Friday, March 19, 2010

The Writer's Life: Thinking about Ireland the Day After St. Patrick's Day

I don't know a better country to visit as a poet than Ireland. Did you know writers in Ireland pay no taxes? Did you know taxi drivers can recite Yeats to you as they negotiate Dublin Streets and perhaps point out the statue of Patrick Kavanagh contemplating the River Liffey? I've been to Ireland twice and am seriously contemplating a return visit. My first visit was to an artist residency, the Tyrone Guthrie Center in Newbliss. I spent almost a month in "the farmyard" - which meant I had my own apartment complete with kitchen and teapots. My next trip was to Galway where I was a featured poet at the Cuirt Literary Festival that happens each year in early spring. The international mix of writers and honestly friendly Irish staff, made for one of the best events I've ever participated in. For an entire week, the city is given over to book events of all different kinds. The local hospital hosts an event called Poets for Patients and a city center pub puts on a lively music and poetry Sunday brunch.

It is true that both my visits coincided with unusually blue skies and warm weather.

And it seems only right to end with an Irish poem. Here is one from the Galway poet, Geraldine Mills:

Turner in January

How a box built to hold the dark
so that nothing of the day steals in
opens into January light;

spills out colour beginnings
a man who sold skies,
pencil and wash across the page

dissolved into tinted mist
ships, domes, bridges

so that Great Yarmouth Harbor
is barely there, Lake Lucerne
or Hastings

and how as light stretches
it lengthens its own dark.

           Geraldine Mills
           Toil the Dark Harvest

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