‘Donkey Shots’, or Skerries First International Avant Garde Poetry Festival

 

So ‘Donkey Shots’, or Skerries First International Avant Garde Poetry Festival, has come and gone. We were ‘poxed’ with the weather. The sun shone all day long. I had been dreading the rain. As the festival organiser I was ready with: ‘Ok, that’s it. Let’s hit the pub!’ if the rain did come down, but no, all three sets of readings took place at their appointed times, in blazing sunshine, and all who attended assured me that they had had a wonderful time. So much so, in fact, that many asked me to continue into next year with suggested monthly readings to keep up contact with one another. And what a line up we have, with the creation now of a monthly series of readings to take place in The Gladstone Inn in Skerries, to be called The Gladstone Readings.

One of the things which I think really makes this group of poets special, one of the main reasons, I think, for the success of the festival last month, is that we are such an eclectic group of writers - coming from very different places, geographically and poetically.

Two of our poets, Eithne Lannon and Bob Shakeshaft, (who will both be hosting the August Gladstone reading), are both only in the process of putting together their first collections; I included them in the anthology we launched in May, ‘And Agamemnon Dead’. Both poets have shown great potential, both having been engaged in literature all of their adult lives, yet both come from very different professional backgrounds; Eithne is a teacher and Bob, now retired, was a butcher for many years.

Peadar O’ Donoghue, who will be the guest poet for September, has a first collection behind him (Jewel, Salmon Poetry, 2012) and is bringing out his second collection, also with Salmon, ‘The Death of Poetry’, later in the year. Peadar also edits, with his wife Collette, ‘Poetry Bus’, (they are currently taking submissions for issue 6). Peadar is hugely vocal against what he sees as the prevailing status quo within the poetry world in Ireland; his own writing, and indeed Poetry Bus, being two outlets for him to challenge this conformity.

This is a period of incredible creativity in the world of poetry in this country. The recent economic events which have affected the country so profoundly over the last twenty years, for example, and which continue to affect us all, are without a doubt, a major reason. As is the rise of the internet. Whereas before there were only a handful of outlets for poets to show their work now there are a myriad of possibilities open to them, both at home and abroad.

Christine Murray, our third poet to read has had numerous collections published by small independent publishers here at home, and abroad. She is a consistently productive poet, delving deep into history and myth, which always informs her startlingly new imagistic writing. She is certainly one of my favourite writers working in the country, so I am delighted to say that she will be the guest poet in The Gladstone Inn on the 14th of October.

The poet and historian Michael J Whelan will be coming out to us in November. Michael has yet to have a book published but his is truly a unique voice in modern Irish poetry, being a former soldier and having toured with the UN in both Bosnia and the Lebanon, Michael’s poems offer a rare chance to glimpse the violent and brutal world Michael experienced during his time as a soldier.

Best-selling novelist, Rosita Sweetman will be the last poet in The Gladstone Readings this year when she reads in December. Rosita is no stranger to controversy, having written numerous books and articles on changing attitudes to both sex and religion in the Republic over the years. A founding member of the Irish Women’s Liberation Movement, Rosita’s poetic voice reflects ideas of love and tolerance, yet grounded, at the same time, in the reality of day to day living, and all of the suffering which such loving and tolerance might entail.

Finally, I will be kicking off The Gladstone Readings in July. My fifth collection of poetry (originally published by Hammer & Anvil Books, Nevada USA, in eBook format earlier in the year) is being published by Lapwing in Belfast, ‘The Enemy, Transversions from Charles Baudelaire’. Having Lapwing publish seems like the perfect occasion to launch the first of ‘The Gladstone Readings’. All most welcome!

Peter O Neill

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.