Dé Máirt 28 Meitheamh 2011

Haikiú - Gaoth

oíche chiúin anocht
agus mé ag éisteacht;
an ghaoth ag athrú


© Alison Ní Dhorchaidhe 2011

W.B. Yeats - Daire Mhór na Filíochta


W.B. Yeats in New York in the early '20s
[Scríofa 13 Meitheamh 2011]
Rugadh Yeats ar an lá seo sa mbliain 1865. Breithlá sona, a Gheataigh! :)

Tá ‘fhios ag mo chairde uilig go bhfuil ról tábhachtach ag Yeats i mo shaol - is mór an tionchar atá aige orm, go háirid ó thaobh mo chuid scríbhneoireachta dhe. Eiseamláir amach is amach é dom. Tháinig mé air don chéad uair nuair a cheannaigh mé leabhar dá chuid, cnuasach dá dhánta roghnaithe, sa siopa leabhar Chapters nuair a bhí siad suite ar Shráid na Mainistreach. Níl ‘fhios agam cén fáth a bhraith mé tarraingthe dá shaothar, ach is cosúil gur thaitin na híomhánna a bhí á léiriú ós comhair shúil m’intinne nuair a léigh mé cúpla dán sa siopa roimh an cnuasach a cheannach. Bhí draíocht ag baint lena chuid focla… Tá sé deacair dhom a mhíniú, ach bhí sé ar nós go raibh láimh dhíchollaithe ag cur greama orm as na bileoga! Bhraith mé an rud ceannann céanna nuair a chuaigh mé i dtaithí ar litríocht na Gaeilge. Anamacha a bhí marbh le fada ag caint liom, dom’ impí, agus bhraith mé coibhneas nó aifinideacht leo… Pé scéal é. Ansin, chas mé ar Yeats aríst nuair a rinne muid staidéar ar a chuid filíochta le haghaidh na hArdteiste, agus b’shin an uair a thosaigh an oibseisiún seo i gceart! Bhí spéis ag Yeats sa ndraíocht agus san osnádúr, agus measaim gur seo an príomh-rud a tharraing mé dá shaothar. Agus mé i mo dhéagóir, bhí sórt spreagadh nádúrtha ionam chun na págántachta; d’aimsigh mé mo chreideamh ionam fhéin, agus as sin amach deimhníodh mo fhealsúnach sa domhan mórthimpeall orm trí smaointeoireacht agus fealsúnach daoine eile. Ach ba Yeats an chéad duine a aontaigh liom beagnach go huile ‘s go hiomlán.

Léigh mé chuile leabhar ar Yeats a raibheas in ann a aimsiú chun a thuilleadh eolais a fháil, ag lorg mé fhéin oiread agus mé ag iarraidh dul in aithne ar Yeats féin! Cuireadh tús le mo shaol acadúil i gceart nuair a fhreastal mé ar an Scoil Samhradh Yeats i Sligeach sa mbliain 2006, th’éis dhom m’Ardteist a chríochnú. D’fhill mé ar ais chuile bhliain, ar nós fáinleoige. (Chaill mé amach ar an scoil anuraidh, óir go raibheas i mbun mo thráchtais Mháistreachta.)

An Ghrian

Boladh gainimh 's salainne
siosarnach na farraige,
Scréach linbh seachas faoileán.

2 Meitheamh


© Alison Ní Dhorchaidhe 2011

Ted Hughes - “Imagine what you are writing about. See it and live it.”


Ted Hughes
I’m currently reading Ted Hughes’ Poetry in the Making, a collection of the talks that he wrote for and read on the BBC series “Listening and Writing”, which was directed towards an audience of schoolchildren (and no doubt the big children who are writers and poets!).

I LOVE Ted Hughes’ poetry, because he has think knack of capturing the sensuality of the subject in his words, and his images are always striking. He’s on a par with the Old Irish nature poets with his gift for portraying landscapes, animals, birds and the elements. It’s pretty cool of him to intimate his secret to poetlets/poetlings through his talk entitled “Capturing Animals”. I’m going to share a lengthly quote from this chapter in the book:

How can a poem, for instance, about a walk in the rain, be like an animal? Well, perhaps it cannot look much like a giraffe or an emu or an octopus, or anything you might find in a menagerie. It is better to call it an assembly of living parts moved by a single spirit. The living parts are the words, the images, the rhythms. The spirit is the life which inhabits them when they all work together. It is impossible to say which comes first, parts or spirit. But if any of the parts are dead… if any of the words, or images or rhythms do not jump to life as you read them… then the creature is going to be maimed and the spirit sickly. So, as a poet, you have to make sure that all those parts over which you have control, the words and rhythms and images, are alive.

Redstarts - living ‘wholly and enviably to themselves’


John Andrew Wright

I was watching BBC’s Springwatch last week, and Chris Packham read an extract written by ornithologist John Buxton in 1943 while he was a prisoner in a war camp in Bavaria. Apparently much of what we know about Redstarts (pictured) has been gained from this man’s observations. I was really struck by the extract, and thought I’d share it.
‘One of the chief joys of watching these birds in prison was that they inhabited another world than I. They lived wholly and enviably to themselves unconcerned in our fatuous politics, without the limitations imposed all about us by our knowledge. They lived only in the moment, without foresight and with memory only of things of immediate practical concern to them.’
Imagine being in prison, and living your life through the birds you see flying free out of your window? It would keep me sane, I can tell you. I often do it from my own bedroom window! I can’t explain why I love birds so much, but I would say it is because they seem to have this sort of philosophy as described above. Philosophy is the wrong word here, as Buxton has just said that it is in fact our ‘knowledge’ and ‘love of knowledge’ that imposes the limitations on us… Their way of life then, the way they live only for the moment, and deal with things as they happen. To take every day as it comes, and to enjoy it. To sing, to fly, to eat!

Caoimhín Naofa agus an Chéirseach

Le teacht an Charghais,
imíonn Caoimhín leis
chuig bothán caol,
leac ghlas mar leaba dó;

Glacann sé faoiseamh
ó chomhrá na ndaoine,
i bhfabhar machnaimh
i bhfochair éan 's ainmhithe.

Leabhar ina lámha,
úlla bána 'na thimpeall
ar na sailí cromtha,
siúlann an fear naofa -

Ar chiumhais na coille
a shroicheadh, stadann sé -
Ciúnas. Corp beag dubh
leagtha ar an talamh:

Lon dubh bocht, marbh.
A chlúmh lonrach fós,
gob néata buí, balbh.
Tost ar an gceol go deo.

An guth chomh glinn sin,
's é ag gairm ón tsailleach!
Bhí an lon grinnsúileach,
díograiseach mar chomharsan.

Trua ina chroí dó,
guíonn an naomh ar a shon,
a lámh mhothálach
sínte uaidh amach.

Tagann céirseach ón gcoill
chun tuirlingt ar a bhos;
baintreach úr, cumhach
i ndiaidh a céile.

Is foighneach an fear,
's caomh, go deimhin -
coinníonn sé a lámh mar sin
go ndéanann sí nead inti.

Mar lomán faoin éan
a lámh anois, go dtabharfaidh
amach an líne; is géar mór
pian na comaoine.

10 Aibreán 2011


© Alison Ní Dhorchaidhe 2011

What’s the Gaeilge for a sort of positive feeling of nostalgia?

[Originally posted here on April 3, 2011]

As I walked home to my grandparents house in Marino from town yesterday, a profound feeling came over me; it’s a feeling I get often when I return to the area. I pretty much grew up there, so obviously I have a strong connection with the place. I don’t think the term ‘nostalgia’ fits this feeling; this certain feeling is a type of happiness, a feeling that comes back from a time past. A lingering feeling from childhood, I reckon, that is prompted by something. In this case, it was the place. As I continued walking, another strange thought entered my mind - “Ba chóir go mbeadh Gaeilge á labhairt anseo…” (“Irish should be spoken here…”) I felt that the area had the same feeling that I do get from Irish-speaking areas. Strange!


But then it makes sense - I always felt that Irish is a link between me and my childhood. I only encountered Irish in school; there was no Irish at home, I didn’t attend a Gaelscoil, and I never went to the Gaeltacht. But something in the language itself prompts this same feeling of ‘home’ and ‘childhood’ in my mind. I originally picked Irish in college because I felt that I missed it from school! After finishing my Irish Leaving Cert exam, I remember walking forlornly out from the school grounds thinking “I can’t believe that I’ll never do Irish again…”, while everyone else around me was jubilant. I picked Irish in college to keep that link, which was one of childhood and identity.

As I left my grandparents house today, the view we have of the Dublin mountains was lovely and clear today, with Conamara clouds (as I call them, after the paintings of Paul Henry) above them. I love where I live now in Louth, but the mountains really prompted that keen connection with my native place. You can’t take Dublin out of the girl! And, from what I glean from my musings, I think the spirit of Gaeilge does survive in the Capital!

Breakfast Crows

Crows lift dog food
chisel it with beaks:
hammer hammer hammer
munch munch munch
caw caw caw
swift glossy flight
swoop
clink of beak on ceramic
crunchy food in clenched foot claws
hammer hammer hammer
munch munch -
squabble!
clash of wings and scrapes
swagger -
munch.


© Alison Ní Dhorchaidhe 2011

Yeats International Summer School 2011, Sligo

I’m very excited to present the brochure for this year’s Yeats International Summer School in the Land of Heart’s Desire itself, Sligo, the mythological landscape that inspired some of W.B. Yeats’ most beautiful poetry. The poet also spent his childhood here, and his family’s heritage still plays an important part of the cultural identity of the county. What better backdrop than Sligo to set the two week long Summer School, which also coincides with the annual Yeats Festival.

The iconic landscape of Sligo, with the mountains of Ben Bulben and Knocknarea, has had an immense influence on me, as much as the Summer School itself was a crucial part of my academic training, and has also led to many friendships that I hold dear.


I’m proud to say that I will not only be attending the school this year, but I will also have the honour of giving Irish language workshops to the students attending the school, who come from all over the world! I must admit that I’m still in awe to see my name on the School’s programme alongside with eminent Yeatsian scholars that I am very fortunate to call my friends!

Idir Dhá Thraidisúin (nó Trí…)

[Originally posted here on January 6th, 2011]

Something odd occured to me the other evening while I sang along to songs on my iPod - I know the words of Scottish Gaelic songs and not Irish songs! How weird is that? I set myself to learn a song in Scottish Gaelic ‘Mo Bheannachd Dhan Bhailidh Ùr’ (though I still struggle with some of the words), but I’ve never really had the same drive to learn an Irish song. I stood and lingered on this thought for a moment, and some thoughts hit me.

I think the songs are presented in a much more accessible way to modern audiences in Scotland than in Ireland. Irish traditional singing is quite purist still in the sense that it’s not really changing in order to adapt to its new context, which allowes for the old songs to be still sung in a modern world that has a much broader exposure to different styles of music.

I don’t mean that it has to change, what I mean is there should be a branch of a further new development in style while still remaining in the tradition. There are very few in Irish sean-nós who do this. Irish singers do, however, ‘water down’ their tradition to make it commercially appealing to tourists who have a misty-eyed view of Ireland. This may seem a very snobbish observation, but it’s a fact not only obvious in musical terms but in Irish culture in general. (This is not to say that the Scots don’t do the same, but we’ll come to them later.) The effect of this is that the native Irish have become repulsed by the ‘hye-diddley-eye’ made-for-export commodity that is popular Irish culture. This is only an aspect of the much broader Irish cultural collective, but this has had such a negative effect on the Irish psyche that the ‘true part’ (if you like) of our native culture has been neglected, and left to gather dust.

Irish and Scottish Gaelic Folklore Projects

[Originally posted here on November 13, 2010]

I was listening to the lovely Julie Fowlis earlier today, and I decided to Google more information about a particular song and it’s original historical context. After a few pages, I came across a website (with much celebration and glee!) that acts as an online catalogue for Scottish Gaelic folkloric material. The website is Tobar an Dualchais, and it’s a project that seeks ‘to preserve, digitise, catalogue and make available online several thousand hours of Gaelic and Scots recordings’ and to ‘ensure that Scotland’s rich oral heritage is safeguarded and made widely available for educational and personal use for future generations.’ The recordings come from the School of Scottish Studies (University of Edinburgh), BBC Scotland and the National Trust for Scotland’s Canna Collection. Something that excites me is that the database contains folklore collected by Calum MacLean during the 1950s! On the homepage, you can click on a particular area on the map of Scotland, and you’ll be brought to pages of recordings from that area. You can also search the database with the title of a song, for example, if you want. It gives you the details of the recording (title, contributor, reporter, summary, duration, location, etc), and a player (that requires Flash) allows you to listen to the recording.

I went looking for an equivalent in Ireland, and couldn’t find one, besides a few files on the UCD National Folklore Collection site. Then a contact of mine on Facebook, Risteárd Mag Uidhir, sent me the link to the Doegen Records Web Project, which is similar to Tobar an Dualchais. This project is run by the Royal Irish Academy Library in collaboration with the Digital Humanities Observatory. It follows a similar format, with recordings made during the years 1928-31, and ‘includes recordings from many regions of Ireland where traditional Irish dialects have disappeared since the time the recordings were made’, one of which is the County Louth dialect, which has Ulster and Gàidhlig sounds, as far as I can hear. A lot of counties haven’t been covered, unfortunately, which I don’t think is down to lack of material that could have been found.

Midnight Music - Three Haiku

1 Forte
a brutal wind blows
scattered autumn leaves:
dissipated emotions.

2 Glissando
stripping off my clothes
I add words to naked page;
night-time transaction.

3 Crescendo
orchestral winds play
a brisk late-night symphony;
through the vent, a flute.


© Alison Ní Dhorchaidhe 2010

Descriptive writing in prose - a bit of a rant

[Originally posted here on October 25, 2010]

I’m reading A.S. Byatt’s Possession at the moment, and I must say that I have mixed feelings about it. There are instances of brilliance in it, mainly when it concerns the characters themselves: her description of Roland Michell photocopying the stolen letter drafts brought a smile to my face as it described exactly my experiences as a chronic-photocopier during my time in UCD Library. I can empathise greatly with Maud Bailey as a character, and find that my attention levels heighten when she enters the narrative. Byatt’s use of folkloric plotline formulae create enjoyable stories written by Christabel LaMotte, but the poetry (so far and in my opinion) is awful. I do get the impression that Randolph Henry Ash is not supposed to me a great poet, but rather an obscure literary figure adopted by modern postgraduates in order for them to find a topic that hasn’t been picked to bits, so perhaps Byatt writes his poems in the most boring and brain-numbing manner to reflect his character (and Victorian time-period).


The problem that I have with Byatt is her banal descriptions, that make me feel impatient as a reader as they take away from the flow of the narrative. Here’s an example:
The valleys are deep and narrow, some wooded, some grassy, some ploughed. (Byatt, Possession, 68)
I may not be enrolled in a literary course in university anymore, but the literary critic in me is still very much switched on. This, for me, is an insipid description that is not necessary. As far as I am concerned, a modern writer should describe things of distinction distinctively. If they’re not distinctive, they don’t need description (unless, perhaps, to create the bored affect of banality from the position of a particular character). And if they’re worth describing, give them language worth writing (and worth reading)! If what you’re describing is an inanimate object, give it life, and characteristics; give it meaning in the context of what you’re trying to impress upon the reader.

Scríbhneoireacht Aerach


[Scríofa ó bhunús anseo 26ú d' Iúil, 2010 - tá spéis agam sa dtionscadal fós!]

Bhí mé ag caint le cara liom le déanaí faoi thionscadal atá ar m’intinn - táim ag smaoineamh ar chnuasach litríochta a chur le chéile, le gearrscéalta/prós, filíocht agus píosaí neamhfhicseanúla (as Gaeilge nó Gàidhlig) scríofa ag scríbhneoirí aeracha.

Táim ag iarraidh an t-eispéireas aerach a roinnt trí mheán na Gaeilge/Gàidhlige - ábhar aerach a bheas i bpíosaí scríbhneoireachta an chnuasaigh, faoi thaithí dhaoine LADT, cuirim i gcás an taithí atá acu ar an ‘suíomh’, nó fadhbanna a bhuaileann siad leo, agus dánta grá aeracha/leispiacha. Nílim ag caint faoi rudaí ró-phearsanta, ach saothair chruthaitheacha a thagann as fíor thaithí dhaoine LADT na hÉireann/na hAlban. Is féidir le daoine d’aoiseanna éagsúla agus daoine as ceantair éagsúla ar fud na tíre (anseo agus in Albain) páirt a ghlacadh. Nó fiú daoine le Gaeilge/Gàidhlig atá thar lear. B’aoibhinn liom é dá mbeadh scríbhneoirí atá ina gcónaí faoin tuatha, nó sa Ghaeltacht fiú amháin, in ann a dtaithí a roinnt faoi shaol an duine aeraigh lasmuigh de na cathracha. Thabharfadh an cnuasach deis do dhaoine a nguthanna a úsáid trí mheán na litríochta chun a bheith bródúil astu.

Nílim ag iarraidh a bheith ‘polaitiúil’ leis an gcnuasach seo, ach ag iarraidh an Ghaeilge agus an Ghàidhlig a chur chun cinn agus lucht na Gaeilge agus na Gàidhlige a tharraingt le chéile. Fuair mé inspioráid mhór as Cuairt na bhFilí Albanacha, a raibh eagraithe ag Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge - bhí filíocht den chéad scoth ann ag scríobh sa dá theanga. Tionscadal deas a bheas ann don lucht LADT chun a n-eispéireas a roinnt le pobal na Gaeilge, agus chun feasacht a fheabhsú ar an saol LADT. Tugann litríocht LADT tacaíocht do dhaoine atá ag streachailt lena gcuid gnéasachta, agus braitheann daoine níos compordaí iontu féin nuair a dtuigeann siad nach bhfuil siad ina n-aonair. Chomh maith leis sin, spreagfadh an cnuasach scríbhneoirí nua chun litríocht níos nua-aimseartha a chruthú a bheadh oiriúnach dár linne!

Má tá spéis ag scríbhneoirí páirt a ghlacadh, seol r-phost chugam ag alisonnidhorchaidhe@gmail.com

‘Triquetra Table’ by Design Onion

‘Triquetra Table’, a hall table designed by Ronán Lowery for Design Onion epitomises the idea of an Irish design, that could be called Gaelic or Celtic while at the same time embodying modern style. In a post-colonial country where ‘true’ or ‘pure’ identity is hotly debated, I would argue for the adaptation of  simple traits in our ancestors’ design and style, to be recreated into something that is relevant to today’s culture and the competitive design market. This is exactly what Lowery has done in his creation of this piece, as he explains himself:
The inspiration for this hall table came from the Celtic “triquetra” symbol. It is considered to represent the three domains of earth according to Celtic legend - earth, sea and sky as well as the triplicities of mind, body and soul.*
Lowery utilises one common symbol from the Celtic style to create something functional and visually striking; the triquetra symbol is dragged from the vellum pages of medieval manuscripts and tired clichéd usage in popular culture to become something edgy and elegant all at once. The wood has a two-toned effect, with walnut rails edging around ash legs that are laquered to finish. The table top is glass that is fixed to the wooden legs with brushed stainless steel pins. Lowery combines his love of nature and fascination for geometric shapes in his designs, which creates ‘smooth flowing furniture but with a very ordered look.’* Added to this is his sensitivity to his clients, aspiring to have their personality, taste and needs reflected in his work. He works on a commission basis for Design Onion, based in Co. Armagh, and assures that the finished piece will be the result of an intimate collaboration between himself and the client.

Design Onion was founded in 2007 by Lowery and fellow furniture designer Eric O’Donnell, who both studied Furniture Design and Manufacture in Letterfrack furniture college. Though O’Donnell has since taken a step back from this business venture in order to pursue other projects, this video featured on You Tube offers an insight into how a design piece is conceptualised and created, keeping in with the theme of an Irish design style using traditional methods in the

Intertextual Language - Bakhtin and Gaeilge

[Originally posted here on July 7, 2010]

I’m currently reading Graham Allen’s book Intertextuality: New Critical Idiom, a pioneering book on the literary criticism scene, in order to examine poems of Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill in an intertextual light. The term ‘intertextual’ is thrown around a lot, without its users fully understanding its complicated definition. It is actually very difficult to pin down. Basically, everything that we humans ‘create’ is intertextual, because there is no such thing as originality, as it is understood generally. The way in which we ‘express’ ourselves and the mediums in which we ‘create’ are systems themselves that we enter into, for example language, conventions of literature, mediums of art and the musical stave. The very way in which we function as humans is not individual (if you think of it this way, we are a species, with a behaviour pattern just like any other species that we study); everything we think has been thought before. The only difference would be the context (i.e. the modern, or post-modern, society we live in). When we ‘express’ or ‘create’, we are working with a certain set of tools that are set and established - it is the different combinations that make it ‘individual’ or ‘new’, but nothing is a work/statement in and of itself, but is based upon, dependent on and understood in relation to everything that came before it and exists alongside it, and will be in the future with what will come. For a literary example, here’s a definition from Allen:
“The meaning on an author’s words does not originate from the author’s own unique consciousness but from their place within linguistic-cultural systems. The author is placed in the role of a compiler or arranger of pre-existent possibilities within the language system. Each word the author employs, each sentence, paragraph or whole text s/he produces takes its origins from, and thus has its meaning in terms of, the language system out of which it was produced.” Intertextuality, p. 14
Very complicated stuff, which led to Ronald Barthe’s article ‘The Death of the Author’, the death being in recognition of the author being no longer the sole ‘authority’ on his/her text’s meaning. Its meaning is dependent on the language, phrases, words, structure, conventions etc. that compose the text. But it is not so much literature that I am interested in here, but this ‘linguistic-cultural system’.

Fuisce

D’oscail mé féirín
tugtha dom uait
fada ó shin;

D’oscail mé ribín
a cheangal tú
led’ lámha láidre.

Rois mé an páipéar
curtha le chéile
go deas mín agat:

Le loinnir óir-bhuí
d’fhuair mé buidéal
d’fhuisce Éireannach;

Cén chaoi a bheadh
a fhios a’t go n-ólaim
fuisce Albanach anois?


© Alison Ní Dhorchaidhe 2010

Pluma

Ag feitheamh ar fhreagra uait,
breathnaím ar an bpluma
a thug tú dhom -
d'éirigh sé níos feoite
i rith na seachtaine
a thit eadrainn.

Ní bhfuair mé blas uaidh,
cé go raibh an seans agam.


© Alison Ní Dhorchaidhe

"Beuldhath" - aistriúchán go Gàidhlig

Bha colainnean mu m' thimcheall,
dealbhan bàna do mo chorp balbh a mhealladh,
an àilleachd ar tòir
mo shùilean – bha mi nàireach,
cridhe reòta am measg teas nan òg.
‘S an sin thàinig thu thugam
le do bheul dì-nàireach dearg
gu mo bheul-sa a smeuradh
le pòig; agus pòg eile.
Chum thu m’aodann nad làmhan,
‘s le do mheòir grinne
rinn thu oidhirp gus
an smeur dearg a ghlanadh –
ach dh’fhàg thu smàl orm.


© Alison Ní Dhorchaidhe & Teàrlach Quinnell 2010

Béaldath

Bhí colainneacha im' thimpeall,
deilbheacha ban dom' chorp balbh
a mhealladh, a n-áilleacht ar thóir
mo shúile - bhí mé náireach,
croí reoite i measc teas na n-óg.
'S ansin tháinig tú chugam
le do bhéal dínáireach dearg
chun mo bhéal-sa a smearadh
le póg; agus póg eile.
Choinnigh tú m'éadan id' lámha,
's le do mhéara néata
rinne tú iarracht
an smearadh dearg a réiteach
- ach d'fhág tú smál orm.


© Alison Ní Dhorchaidhe 2010

Comórtas Uí Néill - Cuairt na bhFilí Albanacha


Bhí cara nua liom le Gàidhlig aige, Teàrlach Quinnell, gearrliostaithe i gComórtas Uí Néill, a bhí ar siúl i gCois Teallaigh ar Shráid Chill Dara dé hAoine seo caite. Níor bhuaigh sé an duais, ach ní rud tábhachtach é seo - chuir sé a chuid filíochta amach san atmaisféar, á roinnt le filí eile na hÉireann agus na hAlban, ó Ghael go Gaeil. (Is Sasanach é, ach pé scéal é - is Gael é ina anam.) Bhí Caitríona Ní Chléirchín ag glacadh páirte sa chomórtas chomh maith, i ndiaidh seachtaine gnóthaí caite aici ag an gCúirt i nGaillimh. Tar éis dian-staidéir a dhéanamh ar fhilíocht na hAlban mar chuid dem' chúrsa (ó Shomhairle MacGill-Eain go Meg Bateman), bhí mé ag tnúth leis an bhfilíocht a chloisteáil i bhfuaimeanna Gàidhlige, agus dearcadh eile a fháil sa nua-fhilíocht á scríobh acu thall in Albain. Agus ní raibh díomá orm.

Bhí Somhairle MacGill-Eain mar scáil chairdiúil tharainn ag an ócáid, lena chuid filíochta agus grianghrafacha de  mar chuid den taispeántas atá ar siúl ag Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge i gCois Teallaigh faoi láthair, ag ceiliúradh an chaidrimh idir Éire and Albain. B'iad Aonghus Pàdraig Caimbeul agus Bríd Ní Mhóráin moltóirí an chomórtais seo, agus bhain mé an-sult as a gcuid filíochta féin, agus an chaoi a spreag siad na filí óga chun misneach agus bród a bheith iontu féin agus iad i mbun scríbhneoireachta chun a véarsa féin a chur le traidisiún saibhir na Gaeilge agus na Gàidhlige araon. Bhí amhránaíocht againn ó Joy Dunlop, bean an-spraoiúil agus í ag caint, an-mothálach agus í ag casadh amhráin nó poirt, agus ceol ar an bhfidil ó Shona Masson (d'fhoghlaim sí an fhidil nuair a bhí sí 9 mbliana d'aois, agus is saineolaí í anois!). Leigh Pàdraig MacAoidh a chuid filíochta nua féin (agus sraith véarsaí de chuid Rody Gorman le haghaidh an chomórtais, toisc narbh fhéidir leis a bheith ann), agus roinn sé dán neamh-chríochnaithe de chuid Shomhairle MhicGill-Eain ag oscailt an chomórtais, rud a bhí an-cumhachtach dom mar leantóir mór de Shomhairle! Bhraith mé go raibh sé inár bhfochair. Bhronn na moltóirí an duais ar Phroinseas Mac a' Bhaird, dála an scéil, dá dhán 'Bróga', léite amach ar bhealach a bhí an-corraithe ag Ríona Nic Congáil, toisc nárbh fhéidir leis a bheith i láthair ach oiread.

Haiku - Blossoms

Spring optimism -

wet beads amongst pink blossoms,

fresh after rainfall.



© Alison Ní Dhorchaidhe 2010

'An Appointment with Mr. Yeats' - The Waterboys and the Poetry of W.B. Yeats


© Paul Mac Manus
I was a very lucky recipient of generosity that allowed me and my best friend to attend the first night of ‘An Appointment with Mr. Yeats’ in the Abbey Theatre last night. This artistic project of The Waterboys, Mike Scott and Steve Wickham, sets twenty poems of William Butler Yeats to music, thus giving the arch-poet’s words a new lease of life. Mike Scott himself has had a long artistic and spiritual relationship with the poet, as is apparent in the symbolism of his own lyrics and the free pagan spirit of The Waterboys’ early albums. I like to think that Mike Scott is a freer reincarnation of the poet, an unrestricted spirit of  dramatic beauty and mysticism that is synonymous with the young darkling Yeats before he affected the mask of burning gold. I would also add to the balance a touch of Jack Yeats, with a freshness and more earthy sensuality; Sligo personified.

On entering the theatre, the audience was met with a darkened stage and a hypnotising spiral in a circular display screen on the backdrop. In my seat (four rows from the front in the centre) I got a gentle waft in incense from backstage. The theatre was PACKED with people from all walks of life, full of anticipation. Finally, the theatre darkened and disembodied waves and music was heard. After a period of impatient waiting and heightened expectation, band members began to come onstage one by one, as their instrument entered the music. Then Mike Scott bolted onstage, and straight up to the mic, and launched into the first syllables of “The Hosting of the Sidhe”, accompanied by a fitting tumultuous horse-galloping beat. Following this was “News for the Delphic Oracle”, and “The Song of Wandering Aengus”. After three songs from this mind-blowing arrangement, Mike began to relate to us his love for Yeats’ poetry  finding collections of his poetry in his house when he was young and how he always felt drawn back to the poems, and grew in his understanding of the poems through the years. Reminding the audience of the historical background of Yeats’ role in the foundation of the Irish Literary Theatre, later the Abbey Theatre, Mike told us how honored he felt to be performing the world premiere of his project on the Abbey stage.

Haikiú - Spideog

Spideog ag barr crainn,
a ghuth mar sholas gréine
ag sileadh orainn.


© Alison Ní Dhorchaidhe 2010

Haiku - Barn Owl

A white sweep on prey,
and a banshee sort of screech -
a hunting barn owl.


© Alison Ní Dhorchaidhe 2010

Toy Box 2010


I received my copy of 'Toy Box 2010 - a compilation of English and Japanese poetry' in the post last Wednesday. I was really excited when I saw the envelope with beautiful Japanese stamps of Geisha and Samurai. I had been exchanging e-mails with Ashida Minori (aka 'Yuka', with her full name being surname first according to Japanese custom) since last September. She approached me after the students' poetry reading of the Yeats Summer School (2009) in Sligo, where I had read out a few of my haiku. I was flattered when she told me that she liked them, and asked for my contact details. She then informed me briefly about her project, and gave me a copy of her previous edited booklet of poetry.

Yuka then began sending me e-mails, asking if I would be interested in adding some of my haiku to her project, another booklet of English language and Japanese poetry, translated from one language to the other. I was delighted at such an opportunity, and for the next few months we sent drafts to one another, correcting mistakes and writing a short profile of the poet, i.e. myself, for the back of the book. Yuka translated my haiku, and I was very excited when she sent one of the final drafts with the originals and their Japanese translations beside them. I sat and picked out the Japanese characters for my name, and for the words in Irish and placenames in Sligo.

The finished product is beautiful. Edited by Ashida Minori (Yuka) and illustrated by Hashizume Sayaka, it contains the poems and haiku of Japanese poets, and poets from China, America, Canada and Hawaii, and myself from Ireland. (I've just realised that I'm the only European representative, which is an honour!) The compilation is in three sections, the first being 'Poem Travels' from Japanese to English, the second 'Poem Travels' from English to Japanese, and the final section 'Haiku and Tanka', which features five of my haiku, two of which are in Irish. Mine are the only contributions of haiku. (I must look into the Tanka form and try my hand at it...)

Haikiú - Plúiríní Sneachta

Plúiríní sneachta
a' fás le cuma leithscéalach,
cinn bána cromtha.


© Alison Ní Dhorchaidhe 2010

Amhrán an Mhic Léinn

Ba chóir go mbeadh mé gafa
le mo chuid léitheoireachta -
ach táim ag scríobh píosa filíochta
ag cúl mo leabhar critice.

I rith na deireadh seachtaine
(ar shos ó chéim na máistreachta)
bím ag ól fíona rua, agus
spreagann sé dáin go héasca asam.

Nuair atá cúpla deoch ionam
sileann línte as Gaeilge asam -
ní bhíonn gramadach ar m'intinn
mar cuireann an t-ól misneach ionam!

Ceapaim go bhfuilim go hiontach
agus fonn aerach meidhreach orm,
ach caillim mo mhisneach
nuair a éirím níos stuama...

Tá an draíocht thart, tá orm stopadh -
tá uafás oibre le déanamh agam!
Oíche dé Domhnaigh atá inti
agus tá ranganna le hullmhú agam!

21 Feabhra 2010

(píosa spraoi, cumtha sa teach tábhairne le fíon agus ar ais sa mbaile ag mo dheasc níos stuama!)

Haikú - Scamaill

Solas na gréine
ag sileadh óir ar scamaill -
talamh na ndéithe.



© Alison Ní Dhorchaidhe 2010

The Souls of Flowers - Pagan Musings


When a flower dies is it the same flower that grows back again the following year, or is that a new flower? Where does the dead flower go? What is the point of its existence for such a short period? It's adorable as a sprout, then it's beautiful as a blossom, and then it dies. Does a flower have a ghost? (I recall that Yeats wondered this.) Is that why people believe in reincarnation? The old flower dies but is reborn in a new blossom the following year?

Are people like flowers? You get a particularly beautiful blossom and then it dies. What is the point of a particular beauty and what happens to it in death? Is it merely a beautiful memory, and goes on to give its force to future blossoms? Is there such a thing as individuality in death?


How come flowers get to live their lives out fully? ...Unless they're plucked. When someone dies young and beautiful, is that them being plucked by some unseen hand? They're plucked because they're more beautiful than other blossoms, with a stronger fragrance.

Do surrounding flowers mourn a lost fellow blossom? When they die, do they meet with their old friend again?
Ironically, we pluck loads of flowers in their prime when we offer them to our own dead as a sacrifice. We bury someone young with young beautiful blossoms - do they join our friend in the next life?
Nature shows some continuation and renewal after death/Winter. In this way, is Nature showing us that there is an existence after death?

(Written March 2009)

Haikiú - Sneachta

Tá an Nollaig thart,
ach tá blúire sneachta fágtha
ar fud na tíre.



© Alison Ní Dhorchaidhe 2010

Haikiú - Crainn

Crainn lom álainn ann
os comhar spéir úir earraigh,
ciúin sa chlapsholas.



© Alison Ní Dhorchaidhe 2010

White Memories

In gentle snow-fall
I walk, the snow covering
old memories.


© Alison Ní Dhorchaidhe 2010

Lisa Hannigan, Vicar Street, 3 Nollaig 2009


Bhí an t-ádh orm agus ar chara liom a bheith i Vicar Street oíche Déardaoin seo caite agus Lisa Hannigan ag seinnt. Bhí cnaipí agus pátrúin fuaite ildathach ar fud na háite, a chuir a halbam Sea Sew inár n-aigne (chriotáil Lisa clúdach a halbaim lena mam agus d'fhuaigh sí liricí dá hamhráin air chomh maith). Is duine ildathach í Lisa féin, mar bá léir óna soilsí agus ón mbeacán bearaigh ag lonrú in aice lena maidhc, agus tháinig sí ar an stáitse ag caitheamh gúna seanré (d'oibrigh sí i siopa éadaí seanré nuair a bhí sí níos óige). Is duine gleoite páistiúil í Lisa, ag caint ós íseal mar chailín óg cúthalach, agus breathnaíonn sí mar bhábóg ghleoite ina cuid éadaí. Bhraith an stáitse mar sheomra leapa leis na soilsí luaite cheana féin agus an túis lasta in aice leis an ndrumadóir; chomh maith leis sin, is ionad an-cheanúil é Vicar Street, agus dúirt sí go raibh sé deas a bheith ar ais san ionad "is fearr in Éirinn", ina focail féin.

Measaim go bhfuil Lisa níos fearr ag casadh amhráin beo ná mar a chas sí ar an albam féin.
Ná tóg an bhrí mí-cheart uaim - bíonn an t-albam ag seinnt ar mo sheinnteoir dlúthdhioscaí chuile lá! Is é an t-albam is mó a sheinnim i mo sheomra leapa agus ar m'iPod, ní bréag é sin. Agus atá sí ag seinnt beo, tá fuinneamh agus cumhacht inti agus ina guth; bíonn a corp iomlán ag bogadh leis an gceol timpeall uirthi agus ag teacht uaithi féin. Seinneann sí an lán uirlisí cheoil; an giotar agus an bainseo, chomh maith le huirlisí aisteacha, mar shampla an armóin agus an 'melodica'. Píosa beag de chuile rud. Rinne sí staidéir an an gCeol i gColáiste na Tríonóide sular ndeachaigh sí ag canadh le Damian Rice. Is léir go bhfuil dlúthchaidreamh aici lena banna ceoil, go pearsanta agus nuair a bhíonn siad ag cruthú ceoil le chéile - tá siad ag súgradh ar an stáitse, ag cruthú ceoil agus craic dóibh féin chomh maith leis an lucht éisteachta.

Ciarán Ó Con Cheanainn

Ciarán, th'éis dó an Corn Uí Riada a bhuachan
Is cuimhin liom an chéad uair a bhuail muidne le Ciarán, agus muidne sa dara bliain. Tháinig fear óg le héadaí galánta dubha isteach sa seomra, agus dearg ina leicne. Fear an-óg cúthaileach a bhí ann, le cuma óigeanta soineanta, agus ag an am sin bhí a cheann bearrtha. Chuir muidne Ciarán i gcomparáid le Shayne Ward mar sin, agus bhí muidne i gcónaí ag canadh a chuid amhrán as Gaeilge nuair a chonaic muidne Ciarán ar son grinn. Ní raibh a fhios againn ag an am sin go raibh guth níos áille ag Ciarán ná Shayne Ward! Sa chéad rang sin, “Logainmneacha agus Sloinnte”, chuala muidne an Ghaeilge ba bhinne dár chuala muidne riamh ó bhéal Chiaráin – agus Béarla uasal cosúil le Shakespeare chomh maith! Níor chreid muid go bhféadfádh fuaimeanna chomh éagsúil teacht as aon duine amháin! Ba chainteoir den scoth é. 
 
De réir mar a chuir muidne aithne air, bhí sé soiléir gur léachtóir cabhrach agus spreagúil a bhí ann, agus gur fear gaoismhéar os cionn a aois é. Mar a dúirt Yeats, féileacán is ea gaois, agus bá é an cás sin le Ciarán. Bhí an-eolas aige ar léann na Gaeilge, go háirithe ar oidhreacht na Gaeilge, agus ar an traidisiún ársa, agus spreag sé spiorad na Gaeilge ionainn. Níor chreid muidne é nuair a chonaic muid Ciarán ar TG4 ag an Oireachtas, agus bhí bród orainn nuair a bhuaigh sé Corn Uí Riada. Bhí guth den scoth aige agus é ag canadh, guth glórach agus ceolmhar. Ba laoch umhal é nuair a tháinig sé ar ais chugainn anseo, le cuma nua inspioráideach air. Bhí sé ag siúl timpeall UCD mar is gnáth, agus an guth eisceachtúil sin aige!

Vixen

I look into the mirror -
red hair, red eyes;
a wounded vixen.


© Alison Ní Dhorchaidhe 2009

Sligo Summer

Across July fields
swallows chase like children playing,
split tails like streamers.


© Alison Ní Dhorchaidhe 2009

At Tobar an Ailt

Tree at Tobar Nalt
Tobar an Ailt (or Tober Nalt) is a holy well in Sligo with the originally pagan practice of tying ribbons/material to the tree beside the well as a prayer offering or ritual of sympathetic magic; this way the tree takes on your prayer and heals any illness.


"At Tobar an Ailt"

A prayer by the tree,
remembering a love lost;
my ribbon flapping.


© Alison Ní Dhorchaidhe 2009

The Drive

The Hungry Rock
Sligo has to be one of the most inspiring places I've ever been; the environment seems to encourage and nurture poetry. Sligo itself is a landscape of mythology and folklore, which seems to talk directly to you, narrating its own stories. The locals are full of folklore too. I wrote this after my friend Declan Foley brought myself and fellow poet Earl Livings on the drive up through the Ox Mountains. We originally set off looking for the Hawk's Well (which was featured in the Yeats play), but gave up and just wandered instead. Folklore about the Hungry Rock says that if you pass it while you are hungry, you will be forever starving!


"The Drive"

Winding and curving, we venture
By car towards the Ox Mountains -
"The oldest mountains in Europe";
Our driver narrates the adventures
Of the landscape's lineaments.
The site of Cath Maigh Tuireadh,
Where once two battles raged -
Two mythic races engaged in
Combat, over land and power.
Over yonder towers Cnoc na Sí,
The "Hill of the Faeries" - I
Wonder what faery king or queen
Occupies the cairn on top, or
If faery troops dwell within...
That other cairn on Cnoc na Rí
Of the fiery Queen Meadhbh,
Still fiercly facing Ulster
In defiance from the grave.
Does the ghost of Conall Gulbain,
That hero of Tír Chonaill, still
Sprint swiftly up the steep side
Of the iconic Beann Ghulban?
It's shaped like the snout of the boar
That killed Diarmaid Mac Duibhne
At its feet, so ending the hunt
For he and his love Gráinne;
Their beds are still in Ceathrú Mhór...

From mythology to folklore -
We pass by the Hungry Rock,
Luckily with bellies full
Or we'd be doomed to eternal
Starvation! But cows graze beneath
In the shadow of the rock -
Are they insatiably hungry?
Looking out the car window
In this moment, I'd love
To stroke the land as I'd stroke a cat.
The wind breathes clean, and suddenly
A random bath-tub in a field.
A parliament of rooks on a roof,
Manifestations of the Mór-Ríogan,
Who straddled the river Uinsinn.
Amongst this epic landscape
Lie neglected houses, abandoned
For modernity, thatched
With forgotten roofs, rotten.
The waters of the Hawk's Well
Evade us, as they did
The old man in the Yeats play.
We leave it for another day,
And head back to Sligo town.


Lúnasa|August 2009

© Alison Ní Dhorchaidhe 2009

Eala Óg Bródúil

Eala óg liath
ag snámh ar an Life,
é ina aonair.

© Alison Ní Dhorchaidhe 2008