Over the course of the next few days and weeks, I’ll be posting interviews with those writers reading as part of the Poetry Ireland Introductions series 2013. One of this week’s featured writers is Galway poet Liam Duffy, who reads Tuesday 11th June in the Irish Writers Centre, D1, at 6:30pm.
Philip Cummins: What is your earliest memory of poetry at home or in school?
Liam Duffy: I did not enjoy primary school. One of the few positive things I remember was having to write a poem and being told it was good. I wrote the following:
The Rat who wanted to be a Bat
The rat who wanted to be a bat
he jumped out the window
and landed flat
I’ve mostly abandoned rhyme since then, but the encouragement meant a lot.
Again in secondary school, I had the opportunity to take part in a creative writing class as part of the Cúirt International Festival of Literature, it was lead by Susan Millar DuMars who I still learn a lot from.
PC: Is there a particular poet, poem or book of poems that was, for you, like discovering rock n’roll for the very first time? Can you describe what it was like?
LD: I am going to be very conventionally Irish and admit that many of the poems and poets that I use to orientate myself were found in my Poetry Now leaving certificate text book.
The assessment wasn’t very engaging, but reading literature and poetry provides a legitimate way of learning about the darker, deeper and lustier parts of life while you are sitting in a class room.
PC: Which poets do you think best characterise the qualities that are found in your own poetry?
LD: Though my poetry is mostly urban; I like to dwell on farming sometimes (goats, mostly), I enjoy Kavanagh’s countryside and more generally his ability to cover so much of society in a poem.
I also like Eliot’s details, “With smell of steaks in passageways”, I think sensory based imagery is very effective.
PC: What was your first “Eureka!” moment in writing and publishing poetry; the moment when you realized “Hey, I’m actually on to something here!” in terms of your work coming together and first getting accepted and published in magazines and journals?
LD: Getting my first notice of publication from Cork magazine The SHOp, which I was told was a very good place to have your poetry. A few years later they invited me to read at the West Cork Literary Festival as part of a reading entitled “Irish Poets: A New Generation”. This was alongside wonderful poets such as Billy Ramsell and Denise Garvey, so I was very happy with that.
PC: Finally, if you could own and keep just three collections of poetry on your bookshelf- excluding, of course, your own- which collections would they be and why??
LD: I don’t read as much poetry as I would like to, and these 3 all came into my hands indirectly.
Time Gentlemen, Please by Kevin Higgins- reminding me that poetry is best when it examines the global through the local. I won this for guessing which Galway Councillor he was complaining about in a poem, I think he commemorates many people this way.
Collected Poems of Patrick Kavanagh edited by Antoinette Quinn- a Christmas present from my Dad, all that country and masturbation and greyness.
Across the Grid of Streets by Quicy R Lehr- A limited edition of this was sent to me via the Writers’ Society of The National University of Ireland, Galway which I Chaired for a while. Very exciting sprawling and urban poetry, contained by meter and form.
Liam Duffy reads as part of the third in a series of three readings as part of the Poetry Ireland Introductions readings series on Tuesday 11th June at 6.30pm at the Irish Writers’ Centre, 19 Parnell Square, D1.
Also reading with Liam are:
Caoimhín Eoin Mac Unfraidh
Venue: The Irish Writers’ Centre, 19 Parnell Square, D1
Time: Tuesday 11th June @ 6.30pm
T: (01) 8721302