Fermoy Poetry Festival 2013

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Evening folks!  The festival is over – I’m currently sat in my room in my friend’s house.  I stayed with Ita last year and she kindly put both me and the hubby up this year.  I’m absolutely exhausted – have decided I can’t hack having a social life – which is what the festival has felt like!  We arrived on Thursday and we have stayed out most nights till one or two in the morning, and been out, all day at various poetry happenings.

Thursday night was the launch of the festival at the Grand Hotel in Fermoy.  There were lots of poets that had come from all over the world to be there – quite a few from America, one from India, a few from England and three from Holland.  Thursday was relatively low key – we introduced ourselves and a lot of the American poets read poems as a kind of American showcase event.

After the reading had finished, me and the hubby popped over to Elbow Lane, which had been the focus of the festival last year to say hello to some old friends, including Billy, the landlord of the pub.

On Friday we spent the day reading poems in various locations throughout the town including the barbers, which was great fun as the barber turned up to the poetry reading later and read a poem he’d written after having us all in his shop.  The barber experience seemed to inspire quite a few of the poets to write poems about it!  I decided to go in the next day to watch him at work when there were no poets there but at least two other poets said that they were writing about him as well! Poor man!

Friday night was the launch of the official anthology of the Festival, the Blue Max Review which has poems from all the poets who read at the festival.  If you felt so inclined you can order a copy of the anthology from http://www.fermoypoetryfestival.com/Blue-Max-Review-2013.html

My favourite poem from the anthology is Rachael Davies’s poem ‘Ten Things My Mother Never Told Me’.  I think it is a cracking poem and it is worth buying the anthology for that poem alone!

There were also readings from American and Irish poets on Friday night in Lombards bar.  This was the night I was prancing around the pub with my top on inside out, and didn’t notice till a local pointed this out to me.  How embarrassing.  I had a long white label trailing at the side of my top!  And a poet that shall remain nameless poured the milk that was meant to be for my cup of tea into his whisky by mistake (he thought it was water).

On Saturday we went to a couple of places to do readings but then we got a bit full of poetry so we went to the park and played on the swings and the exercise machines instead.  Saturday night was the launch of Gene Barry’s first collection ‘Unfinished Business’ published by Doghouse Press.  I like going to launches – they are different to normal poetry readings I think.  Much more celebratory and fun and you get lots of non-poets there who have come just to support the poet.

I read at Elbow Lane after Gene’s launch.  It was great to be back there again reading.  Rachel Davies, who I met originally on the MA at Manchester was one of the winners of the international poetry competition this year.  The other two winners were Ben Johnson and Erin Murphy – their prize was a flight to Ireland and a reading at the poetry festival and I thought they were all great.  Knute Skinner read and i liked his poetry enough to buy his book – but what I loved was his dancing!  You couldn’t stop him.  Not the same time as he was reading his poetry of course – this was afterwards when the musicians got up.

Sunday was the poetry bus and a poetry reading in the evening that was streamed live to Texas – hosted by Michael Clay.  By this point, after four solid days of non-stop poetry, I’m afraid I got a little hysterical and kept getting the giggles.  On the bus we had also invented the cliche whistle – I debated about whether to talk about this here in case some people got offended…but I will risk it as in the law of averages, four days of poetry readings are going to produce some cliches….

The cliche whistle is actually a little whistle that the hubby has on his hiking rucksack which you are meant to use if you are in distress when walking or climbing mountains.  We decided that two short blasts on the whistle should be sounded every time someone used a cliche in a poem.  This then developed to one long blast on the whistle if anybody introduced a poem with the words ‘This was inspired by’ (a personal pet aversion of mine).

Of course we didn’t actually blow the whistle at anyone apart from each other….

So last year, my highlights of the festival was meeting all the wonderful people there and how friendly everybody was.  This year was exactly the same – it has been great to spend time with some of my favourite friends from last year – Jan Glas and Tsead Bruinja.  But I also got to know Saskia Stehouwer a little better this year which was really nice.  Rachel Davies and Ben Johnson were a very funny double act this year and I’m so glad I met Ben – who lives in England, so I hope I will see more of him when I go back home at poetry events.  Michael Clay, who runs the poetry website Mad Swirl (http://www.madswirl.com/content/poetryforum.html)  is a lovely, lovely guy, unfailingly enthusiastic about other people’s poetry and about life in general.  John W Sexton was also great fun and I’m hoping to put a poem of his as a Sunday Poem in the not too distant future as I think he deserves to be much better known over here.

Lovely poet/musician/artist Pat O’Connor – a Fermoy legend has been great again – he picked us up from the airport, did a poetry reading and then burst into song and then the next day came and played violin and guitar and sang.  I hope Fermoy knows how lucky they are having Pat!  Michael Corrigan and Niall O’Connor were two more poets from last year who it was lovely to see again this year-  I enjoyed Mike’s poetry last year but I think it is really, really strong this year.  And Niall has a book out ‘Winds of Change’ which I haven’t got round to reading yet, but I’m sure it will be good.  Another star of the festival was Miceal Kearney – absolute legend.  He was even doing cartwheels in the streets.

There were lots of other poets that I haven’t mentioned which I am sorry for – but it is getting late now and I’m too tired!

Tomorrow I’m off to Gene and Margo Barry’s house – the organisers of the festival.  They are hosting the Dutch poets and we are having a translation day tomorrow!  Which I’m very excited about – all three – Saskia, Tsead and Jan are fantastic poets – they have such unusual voices and I’m really looking forward to it.  So, no, I haven’t had enough poetry yet.

If anyone reading this would like to add their own comments about the festival, please feel free to do so underneath.  And I’m sorry if I haven’t mentioned you all by name – but this post is already way too long….

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2 responses »

  1. I left a comment earlier (or thought I had…it seems to have vanished into the ether)…maybe it’s there and I can’t see it. Anyway. I was pleased as it’s possible to be pleased by seeing Julie Mellor as the Sunday poet. I’ve sat in so many Poetry Business workshops where Julie’s brought in drafts that invariably go on to be polished stunners. And I especially remember her workshopping this poem, and being bowled over by what seemed like the reckless glee of taking on Heaney at his own game and coming up winning. I love her ear for texture in language, the sensuous delight of placed and weighted consonants, and her eye for odd details (like the mole that marks you for hanging). So: a special Sunday. Thanks to both of you

    • John the mysterious missing comment has not appeared at this end! But thanks for persevering and very glad this made you happy! By the way are you near Wakefield? I’m reading there on the 22 september. ..

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