Poetry Ireland Introductions 2013 Series Three: Featured Writer: Caoimhin Eoin Mac Unfraidh

Dublin poet Caoimhin Eoin Mac Unfraidh

Dublin poet Caoimhin Eoin Mac Unfraidh

The final in my series of interviews with those poets reading as part of Poetry Ireland Introductions series 2013.

One of this week’s featured poets is Caoimhin Eoin Mac Unfraidh, who reads on Tuesday 11th June at 6:30pm at the Irish Writers Centre, Parnell Sq., D1.

Philip Cummins: What is your earliest memory of poetry at home or in school?

Caoimhin Eoin Mac Unfraidh: I rang a haon, Scoil Lorcáin, bhuaigh mé an triú áit i feis na scoile nuair a d’aithris mé an dán ‘Buail ar an Doras’ ós ard. Bhronn Bean Uí Conchúir mo dhuais orm. Dhá Toffos.


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?

CEMU: Robert Graves. There was always a poetic influence in our house and I enjoyed poetry from my schoolwork but it wasn’t until -seeing me reading Graves’ ‘I, Claudius’ as a teenager -my mother mentioned that he was a favourite poet of hers, that I actively sought out non-curricular poetry. She had mentioned his poem ‘The Naked and the Nude’ as a good example and I went to some trouble to find it (pre-Google). I was delighted by the cleverness of it.


PC: Which poets do you think best characterize the qualities that are found in your own poetry?

CEMU: It is surely for others to say. I have not deliberately copied a particular style and I doubt an impartial observer would detect one.


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?

CEMU: Bhuaigh mé roinnt comortaisí i mBÁC agus mé ar scoil i gColáiste Eoin. Bhí formhór m’iarrachtaí cumtha i nGaeilge agus bunaithe ar ábhair a bhí bainteach le stadéir Laidne agus le stair na Róimhe. Fuaras tacaíocht ag pointí tábhachtacha ó mo mháthair agus ó mo mhúinteoir Laidne, a spreag mé leanacht orm ag scríobh. Spreagann said beirt fós mé.


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?

CEMU: Robert Graves, Complete Poems, Volumes 1-3,

Nuala Ni Dhomnaill’s  An Dealg Droighin

Peter Denman’s Epigrammata.

These three volumes would ensure that all poetic needs are nourished. I would slip Gabriel Rosenstock’s haikus in as well to make a sneaky fourth volume.

Caoimhin Eoin Mac Unfraidh 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 Caoimhin are:

Liam Duffy

Kerrie O’Brien

Katie Sheehan

Venue: The Irish Writers’ Centre, 19 Parnell Square, D1
Time: Tuesday 11th June @ 6.30pm
Admission: Free
T: (01) 8721302
E: info@poetryireland.ie
www.poetryireland.ie

Poetry Ireland Introductions 2013 Series Three: Featured Writer: Liam Duffy

Galway poet Liam Duffy

Galway poet Liam Duffy

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

Kerrie O’Brien

Katie Sheehan

Venue: The Irish Writers’ Centre, 19 Parnell Square, D1
Time: Tuesday 11th June @ 6.30pm
Admission: Free
T: (01) 8721302
E: info@poetryireland.ie
www.poetryireland.ie

Poetry Ireland Introductions 2013 Series Three: Featured Writer: Katie Sheehan

Chicago, Illinois poet Katie Sheehan

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 Chicago- born, Dublin- based poet Katie Sheehan, who reads on Thursday 11th June.


What is your earliest memory of poetry at home or in school?

My first clear memory is of my older brother Tim reciting Robert Service’s ‘The Sceptic’ at a family party.  The flippant regret of the poem and the room full of rapt listeners stayed with me all these years.

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?

I stumbled into Wendy Cope’s work when I was in college.  Serious Concerns was everything I wanted to be able to express — humour, heartache, intelligence, tenderness.  I tried to emulate her work for years and wrote a lot of embarrassing poems in the process.

Which poets do you think best characterize the qualities that are found in your own poetry?

When I write, I try to keep my heroes in mind.  The grounding detail of Rilke’s New Poems, Jack Gilbert’s sensuousness, Marvin Bell’s breadth, and the commanding voice of Louise Gluck’s work.

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?

Writing really changed for me after I finished my MFA.  I was still very much grieving for my father and I had also just moved to Vancouver.  With all that going on, and no one looking over my shoulder, what other people might think just stopped mattering, and the poems became a lot more sure of themselves.  The publishing didn’t pick up for years after that, but that’s really the time where the whole project shifted.

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??

Jack Gilbert’s The Great Fires, because he has his priorities straight.  Louise Gluck’s The Wild Iris, because I feel very at home in the beautiful, heartbroken garden she writes.  And Sylvia Plath’s Collected Poems, because her work is packed with images and turns of phrase that turn me inside out over and over again.

Katie Sheehan reads as part of the third in a series of three readings as part of the Poetry Ireland Introductions readings series on Thursday 11th June at 6.30pm at the Irish Writers’ Centre, 19 Parnell Square, D1.

Also reading with Katie are:

Liam Duffy

Caoimhín Eoin Mac Unfraidh

Kerrie O’Brien

Venue: The Irish Writers’ Centre, 19 Parnell Square, D1
Time: Thursday @ 6.30pm
Admission: Free
T: (01) 8721302
E: info@poetryireland.ie
www.poetryireland.ie

Poetry Ireland Introductions 2013 Series Two: Featured Writer: Victoria Kennefick

Cork poet Victoria Kennefick

Cork poet Victoria Kennefick

Over the course of the next few days, I’ll be posting interviews with those writers reading as part of the Poetry Ireland Introductions series 2013. One of this week’s featured poets is Cork poet Victoria Kennefick, who reads on Tuesday 4th June at 6:30pm at the Irish Writers Centre, Parnell Sq., D1.

Philip Cummins: What is your earliest memory of poetry at home or in school?

Victoria Kennefick: ‘The woods are lovely, dark and deep. /But I have promises to keep, /And miles to go before I sleep, /And miles to go before I sleep.’

I fell asleep to Robert Frost’s ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’ every night as a child, always so relieved that I didn’t have to undertake such a long journey (not knowing I had already embarked on one of my own).  I felt sorry for the speaker and his little horse frozen in someone else’s woods while I was tucked up in bed, listening to my mother whispering the poem to me as she stroked my forehead.  When my mother left, content that I was drifting off, I lay awake imagining the forest, scared but fascinated because these words made me feel strange.  I felt under their influence somehow.  I wanted to know more about these spells and incantations.

I wrote one of my first poems when I was about eight.   It was a collaborative effort.  For homework, I had to write a poem with the title, ‘Perseverance.’  I sat at my Dad’s feet in the living-room, and with his help concocted the following:

The Fisherman sits in his little boat,

waiting and watching his little float.

The noon sun beams down from the sky

and the fisherman says, ‘Why oh why

do I wait like this for the fish to run,

when all I get is the mid-day sun?’

Then evening comes, it’s not so hot

and finally a fish is caught.

 

My Dad loved words and rhymes.  He knew many local poems by heart and I regret that I didn’t have the foresight to record them.

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? 

VK: Sylvia Plath blew my mind!  I read her in my teens and I did not know it was possible to create images so vivid and vicious, beautiful and deadly.  She became so real to me, I was completely obsessed.  I read her collected poems right through one night.  I went to bed early that morning and couldn’t sleep.  I could feel her breath in the room, when I closed my eyes there was no dark.  Like with Frost, I was once again acquainted with poetry’s dark power, it’s incessant whisper.  I had to cut down on Plath at that point.  Now I like to occasionally dip in.  I also loved Whitman and the idea of him shouting his poems at passing traffic.

PC: Which poets do you think best characterise the qualities that are found in your own poetry?

VK: To be honest, I don’t know.  I think that might be for readers to assess.  When a poem of yours is compared to a poet you love, it’s always a huge compliment, a jewel to put in your pocket.  I know which characteristics I’d like to share with poets I admire, but I can only work on trying to create these qualities in my own poetry.

PC: What was your first “Eureka!” moment in writing and publishing poetry; the moment when you realised “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?

VK: That was definitely when my poem ‘Moby-Dick’ was published in The Stinging Fly, a magazine I’ve always admired.  Seeing my poem in print gave me the confidence to continue submitting my poetry to journals, magazines and competitions.  It was a great start.

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??

VK: Impossible!  I’m just going to list the poets I’ve been reading lately: e.e. cummings because he elasticizes my brain and I love him; Emily Berry, who’s nominated for the Forward Prize this year – I am really enjoying her collection, Dear Boy, and; on the excellent recommendation of Carol Ann Duffy, Edward Thomas, whose work is beautifully delicate and intricate.

Victoria Kennefick reads as part of the second in a series of three readings as part of the Poetry Ireland Introductions readings series on Thursday 4th June at 6.30pm at the Irish Writers’ Centre, 19 Parnell Square, D1.

Also reading with Victoria are:

Caoilinn Hughes

Sheila Mannix

Alan Weadick

Venue: The Irish Writers’ Centre, 19 Parnell Square, D1
Time: Thursday @ 6.30pm
Admission: Free
T: (01) 8721302
E: info@poetryireland.ie
www.poetryireland.ie

Poetry Ireland Introductions 2013 Series Two: Featured Writer: Sheila Mannix

More than o.k.: Cork poet Sheila Mannix reads at the irish Writers Centre on Tuesday 4th June at 6:30pm  as part of Poetry Ireland Introductions 2013

More than o.k.: Cork poet Sheila Mannix reads at the irish Writers Centre on Tuesday 4th June at 6:30pm as part of Poetry Ireland Introductions 2013

Over the course of the next few days, I’ll be posting interviews with those writers reading as part of the Poetry Ireland Introductions series 2013. One of this week’s featured poets is Cork poet Sheila Mannix, who reads on Tuesday 4th June at 6:30pm at the Irish Writers Centre, Parnell Sq., D1.

Philip Cummins: What is your earliest memory of poetry at home or in school?

SM: ‘Up the airy mountain,

Down the rushy glen,

We daren’t go a-hunting

For fear of little men;

Wee folk, good folk,

Trooping all together;

Green jacket, red cap,

And white owl’s feather!’


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?

SM: A Season in Hell and The Illuminations by Rimbaud: I was introduced to him at college when I was seventeen and wrote an essay in which I called him the first punk. Then I fell in love with Mayakovsky and he became my pin-up poet.


PC: Which poets do you think best characterise the qualities that are found in your own poetry?

SM: I don’t know. I am experimenting at the moment, using collage/cut-up/mash-up techniques popularised by the Dadaists, the surrealists, OuLiPo, William Burroughs, and recent pop music. I have no issue with the autonomy of art, but I see my poetry as a way of critically engaging with politics in a manner I have found hard to do in my prose writing, which tends to be more lyrical/satirical/sociological. Hopefully these elements will all fuse at some point.

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?

SM: I was 21. I was living in Dublin and Cyphers published two of my poems.


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?

SM: Henri Michaux, Oeuvres complètes, Gallimard (2004), The Collected Poems of Samuel Beckett, Faber and Faber (2012), Trevor Joyce, with the first dream of fire they hunt the cold, Shearsman (2001), because I can’t afford the first two and I gave away my copy of the third one

Sheila Mannix reads as part of the second in a series of three readings as part of the Poetry Ireland Introductions readings series on Thursday 4th June at 6.30pm at the Irish Writers’ Centre, 19 Parnell Square, D1.

Also reading with Sheila are:

Caoilinn Hughes

Victoria Kennefick

Alan Weadick

Venue: The Irish Writers’ Centre, 19 Parnell Square, D1
Time: Thursday @ 6.30pm
Admission: Free
T: (01) 8721302
E: info@poetryireland.ie
www.poetryireland.ie