Il-Kittieba Irlandiża

Sinéad Morrissey f’Malta

Workshops ta' Kitba Kreattiva u Qari fil-Pubbliku

is-25, 26 u 28 ta' Novembru, 2003

 

English Version - Links - Sinéad Morrissey: A Biographical Note

An Exclusive interview with Sinéad Morrissey

 

Sinéad Morrissey, waћda mill-kittieba ewlenin fl-Irlanda ta' Fuq, se tkun Malta fl-aħħar ġimgħa ta’ Novembru biex tmexxi żewġ workshops ta’ kitba kreattiva u tippreżenta l-poeżiji tagħha lill-pubbliku in ġenerali.

 

Il-workshops se jsiru nhar it-Tlieta u l-Erbgћa, 25 u 26 ta' Novembru, 2003, bejn is-7.00pm u d-9.30pm fil-Kavallier ta' San Ġakbu. Għalkemm il-workshops se jkunu bl-Ingliż il-parteċipanti jistgħu jiktbu kemm bil-Malti kif ukoll bl-Ingliż.

 

Il-Ġimgħa, 28 ta’ Novembru, Morrissey se taqra l-poeżiji tagħha lill-pubbliku in ġenerali fit-Teatru tal-Kavallier ta' San Ġakbu fis-7.30pm. Id-dħul huwa b’xejn.

Nhar it-Tnejn, 24 ta’ Novembru, Sinéad Morrissey se tiltaqa’ ma’l-istudenti tal-letteratura u l-istaff ta’ l-Università ta’ Malta f’12.00 f’kamra nru. 118 fiċ-Ċentru tal-Konferenzi li hemm wara l-bini tal-librerija ta’ l-Università. Din il-laqgħa qed tittella’ mill-KKU u d-Dipartimenti ta’ l-Ingliż u tat-Taljan.

Nhar it-Tnejn ukoll, se tkun waħda mill-mistednin ta’ Poeżijaplus fil-bitħa tat-Teatru Manoel, waqt li s-Sibt, 29 ta’ Novembru, Sinéad Morrissey (fir-ritratt ma' Salvu Seisun) se tagħmel l-ewwel taħdita bl-isem ta’ "Why Teach Literature" waqt seminar ta’ ġurnata mmexxi mid-Dipartiment tal-Malti tal-Junior College ta’ l-Università ta’ Malta. Fis-seminar bl-isem ta’ “It-Trankwillità Qarrieqa tat-Test: Perspettivi Oħra tal-Letteratura Maltija” se jittella' fit-Teatru tal-Kavallier ta' San Ġakbu l-Belt u fih se jitkellmu wkoll Mario Cassar, Marco Galea, Adrian Grima, Immanuel Mifsud, u Ġorġ Mifsud-Chircop.
 

Iż-żjara ta’ Sinéad Morrissey f’Malta hija organizzata minn The British Council u l-organizzazzjoni kulturali Inizjamed bi sħab maċ-Ċentru għall-Kreattività tal-Kavallier ta’ San Ġakbu.

 

Sinéad Morrissey twieldet Portadown, County Armagh, fl-Irlanda ta’ Fuq, fl-1972. Qattgħet l-ewwel sitt snin tgħix f’qasam tad-djar fejn jgħixu r-Repubblikani u mbagħad marret tgħix ġewwa Belfast. Studjat ukoll ġewwa Dublin, u għexet u ħadmet fil-Ġappun u New Zealand.

 

Sinéad Morrissey kitbet żewġ kotba tal-poeżija ppubblikati minn Carcanet: There Was Fire in Vancouver (1996) u Between Here and There (2002). Rebħet il-Premju Patrick Kavanagh Award fl-1990, il-Premju Eric Gregory fl-1996 u r-Rupert and Eithne Strong Trust Award fl-2002. Kienet il-kittieba residenti ta’ Poetry International fir-Royal Festival Hall fl-2002, u llum hija l-kittieba residenti fl-Università ta’ Queen's ġewwa Belfast.

 

Bħalissa qed taħdem fuq it-tielet ġabra ta’ poeżiji li aktarx ikun jisimha “The Wound-Man”. Imma għadha kemm dehret novella tagħha f’antoloġija ppubblikata fir-Renju Unit u bi ħsiebha tesperimenta wkoll bil-proża: “I’ve shied away from prose because there’s a dauntingly large space to control, and I don’t know if I have the talent for it, but I’d like to try.”

 

Sinéad Morrissey tasal Malta s-Sibt, 22 ta' Novembru wara żjara ta' tliet ġimgħat fiċ-Ċina.

 

Għal aktar tagħrif dwar Sinéad Morrissey u l-programm tagħha f’Malta żur http://inizjamed.cjb.net u http://www.britishcouncil.org/malta jew ikteb lil inizjamed@maltaforum.org. Dawk li jixtiequ jibbukkjaw post fiż-żewġ workshops ta’ kitba kreattiva li se tmexxi jistgħu wkoll iċemplu fuq 2131 5562 or 7946 7952. Il-ħlas huwa ta’ Lm8 b’kollox. (L-istudenti jħallsu anqas.)

 

Adrian Grima

It-13 ta' Novembru, 2003

 


 

Sinéad Morrissey in Malta

Workshops and Public Readings

22 - 30 November, 2003

 

The Northern Irish poet and academic Sinéad Morrissey will be in Malta in the last week of November, 2003, to lead two creative writing workshops at St. James Cavalier on Tuesday 25 and Wednesday 26 November, between 7.00pm and 9.30pm.

 

She will be reading her poetry to the general public in the Theatre at St. James Cavalier on Friday 28 November at 7.30pm.

 

The writing workshops will be in English but the participants can write either in Maltese or in English. The total price for both workshops is Lm8. Students pay a reduced rate.

 

On Monday, 24 November at 12.00, Sinéad Morrissey will be meeting literature students and members of staff at the University of Malta and reading some of her poems at the Lecture Centre (rm. 118) behind the University Library. This event is being coordinated by KKU and the Departments of English and Italian.

 

On Monday, 24 November, she will be one of the guests of Poeżijaplus in the courtyard of the Manoel Theatre. On Saturday 29 November, Sinéad Morrissey will be presenting a paper entitled "Why Teach Literature" at a one-day seminar on new perspectives on Maltese Literature organized by the Department of Maltese at the University of Malta Junior College. The seminar called "It-Trankwillità Qarrieqa tat-Test" is being held in the Theatre of the St. James Cavalier Centre for Creativity and also includes papers by Mario Cassar, Marco Galea, Adrian Grima, Immanuel Mifsud, and Ġorġ Mifsud-Chircop.

 

Sinéad Morrissey is being brought to Malta by The British Council and Inizjamed in collaboration with the St. James Cavalier Centre for Creativity.

 

Sinéad Morrissey: A Biographical Note

 

Sinead Morrissey was born in in Portadown, County Armagh, Northern Ireland, in 1972. She spent her first six years living on Republican housing estates, before moving to Belfast. She subsequently studied in Dublin, lived and worked in Japan and New Zealand, before returning to Northern Ireland where she now lives.

 

“Society in Northern Ireland,” writes Morrissey, “is rigidly divided between the Nationalist and Loyalist communities. Coming from a Communist household, militantly atheist, was just one factor that contributed to a sense of dislocation, of belonging to neither community. Both my brother and I were given Irish names, attended protestant schools, lived in Catholic areas, knew neither the Hail Mary nor the words of ‘The Sash’, were terrified by agonised Catholic statues and felt totally excluded from the 12th July celebrations.” Her poem “Thoughts in a Black Taxi” recalls “the threat that we often felt from both communities because of assumed allegiance to the enemy. To be nothing – neither Catholic nor Protestant – was too removed from the dominant frame of reference to be believed.”

But apart from a strong sense of dislocation, Morrissey’s “unorthodox” Northern Ireland childhood also left her with a sense of enormous freedom. “When my parents got divorced and our house in Belfast was sold, I moved to Germany for a year to try and control the ensuing sense of disorientation. The sequence ‘Mercury’ is a poetic account of that journey. I became fascinated by the fragile reality of places and the role that memory plays in building homes.”

 

Sinéad Morrissey has written two collections of poetry published by Carcanet: There Was Fire in Vancouver (1996) and Between Here and There (2002). She received the Patrick Kavanagh Award in 1990, an Eric Gregory Award in 1996 and the Rupert and Eithne Strong Trust Award (2002). She was writer-in-residence for the Poetry International at the Royal Festival Hall in 2002, and is currently writer-in-residence at Queen's University, Belfast.


At present Morrissey is working on her third collection of poetry, provisionally entitled “The Wound-Man”, but she also plans to try her hand at prose. She has just had a short story published in a new UK anthology, an experience as “thrilling” as seeing her first poem published years ago. “I’ve shied away from prose because there’s a dauntingly large space to control, and I don’t know if I have the talent for it, but I’d like to try.”

 

Sinéad Morrissey received the MacCauley Fellowship from the Irish Arts Council in 2002 and her collection Between Here and There was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize in 2002.

 

Sinéad Morrissey arrives in Malta on Saturday 22 November after touring China for three weeks.

 

Contact Information

 

For more information about Sinéad Morrissey and her programme in Malta visit http://inizjamed.cjb.net and http://www.britishcouncil.org/malta or write to inizjamed@maltaforum.org. Those who would like to book for the two creative writing workshops can also phone on 2131 5562 or 7946 7952.

 

Adrian Grima

13 November, 2003
 


 

Links Utli - Useful Links


 

Dislocation and Words

 

Adrian Grima interviews Malta-bound Northern Irish poet and academic Sinéad Morrissey about poetry, home and tourism

 

The Northern Irish poet and academic Sinéad Morrissey will be in Malta in the last week of November, 2003, to lead two creative writing workshops at St. James Cavalier on Tuesday 25 and Wednesday 26 November, between 7.00pm and 9.30pm.

 

She will be reading her poetry to the general public at St. James Cavalier on Friday 28 November at 7.30pm. On Monday, 24 November, she will be one of the guests of Poeżijaplus in the courtyard of the Manoel Theatre.

 

On Saturday 29 November, Sinéad Morrissey will be presenting a paper entitled "Why Teach Literature" at 9.00am at a seminar on new perspectives on Maltese Literature organized by the Department of Maltese at the University of Malta Junior College.

 

Sinéad Morrissey is being brought to Malta by The British Council and Inizjamed in collaboration with the St. James Cavalier Centre for Creativity.

 

Sinead Morrissey was born in in Portadown, County Armagh, Northern Ireland. She spent her first six years living on Republican housing estates, before moving to Belfast. She subsequently studied in Dublin, lived and worked in Japan and New Zealand, before returning to Northern Ireland where she now lives. She has written two collections of poetry published by Carcanet: There Was Fire in Vancouver (1996) and Between Here and There (2002). She received the Patrick Kavanagh Award in 1990, an Eric Gregory Award in 1996 and the Rupert and Eithne Strong Trust Award (2002). She was writer-in-residence for the Poetry International at the Royal Festival Hall in 2002, and is currently writer-in-residence at Queen's University, Belfast.


For more information about Sinéad Morrissey and her programme in Malta visit http://inizjamed.cjb.net and http://www.britishcouncil.org/malta or write to inizjamed@maltaforum.org. Otherwise one can phone on 2131 5562 or 7946 7952.

 

Tourísm

 

Like the relief of markets,

their saffron-coloured cloths and carpets,

purification where two rivers cross, or the widening line of light

entering Newgrange on the winter solstice -

 

a manufactured prophesy of spring –

the Spanish and the Dutch are landing in airports

and filing out of ships. Our day has come.

 

They bring us deliverance, restitution,

as we straighten our ties, strengthen our lattés,

polish our teeth. We take them to those streets

they want to see most, at first,

 

as though it's all over and safe behind bus glass

like a staked African wasp. Unabashedly, this is our splintered city,

and this, the corrugated line between doorstep and headstone.

 

Next, fearing summary,

wc buy theni a pint with a Bushmills chaser

and then on to the festering gap in the shipyard

the Titanic made when it sank.

 

Our talent for holes that are bigger

than the things themselves

resurfaces at Stormont, our weak-kneed parliament,

 

which, unlike Rome, we gaaied in a day

and then lost, spectacularly, several days later

in a shower of badly played cards. Another instance, wc say,

of our off-beat, headstrong, suicidal chann.

 

So come, keep coming here.

We'll recklessly set chairs in the streets and pray for the sun.

Diffuse the gene pool, confuse the local kings,

 

infect us with your radical ideas; be carried here

on a sea breeze from the European superstate

we long to join; bring us new symbols,

a new national flag, a xylophone. Stay.

 

 

© Sinéad Morrissey

(Between Here and There, Manchester: Carcanet, 2002)

 


 

  1. Literature can be such an intimate affair between the text and the reader. So why “teach” literature? Why test someone’s “knowledge” of literature? How does one “learn” literature?

 

Well obviously you don’t ‘learn’ literature in the same way you ‘learn’ maths, or even a foreign language. And the meaning of teaching literature changes according to the age group you’re talking about. In school, students’ first encounters with poetry can be significantly enriched with some teacherly guidance, which doesn’t at all mean having to impose a rigid meaning on a poem. At university the emphasis on teaching literature changes – now we learn various approaches, and engage with texts in a more self-consciously ideological way. Filling in the background to texts – whether it be the nature of Lowell’s new project in ‘Life Studies’ taken from his private correspondence, or the nature of the 1790s political climate when reading Wordsworth – adds to the experience of reading literature immeasurably. But ‘learning’ literature can also be very creative – because it is so amorphous, and because multiple readings are possible.

 

  1. You lecture at Queen’s University in Belfast. How does your experience there compare with teaching at the Agricultural High School near Ogaki City, an experience you narrate so beautifully in “Before and After”?

 

I don’t think the two experiences could differ more dramatically. Students in Queen’s are engaged, articulate, highly focused, bright, challenging. The students in the agricultural high school in Japan were that particular society’s no-hopers with a serious confidence problem. Both places are stimulating, of course, but in entirely different ways. It’s such a pleasure to teach at Queen’s – hardly like work at all. But the agricultural high school was a fantastic experience also – so vivid, and raw. I was only there for three weeks, however, and my honeymoon feelings about the place may have diminished rapidly had I been asked to stay for longer.

 

  1. Luis Sepúlveda suggests that in literature “it is possible to transmit ideas, to entertain and to practise the art of seduction at the same time.” One writes to seduce the reader with words; a writer cannot but be a seducer. Do you agree?

 

It depends on whether you’ve written successfully enough to carry your reader with you, or not. If you have, then yes, the reader’s will can be suspended and lost in your will, in the world you’ve created. ‘Seducer’ has a seedy connotation, though, as though you’re bringing the reader somewhere illicit they don’t really want to go, and I don’t know if that’s quite fair. It can be an illicit kind of place, but it doesn’t have to be. I also think some writers don’t even try to suspend their readers’ disbelief, not because they lack the skill, but because they simply don’t want to. Laurence Sterne writing in England in the mid-eighteenth century, for example, constantly draws attention to the fictive quality of what he’s doing, forcing the reader to interrogate the artificiality of his forms. Brecht’s another example, in drama, of someone who deliberately tried not to seduce his audience. 

 

4.      How does your reading of your own poems change over time?

 

Quite dramatically sometimes. I usually have a period after I’ve written a new poem in which I’m immensely proud of it. Sometimes that vanishes after days and I suddenly dislike the work and see flaws in it I didn’t see when I was composing it because I was too close. Sometimes the pride stays with me. I don’t really like my first collection, but am still proud of the second. I think I’ll always stay proud of the second.

 

  1. Jonathan Culler writes that one feature of “the ‘literariness’ of literature may lie in the tension of the interaction between the linguistic material and readers’ conventional expectations of what literature is.” Do you agree? How true do you think this is of your poetry?

 

I think an easier way of putting this is to say good literature works by confounding readers’ expectations. This is the opposite of saying above that literature always seduces. I think I’m more comfortable with the surprising model, than with the seduction model. I don’t want readers to be able to guess how I’m going to end a poem, and if they can guess, then it’s so boring it’s failed. I love Les Murray’s poems because he surprises me all the time – with his wordplay, with his imagery, with his final destinations. I hope I’m doing something along similar lines – I strive to at least.

 

  1. You sometimes write about the people you love, about your “private” life. Have you written any poems that you would never publish because they are too personal, because they would “expose” too much?

 

Yes, I have, not so much about me but about my family. I’ve written one about my grandfather after the death of my grandmother called “Clocks”, and I held back from putting it in the last book in case he’d read it. He’d be devastated by it. I would have no problems publishing it if I knew he wasn’t going to see it. When I write about me, I tend to deflect things, so they never feel directly about me, or as exposing. I make voices up too, which means that people assume I’m taking risks I’m not actually taking. I’m frequently just exploring persona poems instead.

 

  1. You were born in Portadown, County Armagh, in Northern Ireland; you studied in Dublin, you lived and worked in Japan and New Zealand, and now you live in Northern Ireland. Has this moving around “unsettled” you? Is there any place you can call home? Do we need a “place-called-home”?

 

Travel has been such a dominant factor in my experience and a huge influence on my poetry. Yes, I have been unsettled, with different consequences. The unsettling of Japan brought me poetic riches – a dislocation that helped my poetry into new and better formations. By the time I got to New Zealand however, I was homesick and felt all the travel had eventually stopped me writing altogether. I came back to Northern Ireland in order to settle and to write out of a non-travel space. Northern Ireland is definitely ‘home’ now. I’m happier here than I ever thought possible while I was away.

 

  1. One of the poems which I like best in your collection Between Here and There (Carcanet, 2002) is “Tourism”. Many sociologists believe that mass tourism doesn’t really foster true cultural exchange… but then this poem is not really about tourism, is it?

 

Well it is and it isn’t. The poem’s core is the dissolution of the new Northern Ireland Assembly over the stalled issue of IRA decommissioning. I was furious that this had been allowed to take place, and saw it as a threat to the stability of the peace process. One of the consequences of the peace process is that tourists have started coming here – not as many as we’d like, but still coming. I suppose the poem articulates a view of tourism as the great white hope of the future for Northern Ireland in a way. Not so much in the inherent superficiality of much tourism, but in the more basic fact of other people coming here. Northern Ireland is so narrow and parochial – the gene pool is small, nearly everyone is white. I want Northern Ireland to be far more multicultural than it is – to open itself up to the broader world and the broader human community. It might put some of our tribal conflict in perspective.

 

  1. And how does what you write shape the way you remember your experiences? Have your memories of Japan been “frozen” or encapsulated  by your poems about it?

 

No, I don’t think they have. I remember my memories of Japan, rather than the atmosphere of the poems. I remember the view from my window, and the interior of my flat, and the smells of neighbour’s cooking in the evenings, and my bicycle – the daily things. Not the surrealism of the Japanese sequence, which feels quite separate. I saw the film “Sans Soleil” recently. It was made it 1984 and has lots of footage of Japan as an incredibly strange place, and I noticed as I watched it how the film did in film what I’d tried to do in my poems. Perhaps art talks to art and stays distinct.

 

  1. In 1995 you declared in the Irish Times that writing is “the most important thing in my life. There’s nothing I feel more strongly about.” Would you repeat that statement today?

 

Yes I would. No change.

 

  1. What are your literary projects for the future?

 

I’m working on my third collection at the moment, provisionally entitled “The Wound-Man”, and I’m also interested in trying my hand at some prose. I’ve just had a short story published in a new UK anthology, as thrilling as my first poem. I’ve shied away from prose because there’s a dauntingly large space to control, and I don’t know if I have the talent for it, but I’d like to try.

 

Adrian Grima

20 October, 2003

 

Published in The Sunday Times (Malta), 23 November, 2003

 

Għall-Ewwel Paġna | Back to the First Page

 
1 1 1