Thursday, 1 April 2010

Guest Post from Maeve O'Sullivan - Poetry Now (Part II)

After the exhilaration of the Strong Award and Reading, it was time for a spot of lunch and a stroll down the pier to bolster ourselves for more poetic inputs. The afternoon’s offering was a three-way reading featuring poets from Scotland, the Czech Republic and Ireland, in that order. Pat Boran of Dedalus Press did the honours on the introductions this time, and described the first reader’s poems as having “an opening into otherness”.

John Burnside then proceeded to open up the world of hunting for us in the form of a long poem “The Fair Chase” from his most recent collection “The Hunt in the Forest”. I have to say it’s not a world that I’m familiar with, nor have a particular interest in, so I did find my attention waning. I preferred the two that he read at the end, “Orpheus” and “Loved and Lost”, both quite poignant and with killer closing lines.

Silva Fischerov√° was born in Prague and is young enough to remember enjoying mustard sandwiches during the Communist era. She read from her recent collection of poetry in English, “Language is a Foreign Word” which has recurring images of falling. Her voice is rich and expressive, but I found it hard to catch some of the words and lines, unfortunately. The work ranged from social commentary through poems about poetry to a more personal lyric, especially one in which she recounts her mother dying while she was eight months pregnant.

The third and final reader was Achill-born John F. Deane, founder of both Poetry Ireland and the Dedalus Press. Boran described Deane as a Christian and Catholic poet and praised his “consistency of vision and intent” since the publication of his 1977 debut. The work that Deane shared included an elegy to Samuel Beckett, a description of a cobbler on Achill Island, and a poem that linked different colours to the various seasons of life (ending with black, not surprisingly!). My favourites were “A Poem of the Goldfinch” which referenced an incident in GM Hopkins’ life, and the final poem, “Canticle”, which aimed to describe the music of the spheres using beautiful imagery.

After all that it was time to board the DART and get back to regular city life after a few glorious days of all things poetic.


BarbaraS said...

John F. Deane should be declared a national treasure, he still has many surprises, in his work and in what he says about contemporary poetry. Again, lovely to read about the fest... gnash, gnash, too many things and not enough time to go to them.

Niamh B said...

Sounds like a great mix alright

Emerging Writer said...

It's almost as good as being there. Thanks Maeve.