Thursday, June 10, 2010

I Volunteered at DWF and all I got was this....

Actually it's a lovely t-shirt.. with writer's names on the back, as predicted in my articles a few weeks ago - poetry is the new rock and roll and writing festival t-shirts are the new concert t-shirts.
I got to see a few cool acts at the Dublin Writer's Festival, but the grand finale was probably the most interesting - since it consisted of a crash course of the big names of the Gallery Press poets... they were celebrating 40 years publishing, and the event was MC'd by the lovely Seamus Heaney - he didn't read any of his own poems, but introduced the word gallery with his usual panash - he actually had looked up the word "Gallery" in a dictionary for the occasion, (I know - you'd think he'd have known what it meant, bless him) and he told us one of the definitions was a covered space to wander in, which echoed one of Keats' definitions of poetry - ie it being a region to wander in. No buses were mentioned. Anyway I was delighted to get a chance to see all these poets in the flesh, who had previously been as unknown to me as the chances of Honduras getting anywhere in the world cup.
First up was Ciaran Carson - he began by playing us a tune on a tinwhistle, and then told us the myth of the Aisling (a traditional Irish poem which takes place in the setting of a dream), before reading us a poem which saw the sad eyes of a horse transferred onto Turnbull, and Turnbull's mad eyes looking out from the horses head.
Michael Coady was next with a triplet of poems, the first about his parents' honeymoon, which I thought was lovely - and the last called "Woman of 5 bathrooms" a take off of Woman of the roads - which got a lot of laughs from the audience.
Gerald Dawe told us a childhood pooem and another money themed one with a tax exile who was trying to decide who to ring for the craic from his hideaway.
Peter Fallon, the founder of gallery press was out after that with a couple of poems that I would have liked to have in front of me, they were quite subtle - one about a gate in the middle of a field, another with a daughter finding her way through fresh water.
I found Alan Gillis the most immediately gettable and enjoyable, maybe partly because I was sitting next to his lovely parents, who had been chatting away to me before hand. He read a gorgeous love sonnet with the theme of music that I really loved, and another longer poem about the dilemma of whether or not to make friends with an ex. Both poems were extremely vivid, and sensual (a sinister car park, and a girl with ribs the same colour as white fillet being just a couple of the memorable images) and the second got a lot of loud laughs.
There was then a break for refreshments. We came back to Bill Whelan and friends. He had arranged music to go with 3 gallery poems. The first a prayerful number, the second a really tragic poem about incest and loneliness and the third a delightful song about childhood which was my own personal favourite.
After that we had Vona Groarke, who had a lovely poem about diving into water in the West, as she said herself - rather than do things, sometimes it's just as good to write about them as if you had. She had a couple of other western styled numbers.
Then out came Dermot Healy - his killer poem for me was the one about storms not promised and the brilliant way he delivered the last lines, which I can still hear in my head "They wreck you, they wreck you, they do"
Medbh McGuckian was out next and told us she wanted to read a couple of poems related to her mother's death - there was a lovely line about when the mind stops buzzing like a bee, and a new word for me in the shape of dormission (where you get taken straight to heaven without having to actually die)
Derek Mahon followed her with a very geographically definite set, one from Antrim Road, one about the floods in Cork last year (poor quiet Munster!) and another set in Italy.
Then came John Montague, he had a great one about his cousin destroying a grand piano, and I found myself glancing at the instrument Bill Whelan had just left on stage not half an hour earlier, with an urge to have a go at it.
Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin finished the night, and why wouldn't she, having won the covetted golden pen award only last week. She had another Cork poem - this time about the polio epidemic and the freedom of flying through kid free streets on her bike on the one message she was sent on.
Twas a lovely show, almost as good as a Glór session, and it was a bit of a marvel seeing them all out on stage at the end for their bow - with Ciaran Carson almost pushing Peter Fallon off the stage in his effort to get him to take a seperate bow.
(someone, not I, mind you, said it reminded them of a school play)


Totalfeckineejit said...

No mention of a bus? Meh!
Sounds like mighty doodle do all the same.Wish I could have gone.

Swap ye a slightly used golf ball for the T shirt?

Niamh B said...

Nope - the used golf ball wouldn't last 5 minutes in this house with the jaws of destruction

Titus said...

Ooh, I nearly felt like I was there. Do I get a T-shirt?

Peter Goulding said...

Niamh, instead of writing long blogs, would you not get your letter of application in for Tubridy's slot?

Niamh B said...

Titus, sadly not!
Thanks for the advice Peter... I'll go fix up the cv

Emerging Writer said...

Almost as good as being there. Almost. I bet the audience was a who's who

Niamh B said...

I was probably the biggest celebrity there, but yes a few other household names also made an appearance.