Well, who wouldn’t consider this an offshoot of Paradise? Especially when the view from the desk is this –
That was me six days ago, the desk all set up for a week’s work at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig, Co. Monaghan. Previous visitors to this website/blog will know how much I love this place, and the people who work here. This stay was a long time coming. I was lucky to have received the 2020 Tyrone Guthrie bursary from Clare Co. Council & Arts Office. COVID delayed my arrival by a year. It has also placed a great deal of extra work on the staff here, who are going above and beyond the call of duty to keep the ‘creatives’ safe.
This time I’m in the John Jordan room, and I like it very much. I especially like the wee artefacts in the room that once belonged to the Guthrie family, or have been found in the actual fabric of the house – such as this linen inventory that was stuck to a panel of a door.
I’ve just realised that I haven’t had a good snoop at the bookcase yet. Time to do that after my last dinner this evening. Yes, tomorrow it will be time to leave. And before I shut down the laptop and head downstairs to join my fellow writers, an artist and a musician, it’s a good idea to think about the work.
It was a mixed bag this time around: reading around my next project/new collection, researching and drafting some radio essays and a long poem that I’m working on, and finally a review of neglected drafts in an older notebook. I’m happy that I got through the daily lists I set myself. Today was the toughest: some of those earlier poems were drafted in grief; waiting to be reviewed and reworked. Lying in wait to ambush me. I worked through five poems today and, while they may not be at the final stage, they are certainly in a lot better state than they were this morning.
I keep this old birthday card with my notebooks to remind me of the age-old truth: ‘poems are hard’!
Apart from the focus that time at Annaghmakerrig allows me to give to my writing, the fact that there’s no TV and that I don’t have Netflix on the laptop means that evenings are given over to reading and actively listening to music on my iPod. I finished Jhumpa Lahiri’s Whereabouts at the weekend, and I’m now reading Shadowplay by Joseph O’Connor. It’s a novel about Bram Stoker and his relationships with Henry Irving and Ellen Terry. In a previous life, I had to research that era in theatre history: the days of melodramas, Shakespeare, and the well-made play. I still own an old biography of Ellen Terry. With the evenings drawing in and the leaves turning, it’s a good time of year to be reading about lime-lit theatres & Victorian London.
Annaghmakerrig – where you learn to balance work & time out. A writer’s paradise – where you’re greeted like an old friend & you make new friends.
Grateful doesn’t begin to describe how I feel this evening.
P.S. Having arrived with two recent rejections under my belt, I leave with a bit of good news. More about that in a wee while!