A SWORD OF W O R D S

The Copper Coast, Co. Waterford
The Copper Coast, Co. Waterford

I’ve always loved playing with words and have been enthralled by the WORDS Writer’s Group which was set up almost a year ago now.  It is held at the Art Hand, which is situated near Bonmahon at one of the most scenic parts of Co. Waterford’s stunning and historic Copper Coast.

The Group meets on the first Wednesday of each month and the whole essence of the event is that we share words ~ be they our own or those written by others. These are words across genres, generations and are local, global ~ mainly in English but sometimes not; mainly face-to-face but sometimes via Skype from far flung places.  You can sit and listen, sit and respond or stand up and perform ….. with performance being as widely interpreted as the words themselves.

Sword 3

My contribution for this months event arose out of  staring at a blank page with the letters W O R D S scrawled at the top. It dawned on me that moving the letter S to the beginning brought a SWORD into play and suddenly I could see a ginormous paper knife slitting open a huge envelope of words, thoughts, emotions, imaginings … that have been evoked by the WORDS Writer’s Group since its inception. The words  that tumbled onto the page included:

 

Wounds                 Opposites            Roots                     Darkness                Ships
Winnings            Ordinary               Remembrance   Dawnings             Secrets
Worth                     Opportunity        Realities               Drawings             Senses
Welcome               Openings             Records               Drives                    Seamus Heaney
Warmth                 Oddities                 Reading                Drinks                    Storms
Wonderment       Observations       Responses           Death                     Sea Pinks
Wrappings           Oneness               Reactions            Direction                Songs
Willow                   Order                       Roadways          Dread                      Singing
Winding                 Oceans                   Rhyme                 Doors                      Sounds
Wine                                                           Rhythm               Dreams                   Silence
Whispers                                                 Reaching            Desserts                 Sophisticated
Whipping                                                                                Deserts                   Simple
Writing                                                                                      Daftness                 Soft
                                                                                                     Daughters              Sadness
                                                                                                     Dots                           Sailing
                                                                                                     Daring                      Sassy
                                                                                                     Darkness                 Sunset
                                                                                                      Dressing-room      Sisters
                                                                                                                                           Seats
                                                                                                                                           Sharing
                                                                                                                                           Stand-up
                                                                                                                                           Shadows
                                                                                                                                           Shafts
                                                                                                                                           Smiles
                                                                                                                                           Shelter
                                                                                                                                           Success

WORDS Writer’s Group is very much a work in progress and I know that all the participants will have their own special words from the year that flown. I can’t but wonder what will be unleashed as we move into the future together….

Looking Ahead .....
Looking Ahead …..

Sharing the Broken Willow

Trees can have profound meaning in our lives. I know that the Monkey Puzzle in my garden is like an old friend as he gazes in the study window. There was also a tree on my grandmother’s farm in Co. Meath which served as the gathering point for us and our cousins. It could be anything from a hideout, boat, galloping horse, kitchen, chat-room or ‘base’ in all those chasing games …..

The other evening at the WORDS  Writers Group event, one of the participants told us of how a willow tree that she had planted in her garden with her father many years back to mark a significant milestone had been blown down in the recent storms. It wasn’t just any tree, it was one that had been nurtured, loved and deeply appreciated.

She then produced a huge bag with cuttings from the Willow and asked us all to place them in water and hope that they would spring roots. It was one of those moments when the sharing of grief was palpable and it felt as if the collective heart in the room was baring itself to reveal an inner layer that’s seldom displayed among relative strangers.

I suspect that everyone who received a precious cutting thought long and hard about where they would put it and how they could give it the best chance of re-rooting. I put mine in a Waterford Glass vase that was the most precious vase belonging to my late mother who absolutely adored trees. For now, it’s getting some welcoming cuddles from ivy and dried Honesty and Pampas!

By sheer coincidence, I came across a poem this morning, by the great Waterford poet, Sean Dunne, which is driving my hopes even further that the broken willow will re-root between us all:

Willow

Sheltered in the cool nursery

of the young century, I grew

in chequered silence. The voices

of men ignored me and I heard

instead the wind’s word.

I liked burdocks and nettles

but loved the silver willow most of all.

It was my friend for years.

Its weeping branches fanned

my insomnia with dreams.

To my surprise I outlived it.

Now just the stump’s left.

Other willows with strange voices

murmur beneath our skies

as I sit in silence, as though

a brother had died.

(from Collected Sean Dunne, Gallery Books, 2005)

WORDS and Connections

It was a full house again last night at the February gathering of the WORDS Writer’s Group which is hosted with such warmth  by Sean and Miranda Corcoran at the intimate Art Hand, which is neatly nestled on the glorious Copper Coast here in Co. Waterford.

Sean Corcoran at WORDS Writer's Group
Sean Corcoran at WORDS Writer’s Group

This was the eighth meeting of WORDS and it continues to surprise with great performances from regulars and newcomers. There was a real cosmopolitan feel last night and we had gorgeous readings of poetry in Polish and Spanish, a song with both Gaelic and English words,  as well as lots of very different accents in the English language.

One of the aspects of WORDS that I like the most is the way in which it stirs up the thought processes. A few months back, I was captivated by a poem, written by Tom Power, in which he wove together all sorts of titles and lines from songs that were important to him. This had been playing on my mind and yesterday I had a great afternoon thinking about, and re-playing, songs that were part of my adolescent years.

There were just so many including : The Fortune’s Freedom Come, Freedom Go; Terry Jacks’ Seasons in the Sun; Roberta Flack’s Killing me Softly; Elvis’ Wooden Heart; virtually everything Kris Kristofferson ever sang, Kevin Johnson’s Rock ‘n Roll; and the absolutely unforgettable I’ve been to the Desert on a Horse with No Name,  which seemed to be the last song at every party I went to when I was thirteen or so.

It was an afternoon of connecting with my past and then last night I took courage and shared my jottings with the WORDS Group. The feedback has been really uplifting and I’ve been humming away all day while pondering on the many, many highlights from the other performers.

So, I reckon WORDS are definitely here to stay but the brilliant thing is that you just never know what each month will bring.

Eclectic WORDS ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 261

Co-Founder of WORDS, Roisin Hackett, performing at the Art Hand
Co-Founder of WORDS, Roisin Hackett, performing at the Art Hand

The October, and fourth, meeting of WORDS Writers’ Group took place last night and my mind was full of Autumn, John Keats and, for all sorts of reasons, T.S. Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,  as I drove towards the dynamic Art Hand of Sean and Miranda Corcoran on the Copper Coast here in Co. Waterford.

This was the first evening since the Group started in early July that it was dark on the outward journey but I still got out of the car to look  at the waves crashing against the cliffs on a road that is so intensely evocative.

The cosy room at the Art Hand was buzzing with the chatter of both familiar and unfamiliar faces. It’s fascinating how the Group is developing a core of regulars and also newcomers who may well become regulars. As ever, there was a comfortable mingling and, for me, a huge highlight was finally getting to meet a local blogger with whom I have been conversing online for about two years now!

The words of last evening brought us back to the wonder of children’s story books with those big colourful pages; off on an adventure to an island in the Pacific; into the world of traditional music played in front of open fires; swimming on a deserted beach along the Copper Coast;  down the historic cells at Duncannon Fort;  into the intricacies of making a silent film …..

It was a night on which the death of  never-to-be-forgotten old dogs wove its own little thread, along with the significance of hugs.  The hugs extended into the past as loved ones were honoured through words about them and the reading of words by them.

Plenty of laughs too, the character of the fig, spiders spidering, and an unexpectedly risque poem of a late grandfather and former policeman about ‘Women’s Fashions’, read by his grand daughter.  I will never see stockings, tights or the merging of the Barrow and the Nore in the same way again after last night!

Oddly,  it didn’t seem dark at all on the way home!

WORDS and Silence ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 237

Sunset on the Copper Coast, Co. Waterford
Sunset on the Copper Coast, Co. Waterford

The September  and third  ‘gathering’ of the WORDS Writers’ Group at the The Art Hand took place last night. The sun was setting as I drove along the Copper Coast towards that intimate space in The Art Hand which is becoming more and more familiar.

Nothing, absolutely nothing, could have prepared me for the minute’s silence which was held to mark the death of  Seamus Heaney.  Lights switched off and all our gazes gathered on a simple candle in the middle of the table. To experience such shared love and respect brought a well of tears to my eyes but a stronger feeling than ever that Seamus Heaney’s life and work will always be held precious.

Sunset 2

It felt last night that the ‘performing’ aspect of WORDS has changed from being a nerve-wrecking experience to a well-thought out and unselfconscious presentation of  words and genres that matter hugely to each individual.

That twenty-two people could bring such a diverse range of material, contexts and emotions was breath-taking.  Memoir of ballet classes in the 1980s, neighbours in the 1950s, poetry of love and rejection, a beautiful reading of Seamus Heaney’s ‘Harvest Bow,’ a folk tale from Co. Kilkenny, reflections on tall ships and emigration, a mouth-watering piece on our relationship to chocolate, spoken song lyrics that brought Johnny Cash and Leonard Cohen to mind, a lighthearted monologue on ‘talking.’

I would just love to know what’s going through the minds, hearts and imaginations of my twenty-one ‘co-brethern of the quill’ this morning!

The Power of ‘Now’ ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 218

NowWords are very much on my mind today because the second meeting of the WORDS Writers’ Group performing @ the ArtHand is tonight.  The common denominator within the group is a shared love of words and participants are encouraged to ‘perform’ whatever words they like ~ be it their own work or favourite poems or passages from other writers.

This morning I went rummaging on my computer among my ‘Documents’ for possible stuff to read and was more than amazed at the amount of material that is languishing there.  It was a bit like reading through someone else’s files because I certainly couldn’t remember writing very much of it.

It brought to mind that great quote from Arthur Miller:

The word ‘now’ is like a bomb through the window, and it ticks.

I wouldn’t have had a notion of digging through the various pieces of writing if tonight’s gathering wasn’t on the agenda and somehow the ‘perform’ element  gives added power to the ‘ticking!’

What sort of ‘nows’ drive you to burrow into your scribbles, drafts, writings ~ or whatever you care  to call them?

 

Words, Writings and Welcomes ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 186

The Art Hand, Bonmahon, Co. Waterford
Photo: Sean Corcoran

I’ve been hearing about the wonders of writers’ groups for years  but somehow never got round to taking the plunge in a face-to-face setting.  Online groups kinda hooked me!

Everything changed last Wednesday night when I went to the inaugural meeting of  WORDS Writers Group performing @theArtHand.

The venue, The Art Hand, an art school run by Sean and Miranda Corcoran right on the stunning Copper Coast here in Co. Waterford was enough to hook me as I jump at every excuse to drive along this indescribably beautiful part of Ireland’s coastline.

The whole idea behind WORDS Writers’ Group, which was the brainchild of  Tom Power, Roisin Hackett and Sean Corcoran, is that words are what bring writers of all genres together and that sharing words (either our own work or that of others)  through performance, is a hugely inspirational and profound interpersonal experience.

WORDS founders x
Tom Power, Roisin Hackett and Sean Corcoran
Photo: Sean Corcoran

Thirty people had reserved places for the event and they were all strangers to me. It was a brilliant mix of men, women and children; people from the local area and those from much further afield who were drawn to the event ~ all with a love of words!

The sharing of  poems, stories, anecdotes, even a reading from a book by Robert Louis Stevenson about his time writing Treasure Island,  generated a surge of energy and camaraderie in the cosy room and transported me to all sorts of places of the mind, heart and world of imagination.

One of the ‘performers’ that really impressed me was  Sean Ruane, a poet, who just happened to be in the area and whose work can be heard on this link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gb39fe0eDI

I’ve absolutely no idea what other writers’ groups are like and would love if you would tell me. But, for now, I’m already looking forward to the first Wednesday of August and the next gathering of  WORDS Writers Group and working on a few ideas for what I’ll write to share.