Touch, don’t observe – #worldbrailleday @LabelLib @acniwriting #tbt

Today (4 Jan 2019) is World Braille Day and I have just taken up the RNIB’s offer to have a visual representation of my name in braille to raise awareness of braille (RNIB Connect Podcast) and happily remembering getting a better sense of braille last year.

2018-04-25 13.26.26

Label lit/Poetry Day 2018 ‘Poetry Surprises’

I loved being part of this initiative for National Poetry Day ’18 – taking to Downpatrick with a handful of labels to be found in places where poetry would not be normally found.

The individual micro-poems/labels were drawn from a deconstructed poem (reconstructed below) that I had written for a curating poetry course.

The poem’s curation element was born out of my frustration at the behind-glass at-a-distance visual presentation of art, particularly constructed or 3D artforms, where individual pieces seemed to silently scream from behind the glass, or whatever out-of-reach space, about how the best part of their innate artistic communiation was in the form of physical interaction which was prohibited.  I was also, in my own writing practice, experimenting with the sense of touch – that self-same physical interaction (skin-to-skin contact being the most profoundly inspirational but in my workshop experiments it was objects which were called upon to share their inspirational qualities through the medium of the fingers, the palms, the skin).

Working with the PageTurners – a creative writing group drawn from the RNIB NI membership – the idea of creating labels with a braille element presented itself to me. I am still so grateful to the RNIB braille team for responding to my strange request and so quickly. They said two things which I have filed away for future use. One is that braille isn’t as commonly known as it was by virtue of the advance in technology and the other is that I could, if I was a bit more organised, have organised actual brailled labels. This might have been a better awareness raising and access strategy – but my curation of braille ‘elements’ was also to invoke the language of touch, raising broader awareness of the predominance of the visual in our lives – and perhaps to create a bridge between the two.

The braille version of poem came back to me in one piece without line-breaks, so in order to create the elements I had to work out the system. I have always loved the feel of braille – words I can touch – but, up to this I hadn’t any idea how to transform the dots and indentations into communication. I am no expert now but I have a better understanding of it and even more respect for it than I had before.

Some more information about Label Lit 2018 by Arts Council NI here (video)

To Have & To Hold: A Curator’s Proposal

Let’s leave the world of the glass display case
Find a way back to our own space
Create a touch tank of the place we inhabit.

Touch       don’t observe

Impressions left on the spoon-bowl palm
Of the hand – a sustaining pleasure
Of weight and size and texture.

Touch       but with care

There are boundaries here to consider
How best to hold what’s fixed, passing through
All that contains you?

Touch      these four walls

Doors   windows   keep vigilant
For anywhere that feels like confinement
Ask yourself is this what home is?

What
Holds you
Here.

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#SeasonsGreetings2018 – Lines in Celebration

Lines in Celebration of this SeasonLinesinCelebrationNovemberCastleWard

The grim, bleak thing
that took hold in my imagination –
don’t call that winter.

Don’t furnish it with snow
or hand over to its power
the grove’s magnificent withering.

I release the failing metaphor,
return with ease to this time
when the deep-breath dusking world

sighs a lullaby to its residents.
No mammal, the seeds in their buried
coffers benefit from a hard covering.

This is a pure and cleansing cold,
a revitalising dark, a protective skin,
a generous beauty with abundant promise.

Not indulgent. Nourishing.
Not the dreary, unkind spectres
that held me to ransom. The opposite.

 

Season’s Greetings

With every good wish to all I have connected with this year in any avenue of life for peace and prosperity in the coming year. Go mbeirimid beo ar an am seo arís, mar a dearfá. See you on the other side of the calendar change, if not before.

Olive x

‘Things you find when Hiding’ – Poems on a Sunday Afternoon, Narnia Festival, 18 Nov, 2.30-4.30pm

“So you’ve been hiding, have you?” said Peter. “Poor old Lu, hiding
and nobody noticed! You’ll have to hide longer than that if you want
people to start looking for you.” – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

 

Poems on a Sunday Afternoon: Things you Find when Hiding.

Cloughmore Centre, Kilbroney Events Space, 60 Shore Road, Rostrevor, BT34 3DQ

Sun 18 November, 2.30-4.30pm

All are invited to a special CS Lewis themed, Poems on a Sunday Afternoon taking place in the Cloughmore Centre on Sunday, 18 November, 2.30-4.30pm.
‘Poems on Sunday Afternoon’ is a longstanding event which normally takes place at Down Arts Centre, Downpatrick where we offer a warm welcoming space for everyone to come and share their own writing or a favourite, whether poem, story or song – and host a featured reading.

For this event, and in keeping with the Narnia Festival, we invite you to come and share written pieces – poems, stories, songs – relating to the general theme of hiding. The theme is inspired by the fact that the children in the Narnia Chronicles tended to find entry points to Narnia while hiding out – whether in play, or in fear – in their own world. Please note this theme is a guideline for the afternoon but work on this theme is by no means a necessity.

Featured Reading: Colin Dardis

Colin Dardis is a poet, editor and arts coordinator. His work has been published widely throughout Ireland, the UK and the US. the x of y, his debut full-length collection, was released in May ’18 from Eyewear Publishing.

Having had a childhood speech impediment, attending speech therapy classes throughout primary school, Colin’s initial interest in language and words grew out of this formative experience. His personal history of depression and mental illness is also an ongoing influence on his work. Known for his devotion to supporting and developing the Northern Irish poetry scene, he was one of Eyewear’s Best New British and Irish Poets 2016, an ACES ’15-16 recipient from Arts Council of Northern Ireland, and recently shortlisted in the Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing 2018. Colin co-runs Poetry NI, a multimedia platform for poets in Northern Ireland. www.colindardispoet.co.uk

All welcome, no booking required. Further information from wordsforcastleward@gmail.com

This event is part of the Narnia Festival on this weekend, supported by Newry, Mourne Down District Council – find further events on the Cloughmore Centre’s Facebook page. Little promo for the centre HERE.

Fast & Absent friends: A Lament for Eibhlín Dubh, & Lorca

Mo ghrá go daingean tú!

In the mode of my pros(aic) side, I have beeen doing some digital comms work with the Armagh-based John O’Connor Writing School and Literary Arts Festival for the last couple of years. I tend, as much as is financially possible, not to work literary festivals. I know this seems a bit illogical – what could be better than working around writers when you are a writer yourself?  But for me, metaphorically speaking, and in the manner of John O’Connor, there is always the temptation to throw the post in the river and stretch out in the long grass with pen and paper.

I curbed my impulses well enough except, if I did nothing else to fill my poetic well last weekend (1-4 Nov), I didn’t want to come away without seeing the new translation by Paul Muldoon of Caoineach Airt Uí Laoighaire – with original music by Jim Lockhart of Horslips.

Fast & Absent Friends 1: Far North & Deep South

I was very taken with the performance. I’m not masssively au fait with the original (see below) but know enough about it, and the Kinsella translation, to have markers to locate myself.  I loved the music – and was glad to get the chat about the inspiration behind some of it. These things you can’t know without those useful afterwards Q&As.

I particularly like – in general – translations of Munster text by Ulster poets. It’s a strange thing. It took me a few years of being here before I realised that there was a Munster temperament. A friend of mine from Belfast, when I was trying to explain, asked me where Munster was – while straining, I suspect, to pick up a hint of German in my accent. I am at the advantage as there is one of me and the majority of everybody else in my day-to-day life is from here. It would be easier if the temperaments were diametrically opposed – you say ‘Eibhlín Dubh’ (pron Evelyn Doo) and I says ‘Eibhlín Dubh’ (pron Eileen Duv) let’s call the whole thing off sort of thing – but actually they are simply different.

While I am from East Cork, there was a joy in hearing even the names Gougane Barra, the Gearagh – and knowing that there has been somewhere, somehow even a hint of interest in that geography which is so much of my inner landscape. That introduction all the better made by not coming from me, I’ve learned that well. But more than that, there is the translating of cultural ties and relationships. I’m going to humourously amend this to ‘improving upon’ in the translation, safe in the knowledge that both temperaments are very confident in their own excellentness. Seeing the translations, for me, can either confirm or explain dissonances that I negotiate everyday in my ordinary conversations. The reimagining of family relationships here is a case in point.

Fast & Absent 2: Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill

You have taken the east from me, you have taken the west from me.. (Donal Óg)

I was so glad to have the opportunity to see this in Armagh last weekend. One thing about it, however, caught me off guard and being a woman with a temperamental mix of charm and uncalled-for honesty attempted – unsuccessfully and skirting round the borders of what my grandmother would have called ‘a mighty display of ignorance’ – to explain the reason for my unease, in a kind of two-pronged attack, to both translator and composer.

The truest thing I said – and it was a suprise to me the vehemence of an impulse that I had long forgotten – was that Eibhlín Dubh was/is a hero of mine.

I’d had a chat with Trish Bennett who was there as well and we tried to work out if it was on the Leaving Cert Syllabus (we are, I think, a year apart). I am almost sure that the answer in my case was yes. I have no recollection of the poem itself. There are two possible reasons for this. The first being my ability to remove myself to the world of day-dreams when I was bored by anything in school. I was like dearest him that lived alas away for all but the contemporary poetry on the Irish Leaving Cert poetry syllabus. However, our Irish teacher very wisely also refused to teach us the letter of the law of the Irish course, preferring to give us a sense of the spirit of the words – poetry and prose – that he so loved and so hated to see mangled and jeered at by teens who were not a bit interested. I am very grateful for this.

I do remember very well that he introduced us to the author of the Caoineadh – explaining her position, explaining the bravery in the authorship. It is, I think in retrospect, to his credit that I don’t remember a whisper of doubt or suspicion, or, indeed, any sense than that this was anything other than a fine and praiseworthy deed. While I didn’t know anything about losing a beloved husband, father of my children, my own position due to an untimely death that had ramifications across the community, I did have a strong sense of the kind of imperative that, when the chips were already down, might move you to a measure that was most assuredly not going to improve matters – i.e. take the words out of the mouths of those who felt such declaiming was their entitlement. Mo ghrá go daingean tú.

It was later, at UCC, the whispers behind the backs of the hand got to me. The Caoineadh was more than likely written by a man posing as a woman. Such things are, to be fair, done. They are. Their was, it seems to me, a good deal of self-congratulation that ‘feminists’ should be trying to create a woman-poet tradition on the back of a high octane poem of the canon – within the lament tradition and more generally – that was not in fact written by a woman. It certainly took the wind out of this woman who writes poetry (I’d rather you called me a feminist than a not-feminist)’s sails.

To the extent that when I spat nails at the almost – almost – complete stripping out of the voices of women in both my Irish and English language education at the Fired event in Bangor in September (that would be one poem by Máire Mac an tSaoi that set my teeth on edge, and a slua of poems by Emily Dickinson which provided a sort of life blood) – I completely forgot about Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill.

Last Friday night, the woman on the stage was not my Eibhlín. That is true and it is also no matter. I am as happy to register her absence and through the words of this mighty act of lamentation, reinstate her, her uwavering presence through the generations, as she is in my imagination.

Fast & Absent 3: Lorca

A LAS CINCO DE LA TARDE

‘To fight a bull when you are not afraid is nothing, to not fight a bull when you are afraid is nothing, to fight a bull when you are afraid is something’ – is a Spanish saying I once heard. My return to Lorca’s keen for the bullfighter/writer Ignacio Sanchez Mejías was prompted by talk and thinking about the offhand comments about the lament tradition. Those comments are always made – in the style of etc. Elegiac, isn’t it? I do have, I suspect everyone who is community based has, a feel of what this tradition of lamentation sounds like. And yet how many actual laments could I count?

Not so very many. Two ‘canonical’ ones that I could quote. One being the Lament for Art O’Leary – but how well did I know that really? The other being Lorca’s Llanto  – which I know with the red veins of my heart. Or more accurately, the ‘Alma Ausente’ section.  It came to me, after a very good friend of mine died. My desire to translate it, to get inside the spanish words to extract what I needed, felt like part sickness and part healing. I couldn’t understand, because I had written and published poems of my own dedicated to him, why I was so fixated on this poem and translating it. As much as I can think is that I wanted to remember the person I knew as a friend and the legend (in my case possibly the manner of his death or some elements of his life of which he was much more than the sum of). Or perhaps more accurately to recognise – in as many senses of the verb conocer as fitted – the person I knew. And this poem – as Art O’Leary – connected me to all the complexity of what it is to lose somebody that you know deeply  – crossing the lines from private individual to public person.

It seems to me – and I am still as per Ingold ‘in between and mid-stream’ in my thinking – that the caoineadh is like the sermon at a Requiem Mass – and the difference in register from universal recognition to going-through-the-motions-of-what’s-expected (which has its own comfort), is the celebrant’s a true knowing of the person in the coffin.

As I’m writing, I have another ‘window’ open about the appointment of a Poet Laureate to follow Carol Ann Duffy – that’s where my train of thought is taking me. Such positions, saoi, laureate, whatever the title, confer more than an entitlement but an expectation that the person would be proficient in the formal arts of lamentation. But the lament, that carrying creative grief, seems to me, on reflection, to chose wisely its own adherents.

Notes:

Paul Muldoon’s translation is included in ‘Lamentations’ (Gallery Press, 2017). The performance is well worth attending, imho.  Find Irish/English (Kinsella) versions HERE.

Lorca’s poem is HERE.

2018-11-03 12.47.14

‘Linen on the Lagan’ Submission Deadline – @lagannavigator @linenaliveni

LinenontheLagan
It was a pleasure working with workshop participants creating stories/poems around theme of ‘Linen on the Lagan recently’.  It was incredible to hear all the work and I am hoping that, if participants haven’t already, they will submit their work for consideration for the Lagan Navigation Trust forthcoming publication.
A gentle reminder that the submission date is tomorrow, 4pm, 26 October. Submit online on http://www.lagannavigationtrust.org -. All the details can be found there or email admin@lagannavigationtrust.org if you need any further information.  They have had a really good response this year – but still time to add your piece!
Please note there will be an open creative writing session, THIS SUNDAY, 28th October at 3pm at Navigation House during the Purple Turnip Festival. Poems and stories can be submitted on the day.
Events Ceremony (change of date/time)
Finally, all the great storymaking and tapestry creation from the festival will be celebrated at an Awards Event in the Odyssey on Saturday, 2 Feb 2019 ( time tbc). All are invited – more information to follow in due course from LNT.
2018-08-27 12.15.22

@lagannavigator – 2018/19 Storymaking Festival. Theme: Linen On The Lagan

LinenontheLagan

Following their incredibly successful first annual Storymaking Festival last year, Lagan Navigation Trust are inviting people who have a connection to the Lagan Navigation and River Lagan to get involved in their Storymaking Festival this year, with prizes for the best pieces. If you would like a copy of ‘Where my River Flows’ – an anthology arising from last year’s Storymaking Festival, contact admin@lagannavigationtrust.org to purchase.

The theme this year (2018), in celebration of Northern Ireland’s first Linen Biennale, is ‘Linen on the Lagan’. Everyone is invited to submit a story (up to 500 words) or a poem (no more than 30 lines). Work can be submitted via the Lagan Navigation Trust’s website HERE. (see t&c’s there also). The deadline is 4pm, Friday 26 October 2018.

The categories for the competition:

  • Age 11 and under
  • Age 17 and under
  • Adult

Every good wish to all submitting. The festival will be celebtated at an Awards Event in the Odyssey, Belfast on Friday, 1 Feburary 2019 as part of National Storymaking Week.

NEED SOME INSPIRATION

Why not join an open workshop? Storymaking workshops are running up to the end of October 2018, supported by the National Lottery through the Arts Council Northern Ireland, and facilitated by myself and Martelle McPartland.

As part of the ‘Linen on the Lagan’ workshop series, I am running a number of open workshops which are free to attend and all welcome. But these do need to be booked in advance.

Wednesday 26th September 2018 – 10am – 12pm
Creative Writing Facilitated by Olive Broderick

Waterstones, 44-46 Fountain Street, Belfast
Book via admin@lagannavigationtrust.org t: 028 92 663232

Wed 3rd October 2018 – 10am – 12noon
Creative Writing facilitated by Olive Broderick
Waterstones, 30 Bow Street, Lisburn
Book via admin@lagannavigationtrust.org t: 028 92 663232

Sat 13th October 2018 2pm – 4pm
Creative Writing facilitated by Olive Broderick
Lurgan Library, 1 Carnegie Street, Lurgan
Book via Deirdre Breen at lurgan.library@librariesni.org.uk T: 028 3832 3912

Find the full list of workshops HERE some of the others are also accepting bookings to join their current groups.

CAN’T GET TO A WORKSHOP?

A small number of readings and resources to spark your imagination.

Jo Bell ‘Lighter’ – commissioned for the 250th Anniversary of the Lagan Navigation.

‘The Lagan Canal’ by Harry O’Rawe – we follow in the footsteps of May Blair and her work of gathering stories collected in her publication ‘Once Upon a Lagan’. How important it is to record the communities connections – Lagan and Linen – before they slip away out of current memory.

Find out more about the Lagan Navigation on the Lagan Navigation Trust’s website.

‘Linen on the Lagan Valley’ – a resource from Lagan Valley Regional Park

Check out the Linen Centre in Lisburn, and, of course, the Linen Biennale programme for loads of places where you can find out more about Irish Linen – past, present and what it might be like in the future.

FINALLY A SUBLIMINAL MESSAGE…

(Lighter – Oxford Island)2018-08-27 12.15.22

 

 

 

 

‘Where are ye now?’ – after @FiredIrishPoets – name checks and notes

Picking up from a conversation from the inspiring ‘Fired’ event that took place on Friday night (14 September, Aspects, Bangor) where tracing the names and work of those Irish women poets of the previous generation was discussed, I am writing this post to name check and link to those poets who were read, and the contemporary poets who read  both these and their own work.

I chanced on the (not-Irish) poet Lorine Niedecker through a throw-away comment on wikipedia, or some such site, that she was the one woman poet associated with Objectivist movement. I was lucky enough to be able to find enough of her work freely available via internet search to know this was a voice I needed to know more about in the context of my own writing. It took some years before I was able to get a fuller sense of her work and contribution.

It’s my belief – hence this post – that the more name checks and links there are on the WWW, the more there will be an e-trail to the poets of the country of our imagination, whether sharing or not, geographical territory.

For a compendium of women poets, a first port of call is POETHEAD.

In order of appearance on the night:

Maria McManus read a piece of her own and two by Rhoda Coghill

I (Olive Broderick) read a piece of my own and two by Lorine Niedecker (US)

Amy Wyatt Rafterty read a piece of her own and two by Alice Milligan

Gaynor Kane  (see also Women Aloud NI) read a piece of her own and two by Katherine Tynan 

Chris Murray (Poethead) read a piece of her own and two by Frieda Laughton

Katie O’Donovan read a piece of her own and two by Eithne Strong

This was followed by a panel discussion featuring poet Katie Donovan, Chris Murray of Poethead and academic Alex Pryce, introduced and chaired by Dr Lucy Collins (University College Dublin) author of Poetry by Women in Ireland 1870-1970: A Critical Anthology (2012).

Thanks to Moyra Donaldson for organising this particular event, and Aspects Festival for hosting it.

Note: A trail of breadcrumbs and ‘caveat googler’

A person can while away many a happy hour in the grip of a good internet search. The good news is, for those of us out of the realm of inter-library networks, you can get information readily enough. But you do need to approach what you find with an enthusiastic kind caution.  I like wikipedia but, when in the grip of a subject, I like to read pretty much anything at all I can find on that subject (it is no wonder my eyesight is in the state it is). The net result is generally a useful kind of confusion, rather than a limited kind of certainty.  It’s this delicate balance between reliable information and one-stop-shops (of which I am a bit nervous). While approaching with caution, the more searching that’s done, the more the search engines will produce results – this is my thinking here.

 

FiredASpectsFEstival