Monday, October 21, 2019

Krakow: a play for radio

 

 Krakow

This went out last night on RTE Drama On One. Thanks to Owen Roe, Deirdre Donnelly, & Kathy Rose O'Brien, and to Aidan Mathews for producing.



Friday, September 20, 2019

The Now Slice

Poem of the week: The Now Slice 

A new work by Peter Sirr

 Irish Times, Sat, Aug 24, 2019, 06:00

Breakfast is over, you’ve gone to the hard world.
Ulysses struggles from a speaker, nearly dead.
He flails in the waves, a towering headland
staring him down. Where’s help here?
The floor turns stone, the kitchen Mycenaean.
The dog sprawls on the couch, lost in a dream
of toast and cats. A fruit fly climbs a jar
to dangerous honey. I lift my cup and a star
explodes, a meteor crashes into the moon.
A blue alien looks out along his slice of time.
He’s going to school, maybe. When he comes back
the future will already be over. Only Ulysses
will still be here. He’s found a riverbank now
and friendly leaves. Athena rains down sleep on his eyes.


Peter Sirr has published several collections, including The Rooms, Nonetheless and Bring Everything. Today’s poem is from his new collection, The Gravity Wave (Gallery Press)

The Gravity Wave





The Gravity Wave, the eleventh collection, a Poetry Book Society Autumn Recommendation, has just been published. The launch is next Thursday in Poetry Ireland, along with new books by Gerald Dawe, Medb mcGuckian and a John Montague Selected Poems.

Launch

Info about the book here

“I don’t want to count deer, I want/ to count in deer…” – Peter Sirr is as deliciously surprising as ever in Deer, Phoenix Park, one of the eight exceptionally fine sonnets which begin The Gravity Wave (Gallery €11.95). “Antler, Forest, Eyes,/ Stillness, Speed, Hide…I’d like/ this currency to fall between us/where we step invisibly from the car/slipped from ourselves to kneel/grass-lit and concentrated, close to a road/that keeps wobbling and clarifying/like the rim of the world or the end of speech.”

– Martina Evan, Irish Times review

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Eastword Ho!




This is the latest from the Dublin essays I've been working on. This time I'm prowling the tangled history and contemporary reality of Dublin’s Docklands:

'There are plans for most things in Docklands. It is a planned city state whose overarching ambition is the attraction of wealth. The cold order of money is apparent everywhere. But communities, and cities, thrive on disorder, on unplanned organic growth, on various kinds of civic spontaneity, and maybe most of all on the conjunction of difference: different communities with differing levels of wealth living alongside each other and colliding on the streets, in the shops and cafés and in the educational and cultural institutions. Otherwise there is sterility, segregation, indifference. What Richard Sennett said of large cities applies equally to a mini-city like Docklands, that it takes “dense, disorderly, overwhelming cities” to give us an idea of the real complexity of life and human relations.’

Eastword Ho!

Monday, April 29, 2019

‘The Sentiments of my Heart’: John Rocque's Dublin


Peter Sirr writes: Cut throat Lane, above a list of churches and directly above the engraved figure of the surveyor and his tripod, as if his view of the city might also be an inspection of its criminal underlife. The city obliges: Murdering Lane. Cutpurse Row. Dirty Lane. Dunghill Lane. Bedlam. Black Dog Prison. The names vanished now, though the routes are all still there. But also much that is completely familiar, so that if set down there I could easily find my way around. The time traveller’s machine lands in, say, Smithfield. He makes his way through the din of the cattle market and moves south down Arran Street and along Arran Quay until he comes to the old bridge, which he crosses. Assuming he has made it this far, assuming he has a coin to fling at Hackball, the King of the Mendicants who guards the bridge like a troll, he climbs up Bridge Street and … a moment of confusion at Wormwood Gate and Cook Street, he pauses, remembers his Latin, Haec Ormondia dicitur, Hibernicis Orwown, id est Frons Momoniae, Anglis Ormond, et plurimis corruptissime Wormewood. Corruptissime … He leaves Ormond, Urmhumhan, Wormwood Gate and veers south again down New Row and across Corn Market towards Francis Street. Familiar territory now, though the houses are unrecognisable. Head down, tries not to call attention to himself. The clothes, the stench! Across the Coombe into New Row South, turn left into Black Pitts and then … And then nothing, trees and marked out plots of land, and the traveller’s home a vegetable garden, and will be for a long time yet. Some of the fields have rows of posts, and if it’s fine he might see the woven cloths fixed to the posts with iron tenterhooks and stretched out to dry. Fifty years from now the weavers will get a purpose-built Tenter House so they don’t have to rely on the Dublin weather. But for now they’re here, looking balefully at the grey sky. Room in this corner for Andrew Drury, the mapmaker’s engraver, to flourish his name.

North of here is crowded, dense, the houses and plots packed close together, a warren of tiny streets and narrow lanes with occasional open patches: Huguenot territory, New Market, Weavers’ Square. I cast off the time traveller mask and settle down to some serious exploring. I begin greedily with my own patch of the city, hunting among Malpas Street, New Street, The Coombe, the vanished streets between The Coombe and Newmarket – Skinners Alley, Cuckolds Row, or those which have been renamed, Crooked Staff (Ardee Street), Mutton Lane (Watkins Square?). Just north of the east side of Newmarket, right in the centre of this bustling area of weavers, tanners, skinners and butchers is the homely rectangle of St Luke’s Church, and I feel an odd pang of nostalgia as I gaze at the avenue of trees leading up to its door. Where the avenue was is now the wide extension to Cork Street, which cuts a brutal swathe through the area, and the ruined church sits on its hill behind ugly green railings, looking down on a bus-stop. It’s closed off by an office building on one side and an apartment block on the other, an anomalous relic of early eighteenth century church building, preserved from the wrecking ball by order of the same council that built the road. The trees were gone at least a hundred and fifty years before that, so it’s hard to account for the nostalgia, except that Rocque gives them such presence on the 1756 Exact survey of the city and suburbs of Dublin, all twenty-one of them lovingly sketched, that I can feel myself walking down the avenue. The headstones in the graveyard are also visible. Everything is visible, every stable lane, dwelling and warehouse, so that I can hardly force myself to hurry through this crowded neighbourhood.

I leave the trees and follow the curve of the The Coombe before turning up the broad expanse of Meath Street. All around me is the industrial heartland of eighteenth century Dublin. At its northern extremity, where it meets Hanbury Lane, Meath Street narrows sharply before it joins the great thoroughfare of Thomas Street. Here’s the Glib Market, with its meat and fowl, and here’s St Catherine’s Church, not yet the handsome current building but clear and substantial, its name in a pale band in the centre of its black bulk. Behind the church I can make out the individually marked gravestones. If I go back to the street and turn to the right, looking back towards the old city, I can see, just before Francis Street and Cutpurse Row, the long vanished Corn Market House, since demolished by the Wide Street Commissioners, much to the annoyance of the local traders. It may be 1756, we may be in a bustling industrial and trading quarter, and the abbey which gave the street its name – founded by Henry II to atone for his part in the murder of his troublesome archbishop – may have disappeared, but the middle ages are still everywhere. They’re there in the narrow burgage plots stretching back from the great old street, in the route of the street along the ridge that slopes down to the river, the old Slí Mhór, the road to the West.

More

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Here's a poem from the great Peter Huchel's The Garden of Theophrastus, a dual language selection of his work translated by Michael Hamburger and published by Anvil in 2004. You can see it and listen to Huchel read the original at the very useful Berlin based poetry site Lyrikline


Die Wasseramsel

Könnte ich stürzen
heller hinab
ins fließende Dunkel

um mir ein Wort zu fischen,

wie diese Wasseramsel
durch Erlenzweige,
die ihre Nahrung

vom steinigen Grund des Flusses holt.

Goldwäscher, Fischer, stellt eure Geräte fort.
Der scheue Vogel

will seine Arbeit lautlos verrichten.

© Mathias Bertram

From: Gesammelte Werke in zwei Bänden. Band 1: Die Gedichte. Herausgegeben und erläutert von Axel Vieregg.
Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1984


The Water Ousel

It I could swoop
down more brightly
into the flowing dark

to catch myself a word,

like this water ousel
through alder branches
to pick her sustenance

from the stony riverbed.

Goldwashers, fishermen,
put away your gear.
The shy bird

wants to do its work in silence.

From: Peter Huchel. The Garden of Theophrastus. Selected Poems. Translated by Michael Hamburger. London: Anvil Press Poetry, 2004

Thursday, March 28, 2019

‘O commemorate me where there is water’

from the Dublin Review of Books

Peter Sirr sees ‘literary Dublin’ as having been characterised by the famous remark, the ultimate put-down, the libel trial, products all of a particular kind of competitive maleness. Behind the posters and brochures aimed at the tourists was a male kind of city, hard-drinking and cordially vicious.

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Krakow: a play for radio

    Krakow This went out last night on RTE Drama On One. Thanks to Owen Roe , Deirdre Donnelly , & Kathy Rose O'Brien, and to ...