“Words are such a rich and alive tradition, on paper and in the air. I was so astonished at the real diversity of voices represented in Ireland when I arrived two years ago. It was my understanding that Ireland was not necessarily so much a diverse place. Immigration into the country is a relatively recent phenomenon, and as a result, there is such an array of perspectives informing what it means to be Irish.” Words from poet Clara Rose Thornton at the launch of her book of poetry, Alternatives.
The title plays on the phrase “alter natives”, relating to the changing of perspectives and opinions of an indigenous population. The collection itself has a touch of Ginsberg in places, Whitman in others, with dashes of humour and irony reinforcing Thornton’s central and ubiquitously-recognised preoccupations about location and society.
“I do a lot of traipsing,” Thornton said at the event. “I have lived on two continents in six different countries. The thing that gets me out of bed in the morning is the hope that I can potentially alter the way someone thinks about some small corner of their existence that day, through my work. Then I have done my job for the day. And I like to try to move through many, many different places, experiencing many different cultures – the more different from mine the better – in the hopes of altering those natives.”
A trio of performers supported Clara for the booklaunch at The Liquor Rooms on the quays.
A San Franciscan poet named Raven, another African-American in Ireland, is a master of spoken word, with emotionally profound, intellectually provocative insights, broad in their appeal, enhanced through adept word-play and seasoned performance. His own poetry collection is an excellent read.
Sarajevo-born Andre K’por’s hip-hop infused meter peppered poetry included aspects of love, both positive and negative.
Finally, Mullingar’s Paul Timoney juxtaposed a seemingly whimsical piece that could have been performed for a classroom of children, alongside an emotionally-stirring story about a children’s classroom. The oscillation showed that the story-teller has a great range.
Subtle and skilled guitar-plucking from Enda Roche accompanied Clara Rose’s poetry. The evening also featured the debut of a short film about Clara, and a lush, suggestively decadent video for a poem called Champagne, also recently shot in The Liquor Rooms by a young director and performer of undoubted potential, Ailish Kerr.