As down by ferryside

As down by Ferryside

ferryside stream

one day I lingered,
the stream from the dingle descending
blessed me with sparkling
waters pure. Wayside flowers
led my feet to the smiling

ferryside fisherman
hauling on nets of eternity.
Stream, flowers, sea
gather and guide me through,
wrapping me in Ferryside’s warm embrace.

last wave ferrysideHer beauty laid bare, not great and overpowering
but rather the warmer welcoming sort,
comforting in her comfort, soothing as her sands
shimmer by the last wave brightly sparkling.

old stones wood ironIn springtime sunlight her beauty in the little details
the eye draws out, hidden gems,
shells, old stones, rounded pebbles
nestling against old wood, old iron.

dragons teethPerfected by time steps invite me to pause,
contemplating broken dragon’s teeth
beyond, old stones above Llansteffan,
best seen from Ferryside.

curve of steelA perfect curve of steel
draws a limit,
inside this arc
hides gentle perfection.
Linger here awhile
my friend,
casting aside all dejection,
resting in bright Ferryside.

bright ferryside


WISPA tour of Wales March 2014, part 5

       The final evening of poetry was in the Queen’s hall Narberth.

The organiser of this event was Sian Davies, a young woman dedicated to poetry who curates a lovely poetry group in this corner of Wales. Among the other poets there were Mel Perry and Laurence Jones. I knew I was in poetic paradise when, earlier in the tour I heard Laurence refer, in Carmarthen, to several literary icons of mine.

Catullus        How often do you hear someone speak of Catullus, Walden Pond, and Tom Paine all in one presentation!

Laurence was terrific company in Carmarthen and again in Narberth. We were able to have such wonderful discursive discussion and I am so glad that I met him on the WISPA exchange. I have no doubt that my path and his, as with so many others I met, will cross again.
Each poetry group that I have ever known has it’s own style and atmosphere and the Narberth poets reminded me so much of my own group in Duncannon, County Wexford, Hooked on Poetry.
We sat around in a circle and had a fine free flowing discussion around all the poems read, mine and others. It was an inspiring and insightful evening and one I’d love to return to and take part in again, I’m sure that in the fullness of time I will. It was this evening where I had a chance to properly, I felt, present a poem of mine I hadn’t had a chance to do justice to at previous readings.
“For Past Poets, a Pantoum,” is a poem I wrote trying to picture the rigours of the training poets underwent in ancient Ireland. In Gaelic Ireland the position of poet was highly regarded and attracted defined rates of renumeration, so many cows etc, depending on the worth and quality of the poem. Modestly I feel some of my own may be worth a few goats, perhaps some laying hens!
As part of the final test of the apprentice poet they were sometimes confined to a cell (often a beehive shaped stone hut) overnight, in the dark, with a stone on the chest to hold them fast. There they had to work all night composing a piece in a set style, on a set theme. Emerging in the morning they were required to present the poem in a perfect manner to gathered senior Poets. for my tribute to such “Past Poets” I choose a relatively strict form of verse as being appropriate.
The pantoum is a form of poetry similar to a villanelle in that there are repeating lines throughout the poem. It is composed of a series of quatrains; the second and fourth lines of each stanza are repeated as the first and third lines of the next. This pattern continues for any number of stanzas, except for the final stanza, which differs in the repeating pattern. The first and third lines of the last stanza are the second and fourth of the penultimate; the first line of the poem is the last line of the final stanza, and the third line of the first stanza is the second of the final.A four-stanza pantoum is common,(although more may be used) and in the final stanza, you could simply repeat lines one and three from the first stanza, or write new lines. The pantoum “recipe” is as follows:
Stanza 1 A B C D (or A C B D)
Stanza 2 B E D F (or C E D F)
Stanza 3 E G F H
Stanza 4 G I (or A or C) H J (or A or C)

sian mel and me

Sian, Mel and Kevin
Mel Perry was also there and when she read her great poem “The Carlow Bowl”, an idea/inspiration came to me. Her poem was written arising from Mel’s WISPA exchange tour of Ireland. In Carlow, while visiting the Museum she was admiring an old Victorian era bowl when the words engraved on the rim hit her forcefully, “Carlow Lunatic Asylum.”

       Derek Coyle curates the Carlow group of poetry and I knew he had also been impressed by the poem, “The Carlow Bowl.” My idea was that both he and I should in turn ponder the same item and write our own poetic response to The Carlow Bowl. I put this idea to Mel and she liked it. Since returning to Ireland I’ve been in touch with Derek and he too agrees. We will between us have composed a trinity/trio of poems on The Carlow Bowl.

In many ways that is a fitting note to end this account of my poetic perambulations in the company of poets in Wales. Every encounter, every reading presented and heard, had the potential to give rise to further inspirations and writings. Who could ask for more? Thank you one and all.


WISPA to Wales 3

WISPA tour of Wales March 2014, part3

The rest of the 26th in Lampeter gave me the chance to truly hear and encounter the poetry of others.
In the afternoon I was at a poetry workshop given by the poet Sujata Bhatt.
A renowned poet herself she introduced us to the writings of Brigit Pegeen Kelly, an American poet whose poetry was a delight to savour for the first, but not last, time.
The theme of the workshop was around the idea of poetry and place. Given that we were in the company of a Gujarati speaking poet, who lives in Germany and we were a multi-lingual group, temporarily brought together in the heart of Wales, it was apt indeed. This workshop was part of the MA program in Creative Writing in the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David.


tsd-logo 2
It was a privilege to be allowed partake in this in an active way.

The evening was in the University again, this time for a reading by Sujata. This was powerful and in a beautiful setting with a most appreciative audience. A fellow WISPA founder, Sue Moules was also there. Sue is rightly proud of the fact that the writers group in Lampeter is probably the longest running of the many writers groups in Wales, they began their great work in 1984.

TSDevening 2

Introducing Sujata and acting as MC for the evening was Gillian Clarke who holds a most distinguished position in Welsh life, being National Poet of Wales since 2008.
As the evening progressed Gillian made a lovely comment that it was great to be in a room where everyone present was bi-lingual at least and a lively discussion on the benefits of awareness of other languages followed.
Which reminded me that the previous night with the Red Heron group I had actually, for the first time ever, tried translating one of my own Irish language poems to English, live on stage! The effort went down very well and many said that the stumbles were proof indeed that the translation was being done “on the hoof!” The poem in question is “Layla” and was a winner in the 2013 Frances Browne Multi-Lingual Poetry Competition. I had also read this for the Irish-language TV station, TG4, on stage in the Wexford Arts Centre as part of a programme on the famous Cáca Milis Cabaret. The following link will take you to that interview/reading.
What is also relevant is that in the same interview I spoke about how much I love reading poetry aloud for an audience. when I do that, my understanding of my own work changes when renewed through the prism of a live audience. I am grateful to WISPA for giving me the chance to do so much of that in Wales.

wispa logo
More to follow, a visit to Laugharne with fellow poets and an evening of poetry in Narberth

WISPA to Wales2

kings head lampeterWISPA tour of Wales, March 2014, part two.

The evening in the Kings Head, Lampeter, was a chance for me to read more extensively from the collection I brought with me. The audience were most appreciative and even patient when I “fluffed” the special effects in “Road Rage”! The poem, my response to being forced to enjoy others’ music from passing cars, at high volume, massive bass output levels, depends to some extent on being able to play in the background an aria from “Madame Butterfly,” a beautiful piece called, “Un bel di, vedremo,” translated, one fine day, we shall see. Perhaps one fine day I’ll get it right! The night in Lampeter I was reminded to hold the speakers on the phone to the mic, NOT the screen! Easy be mortified among such lovely people. By way of compensation here is a link to the proper audio/visual version of the same poem.
Afterwards I was hosted by another poet and wonderful lady, Jane Llewellyn. It was a pleasure having such fascinating conversations with her and her daughter. They live in a beautiful valley and it was refreshing to soak up the peace and serenity there. Again I say that when the idea of the WISPA poet exchanges was first being developed, inbuilt was the hope that the exchange poet would have a chance, space and time , to experience creative inspiration as part of their tour. This was present throughout the tour.

trees in jane llewellyn's

It would be difficult not to feel inspired in such surroundings, trees garlanding valleys, wild flowers everywhere and daffodils running riot along the verges.

However, as if that were not enough this day, 26th March, had a lot more to offer from both the natural and poetic worlds. We headed next to a nature reserve at Cors Caron.

This area is a raised bog, only marginally disturbed by human activities. With a raised walkway meandering across the landscape it offers glorious views in a most peaceful setting.

cars caron3

Hidden in the heart of the reserve there is a bird watching hide, a wooden building the same shade of the marshy world around it. A glass wall forms one side and there you can watch nature in an unobtrusive way, or share poems.

cars caron4

For Jane I read one of her own pieces, an elegy for her recently lost great friend and neighbour Dai. It was a lovely setting to share poetry and I felt would be equally a contemplative place to compose.

strata florida1

Next was Strata Florida, the plain of flowers, the site of an ancient monastery wrapped in great and comforting silence, the sort of place, in the words of WB Yeats, ‘where peace comes dripping slow.’

strata florida2

We wandered awhile among the old graves with their wonderful Welsh slate headstones until, suitably soothed by a place many others spoke of and were delighted I had been brought to, it was time to leave contemplation aside and return to Lampeter for an afternoon and evening of intense poetic activity.

To be continued, a workshop in the University of Trinity St. Davids, a reading by Sujat Bhatt and a meeting with the National Poet of Wales.

WISPA to Wales

WISPA Tour of Wales, March 2014, part one

In March I had the honour and privilege of being the first Irish poet to take part in the exchanges between Ireland and Wales as part of the recently established WISPA, Welsh/Irish Spoken word and Poetry Association. It was a wonderful experience and one I will return to a number of times here. For now I want to present a brief outline of what was involved while I continue to absorb the whole experience and wok through at least a few months worth of inspirations of a creative nature and find expression for them.
Monday 24th Ferry from Rosslare to Fishguard and train to Swansea, strolling then to the University. There I spent the afternoon in an informal workshop with a group of academics from the Art departments who are diversifying into the written word as a medium of expression. We had a great exchange of creativity and approaches to expressions. It was a marvellously enlightening afternoon for me and I hope for the others too. Like everything that I met on the tour there will be, somewhere in time, a poetic response, in it’s own good time.

rails ferrysideThen it was back along the rails with Dominic Williams to Ferryside and from there to Carmarthen for an evening of poetry at the Queens. There I met so many others who featured later on the tour and the featured reader was a young poet by name Tom Miller, winner of The Other Side competition, by the end of the tour we were planning performance duets. We differ in style and are the same in love of the spoken word. A great night all-in-all with a large and lively audience. the group were celebrating four years of poetry, great to be part of that.

poetry group birthday

Tuesday 26th was spent in the morning/afternoon following Dominic’s instruction, spend time “wandering my village.” Easy to follow that, always a marvel to take time absorbing somewhere else and out that a number of creative projects are swimming around in my mind, bursting to find expression, for now, an image or two must suffice.

It was a lovely Spring day and I had some fascinating encounters with others just wandering and soaking up the welcome sunshine.


That evening it was on to Lampeter, to the Red Heron group and to meet my host for that stay, Jane Llewellyn. The Red Herons meet at the Kings Head and were a very appreciative audience, we had great conversations and again I shared the stage with Tom Miller, we work well together and I look forward to more of that in the future.
Keep an eye out, more to come, that’s it for today,

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