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.
I’m doing a free workshop, reading and Q&A on Saturday 9th March in Armagh City Library, to celebrate International Women’s Day, alongside poets Denise Blake and Moyra Donaldson.
In the morning I’ll be doing a workshop for anyone who’s always wanted to write a poem but didn’t know how to start. We’ll be looking at how the 5 senses can inspire you. It will be a fun and easygoing session, so don’t let nerves put you off. Denise’s workshop will be on turning memories into poems and Moyra will be running a poetry masterclass.
In the afternoon the Meet The Poets event runs from 2-4pm. All three of us will read from our work and this will be followed by a Q&A. Hope to see you there.
Wish me luck for the next few days. I’m heading down to the Ulster Hall for a reading and workshop today, off to Galway tomorrow for an Over The Edge reading with Bernie McGill, Maureen Boyle and others, then off to Paris next week to read with Moyra Donaldson and Maureen Boyle. And in between all that the lovely Ryan Tohill will be shooting a scene from my short film Two Little Boys as part of the Short Steps scheme. See you on the other side!
I really enjoyed last night’s reading at the Belfast Festival and I received some lovely feedback from the audience – despite my nerves! My legs were shaking so badly I was sure everyone could see them. I had a flashback to my confirmation when I had to do a reading in the chapel and my legs were shaking so violently I thought I might collapse. My mind started to wander off into thoughts like this is terrible, I must look stupid, how can I stop this, maybe I shouldn’t have read this poem. But I knew all that self talk and self criticism was making me lose concentration and making things worse. Letting your mind split like that during a performance is like putting a crack in a mirror – it will eventually break. So I told myself the performance post mortem could wait until after the reading and put my inner voice on pause until then, and I focussed on the job in hand – reading the poems. It works for me. I hope it works for you too.