On the road with Nuala Ní Chonchúir.
Here's the second poem from her collection Portrait of the Artist with a Red Car I chose it, not because it's my favourite ( that's 'Dancing with Paul Durcan') but because it has great power audacity and brutal honesty that is almost shocking, a real hit of Espresso that wakens you up to the journey and treat that is to follow.
I lied to my husband
and the lie lay like ashes
dry-burning my tongue,
and my tongue was like
Judas, going over to
the wrong side,
and the wrong side
was like joy-it was joy-
and I had to linger there,
like a woman split in half.
So I lingered long there
like a harem-bound girl,
and,in the end, the wrong side
became the right side,
and my true joy.
Well it’s a beautiful day here and top writer Nuala Ní Chonchúir is here in her (imaginary) Red Mini Cooper. We’re going to be going for a scenic drive and talking about the world of women’s poetry and her lovely new book Portrait of the Artist with a Red Car, a book I’ve read and really enjoyed Follow us up the road in your own car. We’ll have a picnic at The Mottee stone just outside Avoca (Ballykissangel) Co. Wicklow. Cook has prepared a champagne hamper for every guest and Jimmy the Butler will take us back to the castle for the night in the helicopter, so don’t worry about drinking and driving. You’ll all be ferried back to your cars in the morning. It was a tough choice of car for me but the precondition of it being red narrowed it down a bit, I plumped for my 1995 McLaren F1 GTR over the ’62 Ferrari GTO by virtue of the extra seat in the F1 for the champers. Anyways run what ya brung and meet us at the Mottee.
Hello Nuala and you are most welcome to The Peeps Republo D’EEjit.
Thanks TFE, for having me over to yours. I feel like I should be singing; ‘On the road again la la la...’ Must be the thought of the Bolly going to my head.
I really liked reading your latest poetry collection ‘Portrait of the Artist with a Red Car’ It was beautiful and raw and honest and sad and shocking and sensuous and euphoric. Clearly the title is some kind of nod or kick towards Joyce, yet women get very little recognition in the pantheon of Irish literature, perhaps Edna O’Brien being the closest to acceptance. And yet for me women seem to be blazing a trail of late, particularly in poetry, and in England Carol Ann Duffy has been made the first female poet laureate. I feel things have changed, I hope things have changed. Is this the case and how easy is it to be a full time writer and a full time woman?
I’m glad you enjoyed the poems, TFE.
I think things have changed in ways – more women are now being published – but also that the patriarchy we still live under means women are up against it more than men in pretty much every area. Men’s writing is used as the yardstick for ‘real’ writing often. It’s totally irritating. But women are making their mark – we are getting more determined!
Being a full time writer is the fulfilment of my dream and I love it. I got tons written when I just had my two boys but since the arrival of my baby daughter last May I get less and less done. Luckily between last and this year, 4 books I have written since 2003 are being published. So the pressure is off me to produce work and I am in a promotional phase. That’s easier when also trying to juggle 3 kids and family life. The actual writing takes a lot of quiet time and I don’t have that just now.
As regards Carol Ann, she is the first female poet laureate in its 400 year history. It’s great but it’s taken a hell of a long time despite there having been legions of fantastic women poets across the centuries.
I wasn’t thinking of Joyce when I chose the title of the title poem, rather an anecdote told to me about Brian Bourke’s painting ‘Self-Portrait with Red Ear’ being misheard by Bob Quinn as ‘Self-Portrait with Red Car’. Convoluted, I know...For even less clarity see here: http://conamara.org/index.php?page=self-portrait-with-red-car
The term ‘Confessional poetry’ has of late been used as a sniffy term of disdain and yet for me so called confessional poetry is the only poetry of any real value. How do you feel about this?
Maybe the sniffy people have no hearts! Or no self-awareness. Or maybe they didn’t get enough love in their childhoods...
God, who is anyone to dictate to another poet what they should or should not write about? I get totally peed off with old codgers banging on about how we all should be writing political poetry. Being a woman writer in the world today is political – you have to fight your corner. Many of my poems are completely political because they are from a feminist perspective. Old codgers tend to hate when I say that too!
I love all kinds of poetry: the overtly political, the cruel, the confessional, the historical narrative, the formal, the free. It just so happens that my poetry is born very much of my personal life. My fiction comes from a very different place – a place where I am free to invent and imagine.
Give me a heartfelt, moving poem about broken love from a man or a woman and I will probably prefer it to one where the narrator is distant from the events/he is describing.
You are a very prolific and hard working writer, Nuala, including doing reviews, writing short stories and poetry, and a soon-to-be-released novel. By dint of this, you have attained a level of prominence and regard and were one of the prestigious Irish Times people to watch in 2009. You’ve managed all this while remaining grounded and approachable. Does having a young family help in this regard and do you feel the weight of expectation on your shoulders? Does this affect the way you write and what are your (literary) hopes and dreams?
First and foremost I am a Mammy and partner because my kids are young. The bulk of my day is spent cooking, minding kids, doing school runs, tidying (har har – I do very little) etc etc. I chose to have my kids, so I am not moaning.
Writing is an extension of my personality – I couldn’t go on without it and my brain is always in writing mode. I grab writing time when and where I can. I was complaining to my Ma recently about not having proper time to write anymore and she said ‘Why not give it up for a while?’ I was fuming. She might as well have told me not to breathe.
I don’t feel any weight of expectation – I don’t think many people know me really. There is only room in the media for a handful of well-known writers at a time in Ireland and I’m not one of them.
The only one weighing me down is me; I am very hard on myself and I work a lot because I want my writing to get better and better.
Literary hopes and dreams? I’d love a good critical and audience reception for my first novel You, due out in April. I’d love to get a windfall so I could buy a few hours a week in a crèche for Baby. I’d like to earn at least the minimum wage from writing so I could stop worrying about money. I’d love a dynamic agent – if any are reading, contact me!
TFE, thanks so much for having me here today. The champers has gone straight to my head so I am going for a little lie down in the grass over there. Wake me when the helicopter comes!-- http://www.nualanichonchuir.com/http://womenrulewriter.blogspot.com/
No problo Nuala and thanks a million for including the castle on your 'Portrait' tour.You are the perfect guest and are welcome back anytime.I enjoyed your answers and was amazed how quickly, easily and naturally you came up with them.I love your book and wish you every success with it and all your future literary endeavours.Pip pip!
And now more hooleyness! Startng with....
Niamh (Espresso to go) Bagnell, radio star/writer/performance poet,has hers up already, so come on! http://variouscushions.blogspot.com/2010/01/i-cant-be-waiting-till-friday-monday.html
Dom (Rip it up)Rivron's roaring and rearing to go!
Undeluded ( all singing) Argent http://argent-delusionsofadequacy.blogspot.com/2010/01/get-in-da-red-car-and-follow-that-bus.html
Peter(Looking out for the Gards) Goulding http://stammeringpoet.blogspot.com/2010/01/red-car.html
Swiss( There's nothing cheesy about me) er, Swiss http://travelsinthefloatingelvis.blogspot.com/2010/01/tfes-red-bus-poem.html
and more here..
(Shh! It's a secret) Karen
Kat (I got the cream) Mortensen AKA Poetikat
Willow's got the bug
(Where old cars go to die) Junkthief
Jeanne (Chirpy Jeep Jeep) Lakatos
(Blast from the past )Pure Fiction
Where would we be without) Rachel Fox
Not only a written poem
but also our first entertainer! Yippeee!
(Call the fire brigade it's )Heather
(The Ton-up Queen) Weaver
(Those rascally) Watercats
(N'oubliez pas D'oub) Domestic Oubliette
But from now on there will be no stopping THe POetry Bus.Poems every Monday and a printed magazine of the best poems 3 possibly 4 times per year. You KNOW it makes sense VOTE BUS!
In the meantime, see what all the fuss is about
Portrait of the Artist with a Red Car it's a great book buy it here.... http://www.templarpoetry.co.uk/publications/protrait-of-the-artist-with-a-red-car.html
Or win a signed copy (two to be won) posted to anywhere on the globe with a letterbox, by posting a comment in me comments box for to be entered into a giant Tombola lottery draw type thing.Try and put RED CAR in yer comment but I know a lot of ye can't manage that, so I'll figures out if ye want in.
Live long and prosper, people of Earth.