Another week in paradise

TGC Oct 2021

Well, who wouldn’t consider this an offshoot of Paradise? Especially when the view from the desk is this –

TGC Oct 2021 view from John Jordan room TGC Oct 2021 ready to work

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. 

TGC Oct 2021 Linen list

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’!

Poems are hard Oct 2021

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. 

TGC Oct 2021 downtime

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!

A Residency in a Writer’s Paradise

NEWSFLASH!

It’s official now, so I can say that I’m delighted and grateful to have been awarded a 2020 Tyrone Guthrie Bursary from Clare County Council/Clare Arts Office.

See the source image

This bursary is especially sweet this year as COVID 19 meant that plans I had made to go to Annaghmakerrig in April had to be abandoned – as was the workshop that would have provided some of the means of paying for my stay!

At the time of writing, the Tyrone Guthrie Centre is still closed, so I’ll have to wait a while longer before I head back up to ‘Paradise’ in the drumlins of Co. Monaghan. It’s lovely to have that to look forward to; to have something to work towards. Right now, I’m researching and drafting work for my next collection of poetry: a response to the magnificent collections held by the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin.

By the time I get to use my residency there should be a body of work to redraft and edit.

HUP!

See the source image

Photo: The Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, Ireland.

 

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.