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.

Munster poetry slam winners

I thoroughly enjoyed the Munster heat of the All Ireland Poetry Slam at The Loft last Tuesday (Sept 11). I was kindly asked to be a judge for it by Limerick Writers’ Centre, which was quite a nerve-wracking experience in itself!

We were marking on the content, the performance of the poet and the audience reaction. I’m happy to say the standard was very high and the packed room was collectively enthusiastic. Nine poets travelled from Cork alone and the two winners happened to be from there.

Myself and the other judges eventually whittled it down to two poets—Fergus Costello and Cathal Holden—who will represent the province at the finals in Cork on November 30. Congratulations to all the participants. It takes guts to stand up on stage and lay your work bare like that.

I found some audio/video samples online to give readers an idea of the material that these two talented gentlemen will bring to the table at the final. Best of luck to them.

Fergus Costello performing ‘Tell me lies’ at the International Bar, Dublin.

Cathal Holden’s entry for a rapping competition.

Poetry, f**k yeah!

There are a number of interesting poetry events on over the coming week. Also, I’ve outlined the details of two competitions below.

Firstly, tonight (Tues Sept 11), the Loft @ The Locke Bar will host the Munster heat of the All Ireland Poetry Slam at 8.30pm. Performance poets and spoken word artists from Limerick, Cork, Kerry, Clare, Tipperary and Waterford will battle it out at the ‘slam’. Two poets from the province will go through to this year’s final in Cork on November 12—which will see eight poets compete to be crowned All Ireland Champion.

Tomorrow night (Wed Sept 12), the weekly White House Poetry Revival is on at 9pm. The guest poet is Cal Doyle. He will read and then others can read their work at the open mic.

The noted Limerick poet, John Liddy, will read from his published work in the Common Room, Millstream Courtyard in the University of Limerick on Thursday September 13 at 6.30pm (wine reception from 6pm). Mr Liddy, based in Madrid, has published many poetry collections and is the founding editor, together with Jim Burke, of The Stony Thursday Book—one of Ireland’s longest running literary reviews. This reading is part of the Millstream Common Room Writers Series organised by with Campus Life Services. Parking is available in the car park adjacent to the Concert Hall building. For more info on attending, contact Linda Stevens on 061-202433 or Linda.Stevens@ul.ie.


The Desmond O’Grady Poetry Competition is seeking entries. One of the organisers, Barney Sheehan, said: “I have always maintained that Desmond’s poetry is accessible to everyone, both the ordinary man or woman in the street, who just loves poetry for poetry sake, and to the high-brow academic, who looks much deeper into the technical working of the poem. It is with these sentiments that I am confident that the entries for this competition will come from poets of many different backgrounds.” For more info on entering, see http://www.desmondogrady.com/poetrycompetition.html.

The CUISLE International Poetry Festival will take place in Limerick from October 10-13 and the title of the CUISLE Young Poet of the Year will be awarded during the event. There are three age categories: 8-12 years; 12-15 years and 15-18 years and all entries must be in by September 24.

Limk Writers’ Centre On the Nail/Poetry Slam heat

The Limerick Writers’ Centre monthly On The Nail event will take place tonight (Tuesday September 4) from 8pm at The Loft @ The Locke Bar.

The featured readers include Limerick’s own, John Liddy, who is on a visit from his home in Madrid. The others are: Irish-Canadian writer, Celest Auge and Padraig Mac Fhearghusa, a west Cork poet who writes largely as Gaeilge.

Gabhar Theatre Company is back with another 10 minute play with cast: Grace Cronin, Shane Vaughan and Hugh O’Brien.

Everyone is invited to take part in the open-mic after the main event, poets, storytellers, musicians and writers. Even if you don’t write you are welcome to bring something along to read.

Next Tuesday (September 11), the same venue will host the Munster heat of the All Ireland Poetry Slam at 8.30pm. Performance poets and spoken word artists from Limerick, Cork, Kerry, Clare, Tipperary and Waterford will battle it out at the ‘slam’.

“For those of you who haven’t experienced one, a slam is a performance poetry competition in which poets perform for not more than three minutes. The winner will be chosen by an appointed panel of judges. The prize on offer to the winner is the honour of representing Munster in the 6th All Ireland Poetry Slam to be held during November in Cork,” the LWC blurb read.

Poets wishing to enter the slam on the night need two, three-minute poems, ideally performed without a script. If you want to participate, all you have to do is arrive on the night to The Loft venue and give your name to the MC or you can email your name to the limerickwriterscentre@gmail.com requesting inclusion.

The Limerick Writers’ Centre run various classes and workshops as well as running literary events and selling books (mostly by local/Irish writers) online so the website is worth a look.

On the Nail/Stony Thursday Book 2012

This month’s ‘On the Nail’ literary event will take place tomorrow, Tuesday August 7, at 8pm in the Loft Venue at the Locke Bar.

The free event will include the launch of issue 23 of the Revival Literary Journal and readings by Kevin Higgins, Bríd Ní Mhóráin and Donal O’Flynn. There will also be a 10 minute play by Gabhar Theatre Company, starring Grace Cronin, Shane Vaughan and Hugh O’Brien.

Everyone is invited to take part in the open-mic after the main event including poets, storytellers, musicians and writers. Even if you don’t write you are welcome to bring something along to read.

More information on www.limerickwriterscentre.com.

Also, The Stony Thursday Book is seeking submissions from local, national and international poets for its next issue to be published as part of CUISLE Limerick City International Poetry Festival in October 2012. This year’s editor is the Limerick-based poet, Jo Slade.

The Stony Thursday Book was founded by Limerick poets John Liddy and Jim Burke in 1975, and has also been edited by Mark Whelan, Kevin Byrne, Patrick Bourke and Knute Skinner, Thomas McCarthy and Mary Coll.

The annual publication is one of the longest-running literary journals in Ireland and celebrates its 37th Anniversary Edition in 2012.

How to Submit: Send no more than six poems and when submitting poems, write your name and address on each page. Send poems to: The Arts Office, Limerick City Council, City Hall, Merchant’s Quay, Limerick or by email: artsoffice@limerickcity.ie.