The award-winning author is participating in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council’s “The Poetry Weekender” in September. Here’s how to get tickets …
“The Poetry Weekender” is a two-day celebration of poetry taking place at dlr LexIcon, Dún Laoghaire on September 17-18. The programme includes a poetry masterclass with Costa Prize-winner Hannah Lowe, a words and music workshop for teens with musician Farah Elle, and a “gingko walk” around Dún Laoghaire led by poets Rosamund Taylor and Katie Donovan.
The main event, on Sunday, September 18 at the Pavilion Theatre in Dún Laoghaire, is “The Poetry of Margaret Atwood”, during which the 81-year-old author will read from her latest anthology Dearly. It has been described as a “reckoning with the past, that comes from a place of wisdom and control” and explores ageing and absence, endings and renewal.
Atwood is, of course, best known for her fiction, and her best-selling novels The Handmaid’s Tale, The Testaments, Oryx and Crake. She is one of the very few writers who are equally accomplished in fiction and poetry.
“Writing poetry is a state of free float,” she has said in the past; Atwood will talk about her poetry influences and the state of the world in what promises to be a fascinating conversation with author, archivist, and scholar Catriona Crowe.
For those wanting to swot up on her poetry collections, The Circle Game includes one of her most famous poems In The Secular Night:
In the secular night you wander along around your house. It is two-thirty
Everyone has deserted you; or this is your story
You remember it from when you were sixteen, when the others were out there somewhere
Having a good time.
Or so you suspected and you had to babysit.
You took a large scoop of vanilla ice-cream
And filled up the glass with grape juice.
Themes which Atwood has explored in her poetry include myths and fairy tales, the problem of alienation and separation, grief and remorse (especially in Morning in the Burned House anthology) as well as suffering, especially common in female characters.
What can we expect of Atwood? Someone who is well prepared and on her guard. She once shared some advice for writers and poets on how to behave once their work is published.
“If invited to read at a festival, try not to get drunk, hit people, throw up onstage, smite the sound technician, etc. Such incidents make colourful gossip, and it’s a small world … It’s tough out there in Bookworld. Tread carefully. Don’t speak so softly that you can’t be heard, nor so loudly that you’re deafening. Carry a medium-sized shtick. And avoid wearing mini-skirts up on stage unless you have very good legs. Zip your lower front apertures. What happens in Vegas no longer stays in Vegas. People have cameras.”
Need to Know: Tickets for “The Poetry Weekender” are on sale from Friday, August 5 at 1pm. The programme, created by dlr Poet in Residence Jessica Traynor and Poetry Ireland, is funded by Creative Ireland. For a full schedule of events visit www.dlrcoco.ie/arts; www.poetryireland.ie.
The Poetry of Margaret Atwood event: www.paviliontheatre.ie.