Getting There – A poetry Workshop with John Liddy

Getting There – A Poetry Workshop with John Liddy

Saturday July 25th 10.00am to 4.00pm

This workshop is suitable for both beginners and those who have written and published some poetry. Participants will look at examples of drafts that became finished poems and work towards producing their own new poem. The session will include reading and discussion of contemporary poetry with a view to examining tried and tested methods and techniques. The workshop aims to help the participating poets to access their own approaches to the discipline of writing and the importance of resources and research. There will be a critical evaluation of participants’ work-in-progress.

Participating poets must bring to the session two poems in draft form and two poems they feel to be finished but have not been published.

The workshop will take place at the Limerick Writers’ Centre, 12 Barrington St., Limerick

Cost of workshop is 35.00 Euro and advance booking is essential.

Contact Dominic Taylor at or phone 087 2996409

About John Liddy.

My earliest memories are of the strand in Youghal, Co Cork. From our front window we had half a view of the sea (the other half blocked by Perks amusement arcade) and our playing field was made of sand and lapping water. Moving to my grandmother’s house, The Cottage, on Kings Island, gave me my first taste of Limerick surrounded by ducks and donkeys, before we settled in Rathbane (Rath Bhán – The White Fort), now no longer standing. School and fields occupied my growing up along with all the usual boyhood games and summer swims in surrounding lakes and rivers (the Shannon amongst them!) and that landscape stayed with me when I began to write poems, encouraged by teachers Eric Lynch and Jack Noonan. Nora McNamara discovered my first attempts during her typing class in The High School of Commerce, and she confiscated them for a few days and then told me that she would like to publish a selection. It was called Boundaries (Janehunt Publications, Limerick, 1974). The same year I won the under 21 poetry prize at the Listowel Writers’ Festival. Nora had also helped to publish early works by Desmond O’Grady and Brendan Kennelly.

Encouraged by those events I began with Jim Burke a literary review called The Stony Thursday Book (1975). I had my first poems accepted for publication by The Limerick Weekly Echo (edited by Arthur Quinnlan) and by the Castle Poets’ anthology (edited by Kitty Breedin, William English and Claude and Dairne Byrne).

The 70’s, its people and places, and particularly the violent climate of Northern Ireland, were very powerful influences on my work. The world outside Ireland seemed to be full of merrymaking whilst we suffered the daily brutality of news of bombs and deaths. After a seven-month journey (1979-80) around North America reading my meagre poems and lecturing on Yeats and Kavanagh, I attended a hunger strike funeral in Belfast and saw, at first hand, the horror and injustice of that devastated place. In search of new mythologies, I left for Spain, arriving on the 12th October (Día de Pilar y La Hispanidad). I became a teacher and a librarian, taking my degree with the University of Wales, and set about writing down what caught my eye, never loosing sight of my roots but happy with the new and a girl called Pilar whom I later married and had two sons with, Marcus and Seán.

After many years editing The Stony Thursday Book, with a break in the 80’s, and again in 1990/91 with Miguel Ortega and my brother Liam, I published The Angling Cot (Beaver Row Press, Dublin, 1991) which contains poems about what I have described above and also my earliest Spanish experiences. Then Song of the Empty Cage was published (Lapwing Publications, Belfast, 1997) – a book about departure, the journey I set out on, leaving Ireland and its political and personal pains, inter-spiced with chosen translations from Irish and Spanish poems. This brought me again to translation and working with Trudy Kiebala on Wine and Hope (Archione Editorial, Madrid, 1999). The book is in three parts: First Clarification, Vinagaries and Second Clarification and deals with the familiar subjects of people and place but have a more cultural mix and offer a broader proposal. I then published Cast-A-Net/Almadraba (Archione Editorial, Madrid, 2003) with translations in Spanish by my brother Liam and illustrations by Gavin Hogg. Again I return to early memories, people and places, but the poems are tighter in structure and in exploration of the relationship people have with places where cultures merge into one, which is the universal. The Well: New and Selected Poems (Revival Press, Limerick, 2007) was published and this gave me the chance to look critically at my work, present the new alongside poems from my previous collections and plot some course for the future. Since that publication I have worked on translations of books by José María Alvarez (Tosigo Ardente) and Clara Janés (La Voz De Ofelia). I have been busy with work on a new collection of poems and a book of stories for children. The Spanish version of The Angling Cot (La Barca de la Arena by Francisco Rivera will be published in the near future).

When I am not writing I am busy organising El Manantial/The Well, a festival of Irish and Spanish poetry held once a year in Madrid and playing occasional bodhrán with a group called Puca Óg. But, having said all that, for me, the most accurate self-portrait is found in the poems. It is there that the true biographical details are revealed and the best clues are found as to why I write and what I write about.



One Response to “Getting There – A poetry Workshop with John Liddy”

  1. I believe that we sat at the White House Bar on 25 July, Saturday of your Poetry Workshop and spoke with you over a late lunch break. We were the Americans. Our discussion revolved around the creative process.
    We were in Ireland Co Clare Galway and Limerick for 16 days and had many conversations-about Irish Linen, wool, music lyrics, plants, the economy here and there, running a hostel, living in Doolin and one of the last was your conversation about the creative process and writing poetry. All of these made this trip magical. My husband the painter realized how much writing poetry is like painting-it all takes time and persistence and constant re-evaluation. You p[rovided us with inspiration to keep writing as well as painting and creating in fiber.
    Thanks for your time.
    Deb Baillieul, Columbus, Ohio

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: