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Monday, 16 March 2009

Seaway Launched In Galway

I am just back from Ireland, where I spent the weekend leading up to St. Patrick's Day reading poetry in Galway to launch my Seaway: New and Selected. I also had time to enjoy Ireland's rugby victory over Scotland on TV. My reading was a busy launch in a most convivial space - Sheridan's Wine Bar - an upstairs rectangular room lined by excellent wine in bottles. The forty or so punters who crowded in to listen and buy books sat or stood comfortably for several hours, as in a pub, and were amiable about the press of bodies. The crowd was mixed, including poets, students, friends and family - and a few household names, like Rita Ann Higgins. I was reminded how, generally speaking, the Irish are such fun to be with - there was bubbling laughter and goodwill across the evening, and little of the tense hustle-bustle one sometimes finds in London. I was particularly glad to see Mary Madec there.

The evening was part of the Over The Edge series, which has been running for five years or so now, the brainchild of Salmon poets Kevin Higgins and Susan M. DuMars. They've done a great job of creating a demi-monde of active poets in Galway, which, while a medium-sized city by international standards, has more than its fair share of talented emerging poetry stars. Galway is a little like San Francisco in the 60s, or Montreal in the 90s - it punches above its weight in the cosmopolitan class. I read with my friend Patrick Chapman, Edward Boyne and Megan Buckley; and Jessie Lendennie was also on hand, to launch Poetry: Reading It, Writing It, Publishing It, to which I contributed an essay on the Internet and poetry. The attentive audience bought lots of books - I sold around 15 Seaways, which is I suppose good for a credit crunch moment.
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