Archive for July, 2016

A few weeks back, I did an interview on The Near FM Sessions to promote Detonation Day. I had such a blast chatting with Noel and Erika, and I performed a few punk-poems (with guitar) live on the air for the first time!

Here’s the link to the podcast 🙂 thanks to Noel, Erika and Neil!

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Detonation Day Scrapbook

Posted: July 23, 2016 in Uncategorized

Every project has a story behind it- the story of its birth as an idea and its journey to becoming a finished piece. I’ve compiled a digital scrapbook of the events that formed, shaped and created my punk-poetry EP Detonation Day. It’s been a rollercoaster ride, and I’ve gained so much along the way, from various different people and sources.  Check out the story of Detonation Day below!

Detonation Day 1Detonation Day 2Detonation Day 3Detonation Day 4Detonation Day 5Detonation Day 6Detonation Day 7Detonation Day 8Detonation Day 9Detonation Day 10Detonation Day 11Detonation Day 12

It’s an interesting time for the modern-day artist, whichever artform she or he may work with. It seems that nothing is impossible. We can perform on the bill at the country’s biggest music festivals, have installations of our work in the most renowned galleries, release the novel we’ve always dreamed of to the masses, stage full-scale productions of our plays in real-live theatres. We can promote our painstakingly crafted albums, EPs, books, paintings and photography projects anywhere and everywhere. There’s nothing we can’t do to live out our dreams- as long as we are willing to do it for free.

The ancient adage- the worth of something is what people are willing to pay- has returned to twenty-first century Ireland, and those hit hardest are the artists. In recent years, there has been a major push for the government to be seen to be promoting the agenda of the arts, in what looks to be a poor man’s replication of the patrons of the renaissance. The point these suits gathered around pie charts in boardrooms are missing is that the patrons of the renaissance era appreciated art. They treasured it and understood not its value, but its worth. It was commissioned, purchased and paid for, like any product or service, and to its customers, it was essential. Everyone knew the creators of the frescoes of the  Sistine Chapel and the Pieta, and they knew if they wanted something similar, they would have to pay the price. And they did- generously. Not only that, but the artists were always welcome in the court of their patrons, and exalted for their talents. Of course today, there are grants for the right kind of artists pushing the right kind of agenda, but under very tight constraints and guidelines. One such stipulation is that the organiser (who is most likely also the artist) must not make a profit. You may read from this what you will, but it is in fact a condition under which these grants are awarded. And much to the delight of the general public and fellow artists, these miserly philistines often get far more than they bargained for (see the magnificent and controversial poem by Rita Ann Higgins commissioned for Galway 2020).

I’ve worked as both a performer and promoter over the last three years, and from this short time, I could beguile you with many horror stories from either side of the fence. I’ve been an organiser of a festival where one of the main acts showed up disorientated and  barely able to perform, I’ve been a photographer expected to turn out high quality prints for pittance, and in some cases, for nothing. I’ve been expected to hand over the books and CDs I’ve killed myself working on free of charge, and I’ve performed at events where I went unappreciated, all for the ‘exposure’. I’ve been the promoter handling diva demands from self-entitled, over-exposed artists, and I’ve been the performer fighting for every last cent I can scrape from a book or CD. I’ve been performing for the past year and a half, and I have never been paid for a gig. I’ve been delighted to perform free of charge at many wonderful events, sharing a stage with dozens of talented artists from all walks of life, and will be delighted to do so again. The difference with this kind of event is that the organisers are not funded , make no profit and gain nothing from it but the love of art. With regard to funded and profit-making events, ‘exposure’ is an excuse that we are all expected to accept as artists, but exposure doesn’t pay for guitar strings, or vocal lessons. Nor does it pay for book binding, CD manufacturing, travel expenses, hotels, brushes, canvas, paints, clay, electricity, food or rent. Artists provide products and services to the buyer. We also provide a mental and emotional experience that is difficult to capture, and impossible to counterfeit. We, the artists, provide a tangible form in which to bottle up this experience, and its magic and rarity make it all the more precious. Often times, the makers of these wonderful creations suffer huge financial loss, which they are forced to chalk up as an ‘investment’, but never make a profit on.

To conclude this sobering slice of reality, I will make a suggestion to lovers of art, in each and every form. I urge you to rip a page from the book of the patrons of old, and enjoy art. Experience it. Understand it. Learn from it. And if you can do all this, then pay for it. You will buy enough junk in your lifetime that you will gain nothing from. If you find something rare and precious enough to work its magic on you, support its creator, and they can make more, and touch even more lives with their gift. Art is more important than ever before, and its worth is not the price you are willing to pay, but the experience you gain from it, and the knowledge it leaves behind.

 

 

 

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On Saturday I was invited to perform at the most unique event on my resumé- a spoken-word event in the middle of a forest in Galway on a stage of pine-cones and foliage!

‘Awaken Your Soul’, the brainchild of the deadly poet & performer Kevin Bateman, was a poetry and prose afternoon with a refreshingly unusual location- deep in the ‘Nest’ in Merlin Park Woods, just outside Galway city, in the direct aftermath of its 2020 City of Culture win. We were seven poets and a prose writer- myself, Kevin Bateman, Kenneth Nolan, Catherine O’Donoghue, Richard Gibney, Polly Richardson, Dario Cannizzaro and Seamus Murtagh- mixing up a variety of themes, styles and backgrounds to form a hell of a show among the trees! For those who’ve experienced Electric Picnic, it had a Trenchtown sort of vibe, and it’s the kind of performance I’d like to try my hand at again.

The diversity between the writers, and even between individual pieces was magical, and each performer sparked off something different. I was honoured to have been invited to perform amongst such talented writers, and to be part of something unique and magic, and I’m truly grateful to Kevin for the opportunity. Also thanks go to my fellow performers for listening and sharing their individual talents! Congratulations to all involved- Awaken Your Soul Galway 2016 rocked!

 

Frank

Posted: July 11, 2016 in Uncategorized

Here’s an old poem from Barbed-Wire Cage about the love I have for my guitar Frank and the relationship I share with music.

 

FRANK

One in the same

Or destined to be more than you and I?

 

Words that echoed life

Were dead

before I met you

white noise

until I learned to speak

through you.

 
With patience

Came broken strings.

When I followed your melody

down to the bridge

My reward surpassed chords alone.

And when the rain came rolling in

I could run

to you.

 
One or the other

Or both

Eight years down

With little variation.

We learned to be together

And now

We must learn to be apart.

This may be the un-punkest statement I will ever commit to type, but last night was a fairytale, and I felt like a Disney princess! Last night was hands-down the best night of my life.

I was blessed and honoured to be joined by the wonderful Circle Sessions, and the night was hosted by the amazing Circle Sessions master of ceremonies David Halpin! The CS showcase was comprised of spoken word, music, rap and comedy acts. The full line-up: Shauna Byrne, Jeremiah Day, Aoife Carton, Indifference, Josey Wales, Luke Clerkin, Sarah Buckley, Daniel Wade, B-mused and Naoise O’Brien- and every one of them brought the house down. I have always been bowled over by the talent brimming from each and every Circle Sessions member, and along with the sense of appreciation, family and friendship I feel from the group, it’s why I will always love Circle Sessions, and why it was so important the group was a major part of the launch of my first professionally recorded EP.

I’m not going to sugar-coat it: anyone who was there on the night saw me drag my heels as the night wore on and my set came closer- I was so nervous, I almost didn’t want to do it. Despite the fact that I’d always wanted to play the incredible Grand Social stage, I was petrified. But when it came to the crunch, I did it. I performed Detonation Day start to finish, and even threw in Parked for good measure, and I truly felt, and hope, it was my best performance to date.

Friends, family and fellow writers and performers came from near and far to support me, and I cannot express how grateful and moved I am to have seen so many wonderful people there last night, and how appreciative I am of the journeys people undertook to get there. I still can’t believe we needed extra chairs for everyone who showed up! My family, in particular, went to great lengths to prepare a wonderful surprise for the night; my sister Caroline is an extraordinary baker, and made the wonderful Detonation Day tank cake you see in the pictures!

I’ll conclude by thanking everyone who came along last night to support- it was magical to see so many fantastic friends in the room last night- and to those who couldn’t make it, but sent lovely messages of encouragement. Thank you to David Halpin and the fantastic artists of the Circle Sessions, my creative brethren, and to everyone who picked up a copy of the EP or indeed, either of the books.  And of course, thank you to John and Simon at the Grand Social for helping keep the night running smoothly. You were all a part of making the Detonation Day EP Launch, featuring the Circle Sessions showcase, the best night of my life.

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Here is a video from the June Jailbreak Sessions of my performance of the poems CailĂ­n Gan Ainm, Autopsy of a Dream, Prohibition and Parked. Thanks to Alan Morton and Conor Clancy for the video and for the incredible open-mic opportunity you give to artists every month! Jailbreak Sessions is on the first Wednesday of every month in the Patriots Inn, Kilmainham, and the next one is the night before the Detonation Day launch!

Thanks to Damian from Arts & Ents in The Anglo-Celt for this fantastic article on Detonation Day!! Wow!

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