04.02.2019 ‘A beautiful book on the N.I. conflict. A poignant work on memory. A visceral experience.’
02.15.2019 A turn up for the books! ‘Reconstructions: The Troubles in Photographs and Words’ at Appalachian State University
It turns out that I’m not only going to Carolina in my mind, but through the words and lines of my recently published poems. I had the good fortune of meeting Belfast born poet Adrian Rice a few years back after my performance of “Look Behind You!” in Hickory, North Carolina. I have since familiarised myself with Adrian’s poems, in particular those housed in ‘Hickory Station’ and ‘The Clockflower’ volumes, many of which my immigrant self can instantly relate to.
When I submitted ‘Reconstructions’ to my publisher, I thought I’d chance my arm and approach Adrian to ask if he’d consider contributing to the advanced praise section ahead of the book’s publication. Even though he was up to his oxters with one thing or another, primarily promoting his new collection “The Strange Estate”, he kindly obliged, and what praise it was too! He opined:
‘Steafán Hanvey was eyewitness to the genesis of so many of his father’s famous photographs, and it is obvious that the father’s iconic work has lain in the darkroom of the son’s memory and imagination, waiting to be developed into prose-poems of poignancy and power, showcased now in Reconstructions, a stunning symbiosis of word and image.’
As if that wasn’t enough, to make sure that he meant it, he’s gone and added my book to his first year seminar course, ‘Sustaining the Soul through the Arts’, at Appalachian State University. Forty-four poor college students, whether they like it or not, will soon find themselves embroiled in a research paper titled ‘The Poetry of the Northern Ireland Troubles’ involving my (et al) debut collection of poems. This surely has to be up there with the ultimate of compliments! I’m as chuffed as can be.
02.14.2019 A journal named ‘Hotel’ published five of my photo-poems. ‘New approaches to fiction, non-fiction and poetry.’
It’s been a heady few weeks (months/years?) with lots of cool things happening. When I think of the bigger picture, there’s a time for everything and a line from a Bell X1 song springs to mind:
Take the good luck, take the bad luck
Take the good luck, take the bad luck
And mix it around.
‘Reconstructions is a really vital project.’
-Dominic Jaeckle, Hotel
An eclectic online journal, “committed to literary innovation”, going by the name of “Hotel”, has featured five of my photo-poems, which were in large part, a response to the photographs taken by my father, during ‘the Troubles’.
According to Camille Ralph, of The Times Literary Supplement “[Hotel’s] commitment to new approaches to fiction, non-fiction and poetry promises all manner of havoc. It is not the only journal committed to literary innovation, but it is among the best…”
The Guardian reckons “[Hotel is a part of] the renaissance of UK literary journals…”
Hotel is a multi-headed beast. They run a bi-annual paper publication (see here for their forthcoming fifth), and a sonic venture in partnership with the American magazine New York Tyrant, ‘delicately titled Tyrant Hotel, that endeavors to restate John Giorno’s “dial-a-poem” project for the technological ubiquities of the iPhone era (see here).’
It really is very much its own thing. So, without further adieu, a feature of five of my poems and their accompanying photographs, read by yours truly. Enjoy!
(If you like what you see/hear, please do acquire a spoken word copy of ‘Reconstructions’ from one of these shops):
02.13.2019 Book launch | No Alibis Belfast | The night I surpassed the passing of muster, with Frank Ormsby
I had just finished reading my selection from my new book ‘Reconstructions’, when this unassuming gentleman approached me with a copy of said book under his arm-which in itself, was endorsement enough, as he lent in towards me, put out his hand to meet mine, and said something along the lines of “I liked ‘Longley’s Lists'” and “that ‘Late Developer’ is a great wee poem.” Delighted to hear, of course I thanked him, and as I usually do when someone approaches me, I asked him his name, and when he told me, I did that thing some of us do when in the company of greatness, I had my eyes pop out and in again, about twice. Not entirely a gibbering giblet, I’d say, he took my word for it, when I said “You’re Frank Ormsby?” before continuing with something in the vicinity of “being honoured and pleased to meet him”, something I may have even repeated twice or thrice, just in case he missed my first punched-love blurt. This all happened as my wondrous daughter Lumi was tugging at my leg, trying to get me to lift her up, so that she could stake her claim. Up she came as I gestured towards my da, who happened to be within photographic reach, to come over and mark a moment, which, happily, he did. I was honoured and tickled pink to hear that my poems, at least the ones I read on the night, surpassed the passing of muster with the great man that is Frank Ormsby. He had just concerned himself with my work, which is, what it is all about. Within two months of meeting him, we were both featured in the “Reading Ireland-the Little Magazine” journal. Another honour. Proud as punch.
Photo credit: Bobbie Hanvey
To SUBSCRIBE to ‘Reading Ireland’, click HERE.
02.05.2019 In fine company in the people’s republic of Cork!
I love it when fellow book lovers take photographs of my book on bookshelves in Irish book shops, especially since it’s not something I’ve had the pleasure of seeing with my own eyes.
Thanks to the great Billy O’Callaghan, who also wrote the forward to my debut. Up Cork!