These days…….


The Yew Trees at Crom

I am busy these days with a range of projects. Each Thursday I am working with NICRAS as a volunteer for English language support for people new to Northern Ireland. It is reciprocal and I am learning about Sudan, Somalia and China, in addition to Albania and Syria. In exchange I share spoken and written English language skills.

Thursday afternoons, I have a brief residency in the Oak Lounge of the Errigle Inn. In Good Company is a series of sessions to meet with local people from the Ormeau Road, to share stories, anecdotes and lies about this beautiful old bar, which is dedicated to chat and unsullied by TV or music.

On the 3rd of December, I join Belfast’s Late Night Art Tour, to share poetry in and of the city. This coincides with the publication of the next edition of Northern Ireland’s premier literary magazine, Abridged in which a new poem, Remnant Nomenclature is published.

This poem is one of a number of core texts that will contribute to a large-scale poetry and visual art exhibition, due for public exhibition in October 2016. I am grateful to the Arts Council of Northern Ireland for giving me an ACES (Artist’s Career Enhancement) Award towards my development of this project and concept.

Kaffe O is currently hosting my first, albeit small, exhibition of photographs: Svensk/ Sweden for the month of November and I am also delighted to be able to confirm that a further exhibition, The Old Post Office, Clones photographs have been accepted for exhibition at The John Hewitt, in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter for April 2016. This is a really encouraging outcome of the residency I did in Clones in May of 2015.

In another new venture, I have recently become a mentor for the Poetry Society and following on the success of the November sessions, further workshops have been scheduled for February 2016. Next time, we will be offering 1:1 sessions in person and online via Skype, which opens up the opportunity to engage with poets worldwide.

The first of the Solitude Workshops took place in November and I follow-up with the second session on the 9th December. I have had enquiries for residential workshops, for online workshops and to see if I am repeating the series in 2016. The answer is YES!! I’m excited about this development in particular and especially given the interest and reaction it has stimulated. Stay tuned and keep in touch with me about it.

I had the great privilege to have two writers’ residencies back to back in September and October. The first was the Yeats International Literary Residency in Tranas, Sweden. It was a really productive period for me: I managed to complete the first draft of a short script and to do a great deal of the research and back ground reading necessary to feed forward into the Cirque des Oiseaux project.

I also engaged with the translation of a poem from Turkish to English: AdA/ Island by Sait Faik Abasayanik. Gurkan Osturan, with whom I did the translation, had it accepted for publication by The Bogman’s Cannon. We had being working on the translation one evening and woke to the horrible news of the bombing of protestors in Turkey. This prompted us to begin a guerilla poetry project distributing lines from it in public spaces in Sweden and at the political protest to save arts funding in Northern Ireland. The lines were:

“Beauty will save the world;
it will start with loving someone.”

Others from the residency, such as Inês Lampreia have developed the idea further and distributed it among artists in Lisbon.

I met great writers, from Wales, England, Sweden & Portugal and feel that I have come away with friendships and working relationships that will last a lifetime.
Collectively, but while we were all back in our own countries we partook in a synchronized observational hour to document the ‘here & now’ of what was happening on the 19th October. We had two participants in Wales, one in England, one in Lisbon and I was at the Cill Railaig Artists’ Retreat at a residency hosted by the Irish Writers’ Centre.

The premise for this project was based on a project I had carried out in Belfast in October 2014, based on George Perec’s homage to the city of lights – An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris. All the notebooks from this project, will be given by the writers to the library in Tranas, for posterity.

What now?

In addition to the Bar Talk Sessions, In Good Company at the Errigle Inn, I begin a new series of Ormeau Road Literary Walking Tours with fellow ‘Road’ writer and musician Jason O’Rourke. We kick off on the 12th December with an event that is part of celebrations of the Errigle Inn being 80 years in the ownership of the McGurran family. It really is an icon of the Ormeau Road and Jason and I hope that we can carry out one walking tour per month. We are looking forward to it.

Apart from all of that, my primary pre-occupation is with the Cirque des Oiseaux project. I am busy researching and working on the text. I am delighted that poems from this series have been published in, The Pen Points North, Honest Ulsterman, Abridged and Poethead. All those poems are out in the world, earning their keep and doing their work. Having said that, it’s not time be complacent and I feel that I have much to do now, to develop the work further, in line with and hopefully superceding the vision of the proposal.

We will see!


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