Hard to believe but it’s now a month since I read at the Dublin Writers’ Festival, as part of the Poetry Ireland Introductions series.
I’ve always understood, in the act of writing, the poet must leave space for the reader; it is in the meeting of words and mind that a work stands or falls. The same is true of performing poetry. Though fleeting and ephemeral, the success of a poetry reading lies somewhere in the balance of poem, poet and audience; each play their part.
I was nervous beforehand, especially at the rehearsal. Apart from the usual reasons, when preparing for the reading, choosing the poems to read and how to present them, I’d decided to frame them with the story behind my debut collection, How to Lose Your Home & Save Your Life: my 6 year struggle to protect my home, after being misled by my mortgage lender, that has taken me all the way to the Supreme Court.
The reading would not only be the presentation of a collection of poems but also the revelation of an intensely personal journey that helped shape and inform the writing. It felt risky. Would the audience accept storytelling as part of a poetry event? What would it mean to finally let this hidden history out into the open?
What I remember most about the reading was the energy in the room; the moment where words, voice and the rapt attention of the audience came together, greater than the sum of their parts. It was a powerful moment, one that showed me what was possible. And I was incredibly touched by how many people came to me after to tell me the poems, my story, had reached and moved them.
Truth be told, I’ve been in the doldrums since. The reading made me acutely aware of what I want to achieve with my writing and how remote that feels from my daily life; I’m wrestling again with the space between.
Poetry Ireland filmed the Introductions series readings and created these 2 short films, with highlights from both evenings. I’m in the second film, sharing the beginning of my story and my poem, The Tiger’s Tail.