I was over the moon to hold Jewtown in my hands for the first time this evening and read from it. I was one of three readers tonight in Books Upstairs. I read alongside Michael J Whelan (Peacekeeper, Doire Press) and Rita Ann Higgins (Tounglish, Bloodaxe). Everyone was there to see Rita but I think both Michael and I did ourselves justice. I later heard I sold 18 of my books! It was also my first time signing books and it felt a bit weird. A nice aspect of it was the anecdotes people had about Jewish people they knew. It was interesting to note a number of people told me they had done an essay for their Leaving Cert on the Jews of Ireland. It was a super day and one I'll never forget. [gallery size="medium" ids="1394,1395,1396,1397,1398,1399,1400,1401,1403,1406,1407"]
As part of my very busy May 4th, I was invited to read 8 of my poems for the UCD Poetry Archive. It was to happen in the library and my only memories of this were fumbling around for my student card while a very angry looking security guard looked on. It's all gone much more high-tech with swipe cards now and the place looks much more colourful than I remember. On the way in, it was a strange experience walking the same walk I used to do regularly 15 years ago. I felt the memories as I walked past the 46A bus stop, the lake, the entrance to the library and so on. For some reason I went to stand at the exact spot where I learned my grandmother had died. I have no idea why this is my outstanding memory. [gallery size="medium" ids="1388,1389,1390"] I had a great time doing the recording and all the people involved were very nice and put me at...
I had the odd experience of having to transcribe some of my poems from Jewtown from print to pen and paper. As part of my visit to UCD on Wednesday, where I will be reading 8 of my poems for the poetry archive, I was asked to hand-write the poems as the archive people think it will reveal much about the personality of the poet. I'm sure they will look at mine and go... "teacher"
I was delighted to see my poem, Mary Daly, which also features in my collection Jewtown, was published in the latest issue of Southword, one of Ireland's most prominent literary journals. I'm delighted to be in the company of some very fine poets including the winner of the Gregory O'Donoghue prize this year. Here it is pasted below or you can read it on Southword by following this link.
My mother-in-law has marked her calendar for a roadtrip.
Editing is a necessary job for any writer. I was given a tip to print out and lay out all my work on the floor and go through it by someone a few years ago. Tonight, my job was to kill some of my babies and eight poems have been given the chop. I found it much easier to do it with all of them laid out on the floor. I also spotted an horrific typo and some stray commas. [gallery columns="2" size="medium" ids="1262,1263"]
One of my poems in Jewtown is called, Meeting Isaac Sandler, but who was he? According to the 1901 census, there were 2 Isaac Sandlers in Ireland, both living in Cork. One lived in the Hibernian Buildings and the other lived around the corner in Elizabeth Terrace. The one I refer to in the poem is the former of these two Isaacs and he was the man who according to my records went to the harbour to meet Jewish immigrants from Lithuania. The census records for 1901 say that Isaac was a 45 year old pedlar from Russia. Unlike many of the first generation of Jewish immigrants to Ireland, Isaac and his wife could read and write in English. By 1911, there was no sign of this Isaac Sandler on the census records. As for the other Isaac Sandler, the 1901 census claimed him to be a 19-year old scholar living in Jewtown. By 1911, the family appear to...
The poem, Two Sisters, started its life as a reimagination of the members of the household, 88 Hibernian Buildings. The head of the household was Sarah Hodes, a 24 year old woman. She lived with her two sisters, Jane (aged 17) and Annie (aged 8). There were also two boarders living in the house, Michael and Joseph Siro (I imagine they were probably actually called Spiro). I found it interesting for that time that a young female was the head of a household and there must have been a story behind this. I decided that because in the census form Sarah's occupation is a shopkeeper and Jane is a seamstress, that I would reimagine them as entrepreneurial characters. Sarah works in her shop and sends men to her sister who make dresses for their wives. From the records, it appears that all three sisters were born in Latvia and must have moved to...
I'm delighted to have been published in Bare Hands Issue 20 with my poem from Jewtown, Meeting Isaac Marcus. Better yet, Kerrie O'Brien, the editor, has out my poem forward for the Forward Prize for a single poem! Meeting Isaac Marcus is one of the first poems I ever wrote for Jewtown and it hasn't changed much in terms of editing in the four years. You can read the poem and some other great pieces of writing and art here.