You can see Dónall’s rendition of “The Curragh of Kildare” in the video. Not bad singing, for one who was to lose his voice altogether next morning. (It wasn’t man-flu, it was real!)
We had a lovely audience, including family and friends of our featured poet, Kyle McHale, whose Scottish name couldn’t disguise his true nationality as an American from Maryland. Kyle’s half-hour set was a total pleasure to listen to. In his mellow, gentle but passionate tones he delivered several new poems as well as favourites we’d heard before. He filled the room with feelings of warmth and wisdom. We regretted the occasional noise from the Keystone's new pool table, but lovely manageress Claire has promised to cover it next month, to give the poets the quiet they need.
Thinking about places and, in particular, cities, Kyle writes of the peace to be found “Between Buildings”, in the gaps between main streets, where the minutiae of real life can be glimpsed by the traveller wandering down alleys. “Being lost in Venice is anything you wish for ... in between, there’s always room for a small glow.”
Fishing, a theme to which he returns often, is an activity that brings him closer to nature and the animal world as well as to the important members of his family: “the fishing line’s a connection to everything that lives”. In “The Pier” the very planks of the landing stage are alive with feeling, protecting the old and stimulating the young who tread on them.
And Kyle had love poems, written for Laura, his girlfriend. Laura becomes one with the landscape where he can live, in “You at Night,” and in “Waiting Star”, she is the being he waits for when they first meet and he hopes to know her. “I only pray for other things” he says: Laura is a given, the rest is needed only as it relates to her.
“Where my father stepped” is another kind of love poem. The pride that Kyle expresses in his father’s achievements and the strong model of manhood he has provided for his son is contained passionately in the structure of the poem. And in “The Old Professor” there’s love of a wise teacher, of the poets to whom he introduced Kyle, and of poetry as an art.
We were left with a sense that we had been allowed into Kyle’s world, had roamed in the landscapes, mountains and forests where he grew up, had wandered backstreets in Venice, had met his family, had watched the animals and fished the lakes of his home with him.
We had ten open mic readers, and the quality was high. It was good to see some faces we haven’t seen for a while, including Michael Cutchey. Mike had some dark and Gothic words for us – just what kind of harvest were those scarecrows gathering in? Who or what is The Rust God?
Ray Pool, musician that he is, had written the sound of a bagpipe and memories of the 70’s, and, mysteriously, CD’s jammed in the Laundromat. Everyone else nodded recognition so either I misheard or my local washeteria back then was lacking something!
Alex Twyman mercilessly delivered a Song of Self-pity, and he followed it up with a poetic snapshot of himself as film director in his own living room. Both poems are on the video.
Karen Izod read a poem dedicated to her father, commemorating 100 years of conscientious objection to war. “Sewing on Gladstone Island” was a new poem woven with rich textile images.
The good news was that Rochelle Parker had found a poem! The bad news was that she had become a plant! Rochelle subverted a gardening manual and claimed “I’m a Buddleia”, bringing a lot of smiles to our faces.
Jim Carter wondered with Leonard Cohen how he could have doubted he was in love again. But after that, he was in a mood, and he told us exactly what the things are that Fuck With His Head. We all found ourselves nodding in sympathy with the list, and we’re looking forward to the musical production next month when Jim brings his guitar.