If it’s another Wednesday, it must be Bantry

West Cork Sunset
©Karen J McDonnell

I’ll be hoping for evenings like this next week when I head to Bantry – the lovely town situated between the Beara and Sheeps Head peninsulas.

I’ve been to the West Cork Literary Festival several times as part of the audience. This time – HUZZAH!! – I’m going as one of their featured writers. 

WCLF brochure. Artwork by William Crozier

I can’t wait to be there. WCLF is one of those events that has everything: a great line-up, a wonderful bunch of volunteers, a superb location, and a fantastic hinterland to explore when you get a bit of time off. If the weather is good – well, that’s a bonus.

I will be chatting to Eibhear Walshe, and reading from This Little World, at 11.30am in the Bantry Bookshop next Wednesday, 19 July. Thanks to Margaret and her staff for having us. If any of you are down for the Festival – please come, and say Hello!

This gets to be a bit of a working holiday for me. I’m taking an extra night off so that I can take in as much of the other writers’ events as possible. Lucky me.

We’re due a write-up about the whole book thing. Life in the book lane has been pretty fast and furious this past month. And, real life has also got in the way – as it does. I think time to regroup is in order; then I promise a ‘daycent’ sit-down-with-a-cuppa post over on the Writer’s Blog.

In the meantime – enjoy the summer, my lovelies. And if you want to purchase This Little World, please visit www.doirepress.com where Lisa & John will be only too happy to sell you a copy!

Cover for This Little World
© Karen J McDonnell & Doire Press

If it’s Tuesday … it must be Limerick

Loveens!!

Pass it on to any friends or rellies in the Limerick area:

On Tuesday 4 July 2017 I’ll be reading from This Little World at the ‘On the Nail Literary Gathering’ hosted by the Limerick Writers’ Centre.

Venue: Chez le Fab Café at Arthur’s Quay       Time: 8pm

I will be reading with Terry McDonagh, and signing copies of THE BOOK, of course!!

And don’t forget … there’s an Open Mic afterwards, so bring some writing or music of your own to entertain us all.  Many thanks to Dominic Taylor for the invitation. Chuffed to have been asked to do the gig.

‘This Little World’ – Freebie!!

 

Cover for This Little World
© Karen J McDonnell & Doire Press

This Midsummer’s Eve, I’m celebrating the launch of my poetry collection, ‘This Little World’  – published by Doire Press.

You can buy the book at Charlie Byrne’s and Kenny’s bookshops in Galway, or online from http://www.doirepress.com

Just comment below and I’ll pull two names out of the hat on July 1st.

One of you will get a copy of the book, the other will get this (very) limited edition book tote bag.

Launching This Little World

Well, Launch Day is almost upon us!

The house elves in Doire Press and Ballyvaughan have been busy: organising wine, glasses, a lectern and – in my case – sorting out what to wear, Darlings!

You are invited!

It’s been an amazing few months: chock-full of poet-type angst, comradeship at Annaghmakerrig, excitement at being chosen by Doire Press, worry that I wouldn’t make the grade, delight in signing the contract. It was thrilling to see the proofs appear on the desktop; even more so to tear open the envelope and hold the first copy of my debut collection in my hands.

This Little World – my precious!

So now is the time to celebrate with Lisa and John from Doire Press, and with my family and kind, loyal friends. I’m extremely grateful to writer & poet Celeste Augé for launching This Little World into the wider world. Apart from the speeches, there will be wine, and a bit of poeting. Mostly though, PARRRTAAAAY!!!

If you happen to be in Galway on Saturday, don’t just stand there peeking through the window, or standing in the doorway. Come in and join us!

You’ll be so welcome.

New from The Western Skyline

I’m still working as a volunteer with Kinvara FM  – about 10 km from home – in Kinvara, Co. Galway. The station hopes to be broadcasting on air in late summer when its 30 day licence is received from the BAI. Until then, there is a variety of shows going out every Saturday, and some on Sundays too. You can listen in live online, or catch the podcasts later.

I’ll be presenting The Western Skyline every fortnight. The next show is on 10 June. There will be Arts & Heritage news, interviews, and some poetry.                                                                     Below are links to podcasts the  two most recent shows. I hope you enjoy them!

The Eldest V

Last weekend was spent in the company of dear friends in London.

The timing was deliberate: Una & Mairead treated me to a visit to the Vanessa Bell exhibition.

20170501_135850.jpg I’ve a long lasting fascination with the Bloomsbury set. I’ve played Vita Sackville -West & Virginia Woolf, so I’ve read a lot written by and about them. But I’ve always had an affection for Vanessa – the other Stephen girl.

So it was wonderful to head to Dulwich on a sunny April day and take in what is the most comprehensive solo exhibition of her work since her death in 1961.

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The range of work is wonderful: from still lives to landscapes; abstract to portraits.

Also included are designs she worked on with Duncan Grant, family photos, and letters – such as the one above written to Roger Fry in 1914.

And – of particular interest to this fan of the Two Vs – the dust jackets designed for the Hogarth Press:

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The exhibition runs until 4 June. The Dulwich Gallery is set in lovely leafy grounds, with outdoor seating and great coffee. You could spend a day away from the city mayhem in an oasis of flowering calm, and visit Vanessa at the same time.

Go on, treat yourself.

Civil Protest in Hungary

There are so many troubles in the world and so many loud voices of state trying to muffle, or murder, legitimate protest.

Protest in Budapest 12 April 2017. Photo by Zoltan Balogh (MTI via AP) From Washington Post site.

In parts of eastern Europe, the Right has been gaining steadily; especially in Hungary. This is disturbing, and also sad when we consider that the permitted movement of other nationalities through Hungary helped to contribute to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Now Orban’s Hungary is shutting down dissent, borders, and institutions dedicated to independent thinking.

The EU must act decisively. NOW.

I’m glad to be a signatory of this letter of protest along with many others:

https://www.pressreader.com/uk/the-guardian/20170413/281887298173789

Many thanks to poet George Szirtes for organising this letter, and for his consistent commitment to highlighting events taking place in the land of his birth. Köszönöm, George.

Getting on with it

Basically, I’m getting on with it.

I’ve been preparing the manuscript of my first poetry collection. And I invested in a week at beautiful Annaghmakerrig to give myself a good run at re-drafting newer poems, as well as looking over the older ones. Of course, being where I was, the first thing I did after unpacking was to sit down and write a new poem. It was a great start to the week and set me up well for the next day’s writing. No trips off on the gatch this time, apart to Newbliss for the newspaper.

© Karen J McDonnell

It was wonderful being back in ‘my old room’! They’re very good to me in that place. I had tweeted Miss Warby to let her know I was on my way. She tweeted ‘Welcome, darling.’ when I arrived! Spoilt, I was, pure spoilt.  It was lovely to meet a whole new bunch of people – artists and writers, musicians and a dancer. But, typical in Ireland, it turned out that the writer Liz Nugent and I had met – many moons ago! A long story, and you’re not getting it here.            The nightly dinners were a joy – great food and conversation – sometimes presided over by the Centre’s director, Rob.  Many thanks to vegetarian Helen who was our cook on St. Paddy’s Day. she went beyond the call of duty: The ham was scrummmmmy.

Home to reality, and writing, writing, writing. But also a moment or two to enjoy the fact that Marie Lecrivain, guest editor at Al-Khemia Poetica had published my contribution for National Women’s Day in the U.S., and on St. Patrick’s Day at that. Nice one, Marie.

You can have a look at it here:

http://alkhemiapoetica.blogspot.ie/2017/03/national-womens-month-karen-j_17.html

Also came news that my poem, ‘A Bad Dose’, had been shortlisted for Cúirt/UCHG Poems for Patience, 2017.  I was delighted. And a tie this year – well done to poets Lorna Shaughnessy and Marie Cadden on their joint win. Both of their poems will be printed and hung in University Hospital Galway. It’s a great idea, I think.

This week I’m formatting the manuscript and this is what I was doing two mornings ago:

Pieces of poetry
© Karen J McDonnell

Each slip of paper is a title of a poem. Talk about getting into shape!

Wish me luck, lads.

 

@MissWarby – I’m on my way!

Yes, I’m heading back. To the house, the lake, the lovely staff and – if the vibes are all aligned – perhaps a meeting with Miss Worby, the resident ghost.

I’ll be redrafting and making the final push towards my first collection: This Little World. 

The dreaded lurgy has been getting me down for the past few days, but the antibiotics are kicking in and I can’t wait to get up to Annaghmakerrig.  (For more about this wonderful artists’ residence, have a look at Forward! Retreat! – Part the Second on my Writer’s Blog above.)

Now, I must away to pack my books, notebooks, and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.