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This report is taken from PN Review 104, Volume 21 Number 6, July - August 1995.

Letter from Ireland David Wheatley

In the eighteenth-century poet Raftery's 'Anach Cuain' a ship goes down, drowning most of the crew when a sheep has the misfortune of putting a hoof through the hold. No such disaster befalls the commemorative river cruisers to Annaghdown at this year's Galway Cúirt Festival of Literature, but their afternoon out does mean they miss what the programme has billed as 'the largest poetry reading in Ireland', the Poets' Platform, where, along with 37 others, all unpublished, I am marked down to read. As Leopardi remarked almost two centuries ago (cf. PN Review 101), the spectacle of an audience putting itself at the mercy of poets reading aloud from their work is food for critical thought at the best of times in these post-Gutenberg days, but taken to such heroic extremes one can't help wondering whether a feeding-frenzy wouldn't make a more appropriate metaphor for the whole process. Whichever it is, the role of hors d'œuvres has fallen to me, as I have been scheduled to read first. First dilemma: to introduce or not? I have long nursed the ambition to write a poem about introductions to poems at readings, and which, launched into from a platform, could masquerade as one of the genre itself: lulling the unwary into believing they were being treated to one more excuse for not getting down to business straight away, it would suddenly break off and leave the audience reeling with shock - that, it would dawn on them, was the poem! The organizers, however, have thoughtfully laid on an introducer to spare my ...


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