Reading: Jewish Book Week

Reading at Jewish Book Week has to go down as a highlight of my Jewtown experience. Ten years ago, I never thought that I would ever write a poem, never mind be asked to read at a major book festival in the UK. Not only that, the event was completely sold out two weeks before the event. The event took place in Kings Place and I was being interviewed by Jonathan Self, who is based in Ireland. Jonathan was interviewing both me and Ruth Gilligan, author of the fantastic novel, Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan. This was the first time that the event was not a reading, as such, it was a full hour talking about the Jews of Ireland through both of our books. It was a really interesting interview covering everything from how it felt being a minority in Ireland to how we felt Irish people treated minorities today as opposed to when our books were set....

Jewtown amongst 4,000 books

Jewish Book Week started last night and I took the chance to get a snap of my book among the 4,000 other books featured in the festival. I also picked up a copy of the Jewish Book Week brochure and had a peek...

Mentoring Session with James Harpur

I never thought I'd travel to Cork for an hour, but last Friday I had booked myself in for a manuscript makeover with James Harpur. This was the second time I've used this mentoring service, which is part of the Cork Spring Poetry Festival and I wanted to see how some of my new work was shaping up. Although I only had an hour, I managed to steal a little bit of time before and after the session. I had lunch in Iyer's, which was really really tasty and when I was trying to find my car after the session, I walked by Sless Carpets, formerly owned by Jewish people from Cork. I was delighted with James' feedback and would recommend this session to any poet, whatever their experience. It's given me a new focus for my poems and I think I have unlocked the key as to why I didn't think some of the poems weren't working. [gallery size="medium"...

Interview: The London Ear

I was interviewed on RTE 2XM's London Ear programme before my reading this weekend at Jewish Book Week. What made the interview a little bit different was I was being interviewed by a long time family friend who hosts this arts show based in London for Irish listeners. In the interview I spoke about how I started writing poetry after a flirtation with Britpop-inspired 4-chord guitar playing and being raised Jewish in Ireland, while Vanessa remembered her first encounters with Chopped Herring. You can hear the interview on Nessy.com's web site: http://nessymon.com/the-london-ear-on-rte-2xm-show-144-simon-lewis-and-the-survival-code/

Shortlisted for Shine/Strong

Apart from having my book published, last week I got the best news. Jewtown has been shortlisted for the Shine/Strong award. This award is for the best first collection of poetry by an Irish poet. There are three Irish poets shortlisted for this award and apart from me, they are Stephanie Conn (also of Doire Press) and Adam Crothers. The awards happen on March 26th.

Published Honest Ulsterman

I'm happy to have had 3 of my poems published in the Honest Ulsterman. The three poems were all written when Emrys was very tiny and possibly in the middle of the night. I decided not to send them off for at least a year or two to try and make sure that they weren't too sentimental. I've edited out any of that sort of stuff and was delighted that the three were selected to be published. You can read them at: http://humag.co/poetry/birthmark-spilt-milk-butterfly

Two new books

I was delighted to get my hands on two new books this week. Cold Coffee at Emo Court by Arthur Broomfield, and Several Deer by Adam Crothers. The second book has been shortlisted for the Sine/Strong Award along with me and Stephanie Conn so I had to check out the competition! I've already read the first few poems and I am loving it! It is achingly clever and every line of every poem has a moment of "wow" in it. The language is just great fun and highly witty with knowing showboating where he enjambs a hyphenated word but tells us he's going to do it in the previous line. I would love to have the confidence and craft to be able to create such interesting...

On the Banks – poetry about Cork City

I was interested to see a new anthology of poems about Cork City that was published recently and edited by Alannah Hopkins with support from the Munster Literature Centre. It is a large anthology of poems about Cork City. It contains lots of well-known poems from history, (The Banks of the Lovely Lee), with several poems by classic and contemporary poets who have written about the city. The book is divided into geographical parts of the city and a quick flick through demonstrated the wealth of poetry that has been written about the people and the city. It's great to see another collection of poems about Cork City and I only wish it had been published a few years ago so I could have taken some inspiration for...

Launch of Representations of Jews in Irish Literature

I had a fantastic evening in Waterford IT where I launched the exhibition of Representations of Jews in Irish Literature, which is touring Ireland and beyond. This was the first time I've done a poetry event without doing a reading, as such. I was asked to give a presentation on how I came to write Jewtown. I spoke about my own Jewish background and how I started writing. I also spoke about my research and how I moved from Jewtown being an historically accurate account to a fictionalised account rooted in Cork City. The exhibition is going to be in Waterford IT for the month of February and is well worth a...