A Working Holiday: Bellaghy, Annaghmakerrig, AT the Edge

It’s impossible not to feel that autumn is creeping in. Had to put on the woolly socks last night, and the light is dying in the western sky so much earlier these evenings. Even Bessa the cat is back sitting on my lap, or on her car mat in the sitting room!

Sanctuary!                                                                                                                                                    After a busy summer, I can’t wait to get back to the haven that awaits at Annaghmakerrig: a whole week to myself. And though it is a working week, it will be fantastic to have no distractions; to knuckle down to a steady period of writing. This stay will be interesting. No new collection to redraft or to edit and collate. A variety of focus:  a poetry project with national school children to prepare, a radio brief, and then – only then – more poetry.

But first, to Bellaghy . . .                                                                                                                              … and the overnight stay that had to be abandoned a couple of years ago. Since then, the Home Place has been built, and I’m looking forward to my overnight visit.  The poem ‘Grave Good’, in my collection This Little World was written about my first, flying trip to Bellaghy; made less than a year after Seamus Heaney died.  This time around, I’ll be there just a few days before the fifth anniversary of his death. Hard to believe it’s been five years.

No rest for the wicked.                                                                                                                While I’m up Ulster way, I’ll be reading on Tuesday 28 August at Cavan Library for AT the Edge – hosted by the indefatigable Kate Ennals. There are three AT the Edge sessions this year, so I’m chuffed to have been invited to take part in one of them. Tanya Farrelly and David Butler are motoring up from Bray, Co. Wicklow for the evening, and there’ll be an open mic also. Kick off is at 6.30pm.

If you happen to be in the neighbourhood, drop by!

 

 

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Poetry Month: keeping on keeping on

There’s quite a post waiting to be written about ‘The Year of the Book’.

This time last year, I had just submitted the final MS of This Little World to Doire Press, and was waiting for the first editor/writer discussion. It was an exciting time, and everything was so new. Well, it was my first book, after all!

And the new experiences continue … 

The new year was barely a week old when I received some invitations to take part in readings during the year ahead. In a way, it’s hard to believe that it’s April already.

This week I got news that I’ve been awarded a writer’s residency, I was invited to participate in the Wild Voices Writers Salon readings at Listowel Writers Week, and I was invited to be a part of the special Take Heart edition of spontaneity.com The edition links up with the Take Heart Pop Up Exhibition which takes place in Dublin on 10 May. More details of that here.  Images and signed books will be auctioned, with all proceeds going to the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre. Congrats to Ruth, Angela, and all the organisers of this great event.

For such good news, my thanks go to Co. Offaly Arts Office, Annemarie Ní Churreáin, and Ruth McKee.

Finally – It’s Poetry Month! April 26th is Ireland’s Poetry Day.

On Thursday the 26th, at 4 pm, in Ennis Educational Centre we will announce the winners of the Every Child A Poet Competition – organised and judged by the Poetry Collective. I helped draw up the shortlist, so I’m looking forward to hearing the children read their work. We had an increase in entries from last year. It’s fantastic that the kids engage with poetry, and to see the support that’s given to the competition by their teachers and parents.

Before all that fun, I’ll be reading at the DeValera Library with other members of the Poetry Collective at 11 am. The theme this year is Poetry Without Borders: we will read poems by non-Irish poets, and works we’ve written about places & people encountered abroad.  The lovely people in the Library will supply morning coffee/tea, and everyone is welcome. What we REALLY would like is if you would also bring along a favourite poem to read.

Poets and librarians don’t bite – generally! You would be so welcome.

#Poetry AND #Chocolate for Easter!

Loveens! Are you well?

And poetry lovers – did you have a nice World Poetry Day?

I’ve just been updating d’aul Writer’s CV. It never ends, the administration!

This time last year, I was working like mad on the final drafts of This Little WorldIt’s hard to believe that a year has gone by. And what a wonderful, creative, engaging year it has been!        I’ll write a bit more about that soon.

Sold another book today – always a nice event. There are just ten books remaining here in my literary HQ.  Doire Press have a couple, and there are also copies at the Ennis Bookshop.    Easter is coming up. What could be better than chocolate for Easter?   Poetry AND chocolate! Jus’ sayin’.

So, I’m still scribbling away.  I’ve put up a few reading events on the website; if you can get to any of them, it would be lovely to see you. I’m reading with the Poetry Collective at the DeValera Library in Ennis, next Thursday.  (The Library’s hosting lunchtime readings once a month.)

So, if you’re in Ennis doing the shopping, or just want a break from the office, why not come along and hear a variety of work at 1.00pm on 29 March.

If we don’t see you there – Happy Easter.

Remember … Poetry & Chocolate, Chocolate & Poetry!

‘This Little World’ – Made by the Blarney Chocolate Factory, Blarney, Co. Cork.

 

Putting myself on the Writer’s Block

I was delighted to be interviewed by Sophie Grenham of The Gloss Magazine. The result appeared online this week, and I’ve put up the link below.

It’s lovely to be asked questions about one’s writing. Answering them is another matter! As I said to Sophie, I hope I avoided being a git and actually made some sense. Questions are good, though; like the students in NUI Galway, they made me think a bit more about what I do, and why.

The most daunting question is, What’s Next?

I hope you enjoy the interview.

http://thegloss.ie/writers-block-with-karen-j-mcdonnell/

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

Highfalutin’ in Capital City

Just booked my train tickets to Capital City – and I’m high as a highfalutin’ gal can be!

SO looking forward to joining the rest of the gang for the gig  tomorrow at the Liquor Rooms on Wellington Quay.  It’s organised by the amazing Anne Tannam, so we know that it’s going to be fantastic. Still haven’t finalised what poems I’ll read from This Little World.  There’ll be a few copies for sale, by the way.   The fun kicks off at 7.30pm – so bigí linn!

Now, where did I put my ‘good’ handbag …

 

Ennis Book Club Festival – Launching!

Tomorrow, I’m heading into Ennis to help launch this year’s Ennis Book Club Festival.

Not too long to go now, and the excitement is mounting!

If you’re around the town, drop in to the Temple Gate Hotel at 12.30pm to get the party started. If you can’t join us tomorrow, you can find out all you need to know about the Festival by clicking here.

Time to get some of the work by authors who are visiting Ennis in March, so I’ll also be dropping in to the Ennis Bookshop to spend my Christmas book token. They also have a few copies of my book, This Little World in stock. Ahem.

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

Poetry to get you in a festive mood

Christmas Books
@ Karen J McDonnell

Next weekend I’ll be reading poetry for Christmas, and from This Little World.

Join me at the Ennis Bookshop on Sunday, 10 December. I’ll read a few of my own poems, and some poems I’ve chosen to get us into a festive mood. Dervilla has told me that I’ll be the first person to do a bit of poeting in the shop. I’m chuffed to have been asked.

So – why not get out of the bed a bit earlier and meet your gang for a nice brunch. Take in the Christmas lights and window displays in town. Then meander down to the bookshop for some poetry, and a good browse. You can even get some Christmas shopping done!

Time:   1.30pm, Sunday 10 December.   Venue: The Ennis Bookshop, Abbey Street, Ennis

(I heard a rumour that a box of Celebrations might be opened!)

Go East, Poet, Go East!

And I am.

I’m heading across the Shannon, to Emo Court in Co. Laois, to take part in this lovely festival.

I’ll be reading with Denise Curtin and Paddy Moran, and there’ll be music from Gary Dunne.        Seamus Hosey will be putting manners on us all.  So, if you’re around the Laois area next Saturday, join us at 3pm in the Drawing Room.

Such a treat to be reading in a building as magnificent as Emo Court. Thanks to Muireann Ní Chonaill, Laois Arts Officer, for the invitation, and to the OPW for letting poets run loose in the place!

There’s lots of music over the weekend. There’s poetry on Friday from Jean O’Brien, Helen Ivory & Martin Figura, and on Saturday evening Kevin Barry & Lisa Harding will be chatting to Seán Rocks. You can view the full programme at http://www.laois.ie – Arts Office. Booking is on http://www.dunmaise.ie – Dunmaise Arts Centre, Portlaoise.

YEATS! SOLD!!

Willy from George
© Sothebys

As I type, the Yeats Family Collection is being sold in Sothebys in London.

I was happy to be one of the signatories to Adrian Paterson’s letter to our Arts Minister, requesting that the State do something to keep the collection – or some of  it – in the country. Poetry Ireland was going over to London to bid for Yeats’s writing chair and desk. They’ve sold for much more than the estimates – so I’m not sure that they will be coming back to Ireland.

What is interesting is that the Olivia Shakespear letters failed to sell.  Will any of the Irish cultural institutions now step in and buy them, supported by the State … or by someone of a philanthropic nature?

Just as well I’m broke and can’t attend auctions.  I love ’em. I could do serious damage.

As it is, I got a bit carried away and leapt into action – even as the auction began. I rang Sothebys, got instructions, and emailed an absentee bid for a little silver box (photo above). It was a gift to WB from his wife, George.  Guiding £100-120, it sold for £3000.

Ah well.

Now, about those Persian tiles that failed to sell …

Culture Night & Che Guevara

A great weekend, altogether.

Last Friday was Culture Night in Ireland – and the goodies on offer were only legion!                       My contribution was reading poetry in two different parts of Clare.

Firstly the Clare Poetry Collective linked up for a reading in the Library in Ennis, with contributions from the floor, including Michéal FitzGearailt – a young man from whom we hope to hear more.

Then it was zoom! off in Might Aphrodite the Blue Polo, back to North Clare and the Salmon Bookshop & Literary Centre in Ennistymon. I joined Eleanor Cummins at 7pm for round two. The shop was cosy with rugs, and lovely lights, and the audience was warm and receptive. Everyone first said what their favourite poem was. Then Eleanor and I read some poems. Thanks Ellie, for having me over and, ‘Get Well Soon, Jessie!

Saturday saw me back in the car, motoring down along the coast to Kilkee. The Clare Poetry Collective had a gig at the Che Do Bheatha Festival.  Is it not the best name for a festival that you’ve ever heard?

Well, Irish people will get it.

Che mural , Kilkee
© Karen J McDonnell

The rain stayed away until we got into the Sweeney Library – which was fine with us.  We read turn and turn about, with contributions from the audience.  Thanks to Anne at the Library for delaying closing up until the last Che-themed poem was read! We really enjoyed ourselves, and it was lovely to meet up with friends from out Moyasta way.  A well-deserved chowder and brown bread in Bay View; where I stayed as a tiny tot with Grannie  (now changed, changed utterly!).  Then it was home again to the Burren.

All in all, a stimulating weekend. And lovely to be invited to participate. Thanks, lads.