Ash Wednesday: The Reading

006

 

00310 weeks of poems, blog posts and dinners came to a wonderful and glorious conclusion last Wednesday at the Ranelagh Arts Centre.  Ash Wednesday – a day for religion and a day for sport (apparently there was a clash of Champions’ League titans – Man U (ah Rooney, still the bane of my existence, all these years later) and Real Madrid (ah Ronaldo – always second best, even in lists of my banes) – was also a day for poetry.

The Ash Wednesday Poetry Series culminated with a wonderful reading at the Ranelagh Arts Centre.  Surrounded by flowers, all of them roses (consistency is a fine thing where flowers are concerned), candles (most of which hung off a cloths horse – next to “Donuts in a Can”, that has got to be the best idea I’ve ever had), and pictures of roasted pork shoulder, the poets featured in the series gave beautiful readings of their work to the sold out (ahem…that’s right – SOLD OOUT!) audience.    Poetry is just as Leonard Cohen says it is, and all the poems performed on the night proved that it is indeed full of ash –  each poet, flesh and blood evidence of lives burning well.

I would like to extend my gratitude to each of the poets – Laura Cleary, Andre K’Por, John003 Cummins, Patrick Chapman, Kerrie O’Brien, Sarah Maria Griffin, Gabriel Rosenstock, Stephen James Smith, Colm Keegan, and Anne Tannam –  for filling a bare chalkboard with their poems, and for indulging my questions about coffee ceremonies, poem-making, and Dublin smells with really wonderful and charming answers.  Special thanks to Davy Lyons who gave the evening an added grace with his songs and Leonard Cohen covers.  Gratitude and thanks also to Terry Connaughton and everyone at the Ranelagh Arts Centre for offering up that lovely room in the Ranelagh Arts Centre for the reading.   To Daniel Ryan for helping me make the room a lovely space to read and hear poetry in.  And finally, to Nick (at Nick’s Coffee Company) for the chalkboard, and the chalk – a wonderful support throughout the full undertaking of this project.  Please come and have a cup of his coffee – I’ve said it before, but I will say it again:  it is the longest relationship I’ve had with anything since moving to Dublin, and it continues to be one of the happiest, day in, day out.

032

 

042

 

052

068

 

082

095

109

114

116

119

130*

Metaphorically speaking, burning well is a lovely state to be in.   So to keep all that lovely glow and heat going, the Ash Sessions will return to Nick’s Coffee Company on March 10th – details about this event will be up shortly.  In addition, a call for submissions for the next Ash series (which will be all about poems and coffee cups, for those that love poems and coffee cups) will also be launched in the coming weeks.  More details on this project will be shared during the Ash Sessions event on the 10th.  Hope to see you all there.  It will be a glorious afternoon of music, poems…and pork.

Endnotes:

I would be remiss if I did not give a small bit of my gratitude to whoever it was that invented the clothshorse.  Seriously one of the best ideas of I’ve had – ambiance to the power of 100, if I do say so myself.

012

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ash Wednesday Dinner: For the Love of Poetry and Pork

There are few things in life as good as poetry and pork.  Oh – and coffee.  And the kindness of people who own coffee kiosks.   And you can quote me on that.   You can also quote me on this:   Life is full of happy little accidents.  And, when food and words are involved, those little accidents go from happy to full-on exuberant and joyful.

untitled (50 of 66)

I

untitled (11 of 66)Sometime last Fall, I went off to Nick’s, to get my first coffee of the day.  Anyone who’s read this blog in the past knows that I am nothing but a complete romantic when it comes to the coffee there.  I had with me an issue of a literary magazine in which I’d gotten one of my poems published.  It had just arrived, and I wanted to share the joy of it with someone.  As luck would have it, Nick himself was there in the kiosk that morning.   I told him about my poem and he asked to see it.  It’s the longest poem I’ve written so I didn’t expect him to actually read the whole thing .  Going on past experiences of showing poems to people, even the one-pagers don’t seem to excite them enough to get a full read-through.  But read it through he did – all 4 pages of it.  Once he was done, he pointed to the big chalkboard outside  the kiosk and said:

“It’s yours.  To write any poem on it you want”.

And that’s what I did.  For about a month, I would climb up (a couple of times a week) on auntitled (3 of 66) wooden table and I would write a poem.   It made me feel good – great in fact to know that it was there – for people to read as they came in to get their coffee, or their tea.   I’d walk by the kiosk, look at the chalkboard and feel…well, happy.  I cannot say enough about Nick’s (the kiosk), or Nick himself for the kindness extending in letting me share my work in this way.   The simple act of offering up that chalkboard (for poetry of all things!) was as unselfish and open a thing, as anything I’ve experienced while living in Dublin. It moved me to be just as unselfish and just as open.

I thought about how best to use this space – for the good of poetry, and the love of excellent coffee.  And that is when I thought about Leonard Cohen (of whom I make no small shyness about adoring, fully and completely).  He said that ‘poetry is the evidence of life.  If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash”.  The ash.   For being here over a year, I’ve met many wonderful poets, all of them burning well, all of them making heaps and mounds of poetic ash.   The kind of ash that belongs on a big chalkboard.   In a coffee kiosk.  In the middle of Ranelagh.    And that is how the “Ash Wednesday Poetry  Series” was born.

014

To check out the full series – https://ashwednesdayseries.wordpress.com/

II

untitled (14 of 66)

Someone sent me a message the other day to ask me what the Ash Wednesday Series was.   I began with the basics – that it’s a

“public arts display put on by the Ranelagh Arts Centre, in partnership with Nick’s Coffee Company, with the aim of bringing poetry to the streets of Ranelagh Village.   Running between November 2012 and January 2013, the 10-week series has highlighted some of Dublin’s best up-coming and established contemporary poets, in both English and Irish”.

Which is true.  It is (or was – the final poem went up last week).  There is/was also a bloguntitled (22 of 66) that included a small Q&A with all the poets, as well as photos and video (in most cases) of each poet reciting their work.  It was wonderful to see each poem up on the board, and I was excited to read the answers to the questions I had asked them  (my favourite, both to ask and to see the response for was the one relating to what each of them thought Dublin smelled like – the answers to this question alone would make me curious enough to want to come and visit, were I not here already).   The poets themselves were chosen because they, in ways big and small, represent my first year in Dublin.  I remember the first meetings with each one of them – where I was, and in some cases, the first poems I heard them recite.  Collectively, they represent everything I wanted to find when I came to Dublin to write – and, they also make the case for staying, because they each contribute something to being a writer in Dublin, to the literary scene – each one of them makes it  vibrate.

What I couldn’t capture in the blog was something I shared with the person who asked me about the series, and, in sharing it I realized that it was as important to me as the series itself. Life is full of happy accidents – and in this case, what pushed this happy accident into the realm of the exuberant and joyful was simple:  it was the act of going beyond the chalkboard, to the intimacy of the kitchen table.

III

untitled (41 of 56)The greatest pleasure in life is to sit and share food with someone.  It is kind, and it is intimate – it is an open hand, extended in offering.  All one needs in life to feel full is good food and wonderful company.  And so it was, that after every poet had written their poem in chalk that they were invited back to my home for a meal.  It was a way for me to say thank you, for their participation in the series, but it was also  a way to take some time, share some space and see what things would come, from sitting at a kitchen table together.

I won’t go into the details of all the things discussed (some things are sacred, and a kitchen table full of food and kind company is a holy space indeed), but each of them could not contain themselves when it came to talking about poetry and writing – the need to communicate and share something with someone, with everyone.   It was sweet, and inspiring, to hear each one speak in such a loving way about creativity and art.   They were open and honest.  The meals that were shared were some of my favourite meals in all my time in Dublin.

untitled (28 of 66)

I have always loved what happens around a kitchen table – but, I never expected it to happen as good as it did, week after week, for the ten weeks that was the Ash Wednesday Poetry Series.  And because there aren’t enough words to express my thanks to all the poets who gave their time and their creativity to make the Ash Wednesday Poetry Series such a wonderful success…I did the next best thing:  I invited them all to a dinner this past Saturday.

IV

untitled (2 of 66)As one of the poets (ah hell, I’ll name names – it was the alliterationally-inclined Colm Keegan) referred to it , the ‘Pork and Poetry Convention’ took place behind the blue door of The Mews this past Saturday.  All of the poets, bar two who were in transit (one flying back from England, and the other from India), and one who lives in San Francisco, came along for a night of feasting.   And feast we did.  I repeated a few of my favourite dishes that were cooked for the one-on-one dinners, including mussels with chorizo in white wine and tomato sauce, and roasted pork shoulder whose crackling was so good, they should change the spelling to craic-ling (apologies for that groan-worthy word-play).   The wine flowed, and the conversation filled the space – and it was a lovely evening of poets and pork.   I invited a photographer along, and all the photos from that evening that you see in this post were his.  Not only does he have a beautiful eye, but he has a way with words as well.  And so it is that I will leave him with the last word regarding the pork shoulder:  “..it’s the way it falls apart when you look just at it”.untitled (47 of 66)

It was, by all accounts, a very special evening – and, if you didn’t agree with me before, I hope you’d be slightly more hard-pressed  than to argue now about my introductory assertion that there are few things in life as good as poetry and pork.  Because, quite simply, there aren’t.

V

With the series done, the dinner consumed and all the wine drunk, there’s only one thing left to do – hold a reading of all the poets showcased during the series.  And, with the wonderful support of the Ranelagh Arts Centre, that is exactly what is going to be done.  All of the poets will be there:  Laura Cleary; Andre K’Por (who, now that I think of it deserves much of the credit for me cooking all those dinners – we bonded over the love of Leonard Cohen’s “Avalanche”); John Cummings (his was the dinner at which the first pork shoulder was consumed); Patrick Chapman; Kerrie O’Brien; Gabriel Rosenstock; Stephen James Smith (I cooked a meatloaf for him – the next day, the horse DNA scandal hit the front pages); Colm Keegan; and Anne Tannam.   Music will be provided by Davy Lyons (he’s got duende for marrow), and there will be a wine reception (3 euro/glass) prior to the event.  Doors will open at 6, and the readings will commence at 7.

Yes – life is full of happy accidents.  On February 13th, take it to full-on exuberant and joyful by coming along to the Ranelagh Arts Centre for the love of poetry…from a chalkboard to the kitchen table,  it’s all an open hand, extended in offering.

untitled (66 of 66)

Endnotes:

  1. Anto Kane is responsible for all the beautiful photographs of the Ash Wednesday dinner.  Check out more at: https://www.facebook.com/#!/AntoKanePhotography?fref=ts
  2. The chalkboard will not be bare for long.  The mind turns for the artistic idea.  Keep the eyes peeled for more poems…and other wonderful things at Nick’s.
  3. She watched over us, leopard-skin outfit and all:

untitled (10 of 66)

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ash Wednesday Poetry Series – Anne Tannam: From the Origins of the Universe

039

“As a poet, a completed poem says just what I needed to say, not a syllable more or less. As a reader, a poem is an invitation to visit another’s world and return transformed by the encounter”.

*

The Ash Wednesday Series takes its name from the following Leonard Cohen quotation:  “Poetry is just the evidence of life.  If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash”.  As a writer, does this ring true for you?

Yes, it does. I take ‘burning well’ to mean inhabiting each day, each experience fully and no matter how good a poem you write, it is no substitute for the real thing. Having said that, just as the living informs the writing, the process of writing, as a lived experience, sparks the flame higher and higher.

What makes a poem?

A poem is a mini, self- contained universe, ready to be explored. As a poet, a completed poem says just what I needed to say, not a syllable more or less. As a reader, a poem is an invitation to visit another’s world and return transformed by the encounter.

011

014

Describe your writing ritual.

Writing early in the morning works for me, before the day takes over and my brain becomes too cluttered. If I am working on a specific poem, I can come back to it later in the day but new writing takes a quiet mind. If I get stuck, which I frequently do, I write non-stop for twenty minutes, without worrying about quality or coherence and then I travel back over the words and see if anything jumps out at me. Even a small phrase can start the ball rolling again.

Is writing a compulsion, obsession or something else?

I only began writing in my forties so I lived for years without the company of my own words. Now I cannot imagine living without them. I can only liken it to the before and after of having children. My life is enriched in a way I never thought possible. The words forming on the page are a gift. Of course, writing is also commitment and discipline and faithfully turning up to the page, even when the rest of your life is demanding your attention.

023

What makes being a writer in Dublin unique (to being a writer anywhere else)?

I have never been a writer anywhere else so I am not qualified to say what makes being a writer in Dublin is unique. What I can say is being a writer in Dublin means belonging to a tribe of like- minded people, means heading into town on your own of a night knowing conversation and company are waiting for you in any number of establishments. Being a writer in Dublin gives you the keys to the city.

The nose provides a way for understanding the world and its first impressions.  The first smells of people and places, for whatever the nose chooses to capture can become a strong memory for the mind.  Smells have a way of lingering, taking up space as though they were bodies.  What does Dublin smell like to you?

The smell of Dublin is as intimate to me as the smell of my own skin. I am only conscious of how Dublin smells when I have been away or it has just rained and I am out walking; then she smells of concrete and undergrowth and bins needing collection.

028

016

Whose poems are you reading now?

I am reading Jenni Doherty’s ‘Spill Rain’ and some poems from The Penny Dreadful.

032018

Describe your coffee ceremony (i.e. everything that goes into a perfect coffee experience)

I don’t drink coffee (the reader gasps in horror!) but I can describe my hot chocolate ceremony. It has to be very hot and very sweet, made with milk and of course, real chocolate. No cream but lashings of small marshmallows on the side so that after I admire the perfection of the heart shaped swirl and sprinkle of chocolate on top, I can pop them in, one by one and then the real fun begins.

A video of Anne reciting her poem can be found here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZp9F7G-7Cg&feature=youtu.be

*

Anne’s first poetry collection ‘Take This Life’ was published in 2011. Her work has also appeared in literary magazines in Ireland and abroad. A regular spoken word performer in her own right, she is also a member of Word Jungle. Anne co-runs the weekly Dublin Writers’ Forum.  For more on Anne, please visit:  http://www.annetannam.com/

036

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ash Wednesday Poetry Series – Colm Keegan: Untitled

004

“With poetry, I get a feeling akin to nostalgia, something I feel in the solar plexus anyway, an internal itch, or urge that has to be attended to. I either write as I feel that or take a note and try and rekindle that feeling again later on”.

“If Ireland was in the mafia, we’d all be Donnie Brasco”.

*

The Ash Wednesday Series takes its name from the following Leonard Cohen quotation: “Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash”. As a writer, does this ring true for you?

Yep. The key word in that statement being ‘just’. It’s just the ash. A normal consequence of having a life.

What makes a poem?

Experience, first and foremost, I think. When you’re out of experiences, you’re out of poems. So you have a responsibly to create new experiences for yourself.

Describe your writing ritual.

I usually don the smoking jacket, pour myself a cognac and retire to my study around 8pm where I write until midnight. That’s what I wish it was. But in reality I have two routines, if I’m working on fiction I get up around 5.30 or 6am and write during the only few quiet hours in my house, before I go to work. For poetry it’s a little different. With poetry I get a feeling akin to nostalgia, something I feel in the solar plexus anyway, an internal itch, or urge that has to be attended to. I either write as I feel that or take a note and try and rekindle that feeling again later on.

Is writing a compulsion, obsession or something else?

It’s some peoples way of making sense of things. It works for me. I wish it was an obsession. I know some obsessed artists, it’s like they can’t stop even when they want to, I envy that.

006

What makes being a writer in Dublin unique (to being a writer anywhere else)?

I’m not sure about what makes it unique but what makes it special to me is that in Ireland we’re all a few steps from grabbing people in authority by the scruff and taking over their job. If we see a hierarchy we simultaneously begrudge it and undermine it. I think this quality makes for a nice open and welcoming literary scene. For everybody trying to ring-fence something there’s another person saying ‘Here, don’t mind that gobshite, here’s the way to the top.’ If Ireland was in the mafia, we’d all be Donnie Brasco.

The nose provides a way for understanding the world and its first impressions. The first smells of people and places, for whatever the nose chooses to capture can become a strong memory for the mind. Smells have a way of lingering, taking up space as though they were bodies. What does Dublin smell like to you?

Dublin smells of the Liffey. And pub farts.

Whose poems are you reading now?

I’m rereading Ruth Padel’s last Collection the Mara Crossing. And poems by teens from Collinstown Community College in Clondalkin.

Describe your coffee ceremony (i.e. everything that goes into a perfect coffee experience)

My perfect coffee ceremony involves forcing Sir Walter Raleigh (or whoever brought coffee to Europe) into a volcano. I hate coffee. Tea is yer only man.

009

 

This morning I shared
the bus-stop with one woman
She had lively blue eyes
and her jeans were torn
We made no big deal
of avoiding eye-contact
Our breath-clouds
pushing back the cold.

*

Colm Keegan is a poet and writer from Dublin. He was the All Ireland Slam Poetry Champion in 2010. He also writes short stories and screenplays and has been shortlisted four times for the Hennessy New Irish Writing Award for both poetry and fiction. In 2008 he was shortlisted for the International Seán Ó Faoláin Short Story Competition. In 2011 he was nominated for the Absolut Fringe’s ‘Little Gem’ Award.

He is a poetry/arts reviewer and contributing poet for RTE Radio One’s nightly arts show ARENA and co-founded ‘Nighthawks at the Cobalt’.

He runs Inklinks, a young writers club in Clondalkin and teaches creative writing in secondary schools across Ireland. He blogs at http://www.theblogsthejob.blogspot.com and his poetry performances are widely viewed on YouTube. He is currently finishing his first novel.

He co-wrote and performs in Three Men Talking About Things They Kinda Know About ( a short play co-written with Kalle Ryan and Stephen James Smith) which is touring this spring, starting in Draiocht, Blanchardstown – March 8th. http://www.draiocht.ie/events/three_men_talking_about_things_they_kinda_know_about/

You can buy his book here. http://www.salmonpoetry.com/details.php?ID=258&a=219

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ash Wednesday Poetry Series – Stephen James Smith: Ticking Clock

042

“At the core for me there should be honesty, a willingness to want to share…” 

*

The Ash Wednesday Series takes its name from the following Leonard Cohen quotation:  “Poetry is just the evidence of life.  If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash”.  As a writer, does this ring true for you?

Poetry is the flame in my life, like any good moth I am drawn to it. It has set me ablaze on occasion, but the excitement it has brought into my life is worth being burned. I welcome the ash.

What makes a poem?

It’s so subjective, but at the core for me there should be honesty, a willingness to want to share by the poet. Perhaps it would make sense to describe why I like Pat Ingoldsby’s poetry so much given that he is my favourite poet, it possess much honesty and sharing, but he is playful, surreal and free from all the bullshit that poets and poetry and get bogged down in. He is the most refreshing poet I have ever read, toying with my emotions and he captures all the good and bad of Dublin in is words so they echo to my core.

011

Describe your writing ritual.

I used to use a pen and paper; I tended to write late at night, there are some bars, coffee shops and parks that seemed to give me the right ‘space’. However now with a smartphone I email ideas to myself. I have an online document with hundreds of ideas I need to harvest. I think it has runs to 5,000 words now! Maybe I need to find a ritual!

Is writing a compulsion, obsession or something else?

The best of my writing for me comes from a state of urgency, I can’t help but just write it, it is almost vomited onto the page. I don’t think I can say I am obsessed as I can go for a few months without writing anything; this could be because I also play music and take photos so there are other creative outlets in my life. But writing to me is a way of releasing, it’s a pressure valve and a way of connecting with my inner-self (as clichéd as that sounds) and also embracing others when I share my scribblings.

016

018

What makes being a writer in Dublin unique (to being a writer anywhere else)?

I have never really been a writer anywhere else, while I have been invited as a writer to other parts of the world and written about those experiences and written on holidays. It is hard to compare if it’s not been my true experience for an extended period. Clearly however Dublin is steeped in the literary tradition, no need to name the names you know them, they are looking over your shoulder the whole time, whispering to you on street corners and in the snugs they drank in, that I now drink in. Sure you can’t even cross the river here without treading on bridges named after these ‘greats’. More importantly though Dublin now is evolving a new voice that is exciting to me, my peers are a tremendous source of inspiration, and we are great at keeping each other’s feet grounded. I’d imagine the manic socialising in Dublin bars is a source of inspiration for many a writer though!

027

The nose provides a way for understanding the world and its first impressions.  The first smells of people and places, for whatever the nose chooses to capture can become a strong memory for the mind.  Smells have a way of lingering, taking up space as though they were bodies.  What does Dublin smell like to you?

Dublin smells of roses, that still have the lingering aroma of horse shit banging in the air. For it is the horse shit that makes Dublin vibrant.

Whose poems are you reading now?

The last poem I read was this morning, here it is:

A Star by Patrick Kavanagh

Beauty was that
Far vanished flame,
Call it a star Wanting better name.

And gaze and gaze
Vaguely until
Nothing is left
Save a grey ghost-hill.

Here wait I
On the world’s rim
Stretching out hands
To Seraphim.

I don’t normally sit down and read a book of poetry that’s not how it happens for me. Poems find me, I regularly get emailed poems by fellow poets or friends, sometimes just to share and sometimes for feedback. I am lucky to have plenty of brilliant poetry books, so if I find myself in a calm place or maybe need to find a calm place I can turn to poetry. The internet is a great source of finding new poems and via allthe social network sites people are constantly sharing things anew, so I click if I am interested.

031

032

Describe your coffee ceremony (i.e. everything that goes into a perfect coffee experience)

The best coffee for me is in Bewley’s, on Grafton Street, maybe because I know my granny used to take my mum there for a bun and a glass of milk as a treat if they were in town, or maybe because I have gigged there loads of times, I just always love the coffee and setting there. But for me I’d normally prefer a cuppa tea and shortbread to dunk in it!

A video of Stephen James Smith performing “Ticking Clock” in full can be found here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Y-_zIgHHwY

036

*

Stephen James Smith is a poet, playwright from Dublin. He has won the Cúirt International Literary Festival Poetry Grand Slam and numerous other awards. His ABSOLUTE Fringe play ‘Three Men Talking About This They Kinda Know About’ (co-written with Colm Keegan & Kalle Ryan) was shortlisted for the Bewley’s ‘Little Gem Award 2011’.

In 2009 he proudly represented Ireland at the Vilenica Literary Festival Slovenia and in 2010 at Wiersze w Metrze Poland. Stephen is at the heart of poetry and spoken word in Ireland through his organisation of The Glór Sessions a weekly event of poetry and music.

In April 2011 he was invited by Culture Ireland to recite in the iconic Nuyorican Poetry Café New York. ‘Arise and Go!’ his debut album with musician Enda Reilly was selected by Hot Press as one of the best albums of 2011. In 2012 he was invited to perform his poetry in Frankfurt, Paris and in London where he was invited by The Irish Olympic House to perform for the Irish Olympians.

He has been translated into six languages and published all over the globe.  A regular contributor to RTÉ Radio 1’s Arts Show Arena he has also featured on RTÉ’s The Works.  The pinnacle of his career so far has to be reading alongside Roddy Doyle, Dermot Bolger and Seamus Heaney (well on the same TV documentary anyway).

Most importantly he likes tea, shortbread, ice-cream and feeding the ducks in St. Stephens Green Park.

WEBSITE: www.StephenJamesSmith.com

PROMOTE: http://youtu.be/-Y-_zIgHHwY

Upcoming events / tour: Birmingham, Bristol, Canada and Switzerland

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ash Wednesday Poetry Series – Gabriel Rosenstock: Féileacán/Butterfly

1341

It’s like breathing, at least for me, in the sense that it is natural and necessary. One can be conscious of one’s breath or one can breathe without a thought. And let’s not forget the connection between ‘breath’ and ‘inspiration’”.

*

The Ash Wednesday Series takes its name from the following Leonard Cohen quotation:  “Poetry is just the evidence of life.  If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash”.  As a writer, does this ring true for you?

Absolutely! Cuerpo en llamas (Body In Flame) was one of the first books I translated, by Chicano poet Francisco X. Alarcón and my own selected haiku in Irish is called Géaga Trí Thine (Limbs Ablaze).

What makes a poem?

Billions of things and non-things. John W. Sexton told me recently that he has the ability to see creatures that he describes as ‘electric cats’.

1313

1318

Describe your writing ritual.

I write every day from about 10 a.m to 6.p.m. If I’m not writing I’m translating. It’s all I do. Not much good at anything else, I’m afraid.

Is writing a compulsion, obsession or something else?

It’s like breathing, at least for me, in the sense that it is natural and necessary. One can be conscious of one’s breath or one can breathe without a thought. And let’s not forget the connection between ‘breath’ and ‘inspiration’.

1321

What makes being a writer in Dublin unique (to being a writer anywhere else)?

They may have put something in the Liffey. How else could Flann O’Brien have written The Third Policeman?

The nose provides a way for understanding the world and its first impressions.  The first smells of people and places, for whatever the nose chooses to capture can become a strong memory for the mind.  Smells have a way of lingering, taking up space as though they were bodies.  What does Dublin smell like to you?

It smells like the Third Policeman being translated by Proust.

1328

1325

1337

Whose poems are you reading now?

I’ve just finished translating a batch of eastern poets, Ko Un from Korea, Hemant Divate and Dileep Jhaveri from India. Hope to bring Divate, Jhaveri and K. Satchidanandan to Dublin end of February for a launch and reading. Please look out for them!

Describe your coffee ceremony (i.e. everything that goes into a perfect coffee experience).

I drink green tea, white tea and puer tea. Sometimes tulsi tea.

1333

A video to Gabriel Rosenstock reading his poem can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZ6ixDhLJJw&feature=youtu.be

1345

*

Bio [English follows] 

Gabriel Rosenstock

Údar/ aistritheoir breis is 160 leabhar é Gabriel Rosenstock, dánta, haiku, úrscéalta, leabhair do dhaoine óga, drámaí, gearrscéalta, aistí agus eile ina measc. Is ball d’Aosdána é agus aithníonn sé nach bhfuil dóthain scríbhneoirí Gaeilge san eagraíocht sin. Conas a bheadh, ar seisean, nuair nach bhfuil formhór na mball eile (na vótóirí) in ann an Ghaeilge a léamh! Is gá aistriúcháin a chur ar fáil dóibh agus is gá tacaíocht a fháil ó leithéidí Fhoras na Gaeilge agus Idirmhalartán Litríocht Éireann/ Ireland Literature Exchange chomh maith leis an gComhairle Ealaíon chun réimse leathan de nualitríocht na Gaeilge a thiontú go Béarla agus teangacha eile an domhain.

Dochtúir leighis ó Schleswig-Holstein ab ea a athair; scríbhneoir ab ea é chomh maith. Irische Gezeiten ceann dá leabhar filíochta agus úrscéal gearr is ea Paradies der Armen. Banaltra as Cnocán Íomhair, Baile Átha an Rí, Co. na Gaillimhe, ab ea a mháthair agus Hello, Is It All Over? an teideal atá ar a cuimhní cinn. Chum Raiftearaí dán do dhuine dá muintir: Tar éis na Nollag le cónamh Chríosta ní chodlód choíche má mhairim beo/ Go dté mé siar go Cnocán Íomhair mar is áit bhreá shaoithiúil é nach dtiteann ceo.

I gCill Fhíonáin, Co. Luimnigh, a tháinig Gabriel ar an saol agus is Gabriel a thug a mháthair air toisc gur rugadh ar bhuille Chlog an Aingil é. Cainteoir dúchais ó Bhaile Bhuirne, a  tSr Celsus, an chéad mhúinteoir a bhí aige agus thug sé taitneamh don Ghaeilge ón gcéad lá riamh. Is dóigh leis go bhfuil galar meabhrach ar dhaoine ar fuath leo an Ghaeilge.

 Chaith Gabriel seal i Vín ag múineadh haiku sa Schule für Dichtung agus is ball bunaidh é den Haiku Foundation. Dhá leabhar uaidh i mBéarla ar haiku mar chonair spioradálta, Haiku Enlightenment agus Haiku, the Gentle Art of Disappearing.  Cambridge Scholars Publishing thall i sean-Sasana a d’fhoilsigh. Géaga Trí Thine is teideal dá rogha haiku i nGaeilge agus Where Light Begins an teideal atá ar na haiku Béarla, go leor acu aistrithe on mbun-Ghaeilge.

 I measc na bhfilí atá aistrithe go Gaeilge aige tá Francisco X. Alarcón, Seamus Heaney, Rabindranath Tagore, Günter Grass, W M  Roggeman, Said, Zhāng Ye, Michele Ranchetti, Michael Augustin, Peter Huchel, Georg Trakl, Georg Heym, Hansjörg Schertenleib, Hilde Domin, Johann P. Tammen, Munir Niazi, Ko Un, Günter Kunert, Iqbal, Michael Krüger, Kristiina Ehin, Nikola Madzirov, Agnar Artúvertin, Walter Helmut Fritz, K. Satchidanandan, Elke Schmitter, Hemant Divate, Dileep Jhaveri and Matthias Politycki agus haiku clasaicacha agus comhaimseartha le le John W. Sexton (Éire), J W Hackett (SAM), Andres Ehin (an Eastóin), Petar Tchouhov (an Bhulgáir) agus Janak Sapkota (Neipeal). I measc na ngradam a bronnadh air tá an bonn Tamgha-I-Kidmat ó Rialtas na Pacastáine.

Scata leabhar do dhaoine óga scríofa agus aistrithe aige agus CD déanta aige de go leor díobh sin. Bíonn sé ag aistriú ó Ghaeilge go Béarla chomh maith, scéalta le Dara Ó Conaola agus Pádraic Breathnach, cuir i gcás, agus sa bhliain 2013 feicfear a chuid aistriúchán ar dhánta le Liam Ó Muirthile. Bhí sé bainteach leis an bhféile IMRAM ó lá a bhunaithe agus is tríd an bhféile sin a tháinig a chuid aistriúchán ar liricí Leonard Cohen is Bob Dylan ar an bhfód chomh maith le dánta Beckett.

Leabhar taistil leis is ea Ólann mo Mhiúil as an nGainséis (CIC) agus tá fáil ar leagan Béarla de sin anois, My Mule Drinks from the Ganges, aistrithe ag Mícheál Ó hAodha.  Academica Press, California, na foilsitheoirí.

Is spéis leis cultúr na hIndia agus traidisiúin spioradálta an Oirthir trí chéile, mar is léir ó na díolamaí Guthanna Beannaithe an Domhain (Coiscéim), agus an dialann idirghníomhach Dialann Anama (Coiscéim). Leabhar do dhaoine fásta (an-fhásta) ar chúrsaí spioradálta is ea The Pleasantries of Krishnamurphy: Revelations from an Irish Ashram (Non-Duality Press).

Gearrscéal leis sa díolaim Best European Fiction 2012 ón Dalkey Archive Press. Suite i gCiarraí atá an t-úrscéal bleachtaireachta leis i mBéarla, My Head is Missing (2012). Liosta cuibheasach cuimsitheach dá chuid foilseachán ar an suíomh seo: http://www.worldcat.org/

Gabriel Rosenstock

Gabriel Rosenstock is the author/translator of over 160 books, including 13 volumes of poetry and a volume of haiku in Irish and in English,  as well as numerous books for children.

Books Ireland (Summer 2012)  says of his comic detective novel My Head is Missing: ‘This is a departure for Rosenstock but he is surefooted as he takes on the comic genre and writes a story full of engaging characters and a plot that keeps the reader turning the page.’

A member of Aosdána (the Irish Academy of Arts and Letters), he has given readings in Europe, South, Central and North America, India, Australia, Japan and has been published in various leading international journals including Akzente, Neue Rundschau, and die horen (Germany), Poetry (Chicago), World Haiku Review, Irish Pages, Poetry Ireland Review, The Stinging Fly and Sirena. He has given readings at major festivals, including Berlin, Bremen, Struga (Macedonia), Vilenica (Slovenia), Medellín, Vilnius,  Ars Poetica (Slovakia)  and twice at the nomadic Kritya festival in India. He is booked for Hyderabad 2013.

Rosenstock taught haiku at the Schule für Dichtung (Poetry Academy) in Vienna. Among his awards is the Tamgha-I-Kidmat medal for services to literature.

He has brought out Irish-language versions and translations of among others, Francisco X. Alarcón, Seamus Heaney, Rabindranath Tagore, Günter Grass, W M  Roggeman, Said, Zhāng Ye, Michele Ranchetti, Michael Augustin, Peter Huchel, Georg Trakl, Georg Heym, Hansjörg Schertenleib, Hilde Domin, Johann P. Tammen, Munir Niazi, Ko Un, Günter Kunert, Iqbal, Michael Krüger, Kristiina Ehin, Nikola Madzirov, Agnar Artúvertin, Walter Helmut Fritz, K. Satchidanandan, Elke Schmitter, Hemant Divate, Dileep Jhaveri and Matthias Politycki as well as Irish-language versions of classical haiku and modern haiku by amongst others John W. Sexton (Ireland), J W Hackett (USA), Andres Ehin (Estonia), Petar Tchouhov (Bulgaria) and Janak Sapkota (Nepal).

Rosenstock is the Irish-language advisor for the poetry journal THE SHOp and a Foundation Associate of The Haiku Foundation. His vast output includes  plays, work for TV, novels and short stories, children’s literature in prose and verse, including Irish versions of such classics as The Gruffalo. Recent successful picture books include Sa Tóir ar an Yeití (Cló Mhaigh Eo) and his retellings of ancient and medieval Indian tales, Birbal (Cló Iar-Chonnacht).  He is the Irish-language translator with the new imprint Walker Éireann.

Among the anthologies in which he is represented is Best European Fiction 2012 (Dalkey Archive Press, USA). His outlandish novella Lacertidae was translated from the Irish by Mícheál Ó hAodha (OW 2011). His Selected Poems / Rogha Dánta (Cló Iar-Chonnacht) appeared in 2005 and the the bilingual volume Bliain an Bhandé/ Year of the Goddess came out in 2007 (Dedalus). He is the Irish translator of numerous films and TV shows including Watership Down and The Muppet Show. He is also well known as a translator of song lyrics into Irish by Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and others and as a translator of plays by Beckett, Frisch, Yeats and others. The year 2012 saw the publication of a full-length play The Blood of Squirrels and a burlesque The Amazing Professor Parrot. Three volumes of the series Guthanna Beannaithe an Domhain have been published by Coiscéim, sacred voices of the Earth in which saints and sinners rub shoulders with shamans and sages.

Two books on haiku as a way of life, Haiku Enlightenment and Haiku, the Gentle Art of Disappearing from Cambridge Scholars Publishing are available from Amazon. Uttering Her Name (Salmon Poetry) is his début volume of poems in English and has been translated into many languages, including Faroese, Serbian and Japanese. The Pleasantries of Krishnamurphy: Revelations from an Irish Ashram, was  published in 2011 by Non-Duality Press, www.non-dualitypress.org and his travelogue My Mule Drinks from the Ganges, translated from the Irish by Mícheál Ó hAodha, from Academica Press (2012).

Gabriel does not have a blog but “leaks” material occasionally to this blogspot:

http://roghaghabriel.blogspot.ie/

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Ash Wednesday Poetry Series – Sarah Maria Griffin: you asked if the cold weather reminded me of home

003

“As a person who left Dublin, I can honestly say language. We communicate differently to anyone else. There’s a cadence and a musicality to it.

I miss that.”

*

The Ash Wednesday Series takes its name from the following Leonard Cohen quotation: “Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash”. As a writer, does this ring true for you?

Certainly. I think without truth, and a firm footing in experience and reality, poems fall flat. I mean flat, like musically flat. Like the sound of somebody trying to hit notes with their voice but just not quite sounding quite right. I write poetry to record moments, use it as a sort of lens to view the world through and figure things out with. When I have quiet weeks, I find it harder to write. Without chaos I don’t really feel like I have anything to say.

What makes a poem?

Surprise. Always surprise.

Describe your writing ritual.

I write lots of different things, in different methods and using different rituals. When it comes to poems, they’re like weird stray insects that buzz by me at inopportune moments. I try and catch them and pin them down, leave them between pages to preserve, then rehydrate them and pin them somewhere a week or so later. Sometimes I go weeks and there’s nothing. Some days there’s swarms.

Ash Wednesday - Sarah Griffin - 3

Is writing a compulsion, obsession or something else?

Something else entirely, and I’m kind of glad I don’t know what that is yet – and pretty ok with the idea that I might never know.

What makes being a writer in Dublin unique (to being a writer anywhere else)?

As a person who left Dublin, I can honestly say language. We communicate differently to anyone else. There’s a cadence and a musicality to it. I miss that.

The nose provides a way for understanding the world and its first impressions. The first smells of people and places, for whatever the nose chooses to capture can become a strong memory for the mind. Smells have a way of lingering, taking up space as though they were bodies. What does Dublin smell like to you?

Home. Cold. Rain. Love, even. I’ll say love.

Ash Wednesday - Sarah Griffin - 2

Whose poems are you reading now?

Local San Francisco/Bay Area artists. I’ve a crush on too many of them to list here.

Describe your coffee ceremony (i.e. everything that goes into a perfect coffee experience)

Sleepy eyed at my internship and escaping to Craftsmen & Wolves on Valencia. Flirting with baristas. Half cream half milk, brown sugar. Walking under the scaffolding near 19th street and feeling it bring me to life.

True story: used to hate coffee. My childhood friend, Lauren and I used to have Nescafe drinking contests in her kitchen on dreary summer days. Thought I was put off for life, but funny how your mouth changes as you get older, isn’t it?

While there is no video recording of Sarah reading her poem, she will be returning to Dublin in the coming days.  You can catch her live at the Monday Echo on Decemember 17th.  As one of the co-editors of the Bare Hands Anthology, she will be at the December 19th launch at the Winding Stair (start time 7pm).  And lastly, you can also catch her on RTE 1, on December 20th, as part of the Nighthawks Christmas Special.

*

Ash Wednesday - Sarah Griffin

Sarah Maria Griffin is a writer of poetry and essays from Dublin, living in San Francisco. Before emigrating, she was writer in residence of Collinstown Park Community College, and facilitator of Inkslingers at the Irish Writer’s Centre. She is the sub-editor of Bare Hands Poetry Journal, and holds an M.A in Writing from NUIG. Her recent poetry can be found in The Stinging Fly, and on RTE Arena, and has been anthologised in Tandem, by Bicycle Comics and Litslam as a result of placing first in the final LitSlam of 2012. Her first collection, Follies, was published by Lapwing in 2011. Her essays on emigration can be found in The Irish Times and The Rumpus. She blogs at wordfury.tumblr.com and tweets @griffski.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment