I think I’ve written best when I’ve had some – no matter how shadowy- answer to the question of whom it’s for. And maybe bright and hazy is here more accurate than shadowy…
I saw a room full of the ones I’d want to write for, last night, at the last session of the Poetry Now festival. People who love poetry and write it. A strange and strangely logical mix of folk from around my town, my city, my country and at least two continents.
We sat or stood squeezed into the drawing room of an old hotel. And it was a wonderfully open night. Any of us who had bought one ticket to a festival event and held onto the stub could have been there. The only thing which could have perfected it would have been filming or recording it so those who weren’t there can be there as well. Who mightn’t have thought ‘that festival’ was for them. Who love poetry but who wouldn’t have been there at any of those Pavilion or Maritime Museum events, though I think maybe they just need a bridge to bring them there.
I’m thinking of Mary and Hetty and their friends from Bentley Villas in the town of Dun Laoghaire, whom myself and fiddler Nuala Ni Chanainn read and played for last Thursday. So I hope there is a podcast of this night, last night, in the making so they may be added to the little tribe listening to one of the world’s finest poets in English, Thomas Lynch, reading his poems that all say ‘thanks.’
Thinking of my writing life I realised: if no one ever read me but the fifty or sixty gathered there, that would still be an…exalting’s the only word for it – set of minds to have reached out to, into. So that’s the “readership to keep me going” question answered. Then I remembered the response from the wise and open minds of the ladies in Bentley villas when as a writer I just took one step nearer them than last night’s already inclusive event took. Stepping one step nearer them: into a Dunlaoghaire living room and kitchen, the Rehab Hospital, Dalkey nursing home, last week; into a fish shop, a jeweller’s, a morning cafe, a haberdashery: there, last week reminded me that poetry makes more sense to more of us than we who write it often think.
Kitchens or drawing rooms – I’m now daydreaming about what it would be like if we all did a bit to expand the number of such spaces where poetry is read and can reach us and keep us going with its lifesaving ‘whys’ and its ‘thanks.’