Saturday, June 27, 2009

Jaunting Off

I'm away to New York and Toronto soon. It's all about meeting publishers, but also a sad personal thing in Canada as I attend a memorial for a dear friend who was also a dear friend's partner. A lot of exciting things are happening right now with my work, but I never make announcements until the contracts are signed. (Loose lips sink ships, as we say in the Navy.) Some deals have been concluded, in fact, but I want to present it all as one big KA-BOOM of an announcement. Nope, no hints. Just watch this space.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Harry Clarke, Irish Genius

Harry Clarke has a genius which manifests itself at its highest in stained glass ... I imagine that if one scraped a little the subconscious mind of the artist you would let in a flood of rich colour out of some inner luminous aether, where the fire is more brilliant than the eye can see, and the only way he could recreate that colour for us was by the art he practises.
AE (George Russell)
I had only begun reading The Life and Work of Harry Clarke by Nicola Gordon Bowe, an incredibly researched, detailed and beautifully written book, when I set off for Lough Derg. Can you imagine my shock and joy as I sat in the Basilica on my first night and stared around me? At first I thought, "this must be the work of a student of his, someone following his style, they are magnificent." Then the priest announced that we would be doing The Way of the Cross marked by the stations at each of the windows by the Irish artist, Harry Clarke. I nearly fainted. Do click on the images and expand them. You'll see the exquisite and minute artwork. My favourite window of his is The Eve of St Agnes - jewelled fairy tales in midnight blue - but at the same time, it was truly a gift to see his work in everyday use, as opposed to the formal setting of an art gallery or museum.

Harry Clarke

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Research is a Many Splendoured Thing

Truth to tell, I have always wanted to go to Lough Derg, an ancient pilgrimage place on a sacred island in County Donegal. Indeed this is research - for the spiritual novel I am writing - but it is also heart and soul stuff. The total fasting from food begins at midnight tonight and ends at midnight on Sunday. We board the boat tomorrow afternoon. (I'm going with a fellow Sagittarian, always ready for a challenge.) The first day includes 24 hour sleep deprivation. We'll be walking over stones in our bare feet, saying and chanting the Rosary, walking the labyrinth which you see here, praying in the basilica, doing stations and so on. The fast is broken once a day with tea and plain bread. (They say it's the most beautiful cup of tea you'll ever get in your life.) I can't wait. EXTREME PRAYER. I trust I'll have time to make notes but not sure if I'll be able to take photos. These pics are from their website: Will tell you all about it when I return ... if I have the strength to move my arms. [More about this on t'other blog.]

Thursday, June 04, 2009

RTE Beggars the Imagination

Many moons ago I wrote and then read out on the radio five pieces for RTE Lyric FM Quiet Quarter. They were called "From a Canadian Journal" and were inspired by a reading tour I did of the Northwest Territories, Canada. One of the pieces was later published in an anthology. Now fair play to Eoin Brady who was in charge at the time, I was contracted and paid for all of that work. Then out of the blue I get an email from the new producer of the Quiet Quarter who wants to publish the piece in a different anthology for the whopping sum of ---- zero. I explained to the woman that as I value my work I do not give it away for free. She came back with "but it's the same piece already published in the other anthology." This is when I asked her if she provided her services to RTE for free. We all know the answer to that one. Someone once told me that producers don't sleep well at night unless they've screwed over at least one writer during the day. I guess it's all about mentalité as the French say.