Do you have a secret stash of poems you’ve always wanted to share? Then this could be your chance to do so.
Afric McGlinchey and Paul Casey will be reading from their collections at North West Words, Café Blend, Letterkenny, this Thursday at 8pm.
And there will also be an open microphone part of the evening.
So polish off those stanzas – and give it a go.
Afric McGlinchey, who has roots in Donegal, lives in West Cork, and works as an editor, book reviewer and workshop facilitator. She won the Hennessy award for emerging poetry in 2011, and in May this year, Salmon published her début collection, The lucky star of hidden things.
We asked her more about that below:
DD: What is your connection to Donegal?
Afric: My father was born in Letterkenny, and I’ve spent many, summers in the home where he grew up. My grandmother was born on Rutland island, and I feel a strong connection to that place too. As my Dad was the youngest of eight surviving children, I have a lot of family here, and it’s where I feel the pull of roots.
DD: How long have you been writing?
Afric: I was reading from about six and wrote my first play when I was ten. I was writing songs after that. I wrote my first poem at 16. But it was only when I returned to Ireland in 1999 and started going to workshops that I became really committed to writing poetry. After doing a Faber course in Dublin in 2010, I began entering competitions, won one, and from that, got a publisher. So I owe Paul Durcan, the judge of that competition, a pint!
DD: Tell me about your collection
Afric: The collection describes transitions: geographical and psychological. It’s divided into four parts. The first part deals with African experiences/memory/loss. In part 2, the poems focus on new directions after I’ve moved back to Ireland. In part 3, which is called ‘what we saw’, the speaker of each poem acts as a witness, and these are about outside things, being in the world, observations. The final part is about love, doubt, and risk.
DD: What is the significance of the title?
Afric: ‘The lucky star of hidden things’ is the English translation of the Arabic word ‘Sadalachbia’, which is the name of a nomadic star. I’ve moved at least 39 times in my life, and have also lived in a tent for three months, so the title resonated for me.
DD: What is the best advice you have ever received?
Afric: Write less, and edit more. I tend to write every day, and usually have a love affair with my latest poem. And you know what they say: love is blind! So it’s easy to miss the flaws in your work, unless you look at it long and hard, with a cold eye. Something you can only do after about a month or so. So I’m always editing the folder where I put last month’s poems.
DD: What advice would you give a writer interested in trying poetry?
Afric: Read voraciously. And pay attention to the crafting of a poem. Listen for the music, the rhythm. When inspiration comes, drop everything and grab a pen!
DD: What next?
Afric: Well I’m doing a book tour with Paul Casey at the moment – he’s also Irish-born and was raised in Africa, so our collections share similar themes. As well as venues around Ireland, we’ll be reading in London, Brighton, Kent and in Gothenburg, Sweden, and Berlin too – so far. And of course, I’m already writing towards my next collection!
About Paul Casey:
Paul Casey was born in Cork, Ireland in 1968. He is a poet and filmmaker who has lived over half of his life abroad in Europe and Africa, working largely in film, multimedia and teaching. His poems have been published in A Miscellany of Contemporary Irish Poetry (Shanghai Literature), Revival, THE SHOp, Cork Literary Review, Census and Doghouse’s Real Beginnings. He is the founder and organiser of the weekly Ó Bhéal poetry event in Cork city where he lives. A chapbook of his longer poems, It’s Not all Bad, was published by The Heaventree Press in May 2009. In June 2010 he completed a poetry-film, The Lammas Hireling, which was shown at Berlin’s biennial Zebra International Poetry-Film festival. His collection, home, more or less, is published by Salmon.