“Where my River Flows” – @lagannavigator deadline extended to 5 December

Ormeau Bridge in late 2001 was the first time I was aware of being in the presence of the Lagan River.

6tag_071117-135743This autumn, I’ve had the privilege of working with a range of groups exploring and writing about connections, memories, links to the Lagan River – or other rivers that people have connections with. I’ve learned there is much more to Lagan River than I had previously imagined.

I would like to say a huge word of thanks to all who worked with me and shared so creatively their insights, experiences, recollections and links to this mightly amenity that flows on regardless – and touches the lives of so many, connecting place to place, and also connecting generations and ways of life – disappearing and approaching.

E-book Submission Reminder and Extended Deadine Confirmation

These workshops are part of a call out from Lagan Navigation Trust as part of their first Storymaking Festival to everyone for submissions to an e-book which will showcase the river through the eyes of those who know it best and those who live in the communities close to it.

Some updates

  • Lagan Navigation Trust have let me know that while they have had a good response to their call, they have room for plenty more so they have extended the deadline until the 5 December.
  • They are also accepting pieces on the more general theme of ‘Where my River Flows’ (for those whom the Lagan is not their river).
  • They have let me know that they are allocating some prizes to be chosen from those who submit, as well as possibility of having you piece selected as part of a video (generously supported by the Community Arts Partnership) see next:
  • Linked to the video creation, if there are any budding filmakers, they also have a limited number of places available for workshops with an experienced cameraman and filmaker who will work with a small group to create a short film based on poems and stories about the Lagan. This would be happening between now and the middle of January and you will have the opportunity to storyboard the video, learn to use the equipment and go out and film with the guidance of the facilitator. The film would be aired at the storymaking event in February at the Lagan Valley Island Centre. To book a place contact maire@lagannavigationtrust.org

You will find all the details, guidelines and online submission on the Lagan Navigation Trust Website.

Lagan Navigation Trust Storymaking Festival

The Festival will close with a celebratory event, as part of National Storytelling Week, with awards being given for selected stories in each age category. The event will be held on Friday 2nd February 2018 at the Island Hall, Lagan Valley Civic Centre, Lisburn.

 

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Poems on a Sunday Afternoon – Sunday 26, Nov @down_arts Centre #Downpatrick

As always everyone is invited to join us for the forthcoming ‘Poems on a Sunday Afternoon’  at Down Arts Centre, Downpatrick, Sunday, 26 November, 2.30-4.30pm. This event is free and no booking is required.

Featured Reading:  We are delighted to feature Co. Down poet, playright and children’s author Paula Matthews who launches her debut poetry collection ‘The Shadow Behind Me’ (Lapwing, 2017) on the afternoon.

WP_20171115_002 1Paula is the resident children’s author for In Touch and she is the lead editor of The Launchpad. As Creative Director of Marginal Theatre, She is currently completing a mentorship via an Arts Council Northern Ireland SIAP Award with Director Jo Egan and is writing and directing an original stage play called Echoes. 

 

Shared Reading: the heart of the PoSA programme – all are invited to share work of your own (poem, short story, song, extract of novel…) or a favourite.

Looking for love in Samhain Light – #lettersfromladyn

‘It’s those skills slow-learnt in the depths of love / That  I’m working at.’                (Pearl Diver final line – Lady Nakatomi, trans Graeme Wilson from the Manyoshu)

6tag_041117-144404A proper letter on this occassion – even if brief. I had attended the John O’Connor Writing School and Literary Arts Festival (2-5 Nov) and had the incredible fortune to attend the Poetry Workshop, three sessions from Fri to Sun, with Lemn Sissay.

I don’t attend creative writing workshops that much any more but I had a real wish to work with Lemn as I admire his approach and his sharing his own story through the medium of poetry. I’m not a performance poet by any manner of means but there is always a lot to be learned about how you present yourself and the poetic choices made in the face of the context that you are expressing.

All poetry is love poetry

We tackled the lovely world of anaphora – I’ve been all over it myself in workshops these last few months. The first exercise was to write about someone we love (could be ourselves) using an opener and a bit of end rhyme. Challenging for those for whom end rhyme does not feel a support. For me the most challenging was the subject matter.  While I subscribe to the old saw about all poetry being love poetry – between one thing and another, the humour has not been on me to write full-out poetic tributes for some time. I struggled with this most normal of subject matters and produced a piece with end rhyme and jagged edges. It was a joy to hear the sharing of the other workshop participants. It was a gorgeous group of people gathered there – some I knew before and some I met for the first time.

‘Overused and much abused promises of delight’

Sang Janis Ian and I’m one with George Orwell’s sentiments in 1984 and the contaminating influence of ‘doublespeak’. The Saturday writing  exercise was to create a poem beginning ‘Let there be…’ (after Lemn’s ‘Let there be Peace‘). I’m a fan of the more sticky aspects of the love spectrum – anger, falling out, hatred etc so that you can get back to love. I decided having had so much trouble the day before to risk doing something that is like nails on a blackboard to my ears. Here is where I got to. Please know that I am addressing myself here rather than lofty wishes for humankind. But I’m sharing for anybody who might be going out in sympathy with me – whose life isn’t quite the cosy or picturesque world of family or lovers that we glide along looking like we might be, for the sake of not sticking out, or simply because rowing against that current is just too tiring.

Let there be love

Love

so the harsh, strong tick of the clock is in favour

and the maggot-food flesh is welcome at table

and the sun and the moon swap places

with chairs, graves, winter gardens

 

Love

so the past is all possibility

and the chill before dawn is a saviour

and Charismatics in the front seat of the car

lead with ‘They’ll know we are Christians by our..’

and mean it.

 

Love

let’s find Orwellian words to express it

where the wreck that’s not recorded

is accepted for the exhibition

and rifts move on to other landscapes

 

Let there be love

and let it grow – stubborn as dandelions –

through the concrete we pave over it.

 

Thanks & Acknowledgements

I wanted to thank the organisers of the John O’Connor festival for having the opportunity to be part of this workshop. Lemn Sissay’s reading of ‘Something Dark’ and the discussions around the work and wider, and the participants all adding to this being a very thought-provoking workshop from my perspective – just what I needed, I suspect. The rest of the festival was just pure class. So fantastic to have caught up with some many great people. Looking forward already until next year.

 

 

 

 

‘The Middle Place’ , 17 Nov, 7.30pm, Brian Friel Theatre @QUBelfast

Dancer Paula Guzzanti, musician Martin Devek and I were delighted to premiere ‘Knowing the Dance’ a sequence of three dance~poems, at Down Arts Centre on the 9 September. The content of this performance was inspired by an investigation of the middel place between dance and poetry.

We are delighted to invite you now to attend a somewhat developed performance of this piece, entitled for this iteration, ‘The Middle Place’ which further explores a little more deeply connections between the three artforms on which the three pieces rest.  The event is free to attend but needs to be registered in advance on EVENTBRITE

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I would like to thank the Arts Council of Northern Ireland for funding the development of the ‘Knowing the Dance’ project through the ACES Award Scheme, Down Arts Centre for providing creation and rehearsal space, and support for the premiere performance. A particular word of thanks is due to Sarah Warsop for her original ideas and masterclass on marking out a middle place to link artforms.

I hope you are able to make the event on the 17th November!

The @PoetryJukebox @BelfastFestival launch 12 Oct @CrescentArts

 

This innovative project from Belfast based poets Deirdre Cartmill and Maria McManus is part of the Qoutidian – Word on the Street project which seeks to put poetry into public space, to surprise and delight the unsuspecting. The Poetry Jukebox is brought to you in collaboration with Piana na ulici, Prague.

A special launch of the Poetry Jukebox on 12 October as part of Belfast International Arts Festival celebrates the arrival of this new, funky and permanent landmark to the island of Ireland for the first time. Come to Crescent Arts Centre and hear some of the first round of Poetry Jukebox poets read their works at 7pm. The event is free to attend. Just come along no need to book.

The Poetry Jukebox (now with its own twitter feed @PoetryJukebox ) first curation is a combination of open call and invited poets:

Joan Newmann
Michael Longley
Eavan Boland
Celia de Fréine
Stephen Sexton
Mark Granier
Paula Meehan
Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin
Katie Donovan
Padraic Fiacc
Mary Montague
Adam Trodd
Adrian Fox read by Matthew Rice
Nessa O’Mahony
David Braziel
Seanín Hughes
Olive Broderick
Eamon McGuinness
Afric McGlinchey

Find out more about the initiative in this Irish Times Article.

Here’s a sneak peek of me, courtesy of the Belfast Telegraph, reading ‘Friar’s Bush Cememtery’ (Night Divers 2017) – HERE

Find the sneak peek preview of those recorded in Belfast during the week HERE.

The Poetry Jukebox is a gorgeous new fixture. Contents will change every few months. If you are passing the Crescent Arts Centre in Belfast, you won’t miss. Do have a listen.

 

Where my River Flows – @LaganNavigator Storymaking Festival Call for #Lagan stories.

Do you have a story, memory or link with the River Lagan or the Lagan Navigation?

The Lagan Navigation Trust (LNT) is inviting people and community groups who are interested in the rich heritage of river, canal, land and water, to get involved in it’s first Storymaking Festival.

The project “Where My River Flows” brings the past, present and future of this national treasure to life through the sharing of stories of those connected to it. Tapestry and creative writing workshops are two ways to get involved in this project which takes the Navigation, and all that it touches, as its inspiration.

The Festival started in September 2017, with facilitated workshops available until the end of October. Each workshop will provide the group with the skills necessary to produce a tapestry panel or create individual or collective stories/poems. Submissions will go forward for shortlisting to be included in the Festival, the Festival eBook and the Festival Video.

Submit your written pieces:

  • Submit a story (500 words max) or poem (30 lines max) in the relevant age category (under 11 years old, Under 16 years old and 17 +) via the online form (see also t&cs) on LNT’s website HERE 
  • Attend an open workshop at Navigation House on Saturday 30th September or 29th October (Spaces are limited, so early booking is essential)
  • Picking up a ”Where My River Flows” postcard from; Lisburn Visitor Information Centre, Ormeau Library or Lurgan Library, affix a stamp and post your story or poem back to The Lagan Navigation Trust, Navigation House, 148 Hillsborough Rd, Lisburn, BT27 5QY. Or simply fill in your contact details along with your story or poem and return to the Storytelling Festival post box provided at each of these three venues.

Storytelling Event

The Festival will close with a celebratory event, as part of National Storytelling Week, with awards being given for selected stories in each age category. The event will be held on Friday 2nd February 2018 at the Island Hall, Lagan Valley Civic Centre, Lisburn.

Some Inspiration

(1) Jo Bell, former Canal Laureate, reads her poem ‘Lighter’ created for the Lagan Navigation’s Anniversary (2013)

 

Leaflet

 

‘My Father’s Chair’ by Stephen Beggs features at @Down_Arts Centre’s Sunday Poems event – #Downpatrick

As promised a very special edition of Poems on a Sunday Afternoon, coming up this Sunday, 24 September and beginning at the earlier time of 2pm (to 4.30pm).

Featured Spot: Our feature for this session will be ‘My Father’s Chair’ (2-3pm) performed by theatre maker Stephen Beggs, followed by a Q&A session. The show is free to attend for those coming to the Poems on a Sunday Afternoon event but needs to be booked in advance. Please quote PoSA09 when booking your place (2 complimentary tickets).

Shared Space This will be followed by the regular shared session of Sunday Poems starting c.3.30pm, where everyone, as always, is invited to read a piece of their own or a favourite. In keeping with the family-friendly theme of feature performance, younger folk are warmly welcome to this event.

If you need any futher information, contact wordsforcastleward@gmail.com

Hope to see you there!