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.

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Clifden Arts Festival – let’s be havin’ ya!

Photo © Clifden Arts Festival

 

The B&B has been organised, the snacks are being stockpiled, and the reading list is nearly complete!         CLIFDEN – Let’s be havin’ Ya!

On Wednesday 13 September 2017  I’ll be taking part in the Doire Press Readings – with writer Martin Malone   [click here for full details]

Venue: Clifden Library             Time: 4.00pm

I’ll be reading poems from This Little World  (Doire Press, 2017), and Martin will be reading fiction – I think!

If I’m lucky, I might get to meet Michael D. as he’s opening the Festival later in the evening. (We’re fierce casual with our President in this country!)

If you know anyone in Connemara who would like to come along … please pass along the details. Hell, come along and bring the clan with ya!

Major thanks to Brendan Flynn, and all the team, for the invitation. My first Clifden Arts Festival – and I get to read at it.

I’m a lucky woman.

 

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.

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.

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.

Our Mike

The great, the good, and the former students are gathered in NUI Galway this stormy evening.

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All to pay tribute to writer Mike McCormack. 20170222_190149

I was lucky to have Mike as a teacher a few years ago. Tonight some of his former students will read along with him.

Mike, comhghairdeas, g’wan you good thing ya!

– A fan.

 

 

A Reading According to the Poets

I’m really looking forward to tomorrow evening – 3rd February.

I’ll be reading at the Record Break Café in Ennis at the monthly poetry slot.

This time, I’m delighted to be joined by Limerick poet & playwright Mary Coll, who will be reading from her new collection, Silver. Join us for what promises to be a great evening. (We might even get a word or two of fiction out of Helena Close who is travelling from Limerick as well!)

Door open at 7.30pm with poetry is from 8-9pm, followed by music from Pele, a local musician – and a pal of my sister as it happens!

And remember, Sinéad makes great coffee & lovely treats!

FINALLY –  My poem ‘The High Road’ will be published this month in The Honest Ulsterman. It’s my first time being published in that fine journal so, thanks Greg!

Reading #Herstory

Saturday 7 January 2017

I’d a great day in Galway at the #Herstory Nollaig na mBan Open Mic.

The Open Mic © Karen J McDonnell
The Open Mic
© Karen J McDonnell

The event was hosted at the Cornstore by Galway2020 who not only provided a great – still festive – space, but also coffee, biccies and buns. Thanks, Nollaig and the gang!

Every one had 3 minutes to read, and was asked to sign off with ‘This is/was _____ and this is Herstory.”

Celeste Augé reads, as MC Susan listens
Celeste Augé reads, as MC Susan listens

Susan Millar DuMars was the MC, and led off the readings. I was called up next. EEEK! But, I guess someone has to go first. Right up to the time I’d to leave the house, I was dithering about what poem to read. I had a few to choose from – having written a whole song cycle about women on the edges of History, some years ago. And there are a couple of new poems in The Notebook!  In the end, I did pick one of ‘my girls’: a poem about my great-grandmother, Lucy May (Louie) Fitzell.

Themes ranged from the woman at home during WW1,  poems interlocking the lives of mothers and their daughters, of a mother- and daughter-in-law, of an anonymous woman handing over her baby at the Tuam mother and baby home. Gráinne Mhaol got great treatment in an animated recitation by Pat McArdle. Pat is a man, by the way …. for yes, men were welcome to take part, and did! Margaretta D’arcy spoke to us about Louie Bennett – a mighty woman not served well by historians, or the State. We also heard excerpts from works in progress – including the ‘delights’ of working for a boss from hell in New York!

Lelia Doolan tells Herstory
Lelia Doolan tells Herstory

All in all, a lively way to spend a drizzly beginning to 2017. I got to meet up with two writing buddies, and heard engaging, diverse work. As Susan said, It would be wonderful if this could become an annual event.  TG4 filmed proceedings for the Róisín show, which goes out on Wednesdays at 8.30pm.  Róisín was there too, and she seemed to enjoy herself!

Thanks, Herstory Galway, for including me in! Go mbeirimíd beo …

Epilogue: Of course, being in the Cornstore, I just HAD to drop in to Charlie Byrne’s for a browse. I picked up some interesting travel books – including the letters of Gertrude Bell. The best thing was, I still have credit on my account with them and didn’t even have to open my purse. Yippee!

 

 

 

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

The night before Christmas, and it’s been a busy couple of weeks here on Ireland’s west coast – as no doubt it’s been for you.

As I said to someone recently: If every one in the family is in the right place, at the right table, healthy and able to enjoy the Christmas meal – really that’s all that matters.

So, at a time of stress for many – but also one of affection, fun, and gathering – please take time out for yourself.  Enjoy this wonderful reading by Dylan Thomas of his Child’s Christmas in Wales. 

I’ve run out of time to write the usual pre-Christmas blog post. But, you know what? It can wait.

HAPPY CHRISTMAS, every one.