listening in

In a continuing effort to get out and be inspired I attended last night’s Over the Edge poetry readings in the Galway City Library. There were a trio of poets reading, followed by an open mic session.

Galway-based poets Rita O’Donoghue and Geraldine Keane are separated by a generation and both have very distinct voices. Rita is slyly witty when she’s not being elegiac, and Geraldine’s best work reveals a poignant heart underneath her observations of modern life.

The final reading was by Greek playwright and poet Dimitris Lyacos. His work is labyrinthine, emotional, and dense. He read excerpts from across his trilogy, Poena Damni, but I think he would have been better settling on a single piece because of the background explanation needed for each one. I was very taken with the section he played from the BBC dramatisation of Nyctivoe, and could have listened to just that for the allotted fifteen minutes.

The open mic readings were pretty good. I’m less enamoured of the snappy observation – usually a couple of lines meant to be wryly humourous – which come off as borderline smug at times. I think that kind of verse works best among a selection of poems, because on its own it tends to illicit a “so what” response in me. The poems that moved me were those delivered with genuine emotion and little affectation. Overall, the level of talent on display was impressive.

I find such readings inspiring, although that can be a bit distracting at times. While listening to other people’s work my mind can suddenly seize upon an idea and begin to work it through, which means I drop out temporarily of what’s being said and into my own private world of words.

Upon returning home I wrote two poems, which is not common for me. I don’t write a lot of poetry, partly because I believe it’s a difficult artform to master. One of the two poems is pretty decent (I think).

Martin read it, and afterwards patted me on the head in a consoling manner.
I could not resist the dangerous question, “What did you think?”
He eyed the screen, and me again, with a sidelong glance. “By the end I think people will believe you’re deranged.”
I’m not sure he realised how much this comment pleased me. “I am deranged,” I pointed out.
He nodded. “I liked it,” he added as he returned to his desk.

Poetry: the funfair for the odd.

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