There were many sad faces as Cork Spring Literary Festival came to an end – but there were also a few relieved faces dotted in the crowd (organising and attending four days of poetry is no mean feat). But what I noticed most was that everyone walked away contented – sated with stunning poetry and prose and, in many cases, loaded up with a host of new friends.
The final day saw Catch The Moon collective, made up of four female poets (Tina Pisco, Cathy D’Arcy, Shirley McClure and guest Geraldine Mitchell) and one female harpist (Anya backer), take the stage. The format was brilliant – four themes, each clearly introduced, followed by a musical introduction and then two poems on that theme from each poet. The chosen themes on the last day of the festival (picked, says Tina Pisco, “in terms of where we’re reading, the time of year and how we feel that day”) were ‘spring, body, love and writing’. The combination of music and poetry worked magically and as each poet revealed their personal take on each theme, the audience gained an insight into the different voices and experiences of four very different women.
Gerry Murphy, Julijana Velickovska and Dave Lordan also gave a fabulous reading, which Lory Manrique-Hyland described as “electric, funny, revealing, intense and fun”. You can read Lory’s full account here. And we were also treated to four poetry-based films; Paul Casey’s adaptation of Ian Duhig’s The Lammas Hireling, a short film by Maram al-Masri, the BBC classic with John Betjeman interviewing Philip Larkin, and Liz O’Donoghue’s masterpiece which featured all of Cork’s finest poets in 1999/2000; In the Hands of Erato.
Three poets, Patrick Cotter, Leanne O’Sullivan (both from Ireland) and Maram al-Masri (Syria), wrapped up the proceedings. The man behind the event, it was the first time Patrick had included himself in the festival programme, despite the fact that he has been the organiser for the last ten years. So it was a real pleasure to hear some of his stunning new poems. Maram’s poetry was as beautiful, sensual and enticing as the poet herself; if you haven’t had chance to see Maram in action, she is one of the most alluring individuals I have ever met – no wonder all available copies of her book sold out immediately after the reading. Leanne provided the perfect close to the festival, with evocative, imaginative and touching poetry, steeped in Irish landscape, relationships and history. It’s been amazing to watch the changes in Leanne’s poetry over the years, and this was one of her most mature and enchanting readings to date.
Although it’s always a shame when something wonderful comes to an end, I leave the festival behind with a glad heart. From the organisation to the programme to the kindness and friendliness of all the writers, as well as the Munster Literature Centre staff, this has been a truly inspiring few days, the memories of which will last a lifetime.