‘Where the Wind Sleeps’, Noel Monahan’s latest volume of poetry, was launched last night in Cavan. People flowed up the Court House steps and into the council chamber. People rushed for seats but some had to make do with sitting on the sideboards, standing at the back, or squatting in the aisles. What an accolade to a local poet and to the Arts in Cavan. Lovely poems too! I haven’t read them all yet, but what I liked, as I browsed, is seeing Cavan and its people peering out at me from its pages. I have lived in the County fifteen years and have travelled across it widely, so am well versed in its natural beauty and geography. I respond to the references to the town lands, I know the people, the mountains, the music. In Galway last year, Doire Press published short stories set in the city. I loved it. It is fun to read about characters roaming the familiar streets. Noel has done a similar thing through this volume of poetry.
“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world,” Philip Pullman.
Isn’t that right? Our lives become a series of stories and or poems. Stories weave our history and our shared imagination precedes our future. Words describe us, form our thinking, shape our ability to respond to each other. I wonder if our ham fisted use of it, our often lazy construction of sentences, the screaming hysteria of headlines and media leads the way to chaos and breakdown. Maybe. That is why we must delve, search, seek and use our language effectively.
Words are so important. I was on a ‘facilitative leadership’ course this week. I have facilitated and led groups for a long time. This course was very interesting. By naming the different segments of the facilitation process, and thereby specifically defining the work, I was able to appreciate and understand the job I have been doing, almost blindly, for 30 years. It gave the work and myself a value. However, you can go over the top too. Instead of being given an assignment, or homework, between sessions, I was given an ‘evening opportunity’!
Gerard Smyth, from Poetry Ireland, did a wonderful introduction to Noel Monahan’s volume, ‘Where the Wind Sleeps’. I wish I had his command of the English language. Poetry, he said, makes us recognise the world in a different way. That is a wonderful description of poetry. To enjoy a poem we have to see its kindred spirit, it may not reflect our own experience, but it must make us recognise the world.
The poets and writers who read their work this week at the first session of AT The Edge, Cavan made us recognise the world in a different way. Shane Connaughton read an excerpt from his current work in play, as did June Caldwell. Both reflected the edgy experience, pathos and humour of emigration. Michael Farry brought us firmly home to Ireland again with his poems, also full of quiet humour, and sharp with experience. In his poems I recognised the older man in the chemist, the shed in the garden, the glory of being the new grandparent (even though I’m not there yet). Over thirty five people came to the Library for the first session of AT the Edge, Cavan. I was so happy!
It is great to recognise the world in a different way. Thank you, every one, for doing that for me this week.
Photos are of a few Cana House poets reading at the open mic, AT the Edge, Cavan. Also, Cana House Poets 11 have published a booklet of their poetry called YEAST. Poems by Pat Joe Kennedy, Ann O’Donoghue, Marion Lyon, Patricia Doole, Dermot Maguire, Ann Conway, Kate Ennals