Sunday, March 27, 2016

'In the Shadow of the Patriot' - poem

Tomorrow marks the centenary of the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916, the failed insurrection that ultimately changed public opinion in Ireland and led to the country's future independence from Great Britain as a self-declared republic. Many celebrations and state events have been taking place this weekend and will continue tomorrow. I haven't been asked to do any readings (I feel like the only poet in Ireland not to!) but, in truth, Irish history and Irish identity have never really been central themes for me as a writer. All that said, I feel very proud to have been born in an independent Ireland and very much appreciate the sacrifice of those now remembered in schoolbooks and whose statues populate the city streets of Dublin where I live.

So I thought today to post a poem from a new sequence I'm working on which explores the nature of memory and forgetfulness, both personal and cultural. To this end, here's a short piece from this new work (with all the provisos about the completeness of new poems that must apply). It's not a poem of Yeatsian grandeur in the historical sense nor is it intended to be, but somehow it feels indirectly apt in its own way to share, I hope. After all, those men and women who fought (and sometimes died) one hundred years ago did so, I believe, so that such casual moments among the living may happen in the shadow of their past. We remember them, of course, and live among their ghosts, but life continues on also. A hundred years on from the Easter Rising, here's my slant offering. I should add, it was written some months ago and not with today's commemorations in mind.

In the Shadow of the Patriot

The old quarter at dusk. The rain starts again.
A fire engine passes by to a rising and falling pulse, 
echoing down cobbled streets and alleyways 
rebounding against the tall windows and soot-grimed
red-brick buildings, the bars where the ghosts
of the drunk linger, haunting the granite flagstones
with their long-lost footfalls... The late evening buses
pull away from pavements in turn, raindrops marking
fleeting circles in the puddled water of the drains:
and the young couple who stand by the statue
of the old Patriot, his hands and face weathered
to history and forgetfulness as they pull each other 
closer still, their lips moving to warm touch.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Theo Dorgan & Paula Meehan in Conversation - TV

It's St Patrick's Day so seems fitting to post something of interest about Irish poetry to mark the occasion. So here's a piece I spotted a few days ago which is a very engaging and wide-ranging conversation between poet, broadcaster and novelist Theo Dorgan and playwright and poet Paula Meehan, the current holder of the Ireland Chair of Poetry. The piece was recorded by HoCoPolItSo, Howard County Poetry & Literary Society, for St Patrick's Day last year. It's really worth watching and runs to 30 minutes with a full bibliography of each poet's work at the end of the show.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Poems Upstairs: Science Meets Poetry - VIDEO

I'm delighted to be able to link to a video recording made of a reading I did with fellow-physicists Kate Dempsey and Iggy McGovern as part of the Poems Upstairs series at Books Upstairs, supported by Poetry Ireland. 

The reading marked the anniversary of Bequerel’s discovery of radioactivity and was introduced by Jim Malone, Robert Boyle Professor (Emeritus) of Medical Physics at Trinity College Dublin.

I read first, followed by Kate and then Iggy. There is also a Q&A and then we all read one final piece. The entire video runs to just over an hour and special thanks must go to Eoin McGovern for documenting the event.

So here it is. Hope you enjoy it, if you can spare an hour of your time.

The video file is too large to embed here but you can find the reading at the following link on Vimeo: