And the craic was good …

Last winter I was awarded an Agility Award by the Arts Council of Ireland, which is helping me to research and make early drafts of my next poetry collection. I’m incredibly grateful as I wouldn’t have had the cash needed to fund what I hope to do: three short research stays in Dublin and two writing residencies over the coming year.

Surgery meant a delayed start to those plans, although I’ve been able to do online research and attend online lectures hosted by the Chester Beatty in Dublin – the subject of this project.

So, last week found me in Co Down in Northern Ireland, at the River Mill near Downpatrick. As I’ve discovered with other writing retreats, the best laid plans can often change once one gets one’s feet under the desk! I had an idea that I would work on a sequence for the book. Instead, I spent time putting online research in order – something that may appear to be procrastination, but it’s essential for accessing stuff easily. I created new work, possibly got another working title, and from that a new poem that (right now) I want to be the last poem in the book. This is a project where I want to stretch myself more; to be more fearless in how I approach shaping the ideas. I hope that I’ve begun that process in the past few days.

Looking forward to visiting the Meeting in Isfahan exhibition at the Chester Beatty later in the summer.
(c) Karen J McDonnell
Cosy bed and a lovely desk. I’ve asked Paul, who owns the River Mill, to give me first dibs if he’s ever getting rid of it!

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‘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.