had to feed them. I was useless at getting them to stay where they should stay though, so we used to have little clouds of them around the place.

6. I had a job making cardboard boxes - summer and weekend job during college, one of those things where you never wondered how they were produced until you end up working at the factory where they're made, like the magic door in Bosco.

7. I was nicknamed Sid Vicious as a child. This followed several wrestling matches with my brother and Dad - probably when I was about 5 or 6, both of whom emerged from the fight defeated, with tiny but deep bite marks.

8. I attended the Eurovision song contest - girly holiday with my mam the year Lordi triumphed in Athens. I'd heartily recommend it as a holiday choice. Fantastic hype, great caberet tack and brilliance. And you'll be a mini celebrity for a while afterwards.

9. I was a member of the "Caring and Sharing Association" in my teens, a great fun organisation to be part of, organising social events for people with disabilities - despite the corny name it was one of the best things I ever did.

10. I had a note for a fictional verruca for several years worth of PE
- this is true, my mother collaborated and rewrote it for me whenever it got old looking. At the end of one of the terms the PE teacher wrote "Hope the verruca clears up for next year" on my report card.

The Wind and the Willies

You hardly ever see a leaf actually being plucked from the branch by the wind, like the way you hardly ever see a bird die but you know it must happen, (unless they're all immortal apart from the ones that end up squoooshed on the road) today the air is alive with the leaves, watch almost any tree for a few seconds and you'll see it reluctantly parting with one more of it's food providers in this wilderness that became suburbia (a fact that no one has yet told to the wind). There is a child's buggy stuck up a tree on the balgaddy road too, unless it grew there, like the one that's growing just on the green off the coldcut road. This morning it was shaking threateningly in the wind, and made me worry a little more than normal about what will happen when the bough breaks, it might happen harmlessly at night, because the worst weather always happens at night, when darkness gives permission to the elements to do what they like, unwatched by anyone. I still felt a stirring of something communityish, unselfish, to do something to prevent someone (who happened not to be looking up as they walked along, day or night) from getting squooshed. So I rang the gardaí, but think maybe you should too, because much as the man at the other end of the line sounded like he was taking it seriously and assured me they would look into it in a few minutes time, I think I'd have hung up and laughed a bit, and maybe muttered something about catching real criminals.
In other news - the new version of Word is giving me the Willies - everytime I try to type the word wellies - it mischieveously changes it to willies, automatically, creepy eh (In ireland some of us say something gives us the willies when we find it a bit scary - for my millions of international readers)
On the odd one out quiz of yesterday, no one has yet guessed correctly, so keep those guesses coming, and I thought ye knew me!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The odd one out quiz

Hopping on the bandwagon alongside Rachel Fox, and Titus the dog, here's my list of ten random facts about me, one of which is a lie. Over to you to sort fact from fiction.

1. I once recieved a letter from George Bush Senior.

2. I was backing dancer for a scene in a Bollywood film.

3. I had a recurring dream about scary parrots as a child.

4. I was offered a job on the statue of liberty, but didn't take it.

5. I once had a job breeding fruit flies.

6. I once had a job making cardboard boxes.

7. My nickname as a child was Sid Vicious.

8. I once attended the Eurovision song contest.

9. I was a member of the "Caring and Sharing Association" in my teens.

10. I had a PE note for several years running which excused me from PE because of a fictional

Monday, November 23, 2009

If you're doing nothing else tonight

You should have a listen to RTE 1 at 7pm, there will be a live broadcast from the infamous Glór sessions from the international bar. It should be pretty cool... it usually is - whether or not the world is watching - more details of performers etc over on Uiscebot's blog.

If you are doing something else, let me know what it is.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Language as a window

The "go héasca" thing got me thinking, the confusion - and a word that seems to mean fast and slow at the same time, isn't all that surprising after all. Go héasca can mean easy and slow, but when you think about it, the easy way to do something can also be the short way and therefore the faster way.
Language and words are used and taken for granted as representing the real world, but they are not actually the real world themselves. They are just symbols invented, refined, over the years, tools of description. But it does make me wonder how much we take them for granted, and allow them to shape the way we think. Lately I have occasionally found myself "thinking in Irish" - which suggests that language does have a huge role in our thinking. The way we phrase things, seems to come naturally, but it's handed down and evolves from generation to generation, like a cultural DNA.
In his latest book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell relates how a Korean airline switched to training its staff in English, which it found had the effect of making staff more assertive, and more likely to persist when warning their bosses of safety issues; ie in Korean they might have said
"Boss, I think we're nearly out of fuel, we should land somewhere soon" and the boss would say
"No we'll be grand" and they'd say
"Ok then" - because of the huge respect for seniors inherent in the language they didn't challenge decisions, and lots of people died. Whereas in English they were more likely to say
"Eh, no I really think we need to land, have a look at the fuel tank dial there."
I suppose the point is that we need to be aware of the effect of our language on us, the restraints and freedoms of what it allows us to express, the things it allows us to see, and the things it might be hiding from us - things we mightn't be able to put into words but things we should still know.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Joan Power on the Radio

Joining me this week on the radio is the lovely Joan Power with a show on the theme of "Tales of Loss and Lunacy"
A member of St Muirin's writing group in Tallaght, Joan is a very entertaining writer, and will be reading some of her very funny stories for us. The usual time, 11 am on Sunday - link to Liffey sound on the right.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Various Things - some about words

The Irish word Póit is pronounced a little bit like poet - and means excessive drinking or hangover.
"go héasca" means fast to the Aran Islanders, and means easy and slow to the Connemara fishermen, so that when they go fishing together and one crew is shouting the instruction to let the nets out "go héasca go héasca", frantically urging them on, the other side is wondering how they could possibly go any slower.
German homeless people and sex workers get up early in the morning, and at least one walks around with her finger stuck in a book to keep her place in it.
No one in any American company is given any job below the level of Vice President, and most are CEOs.
The word yes is contained in the word eyes, the word no in the word nose.
In other news - here's an interesting article on how some great novels were written.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Drama Queen

Remembering Joan,

The most encouraging, generous, funny and brilliant friend anyone could ever hope for. It was a huge privilege to know her and she will be most sadly missed.

here's one of her favourite songs.

Monday Poem

Who says it has to be a Monday to put up a Monday poem? This week, the week the world will remember for the day the earth stood still, I am bringing Monday forward 4 days, who needs squelchy Friday with all the casual clothes and feel good "What ya doin for the weekend?" vibe - let's go for it - straight back into the working week - Today is Monday. So here is the Monday poem. For the Monday poetry bus, that is no longer running.
I don't know if I like it (the poem I mean) - it came from a challenge that Matt Bolton set me - to make a poem out of a story. In other news, I'm rather tired of having blogposts with days of the week in the title, which is why I'm trying to work them all out of my system this week, so that I can go back to the unroutine business of putting up whatever I darn well feel like putting up, no matter what the day. Anyway...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Philosophical Question Tuesday

Can't believe it has the nerve to show it's face around here after standing us up yesterday, but here's tuesday now, and the question today is "What if the world stopped turning?"
First of all, would everyone, apart from those in padded cells die? Since we're moving fairly fast through space, when we'd shudder to a halt, I guess things would go flying and there'd be a huge breath taking wind. So maybe just people in airtight padded cells and deep sea divers would survive the slow up. Then what?
If you happen to be in one of those two categories, what would be your next step? Where would you live? Bearing in mind that the world would be frozen in place, you have a choice of season, and time of day to live at, and access to the world's best cars as well, but the roads would be probably full of debris so travelling regularly between day and night, or different temperatures wouldn't be an option. So, plan ahead, what would you do?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Weekly Wednesday

This week it's a day early, yes after three weeks of faithful service, this week's Weekly Wednesday has taken us all by surprise, arriving immediately after monday instead of patiently awaiting it's turn, elbowing timid tuesday out of the way. In this uncertain world let this be a lesson to us all, we can't assume or count on anything. Go ahead, enjoy tomorrow today, say to people "Thank god we're half way through the week" show up for any wednesday meetings or appointments and call people up who should be there, it is Wednesday after all - you can refer them here for confirmation if they complain. (Of course you should ignore any Tuesday obligations you have as well, such as making up philosophical tuesday questions for your blog etc etc). Ring up RTE tonight demanding the midweek movie if they don't run it. I suspect they will though, it's well known that all RTE bosses read this blog and obey its suggestions religiously. Happy Weekly Wednesday everyone!!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Monday poem

Keeping the poetry Bus-ness goin here's this week's effort...

Friday, November 6, 2009

Eileen Casey on the Radio

The next in the long line of talented writers to take to the airwaves with me is Eileen Casey, originally from the Midlands, she is based now in South Dublin. She is a poet, fiction writer, journalist and Creative Writing Facilitator. She has shown three poetry installations, ‘Seagulls’ , ‘Reading Fire, Writing Flame’ , and ‘The Jane Austen Sewing Kit’ . Her great debut collection ‘Drinking the Colour Blue’ (New Island) was published in 2008.
Eileen is responsible for inspiring many of my previous guests in her workshops, and was a big part of the founding of the Lucan Writer's group, so we have alot to thank her for. Her theme is "The Art of the Idea" a fantastic and interesting subject, and she'll be reading some of her gorgeous poems. Should be inspirational.

Usual time 11 am this Sunday morning, on Liffey Sound - link there on the right.

See ye then then - Eileen's show is up on the radio blog now - here

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Back to the Future

I am living precisely 1 hour in the future. Ok - it's just that I didn't change the clock last week. What's the point of changing something that's going to just change back? As EW's character in her Trib story said "What's the point of ironing?" Anyway, there are extreme advantages to this new way of life - not only have I saved the precious 30 - 40 seconds that this work would have taken, but I also have a far more positive approach to getting up in the morning, now that I feel like everything is happening an hour later. I've even half managed to take back up my old habit of getting up early to write and/or do practical writing related things, which is fantastic actually. This morning I made out a mini writing plan - goals I want to reach, how I plan to reach em etc, and feeling more energetic in general.
The drawback is that I am working a full hour later in the evening, altho the local pub is running great bar extensions every night, so plenty of time to catch up. I can highly recommend it anyway - as a way of life - c'mon everyone now and live in the future with me!! Change your clocks now early for next year, and laugh as you arrive into work at 9.30 in the morning, instead of the usual 8.30 etc etc

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Weekly Wednesday

Can you believe 7 days have passed? A whole 168 hours since last we celebrated weekly Wednesday? The second ever weekly Wednesday starts right here!
(I think this is a bit silly. I think in fact I will stop after this one, after I tell you my theory about Weekly Wednesday, how it comes from an ill-fated Wedding weakly planned to take place at Loch Ness one day. Maybe I'll stop even before that in fact, maybe I'll stop

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Philosophical Question Tuesday - Research or Gut?

Today's question is as follows:
When making big decisions in your life - are you better off thinking about them carefully, weighing up all the pros and cons, or should you just go with your gut. Your gut as opposed to your heart should give you instantaneous instruction, and should be a bit more practically based than the heart, ie i'm not asking should you just do what you want, more should you do what your subconscious (or gut) tells you is the right decision.
And this is for big decisions I am asking - ie huge - life changing decisions - like deciding where to live, whether to leave your job, whether to have children. Should you agonise over all these things, spend weeks on end researching it, or just listen to your gut, and dive on in, whichever way it tells you to go?
The advantage I can see for this approach is the time saving, plus the fact that you won't feel bad about your research and analysis skills, if it turns out to be a bad choice, since you won't have actually researched it. On the downside - you might make stupid mistakes in your decisions, by not shopping around or really thinking about the implications, cos your stupid gut told you so.
Read Malcolm Gladwell's Blink - for a strong argument pro trusting your gut. Any recommendations for a strong argument anti?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Promptless, Titleless Poem - help needed

Altho the TFE bus is out of order, I've gotten into the habit of putting up a new poem here every Monday, and good habits are hard to shake. This week it's a poem written in a coffee shop on saturday while waiting for the brake light on my car to be fixed (apparently they're important to have in running order when driving to Letterkenny in October).
Anyway - without further ado -

If the Electric Chair was run by Ryanair,
you'd have to die standing,
having queued for hours -
with jingly music roaring in your ears
and leery hen/stag parties drinking 6am beers
and trumpets if you die on time
before other trumpets sound.
You'd be strapped in tight,
(with no leg room)
- there'd be ads for Sprite
on the inside of your death hood
- harsh cheery announcements dispelling any chance of sleep,
and I fear your last meal wouldn't be that good
and it wouldn't be that cheap.

Any help with naming this one would be appreciated.

Oireachtas Report

Took myself up to Letterkenny last night, to rendezvous with Mr VC at the Oireachtas - a big annual festival of all things Irish - Sean Nós singing and dancing - such as like can be seen on the following two clips....
I only got to see the singing competition. Each competitor sang two songs - one slow and one fast. The slow ones were between 10 and 15 minutes long, and most of the singers kept their eyes closed for the duration, which I found a bit alienating, especially since my Irish isn't good enough to fully follow what was going on. They had amazing voices though.
The dancing would have been the highlight, if I'd got up earlier, luckily - most of the dancers were still in dancing form later that night in the Errigal hotel, where tables were overturned in the lobby for people to strut their stuff in this great free style dance that basically involves letting the feet do the talking. Everyone got a go afterwards in the function room with a talented live band providing amazing rocking tunes. (I'm a natural mover - a bit like the bollywood really)
It was a pretty crazy environment, people dancing on tables - using chairs as stepping stones around the hall, you couldn't help but get sucked into it. Another highlight was a giant singalong led by the King of the Tory Islands - Patsy Dan - who sang "Báidín Fheilimi" - which is all about a ship wreck on the way to Tory. Fantastic weekend, will definitely be back to it next year.