Spoken Word Event Review: When Love Meets the Wave (Ireland)
Kevin Bateman hosts live poetry performances from places of natural beauty or spiritual significance, primarily in Ireland. An event takes place Feb 17 at the Phoenix Park (County Dublin, Ireland) – more details on that can be found at writing.ie. Last summer he led a troupe of his fellow poets and writers to the Cliffs of Moher on Ireland’s west coast, a journey that apparently involved a touch of abseiling and climbing among other activities (although we stand to be corrected on that).
Where Love Meets the Waves kicked off with Bateman’s set, which was brief, and featured a poem that featured dreaming “below the soil, to cry when the flowers open in spring” – a suggestion, perhaps, of regret post-mortem, at not living the life that one would have wished. There are touches of Hell, a dream “last night was about fear,” redolent of sulfur. Bateman tells us “I was being tortured in my bed asleep.”
Anne Casey moved to Australia some years ago. Her set was given added poignancy in light of some pieces she has written for the Irish Times about the reasons for her homecoming.
With lines like “Siren song seasoned with the tang of a thousand tears”, “We’ll fly, throbbing with the thunder”, “Gilded with its endless possibilities”, the fine use of alliteration and sibilance in Seagulls Dreaming suggests a dreamy flight.
Casey’s Between ebb and flow held a sadness as children sleep in the back of the car on a road that’s “Locked in eternal contest on this deserted grey mile” with “Long forgotten graves spilling stones onto this sodden bog”.
Aoibheann McCann’s short fiction – or perhaps memoir – is a little reminiscent of the short stories of the Booker-nominated Michael Collins in terms of setting and detail, but Collins broadly writes of an earlier era bereft of Metallica and the warping sounds emanating from McCann’s battery-depleted ghetto blaster.
Working (or perhaps low-middle) class sniffiness is touched upon in the elders’ respect for tin-roofed homes over caravans as they summer at a location used as a holiday camp. The Troubles are not a central focus, but they are cited as “skits of Northern Ireland politicians having imaginary fights” are cited, their names “an afterthought”, and soldiers, unionists and republicans mentioned.
Patrick Stack kicked off his set with a poem in Irish, which seemed to be a bard’s imploration to listen. Another poem eulogized the death of a female friend who had never returned the poet’s feelings for her, and “who will never grow old”.
A take on Dark Rosaleen addressed “servile impotence” – perhaps of the political class since the foundation of the Irish state – that has betrayed the memory of James Clarence Mangan’s Rosaleen.
Orfhlaith Foyle’s soft-spoken, sweet voice acted as a counterpoint to much of her far more punchy and powerful verse. Damn Them, in memory of the Irish warrior Cúchulainn of Irish mythology, could almost be rewritten as an anti-Austen, pro-Brontes piece. The nature of the wild, warrior class is starkly drawn against the urban and suburban, cotton-wool, kid-glove society of conformity. The “damn manufactured spirits of controlled lives” – our culture of work-life balance and yoga (perhaps) contrasts with “wild spirits”, “crumbling passion”, “lust of your eyes”.
Based on a photo from the mid-90s war in Europe, another piece discusses a sister’s discovery of her brother’s skull. “The clean smooth bone of you, the whole of you is no longer with me.”
Dedicated to Samuel Beckett, her final piece shows the kind of vision we might see in those who write poems about visits from Walt Whitman or other literary greats.
“I saw Beckett the other day in the doorway of that café where you took his photograph,” the image where he knew “he could haunt us all”. Beckett is reconciled to death as they meet and he leans in for a peck in the draughts caused by the breeze of the opening and closing of the café door.
Educator and poet Matt Mooney came next. Among the work he read, Inis Mann is perhaps a cry to return – both physically and geographically – to simpler times. Named after the island, the word inis in Irish has the meaning “tell” and the title could perhaps be read as a pun, “You tell [a] man” (although an added preposition is required for the straight Irish).
“I will go where my heart is lighter,” Mooney insists, “where goats might hide in hollows of weathered rock that broke away”. He describes a beautiful island where lobster pots can be found on the shore and men spade the earth outside of their homes, and the stresses of life are given over to clear-water pools. Without even mentioning a technology-laden, hectic, city life, Mooney provides the perfect antidote to it.
Some further links to the artists’ web presences below:
Review by Richard Gibney