Zebra Poetry-Film Festival Highlights
1 – 2 April 2009 @ The Triskel Arts Centre
For poets and filmmakers alike, these were two events not to be missed. Zebra is a high-profile event held in Berlin, combining the two art forms of poetry and film in every way imaginable.
Still from The Dead
We first made the link with Berlin when Pat Cotter from the Munster Literature Centre initiated a four-poet expedition to Zebra in October 2008. After introductions and five days of poetry-films, the organisers agreed to showcase the festival in two Cork events organised by Ó Bhéal, which were then made possible with help from the Goethe Institute and the Triskel Arts Centre. The events here sparked much debate about how to realise poetry films, which are budget-flexible artworks that can be made very simply or with much complexity. They can be thirty seconds long or thirty minutes. Recent poetry films seem to be weighted on the side of visual effect and we have started working on a few local projects that will give more weight to the poetry end, with perhaps more innovative and simple camerawork. Animation overlaying is a lot easier now with the range of software out there, and we don’t have to create Matrix-level images to make a good poetry film.
The Zebra festival attracts entries from many parts of the world, and there tends to be a lot of integrated animation. Although Ireland has not quite yet advanced in the field of animation, as poets we now have a whole generation of young film-makers to collaborate with, and they in turn have inherited a wealth of fine local poets to choose from (as well as worldwide). Films can be made of classic pieces or poems can be written for a film concept. The combinations of possibilities offered by these two art forms seem inexhaustible. From over 700 entries about 140 made it to the festival screen, so filmmakers can benefit from this exposure and double their submissions into short film festivals.
Details of the Zebra Poetry Film Festival can be found on the Literaturewerkstatt website, here.
Raftery Festival turns up the Volume
21 – 23 November 2008
Anthony Raftery would be in his element if he knew what Terry McDonagh was up to in Kiltimagh. He’d go home altogether, I’d say. The festival took a step up this year with world-class guest poets Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill and Matthew Sweeney (who was also poet-in-residence). In the Town Hall on the Friday evening, Nuala read from her recent collection, Fifty Minute Mermaid (translated by Paul Muldoon) and there was music by Diarmaid Moynihan, Margaret O’ Riordan, Mary McNicholas and Ollie Burke. After that the crowd split up to fill two local pubs, Lil Fordes and Kitty McGreal’s for a more informal, impromtu night of poetry and music from all.
The Festival moved comfortably along with the guidance of Arts Officer Ciarán Friel, and Saturday began with Creative Writing workshops. Later on in the evening we heard readings by Matthew Sweeney from his latest bi-lingual collection, Het ijshotel and also from Ger Reidy and Andrew Forster, with music by Tony Reidy. After all that, the (by now large) crowd headed off to The Park Hotel for the festival Slam, which was hosted by Mags Treanor and won by Slam-Maestro, Miceál Kearney.
On Sunday at the Old Schoolhouse there was a quiter gathering for a relaxed ‘open-mic’ session which ended the Festival on a gentler note. Thanks to Terry MacDonagh and his hosting talents, Co. Mayo is firmly on the poetry map. I’ll be there again next year.
Videos of the Saturday Slam and poems read on the Sunday are this way.
Twin Cities Celebration
with poetry from
Jon Morley and Anthony Owen
Cork’s first Twin City was Coventry, established in 1958. In celebrating the 50th anniversary of this valuable relationship, Ó Bhéal hosted two of Coventry’s more prominent masters of verse, Jonathan Morley and Anthony Owen. The evening was attended by Deputy Lord Mayor Jim Corr, who addressed the audience with an inspired speech, acknowledging the importance of poetry and the long-established link between the two cities.
As Anthony had to reluctantly fly back due to unforeseen circumstances, six of Ó Bhéal’s regular poets, Billy Ramsell, Alan Coakley, Daw Harding, Joe Sweeney, Bríd Buckley and myself each read one of his poems, before Jonathan Morley took to the stage to recite from his forthcoming collection, Backra Man.
The videos from the evening are here.
held in the Whitehouse, Limerick
Winner: Dónal Ó Siodhacháin (Munster)
Munster poet Dónal Ó Siodhacháin took the title back from Connaught this year at the second All-Ireland Poetry Slam Championships, moving from Ulster in its inaugural year to Limerick’s legendary Whitehouse. Regular compere Barney Shehan passed the reins over to eMCee and guest poet Steve Murray for this high-paced event which proved its worth a hundredfold with excellent performances from all around the island.
The first All-Ireland Slam was in McHugh’s in Belfast last year, a fantastic event where Brendan Murphy from Galway took the crown. Next year it will be held in either Leinster or Connaught. Congratulations to champ Dónal Ó Siodhacháin, to Stephen Smith who took second place, Dave Lordan who took third, as well as to Dominic Taylor and Desmond Swords for making it all possible.
You can see the main videos from the night here.
7-9 November 2008
In the Gaeltacht poetry seems to be a part of everything. It’s in the language, the scenery and especially the hospitality. What a weekend! 9 poets from Cork and about the same from Limerick converged on the West Dingle peninsula only to be met by two score more of local filí and storytellers. After a first-rate appraisal workshop with Gabriel FitzMaurice on Saturday afternoon, everyone settled in for a meal and an evening of Mighty Craic, including a fiery three hour open-mic session, emceed by Domhnall MacSíthigh and Máirín Feirtéar, herself a direct descendant of the original Ferriters who ruled the North Dingle peninsula from the 13th to the 17th Centuries. The poetry flowed non-stop as did various other liquid substances, and was followed by a late late oiche fada.
The next morning (don’t ask) there were readings from local poets, from Ó Bhéal and Limerick’s Whitehouse chaired by Ceaití Ní Bheildiúin over in Dingle, after a tour of Harry Clarke’s church windows by Monseigneur Pádraig Ó Fiannachta (now retired). Well I for one didn’t want to leave, and I heard a few others say the same. Ballyferriter must be the perfect place for a new poetry retreat. Any takers out there?
This elegant, heartening event, organised and hosted annually by poet and potter Louis Mulcahy, has etched its way firmly into my 2009 diary. Thanks Louis. May there be many more!
The videos from the Sunday morning are here.
Joseph Horgan, Áine Moynihan,
Gréagóir O Dúill and Eileen Sheehan
On Friday evening at Siamsa Tíre in Tralee, poetry enthusiasts gathered to enjoy four poets who have each had collections published by Noel King and DOGHOUSE books in 2008. Since its inception in 2003 this successful Kerry house has established a number of highly regarded poets and has since become Munster’s primary publishing vessel for individual collections.
To see the videos of the evening click here.
At the tail end of Cork’s Jazz festival, a full house swayed to the improv fusions of Keith Armstrong and The Honeyfeet, who met for the first time in the afternoon to rehearse for an hour, and they made magic.
Keith’s lyrical verse and tenor tones balanced superbly with the zesty quintet from Manchester, with Alabaster de Plume on saxophone, Samuel J Double Bass Buckley, Rick Warren on harmonica, Ríanna Ní Chonghaile on flute and vocals and Alice Davis on guitar. Videos of Newcastle poet Guy Hudson’s opening reading follow afterwards.
These vids are going to be major on Youtube. Here they are. Enjoy.
At Ó Bhéal’s 65th open-mic, the camera came out for the night as Matthew Sweeney was filming for his new documentary, so we couldn’t let the opportunity pass to capture some of our famous open-micers. Here they are.
April 9th marked the launch of the 7th issue of Revival at The Whitehouse in Limerick, featuring readings from some of the contributors. Editor Teri Murray gave welcome and Galway poet Kevin Higgins introduced the collection, while John Johnston compèred in the abscence of Barney Shehan, who we hope to see back at the microphone soon.
It’s not surprising that the Shannon’s Whitehouse emanates one of the more popular Irish poetry journals. Revival features over forty contemporary poets from across the island and far beyond, and has become widely in demand thanks to the committed work of Teri Murray, Mark Whelan and Dominic Taylor. A great display of verse from a great venue.
Submissions are being accepted for Revival issue 8 (July 2008), and guidelines can be found at http://revivalpoetrybook.blogspot.com
The Revival readings were followed by the launch of Kevin Higgins’ latest collection, Time, Gentlemen Please
For videos from the evening, click here.
in An Cupán Tae café, Carraroe
Over the past year, artist-poet Aoife Casby has been holding a series of bilingual evenings in Carraroe, Co. Galway.
Earlier this month and with the support of Údarás na Gaeltachta, Aoife hosted readings by Trish Casey and Micheál Ó Cuaig, who also sang sean nós. In a cheerful Gaeltacht style, Ceara Conway creatively eMCeed the proceedings which later included an open-mic session featuring Maire Uí Eidhin, Pádraic Harvey, Aoife Casby (reading a poem by Dan O Flatharta), Annette Lohan, Caroline Lynch and Biddy Jenkinson.
A spirited Connemara crowd filled the venue and after a most pleasurable few hours the evening ended with an impromptu sing-along. I think one enjoys poetry that much more in an inspiring setting, and gently rolling, luminescent Carraroe with its panoramic views of the Aran Islands and the cliffs of coastal Clare, proves ideal.
To see the videos from the evening, click here.