It’s always there, the admin. I’ve managed to load up all the photos from my phone and now was seems to be an everlasting task of sorting them is going on. That includes research and poetry events/publicity photos. Never. Ending.
It has been an interesting few months in terms of where the work is going. The last of the research trips to Dublin that were funded by the Arts Council of Ireland Agility Award took place in October. It coincided with the opening of a new exhibition at the Chester Beatty about early papyrii and texts. The First Fragments exhibition is still running and you can find more details here. The then head curator Kristine Rose-Beers took me on a tour, and then she and her colleagues welcomed me to their conservation room. Kristine has moved to a new position with Cambridge University. I’m so grateful to her for her hospitality at a busy time in the museum, and I wish her all the best with the new job. The conservation room visit ,in itself, has yielded a new poem!
I also revisited the Art of the Book gallery, which hosts a variety of treasures: old tablets and a stylus, Japanese and Chinese scrolls, early and mediaeval books, Durer prints, along with other 18th and 19th century prints, and many books. I have taken a LOT of photos as part of my research – purely to keep my memory working. There was time at the Silk Road Café – as always! – to take a break and make some immediate notes. Probably a third of the poetry collection has been sketched out; between my notes, photos and the online lectures from the Chester Beatty I have definitely enough material to see me through.
Last autumn also saw the publication of Vital Signs, Poems of Illness and Healing, edited by Martin Dyar, and published by Poetry Ireland. It is the first time a poem of mine has been anthologised without my having submitted it, and I was chuffed to bits – especially when I saw the company I was keeping!
It’s a wonderful volume, and would make a great gift. There’s a fine selection of modern Irish poets and also poems from other countries and eras. Thanks to Martin for including my poem ‘My Grandfather Battles Death’, from my first collection This Little World. I travelled up for the launch in Dublin at Books Upstairs, and took part in a featured reading from the anthology in February this year at the University of Limerick with poets Victoria Kennefick, Eoin Devereux, writer Donal Ryan, and Martin Dyar. It was a lovely event, ably hosted by Eoin and supported by Liz Kelly, the director of Poetry Ireland.
The new year started in an interesting way. But that’s another story!
Editor, Martin Dyar, speaking at the launch of Vital Signs