I performed at the Amergin Poetry Gathering in Waterville, last night (23rd/06/2018). It was during the Anthony Clare Memorial Event. They had lots of other amazing events over the weekend, but this was the closing ceremony.
(From the Website)
The festival is the brainchild of Jane Clare and is possible only because of her generosity. Her husband Anthony Clare and herself had planned to retire to their house here, a plan that was thwarted by his untimely death. As it is in part a memorial to him, we have decided that mental wellbeing and poetry will be an integral aspect of the festival. One session, consisting of a lecture about Anthony ( Prof. Brendan Kelly), a short play (Peter Marinker, co-founder of the Godot Company will present a monologue featuring Spike Milligan addressing Anthony Clare) and readings, will be devoted to his memory.
The other readings were from a diverse range of People and range of media; Seán showed his video, Norah read a poem, Ruth sang a song and I told my story. What really delighted me, was the equality shown towards all performers by the organisers (Fiona and Paddy De Bushe) and the audience. Because we were all demonstrating a creative response, to the experience of survival of mental health issues, we were a complete respect and hearing- which always makes for a great and well balanced occasion.
I got this story together for Poetry South Kerry, on the 30th March, which was World Bi-polar awareness day. It is organised, once a month by the great Holly Woolett.
When I first realised, that I suffer from depression, I began to keep journals of creative ideas to interpret my feelings about and experience of depression, so, it was easy to go back and consult a well of inspiration. The Story was all about the masks I’ve worn in trying to appear “OK” and how eventually , they fell off and became redundant. Finoa and Paddy De Bushe attended that night and asked me to perform at the Amergin poetry gathering. I decided to keep the story locked away in my notes and mind. Not to rehearse it, or make it “Better”, as the rawness of the story was part of its success.
That rawness was very interesting, as in both times performing, myself and the audience were held in this strong and palpable knife-edge grip of, “is he going to just break down and burst into tears”. It was a tight-rope walk of complete suspense. I didn’t ham it up or try/not try- it just happened, as if the story demanded to be told in this way. The story was not of present time, but harked right back to that time of utter hopelessness and can only be told in that emotional breath.
The response from the audience was just great, I had not only relayed MY feelings and emotions, but sent out a resonating ripple throughout the crowd, so many people related to the story, that we were all living the story together.
I am thinking of writing up the story, or filming it, but until then, here is a little exert, recorded by the very talented Madeleine Maria Weber Photography
The film also showing the beautiful and harbouring set by Karen Hendy and Holger Lonze , I believe the set added so much to the success of the evening, there was something so safe in it, that seemed to cradle the fragility of the performances.
Thank you to everyone involved