The time has come – the Walrus said #lettersfromladyn

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and kings-“

Oysters don’t be alarmed. My earworm for this week is one of those shorthand phrases that families have. For the Broderick clan it meant – it’s time to take action (often marking the end of one thing and the move to the next – like the end of a day at the beach and the clear-up to go home). For me, this week, it means getting my schedule organised and on the road.

Some wonderful things on the horizon in the next month:

  • Castle Ward Book Fair: Traditionally held in November, but now moved to a June date. In 2016, 11 & 12 June. This little bit of paradise for the average bookorm is organised in conjunction with the wonderful second hand bookshop at Castle Ward.  ‘Words for Castle Ward’ will be hosting a reading on Sunday 12th – and my plan is to also host one or two open workshops during the day. I’ll keep you posted.
  • Belfast Book Festival, 9-19 June:You wait all year for a celebration of books and two come along at the same time! BBF16 is a mighty programme this year. There are two evenings of readings by Templar poets. I’m planning to attend the reading on the 11th. A generous helping of new writing both poetry and fiction, and some great workshops as well.
  • Newry Writers’ Festival, 17-18 June: This is an exciting new development from SRC Newry Campus. A number of members of ‘Words for Castle Ward’ are reading at the evening event at the Sean Holywood Centre. This showcase also includes the launch of SRC’s Creative Writing Journal. All events are free but need to be booked in advance – although I think the evening event may be fully booked at this stage.
  • Remembering Ann Zell, 19 June: I had been a member of the ‘Word of Mouth’ poetry collective for a number of years and was very fortunate to have had sound feedback and encouragement from Ann Zell – as well as the privilege hearing her work as it arrived. Everybody who knew her or her work are warmly invited to a celebration and poetic rememberance of her life at the Crescent Arts Centre at 6pm on the 19 June.
  • Poems on a Sunday Afternoon, 26 June: It’s lovely to see how this gentle space has grown and flourished over time. Particularly this year, we’ve been meeting some wonderful new writers. My thanks as always to Down Arts Centre for partnering on this venture with me. They are stellar to work with. It’s on 2.30-430pm and as always we are looking forward to the opportunity of hearing your words (or songs) on the day.
  • Dundrum Imaginarium, 30/09, 1 & 2/10: Save the date. The programme is just this week finalised for our 2016 Imagainarium. The organisers have had some exciting developments themselves (this nourishing creative retreat can be powerful as well as relaxing). We’ll be putting out a call for participants from June. Exciting times!

In the meantime, I have some great digital/comms work going on as always.

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Letters from Black Hawk Delta: April 2016 #NaPoWriMo


Thirty Tristichs

Tristich 1-10

Tristich 11-20

Tristich 21-30


Notes & Acknowledgements

  • These thirty three line pieces were written daily, exclusively for National Poetry Writing Month (#NaPoWriMo) 2016 and to be shared via Instagram – @pearldiver32
  • They respond to writing prompts from Lagan Press, @thepoetryschool (on Instagram) and NaPoWriMo site – often using a mix of prompts.
  • The title is in honour of Lorine Niedecker and her  ‘condensery’  – in keeping with the backdrop of this blog.
  • I have a fascination with tristichs since meeting them in the poetry of Yannis Ritsos and it was interesting to fit other forms within the confines of three lines. Sometimes it didn’t work so well, like the three-line couplet. The ‘One Verse Terza Rima’ gave this piece something extra, I think. The plural is tristichs not tristiches…sometimes I get the wrong end of the stich.
  • All the images are mine, except the Concentrating Kingfisher – image credit: coniferconifer – allfreedownload


Olive Broderick © 2016


Images and uisce beatha (non-alcoholic variety)

No matter where experimentation takes me, I remain profoundly influenced by imagism. For me, the haiku as I understand it (a kind of happy accident between two zen moments which takes you down a third path) is a kind unit of currency in this kind of poetry.

Recently I faciliated a series of workshops which, by way of happenstance, centred on images – finding them; considering the place where verbal and visual images overlap and where they have different strengths and potentials.  We created legends for existing images, selected visual images but presented them in words (why this one and not that, why highlight this but not that?), recreated those images which live only in memory because you didn’t have your camera that day.

On Saturday, I attended a workshop facilitated by the brilliant Colin Dardis and Geraldine O’Kane looking at micro-poetry (‘little miracles’). For me, the short poem is the best because you are pushed to really look at your selected images – anything out of place is quickly discovered.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, I’d bought a Hugh MacDiarmaid Anthology and what has held my attention is one of the epigrams with ‘A Glass of Pure Water’ – which reads ‘praise of pure water is common in Gaelic poetry’.  I hadn’t come across it but I love the idea. In fact, I have to admit I like the image of the pure water that he extends out from in the poem to where the poem actually goes – which I need to sit with a bit, I think.

But that idea of the praise of pure water has stayed with me in my imagination. One of my practice pieces at the workshop on Saturday was an attempt at a cinquain based on a jug of water and glasses on the table of the workshop room in the Linenhall Library.

This morning I wrote three short poems (of the non-formal form variety) – one on a selected image (as per Saturday), one giving a legend to an image that I have been carrying around me with for the right time for words to come, and finally, something from my childhood that I very much wish I had a photo (although if I had taken it I suspect that I’d have appeared stranger in my grandmother’s farmhouse in West Limerick than I already did) – two plastic buckets that held springwater, the only drinking water available.

The below is the image I have been carrying around with me. ‘Water, water everywhere…’ as the old poem goes. It’s Monevasia in Greece, July 2011. How haunted we were by the fear of dehydration.




Too Many Ideas Syndrome

It isn’t called ‘Too many GOOD ideas syndrome’, I notice.

Just sat down to find a blog that I’d earmarked to read that promised to give me skills on getting a smooth flow from idea to either  (a) ‘discard’ or (b) ‘do’ stage. I couldn’t find the blog but found this blog instead ‘9 Ways to Overcome Too Many Ideas Syndrome‘ from the Writer’s Digest website. Useful, I think.

It’s a gift and a complete joy to be met with juicy ideas to the left and the right but a curse to be haunted by vague memories of ideas that weren’t even recorded. I try to remind myself that if I didn’t get the idea on paper there was a reason for that.  But still…    Somewhere I’ve written a not-so-good poem called ‘The poems I didn’t write were great’.

Is it me, or is it all a process of translation?  Getting the ideas, sifting through them, find ones to focus on, finding they go on their own journey.

A word of thanks from me to countless individuals who create really rich content blogs about the writing process. I adore finding out about how others face the writing process. It occupies the no.1 spot on my list of things to do to procrastinate in the face of bringing ideas to the page.

Re Collecting & Different Versions of the Same Events

Now that I’ve finished the big spring clean here, back to business.

I’m still thinking about collections and learning to write just the right amount (not over or under) today. Bothered by it.

Remembering a concert I’d been to in Belfast before Christmas. Trad musicians Iarla O’Lionaird and Steve Cooney to be exact. Iarla sang a couple of songs which were new to me in the sense that they were really well known pieces but he had found really unusual and lovely versions brought together by unknown (to me) collectors of songs in the oral tradition. To be fair, not a subject I know a lot about – Robin Flower –  is the only name I would recognise.

Of course, we wouldn’t do this now that people copperfasten their own work onto pages, but then when people played with work that had already a long shelf life to breathe another generation into it, very different versions would have been usual. It’s interesting what makes it into the canon, or fixed version, and what,  like Beowulf, will always bear a new telling. And then there is remixing which probably comes from the same instinct.

And a quirky project from Pen Point Press called ‘Edi[t]fy‘- where people created new pieces by applying their own editing methods to an original uncomfortable exercise.

I needn’t but say I haven’t yet done the un-underwriting excercises that Pascale Petit had suggested in her ‘Towards a Collection’.

And this is the perfect excuse to lay down my tin whistle forever and lose myself in a very new (to me) version of the once overfamiliar, now entirely loved in its new version (now to get the words of ‘Raglan Road’ to work with the melody).

The Importance of Place II

“I shall learn poetry here and shall henceforth write more than ever…. I cannot think with Hazlitt that these scenes make man appear little. I never forgot my stature so completely – I live in the eye; and my imagination, surpassed, is at rest.”    (John Keats)

After a number of years posting from here on the very odd occasion – trying to get a feel for this kind of writing environment and coping with other prose-side issues – I have finally added an About Me section.

It’s an interesting coincidence that ‘lettersfromladyn‘ began with an interesting coincidence about wanting to find poems featuring Strangford Lough which ended up with a book  on Hazlitt’s essays which I bought at the second-hand bookshop based in Castle Ward on the banks of Strangford Lough (see ‘The Importance of Place‘)

And here I am writing in one of the Castle Ward Arts and Crafts Open Studios at the Farm Yard right around the corner from Strangford Lough. How strange.

Ever increasing circles, I hope.

Strangford Lough

Strangford Lough

Collecting Myself

Lovely spring day here. A little breezy but there is a feel of cobwebs being blown away. The windows are showing up dirt, though, in the brightness.

Once again I’m struggling with the whole notion of getting THE (first) collection together. It just doesn’t feel right to get c.40 poems under one title.

I’m re-reading Pascale Petit’s ‘Towards a Collection’

I first came across her as a translater of Yang Lian’s poetry. In ‘Towards a Collection’ she advises ‘Read poetry in translation; it will broaden your outlook of what a poem can be and do.’

I love, and am unnerved, by reading in translation but there is always the feel that the translater has to strip the poem down to its skeleton and then rebuild it so that it has the same affect to the reader of the translation. It seems to me that a good poem is already a little whittled but not underwritten.

But what I am finding incredibly useful are her suggestions on editing individual poems and how to approach the problem of underwriting. I look forward to experimenting.