“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.
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.
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
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