Writers’ Christmas Party in Capital City

. . . at least that’s what I’m calling it!

I’m off to Capital City in the morning to take part in this rather fab Christmas Staccato session. And I’m look forward to sitting back and listening to others as much as having the chance to read some of my own work.

I may bring along a Christmassy poem by someone else . . .

If you’re in town tomorrow, come along to Toner’s in Baggot Street. This promises to be a mighty evening!

Mine’s a hot port; I’m fighting the dreaded lurgy.

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Another Month, Another Adventure!

I’m looking forward to meeting up with friends and connecting with writers this weekend, at the Wexford Literary Festival.

I’ll be reading from my collection This Little World in one of the New Voices slots on Saturday afternoon, at the Riverside Hotel in Enniscorthy.

There are some fab events, for readers and writers alike.  You can check out the whole programme by clicking here.

The trip ‘East’ is also giving me a chance to stay with a dear friend. So, after ‘work’ there’ll be time for a nice meal, drinkies, and a catch-up!

Books, poetry, writing, and friends.

What more could a gal ask for?

 

Culture Night 2018 – What made me a reader

Delighted to be taking part in this event, which is being hosted by the mighty Sarah Clancy.

Culture Night – ‘The Book that Made Me A Reader’

Venue: DeValera Library, Harmony Row, Ennis, Co. Clare.  At  6.30pm  Friday, 21 September.

And what book have I picked? An impossible choice, as I’m sure you will agree.                                At first I took the idea a bit too literally – as is my wont.  A kids comic, read aged four, isn’t going to hack it. Enid Blyton and the Chalet School books are all a bit obvious. When I’d got through all those and my brothers books, my mother pointed in the direction of her Agatha Christies on the bookshelf in the sitting room.  No wonder I was such a ghoulish teenager! But, though my car is called Agatha in honour of the same lady … no, Poirot and Marple aren’t the people for this gig.

So, what have I chosen? As you probably can’t come along to the session in Ennis library, I’ll let you in on the secret.  Walter Macken. As the bored child with nothing to read, I was given these Mackens by my darling Grannie. And I couldn’t stop reading his books. I devoured all of my grandmother’s copies, eventually buying more myself. I was still a young teenager.

And for afters? Zola. My father gave me ‘Earth’ (La Terre), when I was about fifteen. My love affair with Zola didn’t diminish. I even ended up buying the whole Rougon Macquart series a few years ago – in French!  There they were, in the front window of Scéal Eile – the gorgeous independent bookshop in Ennis. ALL of them. Calling to me.  So I bought them.

The list goes on and on and on and on and on and …

Reader, I’m a fool for a good book.

What about you?

 

Seamus Heaney – a home visit

Here at the Tyrone Centre, the work continues apace: new poems have been drafted; research and notes are ongoing for a radio segment; and, if you’re interested, Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words are on the iPod.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today, a short break in the work to give you a link to an article I had published today in the online issue of the Irish Times – marking the fifth anniversary of the death of Seamus Heaney:

https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/five-years-on-remembering-seamus-heaney-remembering-loss-1.3612408

I visited Bellaghy at the weekend, staying in a lovely B&B – Dew Hamill. I’d recommend it to you as a lovely place to base yourself if you want to visit the Seamus Heaney Home Place, the local area, and nearby Lough Neagh.

After a lovely brekkie and chat with Margaret & Patrick, I drove to Heaney’s grave to pay my respects. I brought another shell from the Flaggy Shore.

It was the first time that I’d been there since the Home Place was built. I’ll write more about that visit another time.

Reader, I made a show of myself! Tears all ’round. But, a wonderful experience.

Whatever you do today, if you love poetry seek out recordings of Heaney reading his work.

The best way to remember him.

Two Seamuses – photo taken at the Home Place – Karen J McDonnell

 

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!

 

 

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