Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Louise C.Callaghan

On World Book Day last Thursday, the poet Louise Callaghan gave readings to three of our forms, and Fiona Boyd of Transition Year now reports on her session. Fiona has also been reading Louise's books, and comments :

What was also really great about the reading was that she introduced each poem before she read it, which gave you a little background/story to it. This made it much easier to follow and as such, connect with. I sometimes wish poets would do this in their books, just a little introduction of no more than a few sentences, about this particular poem, just to let you into it a bit more. But often this would ruin the poem, as often no explanation is needed. Poetry is whatever the poem means to you. Louise’s poems were extremely varied, sticking to no particular theme and showing a wide range of her various influences, styles and way of expressing a certain feeling.

For example 'There Was A Soldier'; this is a really interesting poem about her uncle, who died during WWII, and her visit to his grave in France around four years ago. It’s a very detailed poem, setting an extremely vivid scene for the reader. Her writing is constantly referring back to the war with a mention of it in each stanza, keeping her theme very focused and deliberate. This is a really beautiful poem and I would urge anyone with an interest in war poetry or even poetry at all to read it, even just for the last powerful stanza:

When death came piping
over Picardy
he was never to be
a father,
nor an uncle.
Read Fiona's full report here.

Fiona refers to Louise's choice of 'Alder' by the Scottish poet Kathleen Jamie for consideration. Jamie is profiled in the Daily Telegraph here, and can be heard on the excellent Poetry Archive reading her work here. Her collection The Tree House was published in 2004, and coincidentally Louise was discussing 'Alder' in National Tree Week.

Yesterday Louise started workshops with I and II formers (there's another one tomorrow). In these workshops, she is giving these young poets various ways into poetry, including acrostic poems, and advising them to get a notebook and jot down observations and descriptions over the holidays. We hope to publish some of the results after the workshops are completed next term.

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