It’s been an inspiring few months. Writing has helped me to heal and find my voice, and I love helping others do the same. I’m really enjoying my time as the Irish Writers Centre Writer In Residence with Womens Aid. The work coming out is heart-warming and eye opening.
I was delighted to be part of the second curation of the Poetry Jukebox, alongside Maria McManus. There are many powerful poems on here looking both directly and indirectly at the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. Have a listen outside the Crescent Arts Centre in Belfast. This curation runs until 10th June.
I’ve really enjoyed some mini residencies with schools in the north as part of Poetry Ireland’s Writers In Schools scheme. I was moved to tears by some beautiful feedback from one school where every pupil sent me a personal note. One said she always thought poetry was boring but now she knows it is beautiful. Another said she’s now keeping a poetry notebook and writes in it every day.
I’m looking forward to the next few months when I’ll be working with people who have eating disorders. I love helping people to find their voice again.
I’ll also be running another Heartfelt Writing Weekend. Here’s a lovely comment from a previous weekend: “This was the first workshop where I was ‘given permission’ to be myself, to write from my spirit – my heartbeat. I feel free.”
It’s a real joy to see some of my mentoring clients getting published and being shortlisted for awards.
And I’m working away on a new sequence of poems, thanks to a SIAP Award from the Arts Council. Here’s hoping the rest of 2018 is just as inspirational.
Bridging the Silence is an audio walk and installation which will premiere on Lagan Weir Bridge, Belfast from 20th-24th October from 11am to 3pm each day, as part of the Ulster Bank Belfast International Arts Festival.
The project is part of Corners and is a collaboration between myself, Croatian multimedia and sound artist Hrvoslava Brkušić and Basque visual artist and performer Beatriz Churruca.
The project is a symbolic representation of the emotional journey survivors move through as they pass from the storm inside to peace.
The project also invites people to see their story reflected in other people’s stories.
This project was born from our desire to confront unspeakable truths, make the invisible visible, give a voice to those who have no voice, speak the truths they can’t speak and transform powerlessness into power.
The audio walk blends a fictional story with real testimonies from survivors of political violence, sexual and domestic abuse, and those dealing with transgender issues.
As part of this project we will be working with a group of local survivors, facilitating workshops on spoken word performance poetry, which will give the group the tools and skills to tell their own stories.
Thanks to Corners and Iker Tolosa who is the producer on this project and part of Donostia/San Sebastian 2016 Foundation. It has also been supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.
Watch out for several other Corners projects which are being showcased across Belfast during the festival.
It’s lovely to be able to look back on the year and go that was a great one. The publication of my second collection The Return of the Buffalo was a real highlight. I was lucky to do some great interviews about the book, including this one on Culture Northern Ireland. The relaunch and enhanced web presence of my publisher Lagan Press means you can view interviews and see me reading my poetry on You Tube.
Taking part in the Corners Expedition to the Basque Country with 25 international artists was an inspirational and life changing experience. My residency in the beautiful environs of An Creagan will stay with me for a long time. I was also lucky to be able to do many poetry readings, including in some unusual venues like the Arts Council’s MacNeice House and a funeral home!
My short film Two Little Boys was featured in the Belfast Film Festival. I was also commissioned for Terra Nova’s new theatre project Arrivals and I’m looking forward to the first reading of my play on 9th January.
My creative writing teaching has allowed me to meet many wonderful people. This year I’ve worked with the Belfast Book Festival, Artscare, the BBC, the WEA, Poetry in Motion, NI Libraries, Monaghan Libraries, Small Steps, Consensus and many schools.
Here’s to a great new year and everything it may bring.