Monday, July 8, 2013

Black, Strong and Sweet Poetry Series

My poem up on the board in Nick's coffee house in Ranelagh for one week 08/07-14/07 !

Niamh MacAlister – That Night


That night
I felt your breathing stomach in my back.
Balloons of breath rose up to the ceiling,
with only strings of street light shining in
to pull them back down to me.
Describe your style (this could be limited to your writing style, or style, in whatever sense of the word you’d like to conceive it in, and how that relates to you as a writer).
Less is more. My preference is for using words without subterfuge. The simplest things are always the best; the favourite pair of jeans that fit perfectly, delicious food, a great glass of wine, words that are said when they are truly meant. I always endeavour to remove what isn’t essential. Why make life difficult?

What do you feel makes a poem ready for consumption by others?
I’m not sure that a poem is every really finished in the more traditional sense of the word. Although I know I’ve reached the end of the road with it when there is nothing left to change. In that way it tells me when it’s ready. It’s in the shape it will always be in, for better or worse.

A good cup of coffee has the power to seduce.  What role does seduction play in your writing (i.e. – is it a theme in your work? Do you seduce yourself into the act of writing?  Or does the seduction come when someone is drawn to your work – are you out to seduce poetry readers?  Does seduction have some other role entirely vis-à-vis your work, or, does it have no role at all?)
Tough question. I will admit that I sometimes have to seduce myself into writing by using the old fashioned charm offensive of a glass of red vino. Chocolate can work just as well. Because sometimes it’s scary to go to the place you are meant to be; on the edge of things in the quietness. Small comforts help. But always trying to step up to the mark with honesty is seductive.


At this moment in poems and writing, who’s writing the poems you like to read? 
A good poem, like a good poet, is a rare and subjective thing.  No point in listing all the writers that rock my creative world so instead I’ll just name Denise Levertov. One of the poets that started me off on this mad journey.

Where do you do your writing?  How important is ‘place’ and a sense of ‘space’ for a writer
Writing, for me, is a private affair.  When I was doing my post-grad I had a room in halls. My entire life, my bed and my desk were in the same room. It set a precedent. Where I live now is the same. So I guess I tend to feel more comfortable writing in a ‘cell’ like situation.


Stevie Smith once said that “poetry never has any kindness at all”.  How true do you think this is?
Never thought about it before. Sometimes truth is less kind than fiction that’s for sure. But isn’t the act of sharing a poem a generous one? Likewise the act of submitting to its vision?

When it comes to writing poems, and how events are captured on the page, do you think it is better for the poet to suffer from excruciatingly good memory, or excruciatingly bad?  (i.e. what role does the truth have in writing a ‘good’ poem?)
In true poet form shouldn’t I say that the key word here is suffer not memory?! A poem is only a version of events and more often than not an embellished one.  And really, does it even matter? Because whose version of the truth is the truth?

Describe the last time you had a really stunning cup of coffee (or tea).
The best is yet to come.

Black, Strong, or Sweet?
Black and Strong. Always.

Niamh MacAlister completed a Masters Degree in Creative Writing at the University of St Andrews, Scotland with the assistance of The Arts Council of Ireland.  She has been selected as a ‘New and Emerging Poet’ for the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series and also for the Lonely Voice Short Story Introductions.  She was recently shortlisted for the Hennessy New Irish Writing Award in the First Fiction category.  She has published poetry in The Stinging Fly, Raft, The Moth and Washington Square Review. She completed a residency at the Cill Rialaig Project in 2012.

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