Where are we?
In my studio located in my back garden at home in Fenit, Co.Kerry.
For over 25 years, I wrote and painted at various kitchen tables. I can write anywhere though and have missed writing in notebooks in cafes, people watching and drinking too much coffee. We decided to build a studio in 2018 and it has been the best investment, as I now have a designated space to write and create, though I’m still strangely drawn to my kitchen table. Our children come out to study and complete homework (so they say) and sometimes just to escape the madness indoors. It has huge windows and the light is terrific, even in the winter months. It looks out onto Tralee Bay and an old railway track covered in ivy and brambles. It’s such a tranquil space, sometimes I just come out to read/ listen to music or just sit in silence and stare out the window.
What are you working on?
An application for the Cill Rialaig Residency and journal submissions. I’m working on new poems loosely themed around dislocation / marginalisation and borders, both physical and psychological - with the coast (and birds in particular ) a backdrop to many poems. I‘m also working on a seascape in oils of Greencastle in Donegal, where I grew up.
What’s that over there?
Jam packed shelves full of art supplies, box files, canvases, photographs, poetry, books and painted stones from my kids which make great paperweights!
What’s that sound?
Nova the cat scratching at the door to get in, trying to escape from my sons usually in the middle of a Nerf War, or in masks and shields as COVID-19 Testers! There’s a Greenway and cycle path being developed right under our back garden, so for the past 6/8 weeks diggers and machinery have been drowning out the usual (background noise) hum of bees and birdsong. There’s always music playing in the background when I paint, though I need silence to write.
Time for a break…?
I rarely take a break from writing to be honest but when I do, I’m always creating something. I’ve started to make my own bookmarks, using both watercolours and glass paints on acetate – due to never finding any when I need them ! I finished four box canvases that I’d started last summer, so I was glad to have the time during lockdown to do that. I enjoy photography, I walk a lot and have caught up with a lot of decorating. I’m recycling a lot of glass at the minute and making (stained glass effect ) votives.
I read a lot and at the minute I’m enjoying breaking the skin (volume two), The Deep Heart’s Core (Irish Poets Revisit A Touchstone Poet) and Shine On (prose and poetry in support of those affected by mental ill health) – three brilliant anthologies of Irish writing. I’ve returned to favourites by Colette Bryce, Thomas Lux, Mark Doty, Mona Arshi and Ted Hughes in varying degrees. And for something completely different, I picked up Gary Oldman’s Nil By Mouth in a charity shop last week, it’s hilarious, tragic and brilliant. I’ve been catching up too with movies recorded over the past few months.
Was there a particularly enlightening moment during the summer school?
Receiving feedback and critique in such depth was brilliant and it was interesting how the tutors had very different opinions on aspects of certain poems – addressing form and language and the thread of consistency, the latter which I need to focus on ! Everyone’s poetry was so diverse in style, tone, image and form throughout the week. I enjoyed discovering new voices, in particular Maggie Nelson and Tom Leonard’s earlier work.
What's next for your writing?
Editing work for journal submissions, sorting poems thematically as I’m considering a sequence for my second collection. I’m applying for bursaries etc and have signed up for a few online workshops in the winter. I submit regularly to journals / e-zines and have work forthcoming in Porridge and The Stony Thursday Book. I’m looking forward to attending readings and getting back to some festivals and literary events whenever that may be.