Mound of Down Minotaur – #lettersfromladyn

The mound, we could say, exists in its mounding. This is to think of it not as a finished object, standing on foundations and set over and against its surroundings, but as a locus of growth and regeneration where materials welling up from the earth mix and mingle with the fluxes of the weather in the ongoing production of life. The mound has not turned its back on us, as we might suppose, hiding secrets within its dark, enclosed interior that we can discover only by tunnelling in. On the contrary, it is open to the world. As the ever-emergent outcome of the interplay of cosmic forces and vital materials, the mound is not bulit but grows.

extract from chapter ‘Round mound and earth sky’ from ‘Making‘ by Tim Ingold

MoundofDownPerduranceFor various reasons, I am not doing my usual round of the Mound of Down today, despite the weather being glorious here. Instead, I am considering it as an anthropological proposition. I might have overstated the case when I said that Tim Ingold had covered all of my favourite things in his ‘Life of Lines’ volume in an earlier post.

It seems that my current fascination with anthropology á la Prof Ingold continues with an earlier book – Making‘. I had been slow to read this because of the title (it doesn’t mention lines or being alive) but, in fact it is the backdrop to the ‘Knowing from the Inside‘ work. But more importantly there is a significant part of a chapter on…MOUNDS.

Of course, the Mound of Down is not specifically mentioned – but it is, to be fair, a poster child for perdurance – and of not coughing up much in the way of archaelogically sound information about what the hell it was/is actually all about.

And, of course, it is always work-in-progress. Yes, like it’s brackets – the Down Cathedral and Inch Abbey – it is a little bit fixed in place by our attempts at preservation. But, unlike both edifices, it is a growing thing. How strange it would be if we found that the Cathedral had an extra layer of bricks that nobody could account for in the time between they were and weren’t there. But it would be much stranger if we came back to the Mound – even after a short absence – and found that it was absolutely the same as we left it.

I wrote the below a couple of months ago. I think it will have been May because of mention of burning gorse.  Speedwell (veronica) appeared in the burnt places quite quickly. I also notice – this is in general – that the Mound of Down tends to spit people out. I don’t know how many conversations I’ve had about how it should be a big tourist attraction in the town but I always get the sense that the Mound is not over welcoming –  siphoning walkers off by a new gate this season.

It is, I am sure, labyrinthine in its history. It has to be, whether abandoned stronghold or other lost earthworks, because it has centuries of all things of this local world tamping it down, shaping it, mounding it. I’m always surprised – perhaps I’ve said this before – that it’s never assoicated with those that are rumoured to live in mounds.

Mound of Down Minotaur

Everything moves in circles here.

Ariadne keeps count of the turns
with different coloured threads.

Growing by burned gorse
blue veronica. Orange tips

and their black-lace ladies fly
above unconcerned. Who knows

what moves below the surface
of these ancient earthworks.

People come here once, then
don’t come back. Mean to,

ought to, but somehow
don’t make the journey.

Except Theseus who wants
it to be a tourist destination.

He needs it clear of menace –
means to get to the bottom of it.

He beats back the overgrown paths,
but they are moats and lead back

to their openings:
first a small descent,

then spit him out,
and he must start again.

Strange hungers – #lettersfromladyn #KnowingtheDance

-and not simply by the fact that this shading of
forest cannot show the fragrance of balsam,
the gloom cypresses,
is what I wish to prove.

from ‘That the Science of Cartography is Limited‘ by Eavan Boland

6tag-3088414843-1554372041217788600_3088414843I’ve been writing this in my head while getting my (very late) lunch ready. The title is a misremembered fragment of something that had been said to me about the process of academic research. Something like ‘Strange hungers and unexpected fevers’.. I think it is a famous enough quote but I can’t remember quite how it went.

What do I know?

Part of the ‘Knowing the Dance’ project has been about getting to grips with movement and ‘the dance’ (in the Yeatsian sense) within my own poems. It has been a few months of strange hungers and even stranger reading material. This is not an academic enquiry, and I am now very pushed to say what kind of enquiry it is at all… Maybe a mix of detective work and a memory of a group of poets, let by Michael Donaghy, trying to find our way back from the local hostelry to a writer’s retreat house across from Inch Strand in the middle of a moonless night without a torch.

Strange divinations, and a lot charcoal (and you get a stick of your own if you become in anyway involved in the ‘Knowing the Dance’ process).

Who knows?

And a reading list in this particular order:

‘The Body has its Reasons’  – Bertherat and Berstein

‘A Poetry Handbook’ – Mary Oliver

‘The Rules of the Dance’ – Mary Oliver

‘Lines: A Brief History’ – Tim Ingold

‘The Singing and Dancing: Collected Poems’ – Ann Atkinson

‘The Dance Most of All’ – Jack Gilbert

‘Lines of Thought: Drawing from Michaelangelo to now’ – Isabel Seligman (in conjuction with a British Museum exhibition of the same name).

‘The Making of a Poem’ – Eevan Boland and Mark Strand

‘The Life of Lines’ – Tim Ingold

‘Knowing from the Inside’ – Correspondences – Prof Tim Ingold

‘A Part Song’ – Denise Riley

‘Knowing from the Inside’ – The Voices of the Pages – Caroline Gatt

Coming Round

Choe Keou. Reanimation point. Located at the base of the nose, above the upper lip. Pinch it hard between the thumb and index finger. Very useful in reviving someone who has fainted, this massage can be of great service while waiting for the doctor.

from ‘The Body Has its Reasons’ – Ancient Foundations – Bertherat and Berstein

I am processing this morning that the words aesthetic and anaesthetic are related – even if it is a relationship of opposites. (see also Kroun Loun – the ‘aspirin’ point – located on the foot). And after a few months of pulling words, text, inked lines, sound patterns, surfaces, sounds etc apart from each and trying to find out where the liveliness (?) is..I think it might be time to concentrate on the writing itself. I have a full work in draft and a few interesting ideas on how to progress and a hundred thousand questions on what it is all about anyway.

Final Words

The opening quote is from a poem by Eavan Boland.  It has a geographical location in the famine roads of the West of Ireland, and, to be honest, there is a part of me that is very uncomfortable taking it out of that context. The poem ends

the line which says woodland and cries hunger
and gives out among sweet pines and cyprus,
and finds no horizon
will not be there.

And yes my hope is, after all this strange hungry considering, that such a line might be recovered and reinstated.

Correspondence – #lettersfromladyn #knowingthedance

“It is not then, that things have agency; rather they are actively present in their doing – in their carrying on or perdurance. And as things carry on together, and answer to one another, they do not so much interact as correspond. Interaction is the dynamic of the assemblage, where things are joined up. But correspondence is a joining with; it is not additive but contrapuntal, not ‘and…and…and’ but ‘with…with…with’.

from ‘Correspondences’ by Tim Ingold –

6tag-3088414843-1540764965929439424_3088414843(2)June was a very packed, very wonderful month and, in this wet, wintery start to July, I am just getting to take in all that happened. Early on in the month, I had the bizarre, good fortune to actually meet Prof Tim Ingold whose work I have been reading as part of the ‘Knowing the Dance‘ project. In the midst of chatting, I discovered he was coming to the end of a project that takes in art, architecture and anthrology called ‘Knowing from the Inside’. He kindly organised for me to get hold of copies of the beautifully produced publications that come from this project. I have just begun to read his volume of essays on ‘Correspondences.’ You can find pdf versions of all on the Knowing from the Inside website.

Though I will have to wind my way slowly through the ideas about how we come by what we know (or think we know), I am really loving the correspondence between this work and ‘lettersfromladyn’ which was, itself, inspired by the decades-long correspondance between Lorine Niedecker and Louis Zukofsky. This correspondence between the backwater of Blackhawk Island and bright lights of New York, not only kept two people in contact with each other, but was the medium by which their practice as Objectivist poets was teased out on a day-to-day basis.

And, the fact that correspondence, in the form of ongoing conversation with recording through video, email and in the creation of the work itself, is at the heart of the ‘Knowing the Dance’ project itself.

Le gach dea-ghuí

Olive x

PS: Edit – I have just realised that I’ve spelt correspondence as correspondance – and have hopefully corrected it – too much dancing…

#12NOW (part 2), @WomenAloudNI & @TemplarPoetry Launches at @BelfastBookFest

Belfast Book Festival – what an extended fortune of literary talent, both from here and incoming! Big congratulations to Keith Acheson and all at Crescent Arts Centre for the programme.

Life conspired to keep me at a distance last week but from Thursday of this week, I am in full festival mode! Too many good things but I’ll do what I can. Find the full programme HERE.

I’m delighted to let you know about three events that I’ll be reading as part of:

Thurs – 15 June, 6.30pm @Cresent Arts Centre

Lagan Online presents 12Now: New Original Writers Night 2: I’ll be in the company of  lovely current 12Now-ers Peter Adair, Patricia Devlin-Hill, Paul Doran, David Mitchell and Claire Savage.  A mix of poetry and fiction – and exciting voices. I understand Night 1 was great – so we look forward to continuing in the same spirit. (£4 – book online HERE)

Saturday – 17 June, 2-4pm @Crescent Arts Centre

Women Aloud NI Readathon and Mass Simultaneous Reading: The mighty and growing collective of wonderful women writers ‘Women Aloud NI’ are in full session on Saturday afternoon – with the trademark rapid-fire reading and simultaneous reading. It’s a great way of getting a glimpse of a wide range of writers in a range of genres. (£6/£4 – book online HERE)

Saturday – 17 June, 5pm @Crescent Arts Centre

Templar Poets: The day is fast approaching. A lovely rematch to be launching with Paul Maddern who is showcasing his eagerly awaited latest publication ‘Pilgrimage’ – a complete privilege to be reading with him. I can’t wait to hear the new work! I’m still finding it hard to believe that ‘Night Divers’ is actually really out there. So thrilled to be launching it as part of the Belfast Book Festival.  (FREE – book online HERE). Copies of Night Divers will be available at the launch or available online now at Templar Poetry

Enjoy the Festival – and hope to catch up one way or another!

Abridged 0_1979 Now Out – @abridged030 #StrangerthanFiction


The absolute antedote to this week’s strange fortunes – Abridged – the 0-1979 edition. Love this publication in the largest way. Delighted to have ‘Stranger than Fiction’ as part of this one and loving the facing image by Kourtney Roy from the Enter as Fiction series.

Hope you can pick up the paper version (it’s free as well as being utterly fabulous). The online version can be found and perused HERE.

Words for Castle Ward Events @NTCastleWard #BookFair this weekend.


These are challenging times – and all I can offer by way of comfort is guilt-free shopping therapy for book-lovers. Castle Ward’s wonderful new-to-you annual Book Fair happens this weekend. As always there are books for every age, stage and taste. People tend to bring their own boxes. Donations and proceeds go to supporting conservation at the Natioanl Trust’s Castle Ward property. Events are free but normal NT admission charges apply. Bring the family – as there are activities for children on the general programme as well.

Words for Castle Ward Events

10 June

10.30-12.00: New writing workshop on the theme ‘Open Book’. Free to attend. This workshop for adults will suit all – from beginners to experienced writers – and all writing genres. Expect to come away with some new writing! Venue: Education Suite

12.15-12.45: Impromptu reading in the Stableyard Cafe. Back by popular demand, Words for Castle Ward writers share some work at the Cafe. Enjoy lunch or a coffee and creative written work. Venue: Stableyard Cafe

15.00-16.00: Launches of new works by Castle Ward authors. Join Malcolm Kidd, Terry Hickland and Olive Broderick as they launch new novels and a volume of poetry. With an introduction and readings. Books will be available to purchase on the day*, with some refreshments. Venue: Lord Bangor’s Sitting Room, Castle Ward.

All are free to attend, do let me (Olive Broderick) know if you will be attending the workshop at


*Except ‘Night Divers’ which is available online HERE and will be available at the Belfast Book Festival launch on the 17 June.

‘Materialism’ Poem by #KnowingtheDance workshop participant – #EvolvingFields

We restrict ourselves…

So thrilled to have permission to share the full text of this wonderful piece, written by one of the participants in response to an impression from the ‘Knowing the Dance’ performance/workshop at ‘Evolving Fields’ conference at Queen’s University Belfast – and some lovely photos of Paula and I as well from the first piece.

Find ‘Materialism’ on her ‘Inner Citings’ blog HERE.

The shared space was powerful – thanks to all contributed in words or images.