Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Once Upon a Place

For the children in all of us, Once Upon a Place is a must read. Launched last Monday in Iveagh House, Stephen's Green I was so honoured to be there and to be part of the anthology. With its synergistic blend of outstanding poets and short fiction writers, stunning artwork by PJ Lynch and the publishing expertise of Little Island, it is definitely greater than the sum of its part and can only be a winner. 

The brain child of Eoin Colfer, Laureate na nÓg, in his introduction he writes that ‘ with every word you read you will be transported to various places around Ireland where magic is as warm and golden as the summer sun.’ And he’s not making it up.

There are magical stories and poems of place by Eoin himself. Derek Landy. John Connolly, Seamus Cashman, Siobhán Parkinson, Marie Louise Fitzpatrick, Sarah Webb, Enda Wyley, Pat Boran,Mark Granier, Roddy Doyle, Paula Leyden, Oisín McGann, Jane Mitchell, Kate Newman, Jim Sheridan and there I am  plonked in the middle of such illustrious company.    
As if that wasn’t enough, when I climbed the very fancy stairs of Iveagh House not only did I have the pleasure of meeting, Eoin, PJ Lynch and his son Sam, but PJs illustration of my poem ‘Snail Pals’ was framed for all to see alongside Kate Newman’s’ How to Feed a Stranger’s Donkey’.
I have no doubt but we all suffered from a most welcome writer's cramp as we sat conveyor-belt style and signed for all we were worth.

Thank you to all who were involved in the creation of this beautiful book, all at Laureate na Óg, Children’s Books Ireland, Little Island and Poetry Ireland. An anytime present for young and old.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Reading with John Banville and Orflaith Foyle at Westport Arts Festival

What a highlight of the year it was for me to read at the Westport Arts Festival last Saturday with fellow writer, Orflaith Foyle, and  Man Booker prizewinner, John Banville. It has been a while since I have read with Orflaith so it was a real treat to hear her poetry again, and listen to her stories of where she has lived throughout her life so beautifully told in the poem: And Where Else?
Sometimes we were mistaken for Canadians
And because we replied  Australian
We seemed to make sense.
School friends demanded why we weren't black
Since we came from Africa too.
And where else?

Some years ago I heard John Banville say that he regards the sentence as the greatest invention of human kind. It is not the characters who have the power. It is the language that has the power. Listening to him read from his stunning new novel The Blue Guitar certainly proves that he is the master of the perfect sentence. The final scene from which he read was powerful in its tenderness and beauty.

And what a lovely dinner we all had together afterwards with John and his wife, Janet, Orflaith, Ger Reidy,  Westport poet,short story writer and committee member, Alan Hayes of Arlen House and Colette Nic Aodha.

Thanks to all of the committee for inviting me, and for looking after us so well. A special thanks to Bláth of the High Street B&B where we had the most delicious and interesting breakfast while listening to Maeve Edwards reading her pitch-perfect piece about being a Skype Granny, on Sunday Miscellany.