How do you see the current economic and political climate affecting modern writers?
For myself it means I am eating a lot more turnips and jam sandwiches and that I am ever more inclined towards assassination, or some other rash act of political vengeance against the ruling elite. I have also considered burglary. I’m not rich enough to be a real thief. Obviously the depression will affect writers in general differently according to what class they belong to. There is the small percentage of privileged writers, the likes of Cecelia Ahern say, who won’t be the slightest bit affected except that it will give them the opportunity to pontificate and philanthropise. Most writers, and potential writers, will struggle through this period and be preoccupied with keeping a roof over their heads like everybody else. On the other hand there is a growing DIY feel to literature and to other artforms with a proliferation of small venues and live events, and a connected willingness to ignore and even uproot traditional ways of doing things. I took part in a poetry/wrestling night in Smithfield organised by the people at upstart.ie the other night which was a huge success, attracting hundreds of people to their first every poetry event. I think if we are opened minded, and willing to work together to maintain and expand the vibrant artistic subculture now emerging we will survive and we may even add something new to what it means to be a writer.
What would you say was the most defining moment of your writing career?
I think I have made my mother and father happy a few times because of the positive attention my work has attracted. There’s no greater prize than making your loved ones happy. I also escaped from the back of a squad car once, in Cork City, right in front of Sir Henry’s. Which is one of the things I always celebrate when I go back there. I think I figured out pretty early if I stayed being a writer I’d be able to get up to all sorts of mullarkey, and then write about it when I burnt out. I suppose a writer is a kind of burnt out vagabond, or a failed petty-criminal, a recidivist dreamer. A writer is a silhouette always, at any rate.
If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring writer, what would it be?
There is far too much practical advice about these days. Writers need to be impractical too and to do the things we’re not supposed to do. I think Baudelaire put it best in the poem Get Drunk, so follow his advice, not mine. He was a true original. I’m only a langer.
How does writing poetry compare to script writing?
My poems are all really scripts in disguise and my plays are poems wearing costumes. They compare in the sense that they are both pretending to be something they are not.
Do you have a favourite poem that you have written – and what makes it so significant?
When I was a teenager, after intense dreams forgotten in the act of surfacing from sleep, I woke up a couple of times with fully formed poems in my head. These poems seemed, in some vivid but incomprehensible way, to be connected with the world of dreams, which is connected to everything that exists and does not exist. These are the poems that enchanted me, addicting me to poetry, showing me that a poem could be a gleaming shard, pointing towards the inaccessible.
What cultural and social advantages do you think literary festivals provide and do you think they receive enough support in Ireland?
I always come away from festivals with more friends and lovers than I had before. So their social advantage is inestimable, of course. I’m not sure what a cultural advantage is. Festivals sometimes attract junketeering politicians and that annoys me. I think it would be great if we could finish off each festival with a crucifixion of a county councillor, one who had fixed their expenses. Better still would be the guillotining of a town planner. But we’d never get funding for that, would we? I suppose we could do a collection.
Dave Lordan will be reading with Gerry Murphy and Julijana Velichkovska tonight, Saturday, 19th February at 7.15pm