Feast of poetry at Cuisle Festival this week

It’s time for the feast of poetry that is the Cuisle Limerick City International Poetry Festival again, which started today (Wednesday October 10) and will run until this Saturday.

The festival—in its 17th year—attracts poets of note from Ireland and internationally. It has a range of events including afternoon/evening readings, book launches, a daily poets’ convention, film screenings, a poetry slam and the Young Poet of the Year Awards.

The festival also runs a programme for schools with readings and workshops.

Poets taking part include: Terry McDonagh, Fred Johnston, John Pinschmidt, Máire Áine Nic Gearailt, John F. Deane, Moya Cannon, Peter Sirr, Sue Cosgrove, Medbh Mc Guckian, Fiona Clark Echlin, Paddy Bush, Anja Golob, Radharani Pernarčič, Veronika Dintinjana, Istok Osojnik, Lorna Thorpe and Jeremy Page.

Room—one of the films to be screened—was scripted by local poet, Mark Whelan. The latest Stony Thursday anthology is one of the books that will be launched. The venues are split between the Belltable, the Hunt Museum, the Daghdha Space, The White House and Bentley’s Bar.

Programmes are available around town but for more info, Cuisle is even on the Facebook now.

My two cents…

I’ve been going to Cuisle for a good few years now and I’m always pleasantly surprised. I’m not saying I love everything I read/hear but the variety of poetry, the vibrancy of language and the celebratory tone of the festival never fail to impress. Poetry isn’t about big words or lofty ideas but more about people trying to make sense of the world.

Many poets even like to write about poetry. I referred to the festival as a “feast” earlier and incidentally, there are a lot poems about ‘consuming’ poetry i.e. Mark Strand wrote: “Ink runs from the corners of my mouth. There is no happiness like mine. I have been eating poetry.” The food analogies are useful because of course, poetry isn’t everyone’s cup of tea or maybe a bitter taste still lingers from your school days. But if you try a little bit, you might like it. If it doesn’t go down well, it can be your last supper.

I’m going to end this post with a funny poem by Billy Collins called ‘Introduction to Poetry’. As for me: I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree…

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with a rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

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