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Poetry # 1 Paul Durcan

Updated: Jul 29, 2020

I am starting a new project. To work towards a collection of poems worthy of publication. I have always written poetry, intermittently, over the years. When I was ten years old I wrote The Man With Ten Fingers And Just One Hand. I remember the exhilaration of writing it, the electricity. It was the work of a ten year old child but the charge I felt remains the same sought after feeling today. I had picked up Paul Durcan’s Jesus and Angela, intrigued by the cover, a series of stills from a roll of film showing the poet in various stances – thinking man to fist shaking passion. I settled upon a poem – The Woman Who Keeps Her Breasts In The Back Garden. It starts with an anonymous interviewer asking the question Why do you keep your breasts in the back garden? The woman responds Well it’s a male dominated society, isn’t it? .She then goes on to explain that she wants to avoid the ‘ballyhoo about breasts’ and controls how much ‘bosom gaping’ males get to do. She reveals she has other things on her mind such as Australia. To tell you the truth I think a great deal about Australia.

I didn’t know what to make of this, I was happily baffled. It was working away in the background and its meaning was discovered in my translation. The next day there was a story in the news about nuns that had died in a plane crash. Upon hearing this I immediately wrote the poem. The text included something along the lines of: the man with ten fingers and just one hand, can write and eat but cannot pray/ God has moved in a mysterious way. Durcan’s magic pedestrianism offered a tool to make sense of the world. It enabled my attempt to ‘hold justice and reality in the one thought'. All the time being ignorant of Yeat’s lofty equation for the poetic aim. I was ten and my family had just moved from a housing estate in North Dublin to Inishere of the Aran Islands. I spoke English, the second language on the two square miles of limestone rock, there were no forests or shopping centres or traffic lights even, it felt like a world away from where I’d come.

Now I’m going to try and engage with poetry for a sustained period of time. (while I can!) I frequently experience a distinct lack of alacrity, a dull slowness and creeping vagueness, this is a consequence of Parkinson’s. This can inhibit creativity but there moments where I can forget Parkinson's.

Poetry is a form of expression that might be more manageable than the

drama of theatre production. I’m not going to stop being a playwright but I hope to box clever and write some poems.

I look forward to working with poet/teacher/dramaturg Jessica Traynor in her role as mentor And I am grateful to Arts Disability Ireland and the Arts Council Ireland to support this relationship. Also I would like to thank Irish Theatre Institute in facilitating my application.

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