Not at the Races as Poetry in the Park gets lost in Athlone Triathlon

Tomás with Chapbook Ommmmmm! at Poetry in the Park in Athlone
Tomás with Chapbook Ommmmmm! at Poetry in the Park in Athlone

Poetry in the Park is an initiative in the cultural life of Athlone running for the past year or so that I had been meaning to get down to for ages while living in Tullamore beside it, but never got around to. S, in typical Carty fashion, I decided to head over when 100km the wrong side of it living in Galway. And in typical Carty luck, found it lost among the Triathlone of all things. On returning to Galway aterwards, I went down to the weekly open mic at the Roisin Dubh…

It was chaos on arrival, with the whole area on mark off for the TriAthlone triathlon. I had no intrest in it, but if the poetry had fallen to the wayside, as it was a pleasnt day it would be entertaining enough.

I’d an interest in Poetry in the Park, as one of its founders Jackie Gorman used to work in the Crank House in Banagher where I am from. In its initial year, it won a national prize for innovation in the arts, and I finally had got around to getting up to it.

Things went wrong on the train, as Jackie would not be there. Her vague guidelines were that the entrance from Griffith Street was where they would be. I walked the length and breath of the site, to thumping music from a PA system, and wondered how an intimate poetry event could occur among such sounds…

After two phonecalls to other women who would not be there either I got in contact with a chap who told me where they were. The sight of six chaps looking sheepish huddled by a hedge beside a childrens playgound was brought to a lower level of sleaze by our Carty joining them. Any questions from passing constabulary answered by “We are only here for the poetry, Garda” I doubt would have cut much ice!

Introduction was made, and the readings continued, just six chaps in the corner of a field reading original work and work of writers that they liked to each other and discussing same. An unusual poetry event, which would have been way nicer and must be when the likes of the triathlon wasn’t on, for we were not there for the races!

It was nice to see readings not alone that the writer has written, but to see those of others whom the other people liked – one chap was a massive Sylvia Plath fan, me of course been a fan of the three Roberts, Service, Burns and Frost had my input into how a writer can be influenced by the peers he admires.

I read “Give to Me and Angry Sea“, “There Is No Time for Art” and “Long May Horses Shit the Streets“, all from the chapbook Ommmmmm!, as well as the title poem of the chapbook

Afterwards all went to a local cafe, for an informal chat, and plans were drawn up for a get together of this writers group myself and James Delaney of the Tullamore Rhymers Club have been plotting to establish in Galway, which should brave fruit in a month or two.

Tracy Bruen sings as part of a set at the Roisin Dubh open mic
Tracy Bruen sings as part of a set at the Roisin Dubh open mic

That night on returning to Galway, I went down to the Roisin as I do on a Sunday for the open mic night. There was a lesson in seduction from a bummish looking chap in the smoking area who was chatting up an Italian woman and her daughter was engrossed too. He was explaining how he changed his life around and meditaion, and they were talking of Om and such.

“Ah”, says Carty, “I got an angle here”, and on hearing the women were from Sardinia, it was definitly worth a shot for the craic. Yes, they were interested, took a copy of the chapbook (women never turn down a freebie!), but nothing our Carty could say or do got the reaction this other chap got, he had the blather that had their intrest,

There’s a lot to be said for being able to talk shite to a band playing, but its got to be the sort of shite the women find interesting, and that’s something our Carty has yet to learn!!! Have to learn about Om, how to talk about it, how it changed my life, and sound sincere…

Needless to say, when I got in, there was no other piece for my reading then “Angry Sea”, which went down well with both the Italian women (sorry, Sardinian!!!) and the general audience. Only when sitting down did Irealise after reading from the chapbook, that I forgot to mention I had it, had it for sale, and IO also refused the free bottle of beer.

Them women had me driven to distraction! Of course they went off with themselves near the end of the gig, with neither the red haired Om dude, or our Carty!

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