A couple of weeks ago I was in Slovenia for the 29th Vilenica Festival. It was my first time in Slovenia, and the first time reading work from Keeping Bees somewhere other than Ireland. I was thrilled to be invited, and it was a real pleasure to be a part of it. In addition to my reading, I also participated in the ‘Meeting Literary Foremothers’ roundtable – part of the project HERA, and in partnership with the University of Nova Gorica. I am still left musing about some of the issues raised during that discussion – about voice, and power, and one’s freedom to make a choice, to choose to write – to choose to do anything, to be empowered to do so above all else. I will return to this, after I’ve spent the time it takes me to really think things through, with a more fulsome response.
It was a really good three days. I mean – really good. Writers end up talking writing – this is what we do. It was a joy to talk writing with some of the writers I met at the festival. I loved hearing their perspective of my work – the comments, on the whole, took a very different slant to what I am used to here, in Ireland. Again, it has left me thinking – about my voice, and my my technique – and where I want to take both, moving forward. I will say this – it is quite enjoyable to have someone describe me – my work – as strong and subversive. And not once as provocative (not that being provocative is a negative thing – but sometimes, it’s a nice thing, to hear something different – it’s got me thinking).
And I wasn’t the only Canadian there – not by a long shot. This year, Patrick DeWitt, Linda Spalding and Geoffrey E. Taylor were also in attendance. I had the pleasure of being a member of the Jury, alongside Mr. Taylor, for this year’s Crystal Award. The winner – Liliana Corobca – will be reading at next year’s Cuirt Festival; her winning story, an excerpt from her novel, told the tale of a tick, and children left to their own devices.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time at this year’s festival. It was inspiring; coming back to Dublin, I was excited to sit and begin at the beginning again. It is the toughest part of writing – but also, the place (and space) where everything is fresh, and new, and good, and bad. It is where I get to make a mess, go dig in the dirt with my two hands, looking for cockroaches (I am absolutely fascinated by them for writing at the moment) and duende.
PS - Slovenian peaches - damn sweet and juicy!
"...the gift of being able to subtly eroticise even the most mundane things".
So says Hot Press Magazine. And I thank them very much for saying so.
Here is the full review, where I am (when at my best) 'reminiscent of a female Cohen'.
Keeping Bees can be purchased here.
In a week's time I will be sharing the stage with two wonderful writers at the Belfast Book Festival. Doire Press authors Kimberly Campanello, Eamon Carr, and myself will be reading on Monday June 9th at the Crescent Arts Centre. The reading begins at 6:30pm, and it promises to be full of good things. Buy your tickets here.
To Galway and back, all in one day. Thank you to everyone who came along to The Crane Bar this afternoon for the launch of Keeping Bees. To James Harrold - a massive thank you for such a brilliant introduction and for making bees and tomatoes sound as sexy as they ought to be. Thank you also to Kevin O'Shea for taking such lovely photos. And, as always, to Doire Press for giving poems about bees and horses and peaches and Jesus (body and all) a good home. Extra thanks to Lisa for cooking up a storm - food and poetry go hand in hand, and there was much to feast on. Was a pleasure to spend the day in Galway - lovely to see so many faces - both familiar and new. Thank you!!!
B&W photos - Kevin O'Shea
Colour - Sarah Clancy
A couple of months ago, I posted my thrill at having my poems featured in the Spring Issue of The Stinging Fly. Recently, the editor asked me to write something for The Stinging Fly blog - something relating to how Keeping Bees came to be. And so I wrote about duende (because without it there would be nothing wild or true in anything I write) and the body (because everyone has one, and everything we know or understand of the world comes into and goes out of our bodies) and feminism (because being one means that I will always write feminist, to the best of my abilities).
"Keeping Bees is full of poems about the body. And fruit—where the fruit are nothing more than metaphors for the body and its parts. The same goes for the vegetables, and the poem about boxes, and the most logical poem I’ve ever written about a horse. I love the body. The word itself, the way it feels to say it, is sexy. The first syllable presses lips together, and then opens them up to a place where the second syllable presses the tongue up against the roof of the mouth; it is, as far as words go, absolutely one of the sexiest in the English language. In the end, while it doesn’t surprise me that the collection is full of body (and bodies) it didn’t start out that way. I had no poetic designs on the body. All I knew is that I had one, and everyone else had one too".
It was an absolute pleasure to write this piece, and I am very thankful to have been asked to do so. For anyone interested in reading the full piece, it can be accessed here. Copies of the current issue of The Stinging Fly can be purchased here.
On March 29th, surrounded by all sorts of beautiful art (in an absolutely funky space - an optician's shop on Kildare Street), I launched Keeping Bees. Published by Doire Press, the collection was introduced by Patrick Chapman - he called it many things; among them, muscular (and I liked that very much). It was for me, one of the nights of my life. There was wine, and there were books - and people came and took their fill of both. I had friends travel from Canada and Switzerland - and with the music of the lovely Ria Czerniak (she's responsible for my cover), we had a very nice time indeed. All of the photos of the night are care of Aidan Murphy. All of the smiles - the wine. Launching books is a good buzz.
To buy a copy of Keeping Bees, head on over to Doire Press.
Keeping Bees...a book full of poems about bodies, where bodies sound like beehives.
Dimitra Xidous's debut collection 'Keeping Bees" is available now from Doire Press.