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Location: Dublin, Republic of, Ireland

Friday, 11 January 2008

My Writer's Group Meeting in Dublin

How glorious the setting at my first writers' group in Dublin last night. Nine of us grouped around a long table in a stately room, with our scattered files, pens and poetry reflecting the bashful disposition that engulfs all new friendships with promised ease and pleasure.

Watchful watercolour landscapes from high cream walls overshadowed the congenial mood of goodwill and a hearty reawakening of spirits and why...may even have tut-tut-ed gamely, to the ballooning of new and fanciful ideas, that would be taken up by the reading and discussions on verse.

I appeared kindly caught in a Rosamund Pilcher storybook page, from where my time now seemed to have significantly dipped with a waterfall plunge into an opulence befitting of elegant men and stylish apple-cheeked women.

Caught upon the sudden romantic scene, a small party sitting tastefully in regal chairs while drinking port and discussing books by the fireplace in an aristocractic country manor, rose swiftly to mind. I remembered with relish, Pilcher's enduring bestseller, September.

I had trooped along with D and with no idea of what to take along, he told me to choose just one poem that I wanted to read aloud. I settled for My Melancholy, written in the usual dark mood that would so prevail everytime I put words to paper, no matter how high my laughter.

We had taxied our way out of the city in good time and later strolled along a mild winter's evening where a stream of stars that spilt out lavishly up and about the wide night sky, appeared to bless our bliss.

We rang the doorbell and was greeted by J, who would later hold me in a passionate dialogue at the pub down the road, about his great love for the ancient Greek and Latin classics. Sadly, he would deplore Sylvia Plath, whom I loved. "Her poetry bloody complicated the soul," he complained.

And so, there we were at last. The silver-haired elderly gentleman, W, complete with his hat, expensive waistcoat watch and hickory, turned out to be a professional playwright for the Dublin stage for several years. I was told this, only by chance and naturally, I beamed with joy, suddenly pondering on the haphazard snippets of my own half-written play with renewed interest.

There was Ja who organised everything for us and manouvered the discussion to new levels of thought and also a sanguine-faced and smiley gentleman, R. And not to forget, J. Of course, there was also D who I thought looked very handsome as he sat in the middle of everyone else. 3 beautiful, pleasant and softly-spoken women S, Ma & Ml, completed the angelic scene.

Each chosen poem displayed an inate sophistication that was wonderfully asute and englightening all at once. The many variations accorded to style, form and subject caused the serious session that was punctuated with occasional bouts of laughter and smiles, to be a splendid one. I also felt that each poem naughtily reflected the personality of the poet at hand. We talked, I gathered for more then 3 hours. All of us got on like a house on fire.

The air was reverential and emotions hushed to an even-tempered mellowness, as each of us took quiet turns to read aloud our poems. We read twice in a row. We would pass around copies of the discussed poem - thankfully, D had printed 10 of mine - to everyone else and Ja, the leader of the night would summarise everyone's notes to return afterwards, to the poet being discussed.

Each poet would also collect the copies that had been handed around. After the rendition and discussion of a poem, the rest of the group would then take turns to offer suggestions and comments.

Oh...the soft lilting Irish voice and accent with its extraordinary cadence, feeding eagerly on the poet's own landscape that lay huddled with secret idelogies and which met each composition... Surely, the cascading melody of deep reflection, stayed bewitching to the listening open hearts of poets at stake.

The playwright, W, offered an immediate affinity with my poem. He proclaimed it to be a puzzle and a maze, deliberately disfigured and mutilated, bizarre and grotesque...similar to the writings of Angela Carter. Everyone agreed that it would require thoughtful decoding and even as a mystery unravelled, another secret would endure. Because of this alone, they decided it held a unique flavour. I had apparently woven an intricate spider's web in my poem and this without realisation. I enjoyed the astonishing thoughts of others and found their interpretations to be pleasing to the ear. I determined to work seriously at my poetry from now.

Later, Ma who has published books and is an established poet in Ireland, passed around copies of new writer's competitions and workshops that had sprouted up. The graceful blonde also scribbled our numbers and contact details with industry. A few of us exchanged contacts at the same time although if the truth be told, we were all meeting for the next discussion on January 24th. A writer's discussion on prose was also scheduled for January 28th.

The common Irish tradition is to head down to the nearby pub afterwards. I forget the name now but was told by Ja who regaled us all with accounts of his travels to Zurich, that James Joyce had often drunk at the pub. It had proved one of his favourites. Another poet joined us there with his wife. T is an ardent golfer and is familiar with the beautiful, scenic courses in Scotland. I'm told that sometimes the writer's group boasts a large attendance indeed.

With the merry toasting of drinks, (wine for me), pints of lager & Guinness for the rest and coffee as well, we all engaged in a rollicking good time discussing the arts, current affairs and politics. After about an hour, everyone headed home a little light-headed and jolly, I must admit. I lost a black leather glove and soon we were all looking desperately for it. I felt embarassed. It was D who finally retrieved it from a most unlikely spot!

D and I went along to a fashionable club...a place that I could have sunk into with exhilaration for eternity - thanks to the contemporary jazz music - and later, we followed our spontaneous adventuring up with a disco that would close at half-two.

Once again, last night was magic which would explain why I'm all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed this morning.

One wonderful fancy that the writer's group tickled me with, was was to invoke an immediate motivation and inspiration to write as much as I could, with an urgency that was electrifying.

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