Applaud and Appreciate: Culture

There is something so refreshing about community arts – arts for arts sake if you will. What it brings is a genuine enjoyment and appreciation without labels, expectations, without – in the main – economics. Two such ventures available on a regular basis spring to mind – the wonderful Santry Gardens and the fantastic Fighting Words Writers’ Centre both run by volunteers. And of course Seven Towers which I have blogged about before. I like to think that I might alternate my place of writing and take a trip to the Gardens some day to write, in a space that might be called a writers’ corner, perhaps.

But what struck me wandering around the Temple Bar area last night during Culture Night, was the number of people involved in projects and creations that we’re not always aware of. My four and seven year old particularly enjoyed the graffiti spray painting and the music just off cow’s lane.

Graffiti spray painting – great fun!

I got lost in inspiration in Debbie Paul’s exhibition at her Studio/Gallery. Alongside her jewellery with painstakingly attention to beauty found in the most tiny of objects – a raindrop, a pattern on a leaf – Paul displayed some of her inspiration: seaweed, twigs, branches. I treated myself to these beautiful earrings.

Earrings by Debbie Paul (my phone photo does not do them justice!)

We spent an hour or so in the Exchange where we listened to some very talented youths giving fantastic renditions of Bob Dylan, Lou Reed and even The Smiths alongside some readings from the Milk and Cookies writing group. All the while, my children painted on the wall and then waited patiently for their brilliantly crafted balloons.

A brilliant butterfly balloon and super sword – and two happy children

But there was so much more: we had planned to listen to music in The Ark; I had wanted to hear Nuala Ní Chonchúir reading in The Winding Stair and Noel Duffy’s reading in The Irish Writers’ Centre. But that is the point here – at times of economic strain, as a nation our creative side comes to the fore.

It is to be applauded and most of all, appreciated.

Balloon shapes and live music!


Community Ownership: Readings and Writings

Here is where we (Noel Duffy, Sue Guiney, Mike Horwood and I) finished our weekend: the wonderful restaurant at 101 Talbot Street – just up the road from Guineys department store.

We went for the early bird menu with a superb fresh house white. Over our meals  – which included Warm Pan-seared Breast of Wicklow Wood Pigeon, Silverhill Duck Terrine and Slow Roast Lough Erne Lamb Shoulder – we talked endlessly about what it means to be a writer.

Of course it’s not only the writing itself, that solitary task, or even the imaginings of places and characters. It’s also the social aspect. The readings which allow you to bring your work to an audience that might not have heard of your or the work and better still, to talk openly about the creation of those works. Those invisible bonds between writer and reader; the connecting threads amongst writers.

Where these events take place is also important. And hosting a “Literary Hour” on a Saturday afternoon in the Twisted Pepper is what the Seven Towers Agency does brilliantly.

Over fantastic coffee and deliciously scented tea, we read to an intimate audience – some who came to hear us read for the second time – and afterwards discussed our writing and the importance of these type of events.

What matters first is the writing and the appreciation of it, not the sales pitch or the image. It is a gathering of like-minded people enjoying literature for the sake of writing itself. In a world where bigger is often seen as better, venues like the tavern downstairs encourage a community-based approach to both the accessibility of literature (anyone can just pop by and browse the independent ever changing bookstore and stay for a reading) but also the ownership of writing itself.

Write it, own it, share it and read it!

Sue Guiney reading at The Twisted Pepper

The Wonderful Unpredictablity of Readings

The unpredictability of writing is echoed in the unpredictability of readings, or should I say both readerships and audience at a reading. Friday 16th was predicted to be a wet and windy day, off-putting, in anyone’s books to venture out up to The Irish Writers’ Centre in Parnell Square for an evening of prose and poetry.

But people did venture and with Noel Duffy as the compare for the evening, in just over two hours we were transported into many worlds. Noel, reading from In The Library of Lost Objects,  brought into the world of bees and of family history.

In my story “Cakes on The Piano”, from my forthcoming publication Happiness Comes From Nowhere with Ward Wood Publishing, we went into the world of Sheila, who is obsessed with baking and Andy, the painter who still, at sixty-something, lives with his mother who soaks his paint-stained dungarees.

Mike Horwood took us on a journey of memories of a Finnish childhood, makeshift tents of plastic sheets as he read from The Finn’s Tale. Other memories were triggered – and giggles fluttered around the room – when he introduced the reading of his poem “Nature Study, 1962” by saying it was about sex from a seven year old’s point of view.

And Sue Guiney, with her wonderful personal introductions to her novel The Clash of Innocents brought us right into the heart of colourful Cambodia with its vibrancy of life, despite its recent horrific history. Her poems from Her Life Collected  brought a strong sense of the life of a woman to the room, and with a lot of women present, was really enjoyed.

The audience was appreciative and warm and after the readings it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience chatting with them. What struck me, though, and almost surprised me, was the extent to which both the writing styles and reading styles differed amongst these four writers.

We also read at another wonderful event hosted by The Seven Towers Agency at The Twisted Pepper which I will blog about shortly!Like my character Sheila, I’ve been baking after this wonderful literary weekend. You can find the recipe on my Food For Thought Page.

Relaxing scones after a literary weekend!