I’ve had incredible difficulty finding the ‘Add New Post’ icon this time around. Had downloaded a beautiful new Theme page, but it just didn’t offer an Add New Post option ANYPLACE. Finally found it by changing my theme page to an Urban-gritty one and hope this works.
Anyway, some news of up and coming events: I’ve been asked by the poet Kerrie, one of the selfless people who work at the Irish Writers’ Centre, to spread the word about the following:
On Saturday 2nd July the Irish Writers’ Centre is hosting a day-long Poetry and Short Stories Publishing Seminar with leading figures across a variety of branches of the publishing industry. Talks will be given by Ciaran Carty, Editor of New Irish Writing; Declan Meade, Editor of the Stinging Fly; Jessie Lendennie, Managing Director of Salmon Poetry; Kevin Barry, Short Story Writer and Novelist; and Kevin Higgins, Poet and Co-organiser of Over The Edge Reading Series.
From 10.30am to 4.30pm. Tickets €60 or €50 for members.
This is an event not to be missed, and extremely good value for what’s on offer on the day – direct info from the war-front where real writing happens and those who have walked the walk will tell others what it’s like and how to go about it. These are literally the top people who are reading and organising anything that’s worth reading at present.
On another front, I recommend a brilliant, stinging essay in the on-line journal SOME BLIND ALLEYS (ed. Greg Baxter) by the redoubtable Carlo Gebler, called ‘A Life in Literature, or, what you may lose by becoming a writer’. Read it at http://someblindalleys.com and discover the difference between a life in writing and a life in literature. There is a distinction.
Poetry Ireland and the National Gallery of Ireland is once again hosting a summer series of lunchtime poetry readings at said gallery and I’m pleased to say I’m reading on July 13th at 1.00 p.m. Jean O’Brien also reads on another Wednesday (not sure which one). Unfortunately I don’t know who else is reading on the other days, so I can’t mention them. All will be revealed in Poetry Ireland’s June Newsletter, no doubt!
At the moment I’m looking forward to a week in Portugal at the end of June, partly prompted by the need for pure rest, but also by my re-reading of John Berger’s magical ‘Here is Where we Live’ (Bloomsbury, 2005). The book is a series of recollections of people he has known or who have died, including his mother, and he uses them in fictionalised encounters in various European cities, among them Lisbon. In Lisbon, he follows his long-dead mother (who appears to him as her seventeen-year old self) through various parts of the city, from the Baixa district and the Praca do Coméricio, on to a baker’s where he buys a dessert called Bacon from Heaven. Berger describes it as being ‘very sweet, tastes like marzipan and has nothing to do with bacon. Toicino do Céu. My mother stayed outside … I bought two portions and the baker’s wife made a gift package with a ribbon, the colour of the SEa of Straw. I stepped out onto the street … It’s what I like best, How on earth did you know? she asks me in her seventeen-year-old voice. Every afternoon I have a Toicino do Céu, she added’.
It is this brilliantly confident yet gentle exploration of time and space that has always drawn me to Berger. I still hope to meet him – somehow – before he dies. He is quite old now, but still healthy. A trip to France is called for, and I have a Francophile friend who I hope to persuade to make it with me (I hope). But when, when? Life is so busy at the moment, mostly with things that do not matter in the least, and that – if I weren’t around any more – would simply carry on regardless in their ordinary unimportance. The important things then: love of family and close friends; the writing life (as opposed to the literary life which sometimes pisses me off big-time) of real work and contemplation and peace; a bit of travel to feed back into both of these first two by having made new connections and laid down new pipe-lines of communication and thinking. And of course I’m totally aware that nobody is reading this fucking blog and I’m now beginning to wonder what the heck I’m doing on a Sunday morning writing to myself when I could just as well hand-write it in one of the lovely empty diaries and books that await my attention on the desk.
Maybe I’ve written enough for today. One last thing though, from John Berger, now writing about Geneva: ‘To the revolutionary conspirators, to the troubled international negotiators, and to the financial mafiosi of today, Geneve has offered, and continues to offer, tranquility, her white wine tasting of fossilised sea shells, her trips on the lake, snow, beautiful pears, sunsets reflected in the water, hoar frost on the trees at least once a year, the safest lifts in the world, Arctic fish from her lake, milk chocolate, and a comfort which is so unceasing, discreet and accomplished that it becomes lecherous.’
On that note, over and out for today. What beautiful sentences he writes!