It all started when Michael, the editor’s right hand man, told me he writes poetry. So I told him I did too. I also told him my poems were not very good.
The only time they’re any good at all is when I’ve just finished writing one. In the brief afterglow that follows my new poem is ‘possibly the best poem in the world.’
I could open a book of Kavanagh’s, or Séamus Heaney’s, or Paula Meehan’s and I could even scan one or two of the poems and I would still say to myself ‘Hmmmmm. I like it well enough. . but I’m still not sure it’s quite as good as my new poem.’
When I look at my new poem the next day what I feel is probably similar to what someone feels when they wake up next to a one night stand, and the gorgeous creature they met the previous night has vanished, leaving in their place a strange, lumpen figure, sporting novelty socks, with red-wine stained lips.
Which brings me to The Whitehouse, where I ended up last night after Michael asked me if I wanted to come along. (Note: One night stands do not feature in this tale) We drove for what felt like hours, then ended up getting stuck in Limerick’s strange grid system before finally stumbling across the Whitehouse pub.
What an astonishing place. Firstly, everyone there was kind and generous. Secondly, many many brilliant poems were read.
What made it even more unique was the setting: a beautiful high-ceilinged old-fashioned pub with stained-glass windows. In the corner sat a booth draped with a velvet curtain, and under the curtain stood the most extraordinarily welcoming, jockey of a man in a dickie-bow.
Michael read a poem about a fish. It was very clever and I suspect very deep. After much persuasion I read my newest poem, about an evil man who drowns in a bog-hole in West Wicklow. I’m not sure if it went down very well - afterwards there was a long silence, which Michael broke by clapping loudly.
But people were so genuinely friendly and encouraging that by the end of the night it didn’t matter if I’d made a fool of myself. Like one reader said, sometimes, as a poet (or someone who just writes poetry) you have to make a fool of yourself. It’s part of the process. That’s all.