Wednesday, January 31, 2007


I am typing this in Castlebar, Mayo, after decamping to Achill island for a few weeks, to give myself a rest and sluice out the aural cocophony clangering round my mind before the next creative splurge.

I hit the ground running this year, as I've been on non-stop compositional benders since Christmas and for a while now have been dreaming in language. Asleep but consciously composing poetry and prose in my slumber, aware of it's quality or lack thereof as my mind whirls through the blender. The lines I remember occur in what poet Katy Donovan describes as

"The slumbertime before actual sleep."

But substituting the word "before" with "after," as I slip in and out of being fully awake. Alas I have not managed to salvage anything, this morning a full qautrain faded on waking like footprints on a tide washed beach and only a snatch of snippeted lingo was saved.

"Inner verbal" something or other.

This process - I imagine - relates to cracking aspects of poetic knowledge - quite literally - in my sleep. The ideas in the prose I write perculates and settles during sleep, to froth forth anew into a tighter linguistic expression, which I then promptly forget. But I am supposed to be on holiday and happy switching off for a week or two till the mental tide returns.

Achill is the perfect setting to busy oneself as the unconscious does it's work. It is the place which inspired Michael Longley to start writing again after his ten year hiatus and where he does all his composing. John F Deane is from here and in Lynotts bar they've seen and heard all the greats. I spun out a few on Saturday night with the in situ English guitar man. It is a magical place. As far west as one can go, disconnected from the mainland when the tide is in and to it when the tide it's out. All four seasons in one vista, framed all round by mountains and completely blanketed by bog. My paternal grandmother was an islander, and both my maternal grandparents were from Bahola, a few miles down the road.

Got Connected

Walking the rhodedendrum sheltered road
from McLoughlin's to the cottage, I became
connected to a patchwork of field bog and
peat smoke; where even the dead brown
heads of wild rhubarb fell into being with the
dog bark and bird call puncturing the silence
wrapping the island completely. Save for the
foam white horse-water dancing at the
Atlantic's Eastern edge.

And calling to the half bright moon - as a ruby
pink finger of crimson cloud ringed atop of
Slievemore mountain gently paled to white mist
and disappeared into the ether that warm May
night - I felt the silk and velvet light of Achill
hold within its grasp all the waves of time that
ever broke upon the ridges of those multi shaped
mountains and wind ravaged fir trees. Always
ever-blooming in the present moment of now
no sweeping hand can measure; silent in the tribal
heart beating it's Bunacurry blood beneath the
May moon.

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