I really enjoy hearing good poetry read aloud. Reading poetry by yourself is one thing but listening to a poet reading their own deeply personal work adds another dimension to it and brings it to life. I’ve had the pleasure to be at excellent readings by Theo Dorgan, Paul Durcan and Jackie Wills as well as a particularly memorable event down at the Dance Limerick venue in St John’s Square with Donald Hall, Robert Hass and Penelope Shuttle.
This year Cuisle—which is organised by a dedicated volunteer committee—is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a special five day run, October 15 to 19.
The line-up of poets and speakers features “some of Ireland’s best-loved and most celebrated poets will join guests from sister festivals across Europe”. The list includes: Caleb Brennan, Paddy Bushe, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Tim Cunningham, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Veronika Dintinjana (Slovenia), Gerry Dukes, Tom French, Barry McGovern, Geraldine Mitchell, Conor O’Callaghan, Edward O’Dwyer, Iztok Osojnik (Slovenia), Sam Riviere, Shedman (John Davies from the UK), Bridget Wallace and Macdara Woods.
The festival includes writing workshops, an open mic night, special tributes to Samuel Beckett, and the launch of the annual Stony Thursday Book (this year edited by Peter Sirr). Tim Cunningham will also launch his new poetry volume. There is a substantial education programme, including readings and workshops for schools.
A special series of ‘Poetry in Public Places’ events honours Limerick City of Culture 2014. A Door Into The Dark features a dozen artists from Limerick Printmakers have responded to the work of poets who have read at the Cuisle Festival over the past 20 years. Lightboxes, theatrical sets, and text printed onto porcelain are only some of the methods used in this unique collaboration. Look for these along Patrick Street.
Ghost Sonata is a specially created work by Mark Whelan consisting of one long poem written on the windows of Roches Street. Read it together or read it in pieces. Each fragment resonates with its specific location, creating a special experience for each reader.
Poems on the Air is a collaboration with RTÉ Lyric FM, where recordings of poems by Cuisle Festival favourites will be played in various retail spaces throughout October.
Shedman will bring his famous travelling shed to Limerick. In his own words: “My shed is very accessible. Anyone can come in to tell me their shed stories, to bring anecdotes and poems, pictures and photos, recollections and fantasies.”
The poetry of Samuel Beckett is a special feature of Saturday’s programme. At 4pm, there will be a performance of Roundelay—a staged reading by the Fourfront Poets and at 7pm Gerry Dukes will deliver a talk on Beckett, followed by noted actor Barry McGovern performing Beckett’s poetry for stage. Gerry Dukes was a lecturer when I was a student in Mary I and he’s not just knowledgeable but quite entertaining as a speaker.
There are lunchtime readings on Thursday and Friday at 1pm (Sunday at 3pm) in the beautiful Captain’s Room at the Hunt Museum. Evening readings will take place at 69 O’Connell Street (former Belltable) on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 7pm.
All events are ticketed, on the door, at €5. For the complete schedule and more information, including bios and photos, see www.cuisle.org.