Author of three collections published by Doire Press, in 2016 - 2018 Susan's poems have appeared, among elsewhere, in: The Cafe Review, Oregan, USA - Gather In, in a Special Irish Edition; Bosom Pals,Ed Marie Cadden (Doire Press, 2017) an anthology entirely in aid of Breast Cancer Research in the National UniveristyHospital, Galway and When They've Grown Another Me in Poetry Ireland Review, Dec 2018. January 2018 has seen her poems Commended in the Gregory O'Donoghue Poetry Competition.

She has been an invited reader of her poems at local readings in Galway, Cork and Dublin and at festivals, including the Belfast Book Festival, Cuirt International Festival of Literature and Clifden Arts Festival. Her poems have been read on radio.

Susan completed her degree in social science and qualified as a professional social worker in Trinity College, Dublin 1975. She was a psychotherapist, trainer, facilitator and occasional consultant to organisations for over thirty years until her retirement in 2012. Drawing together her writing with her earlier skills she has written interviews and facilitated conversations mediated by poetry. She continues to work on a manuscript relating the story of starting out in poetry and a mid-life move West along with occasional other creative non-fiction pieces.

Her workshop Having a New Conversation: About Dreaming was listed on the The Cuirt International Festival of Literature Programme (2015) and she facilitates similar workshops on a variety of themes, discussed through the medium of poetry, regularly and occasionally in local community settings.

While a founding editor of Skylight 47 Susan interviewed: then Ireland Professor of Poetry, Harry Clifton; Kay Ryan, former US Poet Laureate invited to Ireland by Dromineer Literature Festival and Dani Gill who talks about curating The Cuirt International Literature Festival. Her most recent interview, of Maeve O'Sullivan, appears in The Honest Ulsterman February, 2018.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Postcript and Prelude

An Apprentice Verse-Maker’s Take on the Exhibition -

Postcript: Visual Artists Respond to Seamus Heaney’s Poem.              

Transfixed, I was listening to the radio in my kitchen when I heard the Chair of the Irish Countrywoman’s Association, Bridin Twist, say that she was in favour of legalising divorce. There was now every chance something heretofore unimaginable could happen. I was reminded of that as the votes were counted in the recent referendum.  It was one of those heart-stopping moments when time is suspended and you know the landscape has irrevocably changed. A few years later I met my hero in her home The Burren Holistic Centre below Mullaghmore Mountain, where I was to facilitate a workshop.

Bridin, who sadly died a few years ago, brought my attention to the poem Postscript, by Seamus Heaney.  I bought a copy from the Kinvara shop named after the poem and had it hanging in my own house afterwards.

On Saturday evening last in the Russell Art Gallery, just north of the flaggy shore road that inspired the poem, I attended the opening by Micheal O’Suilleabhain of ‘Postscript: visual artists respond to Seamus Heaney’s poem’ - an exhibition curated by Tim Emlyn Jones. Introducing Micheal, Tim spoke of the transformative powers of the Gallery space where, if you stop by for a cup of coffee before walking the flaggy shore, anything can happen. You can even find yourself agreeing to curate the exhibition to which you had agreed to contribute!

The response of the artists he invited was so generous that the Burren Art College is now going to host more of the exhibition. It will be formally opened there by Fintan O’Toole on Thursday 9th July at 7pm. Both sections of the whole exhibition will continue until the end of July. Just over a week later, on Friday 17th July, The former RTE radio producer, John Quinn, will introduce and present “Remembering Seamus – interviews & correspondence,” a selection of radio interviews with his friend.

The RHA artist, Donald Teskey’s Longshore II - a wild seascape created in mixed media, waves crashing the rocks of the shoreline, immediately grabs attention on entering the Russell gallery space. To the left of that is an exhibit where lines drawn in black interact with thick white paper, drawing attention across the waves to the horizon and the sky’s lines above. This picture had me smile without quite knowing why - the horizon, with its persistent waves, its sense of timelessness maybe. It is the work of Tim Emlyn Jones himself and there is a smaller similar piece of his further along the wall, with more variety in the waves and light. The juxtaposition of colour and black-and-white is striking in the montage of images in mixed media in Judith McKimm’s work, while The Blue Flower, in oil, by Nick Miller and Geraldine O’Reilly’s work give a more immediate take on the Burren landscape - as does RHA Charles Harper’s, striking piece Burren Day highlighting mountain and flagged Burren landscape – although in a very different style. I was also particularly taken by the abstract work of the other artists: Ann Quinn, Lorraine Wall and David Ferry.  Conor McGrady’s ‘Borderland 1’ and 2, undertaken in Gouache on Paper, revealed to the returning eye of this observer a zen-like sense of stillness. I wondered was the artist influenced by Japanese landscapes: a black sun above a strong I Ching-like line was suggested to this novice when I reflected further. And the placement of the scene on the paper in his second piece, reminiscent of rocks planted in the Japanese landscape – timeless and natural, yet carefully placed, this time here in Co Clare, suggested it further. The blurred boundaries of the gouache medium somehow only strengthen the outline. Again, there’s the suggestion of a here-and-there-ness.

The boundaries of the exhibition itself are blurred in the Gallery. Hunting for treasure, glance moving from catalogue to walls, it became clear all the paintings on the walls are exhibits. The other work, enjoyable for itself any other day and propped on shelves among exceptional craftwork, cards and jewellery that, one suspects, assist the gallery to host such exhibitions – they have related books too – inevitably distract somewhat from the exhibition.

‘Heaney’s “…neither here nor there” might be taken as an insult but it also reveals something of poetry’. ‘It is the place where poetry meets you’, Micheal O’Suilleabhain suggested as he reflected on Heaney’s lines. ‘Everyone should have a flute carrier’ he remarked as the young man kneeling at his feet unbent himself to extend the instrument. The musician did not want the audience to be trying to imagine wild swans or any such – ‘we’ll just see what happens’ and the notes trickled and danced.

Across the road, as I left, across the fields and the grey sea in the bay the white and yellow light was highlighting dark edges in the white clouds. Silver glanced the arms of the wind turbines lit from the disappearing light behind them as they turned on the hills – straight across from the place Heaney visited and wrote, in Postcript, ‘You are neither here nor there,/a hurry through which known and strange things pass/As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways/And catch the heart off guard and blow it open.’

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