Tag Archive: poetry


We have delivered workshops to Afghan women via skype again! Only this time it was from the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry, and I was with my esteemed colleague Professor Sinead Morrissey.

With the support of the School of English at Queen’s University, and the British Council offices in both Northern Ireland and Kabul, this was the third and possibly final stage of the Afghan Women Spread the Word project – teaching the participants creative writing skills. And who better to do that than an award-winning poet?

Sinead began by introducing the women to the haiku, the Japanese 17-syllable verse. But they were soon reading her their poetry and talking about landai, the traditional oral short poems, often recited by Pashto women.

The seminar even made it into the newspapers http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/helping-afghan-women-is-poetry-in-motion-31529952.html

But the most satisfying part of it was that it yet again a success. And Sinead was as captivated by the women’s enthusiasm as I always am.

I’m not sure where the project goes from here – but we have built so many links so far – between women from across Afghanistan – and between Afghanistan and Ireland, that I don’t think we can lose that.

Hulia2

Poetry and Pints

Ok, I’m stealing the very clever title for the gatherings held by the English Society at Queen’s – but I’m stealing it because it so aptly describes a recent night.

This week I went to a poetry reading. I’ve been to prose readings before, but up until a few months ago you’d have been as likely to find me at a poetry reading as a football match. (I have been to both you understand, but neither would be high on my list of top entertainments). We were there en masse from the MA course – partly because we’re all ‘writers’ now, and partly to support one of the readers – poet Paul Maddern, who teaches us http://www.templarpoetry.co.uk/paulmaddern/index.html. He was reading, along with Alex Wylie.

So, there we all were, crammed into the Crescent Arts Centre auditorium. It was another reminder of the shift in orbit my life has taken. The gathering was like a Who’s Who of the literary world of the Seamus Heaney centre – writers, journalists, poets, lecturers – and students of all the above. Not a politician to be seen though.

I was there to show my support too, and not really expecting to be really engaged with the whole thing – but it was amazing. Alex Wylie http://www.qub.ac.uk/schools/SeamusHeaneyCentreforPoetry/pal/alexwylie/ is clearly one of the bright young stars of the Seamus Heaney centre. Listening to and reading poetry again, after so many years, has made me realise it’s not a test – you can just enjoy it on whatever level you access it. I would love to read Alex’s work though, as on first hearing I was sometimes running to catch up.

Paul read some of The Beachcomber’s Report from the collection of the same name and absolutely spirited me away. As I gushed to him afterwards: “It was like a novel!” High praise indeed from me, whereas one suspects probably not what most poets want to hear. But what I meant was,  that it took us on a journey – a journey that ranged from Donegal to London and in between – and it compelling and engaging – rather than leaving us wondering what it was all about. I loved it.

So, bouyed up by literary enthusiasm and cheap red wine, our ‘group’ – the young’uns, the Carrick Lovely, and me – sat and chatted and eventually drifted to a nearby bar. Now here’s the worst thing about being a student – everyone shuffles up to the bar and orders their own drink. Of course totally sensible when we’re all living on a shoestring, but it seems so anti-social! But, even so, one drink led to another, and the chat ebbed and flowed, until, perhaps unsurprisingly in such a diverse group, age came up. I actually thought the young’uns were in theri mid-twenties, they seemed so mature. But no, it transpired they were all 21. The Carrick Lovely was admitting to early thirties I think, and then came my turn. I think, by the time you’re in your mid-forties, age has become pretty irrelevant, so I blithely spilt the beans. Most gratifyingly, there were disbelieving looks all round. “We thought you were 35!” gasped one of the young’uns. I was delighted, until I thought about it and realised that at 21, you can’t really imagine age beyond 35!

 

 

 

 

© JuliaPaul 2012 Powered by PCSShosting