29 June 2006

Poem Eleven: Report

"Report" is a poem of reported speech on the subject of John McGahern's Memoir.
I broke out of the staircase format--it's on the front wall, side wall, back wall-- kind of all over the gaff. I'm enjoying watching people craning their necks to read it. I'll have some more installation shots for you tomorrow, plus the text of the poem.

25 June 2006

Radius from The Dock

We are in the process of designing the book that documents this project, which is titled Staircase Poems. I am working with two painters who are also graphic designers, Linda Shevlin and Padraig Cunningham. More on that as it progresses.... But part of the plan for this as a public art project is that once the book is printed, we plan to post out 10,000 copies to people who live close to the Dock. So we are faced with figuring out how far out the radius from the Dock is that will encompass ten thousand households. Interesting problem. I'm in touch with the people in the planning department at Leitrim County Council about this--they are interested in such questions, thank god. If you have any guesses as to how long the radius is, please say so. I'm guessing five miles. Your turn.
Why am I posting ten thousand books of poetry to the Leitrim/Roscommon public? Well, it's mostly to do with this notion that public art projects often address the section of the public who actively "engage" in public art projects. You know the people who like to come to art centres and events and workshops and performances. But what about the folk who either don't know that anything is happening that is called "public art" for them to engage with? Or those that work at jobs that keep them out of the loop for reasons of shift schedules? And what about the introverts? Shy people? People whose confidence in their own language/culture skills is shaky so they stay away from events at the Dock?
Those are some of the reasons why I think a mass mailing may reach a different audience than usual. And there's also the notion that Joseph Brodsky espoused when he was Poet Laureate of the US--he was trying to get an anthology of American poetry put in every hotel room along with the Gideon's Bibles that are already there. His reasoning was that if the books were just there, were available, they might be picked up by someone who might just get interested. And when you get interested, you seek more. And that's how poetry finds the people who either go on to become writers or readers of poems or both.
I'm not enthusiastic about projects and programs that aim to increase the audience for poetry, per se. I do think that it finds its own audience and that the quantity of readers of poetry is not a big problem unless you earn your living selling books, which few poets do. But I do like the idea of dealing with poetry books as one deals with flyers from Super Valu. Send 'em out, and if they want to open it up and read it, fine. They might put it on the table and the kid coming home from leaving cert. poetry class picks it up and flips through it. Or it might go in the recycling bin. Or be used to prop open a window.
Seamus Heaney talked about poetry as being a force that confirms our "inwardness." He said this in a television interview with John Kelly a few months ago when District and Circle first came out here. That's just right. And I hope that this mass mailing might offer that opportunity for inward activity to some people in Leitrim and Roscommon. Hey, something different from iodine tablets anyway!

19 June 2006

I'll be in Dublin on Friday to read some poems

This Friday, June 23rd, I'm reading poems at the Bank of Ireland Arts Centre, Foster Place in Dublin (off Dame Street) at lunchtime, which is one o'clock in these here parts. I'll bring along my iBook, and if the audience is willing and able to gather round it, I'll show one of my film-poems. That is IF there is an audience--this is a poetry reading, folks! A film-poem is me taking one of my poems and animating the text and/or adding images and sound to the words. I suppose I should really call them digital video-poems BUT film is a better word AND the first one I made was with 16 mm film and a Bolex but that was a big failure in more ways than I'd like to say. I WILL try again with stop-motion and film though--just need to gather me strength. Here's a still from "Erasures" a film-poem about creative process and falling in love.

10 June 2006

Text on Staircase in Kraków

Visited many beautiful churches and synagogues in Kraków last week. My first airplane flight since mad, unexplained, catastrophic, miraculous subarachnoid brain hemmorhage in February (more later on that and thank you Djeribi for those adjectives!). Kraków is a city not to be missed. Here is text (patrons' names, I think) on the staircase leading up to Kalsztor i Bazylika Ojkow Paulinów, "Na Skalce". Beneath the basilica is a crypt where the regions leading artists and poets are buried, including Czeslaw Milosz (d. 2004).