To coincide with the launch of her new collection of poems, Geomantic, on November 14, we link here to a recording of a wide-ranging conversation between the poet and UCD Adjunct Professor Jody Allen Randolph, in an event that took place at The National Library of Ireland, in April 2016, during the course of which Meehan reads and discusses many of the poems in the book.
Launches of the new collection of poems by Macdara Woods, Music From The Big Tent, together with the latest from Paddy Bushe, On a Turning Wing, are among the many events that make up the annual Strokestown Poetry Festival which takes place over the May Bank Holiday Weekend, in one of the most welcoming and celebratory gatherings in the annual poetry calendar.
Music From The Big Tent is Macdara Woods’ first volume of new poems since Collected Poems (2012)
From the opening poem in which a bird falls dead at the feet of the strolling poet and his son, to the closing which references the well-known song ‘The Night Before Larry Was Stretched’, in this latest collection of his poems Macdara Woods looks, with unflinching eye, beyond the certainties and consolations of the here and now.
In a book which charts his own recent ill health and recovery, he celebrates “the courage and / The wonder / Of the naked body”, not least at a time “when the financiers / have poisoned all the blood banks / and the drug companies / have rendered us venomous”.
Though his subjects may be illness, frailty and dissolution, the insistence on witness and clear-eyed expression animates these poems with a defiant and by times exuberant energy. Poems such as ‘Big-Top Music’ and ‘A May-Day Aisling Skazka’ (“Here’s where the rhythm in the rhyme / Turns slower (as will yours in time)” tap in to a long tradition of playful music imparting dark visions, and add a new and captivating dimension to Woods’ ongoing dance in words and ‘In the open space between / The words”.
Paddy Bushe’s latest collection of poems opens with a stirring suite on music and art, seeing them not as rarefied experiences but as fundamental and nourishing encounters for both their makers and their audience. The distinction between here and elsewhere is blurred, and the playing of an Irish piper seems echoed by that of other musicians in far-flung parts where the poet’s enthusiasm for travel and hill-walking takes him. The transition from such open, light-filled spaces to the more uncertain areas of Irish political life makes perfect sense in Bushe’s work, the poet’s freedom bringing with it a responsibility to engage. And Bushe’s defence of a local arts centre is lifted far above what might have been a parochial dispute into a passionate argument for access to the arts beyond favouritism or political interference. On a Turning Wing contains some of Bushe’s finest sketches of the natural world, as well as touching lyrics on the birth of a grandchild and the joy and consolation of companionship and love.
Jessica Traynor reads the title poem from her 2014 Dedalus Press debut collection, Liffey Swim, in the UCD Library Special Collections Reading Room. The poem also features in the 2014 Dedalus anthology, If Ever You Go: A Map of Dublin in Poetry and Song.
Thomas Kinsella reads and introduces the poem ‘Marcus Aurelius’ from Marginal Economy (Peppercanister No. 24) recorded in Belmullet, Co. Mayo, June 2006, following the presentation to him of the Ted McNulty Award (from the Dedalus Press archive)
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation on 03 Feb 2016 broadcast an edited version of Eamon Little’s very fine documentary on the life and work of the late Francis Harvey, featuring powerful readings by Frank (as he was generally known), dating from his earlier poems to more recent writings.
The show is now available to listen to or download from the ABC website HERE.
Spread the word: poetry matters.
Doireann Ní Ghríofa reads ‘Frozen Food’ from Clasp, her debut English language collection of poems, published by Dedalus Press in 2015, in which the poet has “signalled that she is a poetic force to be reckoned with in the future” – Clíona Ní Riordáin, SouthWord.
Macdara Woods reads three poems from his 2012 Collected Poems.
The late Francis Harvey reads one of his best known poems, ‘Elegy for the Islanders’, recorded at the launch of Collected Poems in Dublin’s Damer hall in 2007.
Leland Bardwell is “a poet who has felt the shocks of our time, the private impacts and the historic changes” wrote Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin. Here is Leland reading the title poem of her 2015 selected, Them’s Your Mammy’s Pills.
Philip Casey reads his poem ‘Daily Bread’, from Year of the Knife: Poems 1980 – 1990, published by Raven Arts Press in 1991. The poem is also collected in Tried and Sentenced, his selected poems, edited by Marion Kelly and published by eMaker Editions in 2015. The poem features in the 2014 Dedalus Press anthology If Ever You Go: A Map of Dublin in Poetry and Song.