Town Hall Poets are a Poetry Society Stanza group who meet regularly at Trowbridge Town Hall, and other places, to read and talk about poetry, workshop each other’s poems and arrange open-mic nights. We’re also lucky enough to be the Trowbridge Chapter of the Candlestick Press Collective, which means that we receive complimentary copies of Candlestick pamphlets in return for feedback. We recently met to talk about Ten Poems from Ireland, published in 2016.
‘Ignorant’ is the first word of the first line in Death of an Irishwoman by Michael Hartnett, the first poem to appear in the collection.
Ignorant, in the sense
she ate monotonous food
and thought the world was flat,
It’s a word we kept returning to in our discussions. Often, we were ignorant of the history and events referenced in the poems and were glad of Editor Paula Meehan’s succinct, sensitive and informative introductions. I considered my own ignorance, me the one with the Irish surname, and felt deeply moved by poems which connected me with my own Irish heritage.
Poems about a country, a culture and a language.
The poems provoked rich and rewarding conversations about ideas of identity, oppression and forms of resistance. “These are poems about a country, a culture, a language, ” someone said.
We talked about poetry’s ability to document history and how serious and important this is – now more than ever with the news from America that the President is restricting which media outlets are allowed into the White House for Press briefings. We also talked about poetry’s ability to chronicle history and politics. Again, we talked about ignorance. The poems brought us round to talking about the recklessness of David Cameron and his government to not consider the fragility of Ireland when calling the EU Referendum, for example.
These poems have really stirred us up!
We liked the fact that different generations of Irish poets are featured here and that translated poems appear in their original Irish as well as in English.
These are stories from within Ireland, not about Ireland.
I wish I could speak Irish!
We loved poems dealing with Irish folklore and mythology.
This poem is like being in a pub and hearing people fire one-liners.
It’s safe to say that this collection has been very popular with our group. Peter O’Grady has written his thoughts about the pamphlet here and there will be more reports soon. I’ll share them as they arrive.
With thanks to Trowbridge Town Hall and the Studio Cafe at Drawing Projects UK for hosting our poetry group. Find out more about Ten Poems from Ireland at the Candlestick Press website. Find out more about Town Hall Poets at our blog. New members and visitors welcome!