The Power of Words – marking #HolocaustMemorialDay 2018

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“I want to go on living even after my death! And that’s why I’m so grateful to God for having given me this gift, which I can use to develop myself and to express all that’s inside me. When I write I can shake off all my cares; my sorrow disappears, my spirits are revived!

Anne Frank, written in her diary, 5 April 1944.

I read Anne Frank’s diary at about the same age as she would have been writing it. I knew about the Holocaust at that stage and when my father gave this book to me to read  I suppose it was that dimension of it that he was thinking. I, however, became totally immersed in this girl’s story, her family, and her wish to become a writer that I forgot the bigger picture of this kindred spirit’s one, incredibly significant, publication.

I remember arriving at the back page, the epilogue of sorts, and reading about what happened to her with such disbelief and heartbreak. I thought that such writing would make my friend-across-time immune to such an end. But it didn’t. The vibrant girl in the Amsterdam annex has stayed with me.

Just one voice. How it’s been a witness for not just her or her family but to an atrocity – an abuse of human rights – the scale of which I cannot imagine.

I worked in my twenties to build up a small specialist library on the subject of equality (and discrimination) in third level institutions. I read a lot, between the cataloguing of them and setting them on the shelf, of books dedicated to defining and removing the processes of discrimination between classes and types of people. I learned how words can be dropped in to drive a wedge between ‘them’ and ‘us’ and where that leads.

My professional path through life, also brought me a series of lectures, as a student of marketing, on propaganda, this precursor to our ‘post-truth’ era. – the reality of it – the attempt to establish some kind of ‘good’ line between what it is and what actions it produces and words generated to tempt people to buy goods and services.

Words. Words before action. The power of words to influence action. Words that can be used for good or for evil – as this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day literature reminds us.

I set the intention always now – no matter what I am writing – from poems to advertisting copy – that good, safe and life-affirming outcomes may follow on from my words.

The Power of Words – Holocaust Memorial Day 2018

Holocaust Memorial Day takes place annually on the 27 January – the aniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp. It marks not only the Holocaust but is a day to remember the millions of people murdered in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur. It is a chance to honour the survivors, and to work to challenge hatred and create a safer, better future.

It is a privilege to be involved on this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day Programme with its ‘Power of Words’ theme.

AFTERWORD: Thanks to all who took part in both events. I very much appreciate you being there, and the energy that you brought to the events.

Creative Writing Workshop (Down County Museum, 27 January 2018, 10am-1pm, FREE).

This poetry writing workshop will give participants the chance to create pieces exploring the theme. I’m looking forward to meeting the participants tomorrow. If your eye falls across this before the end of today and you’d like to be involved. There are some places – contact: 028 4461 5218

‘Power of Words’ Poems on a Sunday Afternoon (Down Arts Centre, 28 January, 2.30-4.30pm, FREE)

Participants from the workshop are inited to share the work from this event at a special Holocaust Memorial Day ‘Poems on a Sunday Afternoon’ happening at Down Arts Centre, Downpatrick, on Sunday 27 January, 2.30-430pm. This will form the normal ‘feature’ segment of the afternoon.

As always, all who attend are invited to share work – their own or, a favourite (or a mix) – that celebrates the words in all it’s forms and in this case the power of words.

Booking isn’t required. Looking forward to meeting at either or both events all being well.

Do check out the full Holocaust Memorial Trust programme in Northern Ireland, there are some very thought-provoking events, that engage beautifully with the theme, happening this couple of weeks: http://www.hmd.org.uk/events/find/Northern%20Ireland?page=1

I want to thank particulary Shirley from the Trust in Northern Ireland for her support of this event’s programme.

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Creative Writing Courses from @Down_Arts Centre #Downpatrick #Newcastle

I know we are still a little way from the winter solstice, but there’s a feel of renewal in the world of words, and creative writing activity, in this part of the world which makes me very happy.

While I’m looking forward to ‘Words for Castle Ward’ getting back to business early in the New Year with some, hopefully useful, feedback on new writing and new writing generation, it’s always lovely to have local opportunities to learn new skills or get other perspectives on writing/genres.

6tag_300817-175745If you’ve gotten the new Down Arts Centre brochure through the door, you’ll have noticed three adult Creative Writing courses are listed there.

(1) Creative Writing Workshop with Dr Catherine Kelly (Weds, 17 Jan for ten weeks, 7-9pm, £45/£40 conc). Welcoming back this very popular workshop for all genres from this reputed author and playwright. I know quite a few people who have taken (and returned to) this course and speak very highly of it.

Venue: Down Arts Centre, Downpatrick

(2) Creative Writing with Paula Matthews (Mons, 15 Jan for ten weeks, 7-9pm, £45/£40conc). For those closer to Newcastle, poet, playright, children’s author and all round good egg Paula Matthews will be exploring creativity and how to use writing to tap into our resilience. This course will conclude with a digital journal to showcase the work created within it. We were delighted to launch a volume of poetry by Paula at the last Poems on a Sunday Afternoon.

Venue: Newcastle Centre, Newcastle

(3) ‘I have a (children’s) story in me…’ (Tues, 16 Jan for ten weeks, 1.30-3.30pm, £45/£40conc) author/illustrator Kieron Black takes this very interesting new course to help you get your story from daydream to thumbnail sketch to workable plot. This course for adults concentrates on the creative writing aspect – don’t worry if you aren’t an illustrator though I suspect if you can whip up a sketch or two that would be lovely as well. Kieron is also facilitating an illustration-focused story workshop for teens during this first season.

Venue: Down Arts Centre, Downpatrick

HOW TO BOOK A PLACE

Info/booking line: 028 4461 0747

Find all class/performance/exhibition listings on the Down Arts Centre website.

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(4) Power of Words: Holocaust Memorial Day Workshop & Poems on a Sunday Afternoon

Not a course, but I’ll be facilitating a one-off morning workshop based on material from the Holocaust Memorial Trust material around this year’s topic ‘The Power of Words.‘ (Sat, 27 January, 10am-1pm, FREE, advance booking required. Places = 12). Participants are invited to share their words at the following day’s ‘Poems on a Sunday Afternoon’ at Down Arts Centre. I’ll blog separately about this, though.

Venues: Down County Museum / Down Arts Centre

 

‘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!

Book now: ‘Knowing the Dance’ 9 Sept, @Down_arts Centre, Downpatrick #performance #masterclass

KnowingtheDancePosterDAC‘Knowing the Dance’ Premiere, Sat, 9 September, 7-8.30pm, £5. To book contact DAC 028 4461 0747 

Inspired by WB Yeats’ famous question ‘How can we know the dancer from the dance?’, this performance of a thought-provoking sequence of dance~poems is created and performed by poet Olive Broderick and dancer Paula Guzzanti, joined by musician Martin Devek.

Introduced by Damian Smyth, Head of Literature and Drama at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the performance is a showcase of how dance and poetry can inhabit a shared creative space while honouring the individual practices of poet and choreographer. The performance will be followed by a Q&A session.

‘Knowing the Dance’ Masterclass, Sat, 9 September, 3.15-6.15pm, FREE

Those with a poetry practice are invited to join Sarah Warsop to work on finding ‘the dance’  in their work using the breath and movement. For this three hour workshop, you are invited to bring a poem of your own which you would like to work on. Sarah Warsop is a contemporary jewellery designer and choreographer who has extensive experience of creating a middle place in which diverse artforms can connect. This exploration of a middle place where the dance/movement of the poems reside is based on a masterclass held earlier in 2017 at Down Arts Centre

The workshop is free but participants need to register in advance. Capacity: 12. A bite to eat will be available afterwards for those who are staying on to attend the peformance.

 

To book contact DAC 028 4461 0747 

Artists’ websites

www.PaulaGuzzanti.com

www.MartinDevek.com

www.lettersfromladyn.wordpress.com

http://sarahwarsop.com/

‘Knowing the Dance’ is supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, through the ACES Scheme, and Down Arts Centre

Note: If you are unable to attend the performance on the 9th September, there will are two performances coming up at the Brian Friel Theatre, Queen’s University, Belfast.

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Save the Date: #KnowingtheDance Masterclass (@Down_arts Centre, 9 Sept)

Today, I am putting the finishing touches to the ‘Knowing the Dance’ programme on the 9 September.

In-between & mid-stream in Downpatrick last January

I had the great fortune to work on an extended masterclass with artist, contemporary jewellery designer and choreographer Sarah Warsop in January this year as part of the Knowing the Dance project that I am working on. I’d seen work she had been doing bringing diverse artforms together (not only choreogrpahy and jewellery design), and wanted to investigate her technique with the hope of finding a way to draw out the movement/dance within the poems so as to understand better where the moving parts are in the poems and how to make them work best; creating a middle-place between poetry and dance (this was part of Paula and my work-in-progress), and using the middle place as a ground of creativity in its own right.

Down Art Centre Masterclass

Delighted that Sarah will be hosting a three-hour masterclass based on the techniques we worked on in January at Down Arts Centre on 9th September. The workshop is free to attend and booking will be open shortly.

Liminal 2017

Sarah was the winner of the inaugural Cockpit Arts’ Performance of Craft Award in 2016 has released her new short film ‘LIMINAL’ in 2017. See the video below – find out more about it and her process HERE.

Save the Date: #KnowingtheDance Premiere at @Down_arts Centre (9 Sept)

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Knowing the Dance‘ Premiere

Inspired by WB Yeats’ famous question ‘How can we know the dancer from the dance?’, this performance of a thought-provoking sequence of dance~poems is created and performed by poet Olive Broderick and dancer Paula Guzzanti, joined by musician Martin Devek. The performance is a showcase of how dance and poetry can inhabit a shared creative space while honouring the individual practices of poet and choreographer. Introduced by Damian Smyth (Head of Literature & Drama at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland), the performance will be followed by a Q&A session.

‘Knowing the Dance’ is supported by the Arts Council NI through the ACES Scheme, and Down Arts Centre.

Date: Saturday, 9 September

Venue: Down Arts Centre, 2-6 Irish Street, Downpatrick, BT30 6BP

Time: 7-8.30pm

Price: £5 (ticket booking available from August on 028 4461 0747)

Please note that the performance will be preceded by a workshop 2 hour (3.15-6.15m) ‘Knowing the Dance’ masterclass. More information to follow.

Artists’ websites

www.PaulaGuzzanti.com

www.MartinDevek.com

www.lettersfromladyn.wordpress.com

http://sarahwarsop.com/

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.