Hey from Hay!

I had a great time at the Hay Festival in Kells last weekend. It has to be the most friendly festival I've ever been to. The organisers couldn't do enough to make one feel like they were a superstar! There was even a green room with all the coffee, food and treats that you could ever want. I also got a goodie bag with a t-shirt and I even got lunch and dinner. [caption id="attachment_1575" align="alignnone" width="225"] Second billing to Peter Fallon. Not bad![/caption] My reading was at 5pm, which, unfortunately (for me) was at the same time as Francis Brennan who pulled in about 400 people. There were two other well known writers on at the time too. As well as that, Northern Ireland were playing Wales in the Euros. Poetry rarely draws in huge crowds so I wasn't expecting anyone to show up except for these two below. Thankfully...

Belfast Book Festival

I had a great time in Belfast for the Belfast Book Festival where I read with Michael J Whelan and Stephanie Conn as part of a special Doire Press Poetry evening. We were introduced by the very talented Stephen Connolly and there were about 25 people in the audience. A special treat for me was the appearance of my Uncle Eon and Auntie Maria who were over from Toronto. I've nabbed a few photos from Michael's blog and hope you enjoy them. [gallery size="medium" ids="1552,1553,1554,1555,1556" orderby="rand"]

Borris Festival of Writing and Ideas

The Borris Festival of Writing and Ideas is one of the highlights of my festival year. Rozz and I have never missed one since it opened 5 years ago. Emrys missed 3 of the 5 due to not being born but he's had a 100% record since then. This year was extra special for me as I was on the line up! If you look at the photo below, you'll see my name on the list. Granted I'm very very far down but at least I'm not last! Here are a few photos from the weekend. [gallery size="medium" ids="1535,1534,1529,1526,1524,1523,1518,1517,1513,1512"] Sunday [gallery size="medium" ids="1547,1539,1546,1542"]  

Jewtown – the Launch

Tonight was the launch of my first poetry collection, Jewtown. We had a small get together in the house with some friends and family. I made cholent, a Jewish-Lithuanian stew that takes 16 hours to cook, and the title of one of the poems in the collection. It seemed to go down ok and hopefully lined the stomachs for the night ahead! Before the launch, it was lovely to have the 3 Carlow finalists in the second level 1916 commemoration poetry prize read their poems and I presented them with their medals with Fintan Phelan, who organised the competition. It was then down to business. John Shortall, the head librarian in Carlow Libraries, introduced the evening. John Walsh from Doire Press, spoke about the publishing journey and the relationship he has with Carlow. I was honoured to have Grace Wells to launch Jewtown and her speech was amazing -...

Reading at Books Upstairs

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"]

Upcoming Readings

It's been a busy few weeks in terms of the final edits of the book and I'm delighted that Jewtown is with the printers now. I've also been very lucky to have been approached by some festivals and booked in for readings. After the launch on May 27th, I'll be reading at the Hay Festival in Kells, the West Cork Literary Festival in Bantry and the Blackwater Festival in Fermoy.

Reading in Carlow College

Today as part of Carlow College's conference on migration, I was at the launch of an excellent art exhibition from Poland, where photographs of remains of the Holocaust are showing. Tomi Reichenthal, a Holocaust survivor, originally from Slovakia launched the exhibition and told his story to the audience. After the launch, there was a poetry reading in the college with my writing group. I read some poems from Jewtown for the occasion that was in it. Emrys managed to stay for the whole reading armed only with cucumber slices, cheese and peanut-buttered...

To Trouble the Living Stream: Reading

I was delighted to be back in Visual Carlow with the Carlow Writers' Cooperative for this poetry reading. I read a few newer poems about Irish male identity. I have been very busy with edits to Jewtown as well as work stuff so I haven't had much of a chance to attend the group. It was nice to hear their work and get the chance to share some of my own.

Gregory O’Donoghue Reading

I'm delighted to be one of the chosen readers at the Gregory O'Donoghue Prize Giving, which was won by Leila Chatti. There are nine of us reading at this event and here's a little bit about us all. Amanda Bell is a Dublin-based editor and writer. Publications include The Lion Tamer Dreams of Office Work: An Anthology of Poetry by the Hibernian Writers, and Maurice Craig: Photographs. Read poems by Amanda Bell at Poethead. Dean Browne won the 2011 Cuisle National Poetry Competition as a secondary student, and since then his poems have been published in or are forthcoming from The Penny Dreadful Magazine, The Shop, Poetry (Chicago), Southword,and elsewhere. Read poem by Dean Browne at Poetry(Chicago). Following last year's publication of his controversial first pamphlet 'The Chelsea Flower Show Massacre' (Templar), Mark Fiddes was runner-up...

Upcoming Reading: Cork

I'm delighted to be one of the selected poets to read at the Cork Spring Poetry Festival during the O'Donoghue Prizewinner ceremony in the Cork Arts Theatre. It's all happening on Saturday, 13th February from 2:45pm. I'll be reading a few poems from Jewtown, including my shortlisted poem, Mary Daly.