Lagan Online new website & 12NOW – New Original Writers #lettersfromladyn

Congratulations to Colin Dardis and Lagan Online on the launch of their brand new website today. Looking fantastic. The Honest Ulsterman is incorporated within it, I notice, though the direct link is if you are looking.

Delighted to be included as one of the 12NOW (New Original Writers) – half poetry, half prose

12now-collageThe full twelve are:
Poetry:   Peter Adair  |  Olive Broderick  |  Tory Campbell  |  Patricia Devlin-Hill  | Matthew Rice  |  Ross Thompson

Prose:    Paul Doran  |  James Guiney  |  Anne Harris  |  Paula Matthews  |   David Mitchell  |  Claire Savage

Find out more about each at

Over the next number of months, they will be promoting each of us, showcasing our work, with exclusive interviews, and sharing published work and literary achievements. It’s wonderful to have this support and I look forward to seeing developments with all – and across the wider literature sector here which seems to be in an incredibly creative and growing phase. Long may this continue!

12NOW & Verbal Arts Centre’s Reading Rooms

12NOW as in initiative will see each of the writers working with Verbal Arts Centre’s Reading Rooms, a mobile shared reading programme that gives participants a voice, reduces isolation and anxiety, and promotes wellbeing. Using a reading aloud and shared reading setting the programme encourages participants to share personal experiences from their past, sparking memories, stimulating new thoughts and provoking conversation related to the short stories and poems from our writers, selected in advance and tailored to the needs of the group by the project’s Literary Guide.

Reading Rooms currently has five strands: Young People, Older People, Criminal Justice (working with ex young offenders), Schools Programme and Mental Health. Overall, the poems and stories from each of the 12NOW will be read by hundreds of people in dozens of Reading Rooms groups across Northern Ireland, catering to both adults and children. Additionally, each writer will also go out to visit selected groups to read to them and discuss their work.

I had a chance to chat to Colin about the wiritng and my ‘erstwhile’ blog recently for 12NOW – link to it HERE.

There are three associated poems in the current edition of the wonderful HU as well

  • Hot Water
  • Night Divers
  • Austerity Times

Read them HERE

Many thanks to Colin and Lagan Online for including me in this!

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.