Poetry Ireland Introductions 2014 Redux: Kevin Conroy

The Poetry Ireland Introductions Series – a showcase for emerging poets working towards a first collection and with a track record of publication in journals and magazines – is open for submissions.

Introductions mentors new writing talent in Ireland, providing the opportunity to workshop poetry with an established, published poet and perform work to a live audience at a showcase, hosted by Poetry Ireland; the showcase is recorded and published on the Poetry Ireland web-site.

As an alumni of last year’s series, 2014 was pretty busy on the writing front, and I thought it would be fun to catch up with my fellow emerging writers to see what they’ve been up to.

To encourage those of you who might be thinking of applying this year, I asked them to share what it was like to take part in Poetry Ireland Introductions, how they benefited and where they are now with their writing.

Kevin Conroy

“No doubt for me, Poetry Ireland’s Introductions initiative has triggered new energy and exploration. I’ve been short-listed in the Cork Literary Review Poetry Manuscript Competition and long-listed for a pamphlet competition, for the first time in 2014. They rubber-stamped ‘emerging poet’ belief into my psyche. I had poems published in Ireland during the year, several rejections, and my first poem published in a U.K. magazine. But mostly, P.I. Introductions marked a change in my poetics, with a personally exciting search where apophatic and ekphrastic are key words. And now a hiatus as I absorb this new world view.

World class iconographer, Helen McIldowie-Jenkins, published ‘The Gilded Arch’ – my 14 stanza poem of her Wymondham Abbey, Norfolk icons, painted in the 14th C Italian painting techniques and style – probably a first for both poetry and iconography!

I love painting and poetry – my Christmas cards this year had a painting and poem of mine for the first time. Sent to people who like slow food, slow reading and seeing. So whatever spare time I have is divided between sketching, improving my oil portrait technique and speaking to my Muses. Truth is, I prefer my quiet room and the page to public performing. Plutarch said it -“Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks.” This year I’m aiming to write poems that complement my painting. So, maybe the competition submissions will have to wait.

All the poets I really like, love music too. I’ve realised the source of good and great poetry is not necessarily words but vocal sound and visible marks. In November, I heard the strange eerie sounds of síle-na-gig voiced by Kimberly Campanello in the James Joyce Centre, the acoustics intensifying the effect. It was like she was communicating without words across time into an Irish past of the lost and disallowed, bypassing controlling powers with poetry that bridges to music. I’ve since read “The HD Book” and see more of the “permissions of poetry”. Campanello and Aosdána composer Ben Dwyers launch of their limited ed. book in May, is a red letter date for me.

No doubt, poetry, art and music are one intermingling enrichment in my life that P.I. have triggered anew! Maybe I’ll finish the lovely Erin Fornoff sketch this year.”

Kevin Conroy, born in Dublin and living in Kildare, has worked in U.K., Germany, Swaziland, South Africa, U.S. and Ireland as a teacher, professional engineer, manager in multinationals, executive coach and organisational psychologist.  His work has been published in The Moth, Southword, Burning Bush II, Writing4All – the best of 2010, Boyne Berries, The Blue Max Review and erbacce. Selected for the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series in 2014, he was a prize-winner in Trocaire & Poetry Ireland Competition 2012, published  in  their  pamphlet ‘Imagining a Just and Free World’. On Twitter at @KevinKConroy

The Poetry Ireland Introductions series is open for submissions until 31 Jan.


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