November in New York

I was very fortunate to be brought to New York for the annual Poetry Fest at the Irish Arts Centre.  It had been a long time since I had travelled abroad (8 years!) and that made this trip all the sweeter. How could I say no to New York?

This year Poetry Fest was curated by novelist and poet Nick Laird. For the whole weekend, the Irish Arts Centre was buzzing with writers and poetry fans. The venue was beautiful, the staff helpful and kind, and the coffee was strong enough for me to forget my jet-lag. Participating poets included:

“chief poetry critic for The Irish Times John McAuliffe, Whiting Writers Award-winner Jericho Brown, Cholmondeley Award-winner Colette Bryce, O’Shaughnessy Award-winner Tom French, Rooney Prize-winner Doireann Ní Ghríofa, Kimbilio and Cave Canem fellow Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Man Booker International and National Book Award finalist Fanny Howe, Pulitzer Prize-winner Yusef Komunyakaa, Pulitzer Prize-winner Sharon Olds, and Yaddo fellow and senior editor of The New York Review of Books Jana Prikryl.”

The first night was a celebration of favourite Irish poems. I was particularly struck by Cáit O’Riordan’s reading of “Enemies” by R.N.D. Wilson, Belinda McKeon reading Rebecca O’Connor’s poem “Thanks to Nicola Barker for the Yips,” and (unforgettably) Zadie Smith reading Lady Gregory’s translation of “Donal Óg.” I read “Lament for Christy Ring,” by the inimitable Billy Ramsell.

A highlight of my trip was reading with Rachel Eliza Griffiths, a wonderful writer and artist who is truly gifted, warm and generous in her work. Her reading was spectacular. You can explore her work hereA special word of thanks to editor of Stonecutter, Katie Raissian, both for pairing Rachel Eliza and I, and for her thoughtful, intelligent, and comprehensive introduction to my work.


I came home with many beautiful memories, and a hilariously inscribed copy of the latest volume by Sharon Olds, which I will treasure.


Buíochas ó chroí leo siúd a d’eagraigh agus a thacaigh leis an bhféile iontach seo: le Stonecutter, Katie Raissian, Nick Laird, Rachael Gilkey, Literary Hub, Glucksman Ireland House NYU, agus Poetry Ireland. Mo cheol sibh!