Freedom in Constraint Poem #7

Freedom in Constraint is a sequence of formal poems focusing on the themes of isolation and social distancing and the wider issues and challenges to community and family arising out of the current Covid 19 pandemic.

“Heaven and Earth” is the seventh poem in the sequence. The form this time is Terza Rima and the poem was written very recently when temperatures began to drop and the season’s change became apparent. The cyclical nature of the passing year can often be reassuring, but in this strange year I’ve begun to feel a little unmoored from my usual comfortable havens. Once again, the film was made by my good friend Peter McCluskey and he also reads the poem. Over the course of the sequence you can get a sense of Pete’s ability to approach each new poem with ever more variety in his use of sound and visual image. Also, people are always at the heart of his films, which is as it should be.

We’re well on the way to completing the sequence now, which should run to around fifteen poems. I’m trying to use as many formal types of poetry as possible with the proviso that the form adds something to the theme in each case. I hope I’ve succeeded to some degree so far. Until the next time, enjoy the poems and stay safe!

Brian Kirk,

Dublin

16th October 2020

Acknowledgements

Freedom in Constraint is a sequence of formal poems responding to life during the Covid 19 crisis and is made with support from the Arts Council of Ireland / An Comhairle Éalíon’s Covid 19 Response Award.

Bray Literary Festival 2020

This year Bray Literary Festival, now in its fourth year, will be mainly an online festival. The exception will be our headline event which will be held on Thursday 17th September 2020 in the Mermaid Arts Centre in association with One City, One Book. We are delighted to present an evening of readings and discussion hosted by Dermot Bolger, featuring Christine Dwyer Hickey, author of eleven novels including Dublin’s One City, One Book 2020 choice Tatty and The Narrow Land, winner of the Walter Scott Award 2020, and Billy O’Callaghan, author of novels The Dead House and My Coney Island Baby and four short story collections, most recently The Boatman.

Tickets are limited because of social distancing guidelines so book your ticket now at the Mermaid.

Friday 18th September is Culture Night and we have a lovely event planned called “Four Poets Walk into a Bar” featuring Anne Tannam, Mark Ward, Grace Wilentz and Fiona Bolger. This event will be livestreamed on Culture Night at 7pm. Following this event there will be the announcement of the winners of this year’s poetry and fiction competitions and readings of their work.

The Festival continues on Friday 25th September at 7.30pm with the launch of The Music of What Happens, an anthology of new writing in support of Purple House edited by Festival Director, Tanya Farrelly.

The Festival continues throughout Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th September with an amazing range of writers and poets reading and talking about their work. Please review the full programme for details. All of these events can be accessed through the Bray Literary Festival YouTube Channel so please subscribe to be sure you don’t miss anything.

I’m personally looking forward to hosting two events. The first, Singing in the Wild Dark, sees me chatting with poets Eleanor Hooker, Jess Traynor and Leeanne Quinn on Saturday 26th September at 2.30pm. These three poets should not be missed.

My second event is Brave New Words featuring Alice Lyons, Pat O’Connor and Marianne Lee on Sunday 27th September at 11.30am. We’ll be discussing new novels and short stories and the route to publication and much more besides.

All of these events are free to view, but we are more than happy to receive any donations you might want to make towards the future of the festival. I hope you’ll set some time aside to catch some of these extraordinary writers read and discuss their work.

BLF Committee, l to r: Phil Lynch, Ed O’Dwyer, David Butler, Tanya Farrelly (Director), Brian Kirk, Nessa O’Mahony

Freedom in Constraint Poem #6

Freedom in Constraint is a sequence of formal poems focusing on the themes of isolation and social distancing and the wider issues and challenges to community and family arising out of the current Covid 19 pandemic.

“The Mask I Wear” is the sixth poem in the sequence. This poem is a Rondeau and was written about a month ago when the discussion around the wearing of masks began to get very heated with some governments being slower than others in making them compulsory in enclosed public spaces. Once more, the film was made by my good friend Peter McCluskey and he also reads the poem. This time he’s taken a more upbeat approach approach in terms of soundtrack and delivery of the poem. We discussed it and he was very keen to highlight the repetition of rhyme and sounds so that it might meld with the soundtrack to best deliver the circularity of discussion around the ongoing crisis and mask wearing in particular.

The full sequence should run to around fifteen poems, so we are well on the way at this stage. I’m trying to use as many formal types of poetry as possible with the proviso that the form adds something to the theme in each case. I hope I’ve succeeded to some degree so far. Until the next time, enjoy the poems and stay safe!

Brian Kirk,

Dublin

10th August 2020

Acknowledgements

Freedom in Constraint is a sequence of formal poems responding to life during the Covid 19 crisis and is made with support from the Arts Council of Ireland / An Comhairle Éalíon’s Covid 19 Response Award.

Freedom in Constraint Poem #5

Freedom in Constraint is a sequence of formal poems focusing on the themes of isolation and social distancing and the wider issues and challenges to community and family arising out of the current Covid 19 pandemic.

“Cocooned” is the fifth poem in the sequence. This poem is a pantoum and was written during the height of lockdown when older people and those with underlying conditions were cocooning. Once again, the film was made by my good friend Peter McCluskey and he also reads the poem. It’s interesting for me to hear the poem read by a voice different from the inner voice I hear when I read the poem.

I hope to try some different poetic forms as we move through the sequence. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy. Stay safe!

Brian Kirk,

Dublin

29th July 2020

Acknowledgements

Freedom in Constraint is a sequence of formal poems responding to life during the Covid 19 crisis and is made with support from the Arts Council of Ireland / An Comhairle Éalíon’s Covid 19 Response Award.

Freedom in Constraint Poem #4

Freedom in Constraint is a sequence of formal poems focusing on the themes of isolation and social distancing and the wider issues and challenges to community and family arising out of the current Covid 19 pandemic.

“Staying Home” is the fourth poem in the sequence. This villanelle was written in the first month of lockdown and was published online at pendemic.ie. The film was made by my friend Peter McCluskey and he also reads the poem in this case, bringing his vocal skills to bear with remarkable effect I think.

Next week I hope to try another poetic form as we move through the sequence. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy. Stay safe!

Brian Kirk,

Dublin

23rd July 2020

Acknowledgements

Freedom in Constraint is a sequence of formal poems responding to life during the Covid 19 crisis and is made with support from the Arts Council of Ireland / An Comhairle Éalíon’s Covid 19 Response Award.

Freedom in Constraint poem #3

Freedom in Constraint is a sequence of formal poems focusing on the themes of isolation and social distancing and the wider issues and challenges to community and family arising out of the current Covid 19 pandemic.

“Sea Dream” is the third poem in the sequence and again my daughter Martha has made a short film to accompany it. In the early part of lockdown the restrictions on travel made it impossible to drive to the sea or beach. I know it’s a small deprivation in the scheme of things, but somehow it was acutely felt.

Next week we’ll move away from the sonnet form and try something different. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy. Stay safe!

Brian Kirk,

Dublin

14th June 2020

Acknowledgements

Freedom in Constraint is a sequence of formal poems responding to life during the Covid 19 crisis and is made with support from the Arts Council of Ireland / An Comhairle Éalíon’s Covid 19 Response Award.

Freedom in Constraint Poem #2

Freedom in Constraint is a sequence of formal poems focusing on the themes of isolation and social distancing and the wider issues and challenges to community and family arising out of the current Covid 19 pandemic.

The second poem in the sequence is also a sonnet Planting. Again, my daughter Martha has made a short film to accompany the poem which you can view below.

I hope to upload new poems every week or so until I reach the end of the sequence. I hope you enjoy. Stay safe!

Brian Kirk,

Dublin

10th June 2020

Acknowledgements

Freedom in Constraint is a sequence of formal poems responding to life during the Covid 19 crisis and is made with support from the Arts Council of Ireland / An Comhairle Éalíon’s Covid 19 Response Award.

Freedom in Constraint

Freedom in Constraint is a sequence of formal poems focusing on the themes of isolation and social distancing and the wider issues and challenges to community and family arising out of the current Covid 19 pandemic. The requirement to socially isolate is a particularly measured response to the threat of the spread of the virus taken by Government. It does not feel normal or natural for us as social beings to be removed from those we love. Writing poetry in itself could be considered to be an unnatural way of responding to the challenges of life in general. Lyric poetry in particular, in its employment of heightened language, its use of imagination, its brevity and concision, can be seen as an attempt to map the individual experience of the poet onto the general consciousness. If successful, such poetry can console, encourage, empower and provoke questions. The employment of rhyme and metre can be seen as further evidence of poetry’s artifice. But is artifice a bad thing in itself? Every art created, high and low, from opera to popular song, uses just such techniques and we have no problem accepting and enjoying them.

In this peculiar and uncertain time there has developed a paradoxical sense of community among people who at the same time are living at a distance from each other. I have attempted to create poems which are formally constrained and which reflect the current restrictions, and which, at the same time, reach out to others in order to act as a curative to those who crave structure in these problematic times. This strikes me as an appropriate artistic response in a time of crisis. I hope I have succeeded.

The first poem in the sequence is a sonnet New Day. My daughter Martha has made a short film to accompany the poem which you can view below.

I intend to upload new poems every week or so until I reach the end of the sequence. I hope you enjoy them. Stay safe!

Brian Kirk,

Dublin

June 2020

Acknowledgements

Freedom in Constraint is a sequence of formal poems responding to life during the Covid 19 crisis and is made with support from the Arts Council of Ireland / An Comhairle Éalíon’s Covid 19 Response Award.

Getting on with it

Despite all the current upheaval it’s great to see South Dublin Libraries using technology to bring resources to emerging writers. I’m delighted to be hosting 8 half-hour one-to-one sessions with emerging fiction writers later in April. The closing date to apply to be one of the 8 is Sunday 12th April so get going. Full details available here

I was of course disappointed not to get to read at North West Words in Letterkenny on 26th March, but I do hope to get there later in the year when things have settled down.

Despite all the worry and the strange atmosphere out there people have been quick to use technology and social media in a positive way as a means of keeping in touch while keeping our distance. The Holding Cell is a great resource dreamed up by writing couple Rozz and Simon Lewis: virtual literary readings by writers during the Covid19 Pandemic . They have had some excellent writers reading their work over the past few weeks, including Danielle McLaughlin, William Wall, Belinda McKeown, Colin Barret and Madeleine Darcy, to name only a few. I was delighted to read some poems also and you can see that reading here.

I hope to do a fiction reading later in the month also. In the meantime you should sit back and enjoy the wealth of talent already available at http://www.theholdingcell.eu/readers/

I hope you can use some of your enforced home time to engage with the written word over the coming weeks. As well as attending virtual readings, I’ve been reading some excellent poetry and thoroughly enjoyed Christine Dwyer Hickey’s novel Tatty (2020 Dublin One City One Book Choice), which is one of the best examples of the use of voice I’ve ever come across in a novel. I highly recommend it to everyone. At the moment I’m re-reading At Swim Two Birds by Flann O’Brien. So don’t just rely on the TV and your phone. As Flann’s famous Uncle would say: “tell me this, do you ever open a book at all?”

Reading at North West Words Thursday 26th March 2020

I’m delighted to say I’ve been invited to read at North West Words in Dillons Hotel, Letterkenny, on Thursday 26th March 2020. North West Words has been host to some great poets in recent years, most recently the excellent Eleanor Hooker in February. They also run an annual poetry competition which I was pleased to be shortlisted for twice. I’ll be reading from my collection After The Fall (Salmon, 2017) and also some new poems which will form part of my second collection.  I’ll have copies of my poetry collection with me and also copies of my short fiction chapbook It’s Not Me, It’s You (Southword Editions, 2019) for sale on the night.

This is my first reading of 2020 and I’m very much looking forward to it!