Long trips to home in Mayo and the New Yorker podcast

I am originally from a small village in the West of Ireland. It takes us about 5-6 hours to get from my home in Carlow to my Mum’s house! so, Simon and I listen to New Yorker Fiction and Poetry Podcasts as there are hundreds of them available for free.


A well-known author reads a short story from another well-known author previously published in the New Yorker Magazine. For book lovers, each podcast is an hour of bliss. The New Yorker Fiction editor, Deborah Treisman is the Editor of the New Yorker Fiction magazine and is a brilliant interviewer. She always comes across as really serious and sometimes as if she doesn’t understand the short stories that are being read out! Obviously, being who she is, this is her way of getting to the nub of the story and pulling some good stuff out of the writer she is interviewing.

On the way down, we listened to David Means’ short story, the Spot being read by Jonathan Franzen. It is a most excellent story and we enjoyed the poetic rhythm and messed up characters and general naughtiness. On the way back, we listened to short story-hero of mine, Kevin Barry read Brian Friel’s, Saucer of Larks. Kevin is always very entertaining and his readings of stories are the best. He had Deborah giggling and laughing away.

You can hear Kevin read here at http://www.newyorker.com/podcast/fiction/kevin-barry-reads-brian-friel

and Jonathan read David Mean at http://www.newyorker.com/podcast/fiction/jonathan-franzen-reads-david-means

I use a free app called Podcast addict which downloads all the NY Fiction and poetry podcasts for me and has them ready for long, long, long roadtrips. Enjoy.

Poem for Ireland:My Top Three:Guest Post by Simon Lewis

Poem for Ireland – my top 3 – Simon Lewis


Of the ten poems in the shortlist, I’m not sure if I’m heading into Rick O’Shea territory by admitting I had only read 6 out of the 10 of them before. I think I get away with this as most of these 6 were not on the Leaving Cert syllabus. Also, I can’t think of any reason why I would have chosen to read the two poems in the Irish language so I’m giving myself a pat on the back before I even get down to business. (As an aside, I have to begrudgingly admit, I liked Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuaigh’s poem.)
It was quite difficult to choose my top 3 poems from the list as some of them are so good in different ways. I loved the clever rhyming in Louis MacNeice’s Dublin, and I found myself a bit emotional reading Séamus Heaney’s When all the others were away at Mass. To make my task easier, I don’t like Paul Durcan’s poem at all. Eavan Boland’s poem isn’t my scene either. The other Irish poem, well, it was a bit too Irish.
This wouldn’t be a blog post without giving out that my favourite poem wasn’t in it. In fact, every Facebook status about this list seems to question the exclusion of certain poets or poems. Patrick’s Kavanagh’s A Christmas Childhood is in the shortlist. I was surprised it wasn’tStony Grey Soil, Inniskeen Road: July Evening or In Memory of my Mother. My favourite one of his is Epic. In any case, the chosen poem on the shortlist fell outside my top 3 so I’m sure Patrick Kavanagh is very disappointed and rolling in said grey soil.
From the shortlist, it was hard not to choose Disused Shed in Co. Wexford. There’s very few poems that are able to capture everything and Derek Mahon does it so well. The first line:
Even now there are places where a thought might grow —
sets us up from tiny insignificance to the seemingly equally insignificant shed in Wexford and then it just goes nuts and takes off! Somehow, Mahon manages to take in everything in the poem and, I guess, it was always going to be number one.
My second favourite poem from the list was Heaney’s. I have no idea why I didn’t want to like this poem so much – maybe I was subconsciously trying not to pick him – but, as I said above, it made me quite emotional. Very little makes me like this, especially poetry, but I found myself in his world and connecting my own experience of losing my mother. Heaney and I couldn’t come from two more different Irish cultures but for this poem, we shared a feeling.
The third poem in my top three was Easter 1916 by Yeats. I don’t know why but I just like it a lot. I’m currently editing an online magazine called Sixteen, which explores themes from the 1916 Rising and this poem was the stimulus for its second issue so maybe that’s one of the reasons why. I’m not at all nationalist in my own outlook in life and there’s little of the poem that I relate to on a personal level. I do however love the clever rhyming scheme throughout. I like the form and the repetition of A terrible beauty is born. It’s a great poem and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it competing with Mahon’s poem in the national vote.
I was thinking that if the poets remained the same but a different poem was chosen for each of them, what would my top three have been? I think Paula’s Meehan’s Death of a Field would have easily made it. As I said Kavanagh’s Epic would have got the top spot. I’d probably still have Derek Mahon in there and it probably would be the same poem or maybe Antarctica.
It’s great to see that poetry is getting an airing on the national airwaves and hopefully it will continue and give some of our newer poets the space to showcase a more modern Ireland.
Simon Lewis is a primary school principal in Carlow Educate Together. He is has been listed for the Hennessey Prize for Emerging Poetry 2014 and is awaiting the results at the end of February. He has also been listed for the Listowel Poetry Prize, Dromineer Literary Prize and a special commendation in the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Awards 2014. He has also been published in many literary journals and magazines to name a few- Boyne Berries, the Blue Max Review, Irish Literary Review Silver Apples, Black Water and RTE’s Arena New Planet Cabaret book.

A poem for Ireland on RTE

The shortlist for A Poem for Ireland has been revealed, interesting and as predicted poets to be found. The website has a list of the poems along with a little, Leaving Cert type analysis with audio and videos with brilliant archived materials with poet’s bio. This is a great initiative, it might just reinvigorate some people into reading poetry again but it definitely shows off the amazing genius of poets that we have in Ireland. Whatever slant you take it from, you will get something from it.


On Television, RTÉ Television’s flagship arts show The Works (Fridays, 8.30, RTÉ One) will feature mini-documentaries on two of the poems each week. And each week, you’ll be able to listen to ordinary people from offices and workplaces across Ireland reacting to each of the 10 poems on RTÉ Radio One’s The John Murray Show (weekdays, 9a.m., RTÉ Radio One)

The website says the public have 6 weeks to decide on their fave, they don’t give a date but I’ve worked that out to be around the first week of March.

I am going to be looking at each poem briefly along with some other bloggers and we will pick our favourite.

Carlow Co-operative on The Write Show, KCLR FM and Carlow Arts Festival 2014

The Write Show will be performed live from Carlow Central Library, and broadcast on KCLR on Monday June 9th at 6pm. Tickets are free.

After releasing its first anthology in 2013, What Champagne Was Like, The Carlow Writers’ Co-operative have turned their attention to writing for broadcast.


Working for six months with one of Ireland leading radio writer-producers, John McKenna (whose credits while at RTE include numerous contributions to Sunday Miscellany and his award-winning documentary series on Leonard Cohen), this ambitious collective have assembled an eclectic programme of material for performance in front of a live audience (you) for broadcast by KCLR a few days later.

Contributors include Phelim Kavanagh, Bev Carbery, Rozz Lewis, Simon Lewis, Pauric Brennan, Derek Coyle, Maressa Sheehan, Clifton Redmond, Jonathan O’Brien, Brigid Johnson, Betty Ryan O’Gorman.

Expect drama, storytelling, music and poetry from a beguiling and hugely talented group, the occasional stumbled line, and some performances of chaotic humour and engrossing pertinence.

This initiative is funded by Carlow Arts Office in partnership with Carlow County Library Service, KCLR and Carlow Arts Festival.