A few weeks ago, I was asked by Clare County Library would I give a poetry workshop based around the book Wonder by RJ Palacio. Halimah, a teacher from Ennistymon Vocational School, had approached them with the request.
At first, I was hesitant: writing poetry around another book? Would that be restrictive? How to cram a workshop around a few hundred pages when I’ve only got 90 minutes to do so? And I don’t have children. Wonder had slipped under my radar. I watched an interview with the author on youtube.
I told Dolores in the library service that I’d develop something around several themes, especially that of bullying. [Coincidentally, this week the call-in show on our national radio station is full of adults talking about bullying: their own or their children’s; even now-grown-up bullies who have sought out their childhood victims to apologise. These discussions and stories are happening while their children are in school.]
The other thing I said was that the children would have to have read the whole book!
Well, I needn’t have worried on that score. I soon learned from a Facebook post by Banner Books in Ennistymon that this was very much a community read. A ‘One Book, One Community’ project in fact.
The One Book, One Community has a programme of events around Wonder:
Readings with local primary schools
Poster competition with local primary schools
Ennistymon Vocational School afternoon tea book club on 13 November at the Falls Hotel & Spa
EVS Poetry workshop on 14 November [That would be me, I guess!]
EVS Coffee morning on 19 November
Wonder film showing at the Falls Hotel on 22 November to round off the whole project.
AND SO … tomorrow I head to Ennistymon to give two workshops to over forty First Years from Ennistymon Vocational School. It’s a couple of firsts for me: my first secondary-school poetry workshops, and the first time that I’ve specifically designed a workshop around a theme – let alone another genre of writing!
Thanks, Ennistymon and thanks, Clare County Library Service. It’s good to be pushed beyond our comfort zones. That’s today’s precept. I’m sure Auggie would approve.
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.
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 Worldwas 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!
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 World. It’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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
I’d a great day in Galway at the #Herstory Nollaig na mBan Open Mic.
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.”
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!
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!