I joined Ploughshare as a blogger in January 2017, and am delighted to be staying on for 2018. A list of my articles -- predominantly focusing on chronic pain, trauma, and grief -- can be found here..
The 15th edition of TULCA Festival of Visual Art – titled They Call Us The Screamers – takes its reference from a book written by Jenny James, published by Caliban Books in 1980. The book is an account of Atlantis, the commune she established a few years earlier in the Gaeltacht village of Burtonport, County Donegal – promoting an approach of de-programming from the modern world through therapeutic self-development and environmental self-sufficiency. The book is also a response to the controversies and scandals that embroiled the commune during their first years in Ireland, following accusations of cultish behaviour, kidnapping, and physical abuse. The members of the commune were collectively nicknamed ‘The Screamers’ in a 1976 Sunday World article, referring to their practice of primal scream therapy – an adapted form of psychotherapy developed by Dr Arthur Janov that sought to re-enact the traumas of modern upbringing and thereby reverse the neurosis that follows in later life. A publication designed by Alex Synge / The First 47 wll be available at all venues. In addition to curatorial texts by Matt Packer, the publication includes three newly commissioned texts by Sue Rainsford that sound the primal scream through the narrative forms of lyric essay, transcription, and testimony. On Monday 6th November I talked through my commissioned texts for TULCA -- Scream i, Scream ii & Scream iii -- at the Centre for Creative Arts & Media, GMIT, and have included an excerpt below: ...making the second text came about very differently to the first, and my relation to words was very different throughout... I selected passages from the transcripts in Atlantis Magic to make a kind of erasure or found text. Next I recorded myself on my laptop saying segments from that selection that I felt were the most charged and affecting, then took a screen shot of the wave forms resulting from the recording, and inserted ... Read more ».
As part of Everything is in Everything, a collaborative commission between Super Projects, Clodagh Emoe, 4th year students at Hartstown Community School and in partnership with Fingal Arts Office, I presented a workshop on script writing and contemporary art practice. Taking influence from Rancière’s The Ignorant Schoolmaster, specifically the quote ‘…the very act of storytelling...presumes in its interlocutor an equality of intelligence rather than an inequality of knowledge', the workshop entailed giving voice to inanimate materials, to objects not typically associated with speech..
In this workshop we'll be exploring the potential of the artist statement across a spectrum of functional to radical, considering how writing can be employed toward explicative and subversive means within an art practice. Working through an array or practitioners and exercises, the aim of this workshop is to foster a generative relationship with writing in its many forms that can be applied topically as needed. Book your place here..
A psycho-acoustic work installed in Smuggler's Cave, Portrane, Entirely Hollow Aside From The Dark was made in collaboration with artist Alan-James Burns. In writing the script for Burns's sound piece, my aim was to ensure the prose evidenced a disintegration on several levels: a breakdown in language due to trauma, the pervasive, weathering effects of time on memory, as well as the disintegration of language as we sink deeper into the subconscious. This work was installed as part of Resort Revelations, presented by Fingal County Council Arts' Office and curated by Caroline Cowley..
Below is a paper I presented at Writing Between The Lines: creative writing as research methodology at Cardiff Metropolitan University in September 2016. I’m going to start with some quotes from Sadie Plant, Eimear McBride and Hélène Cixous. No parents, no children, just ourselves, strings of inseparable sisters, warm and wet… (Plant, 3) What? When you miss me. What words are when. Get. Jesus. Over. He goes somewhere else inside. Does that hurt? Yes. A lot and relieves me for a while. (McBride, 137) …your womb is not dreaming, your body is not mistaken… yes, flesh has an undeniable memory. (Cixous, 82) If we could peel back layers of compacted ideology to peer at the undiluted, ‘uncultured’ female body, what might we see? Woman is so swamped in discourse that she is speechless, writes Julia Kristeva, even when she’s speaking (Black Sun). For several years my research has oscillated around questions of how the pervasively repressed and explicitly traumatised female body expresses itself, and how this expression might be embodied in writing. Namely, how hybrid prose can operate in the cross-space where radical experience compromises language, but literature is still plays a role. This has entailed considering prose as the product of a necessary, generative act rather than cerebral or aesthetic impulse, and sometimes as a means of restoring or even making female experience. In this vein, I’ll be taking examples from Susan Howe and Bhanu Kapil, each of whom employ a degree of hybridity to unearth experience, before applying some of these concepts to ideas around my own writing. Howe and Kapil each embrace what Renee Gladman has described as ‘the conditions that cause one to stutter in the making of a sentence’ (70). Female experience is stifled, but seeks manifestation nonetheless, with variant degrees of radicalisation resulting to take oblique and subversive form. The final section ... Read more ».
On Thursday the 12th of May I'll be reading my text 'disperse' in Draíocht. This text was commissioned as part of Waves, a partnership programme between Fingal Arts Office and Cleo Fagan, curator of Superprojects - an initiative for young audiences that generates possibilities for creative encounters with contemporary art and artists. It is funded by Fingal County Council as part of the Fingal 1916 centenary programme. Waves has seen Irish artists Clodagh Emoe, Sean Lynch, Ruth Lyons and Eoghan Ryan devise a series of compelling workshops for second level students in response to the rich context of the 1916 centenary. During this enquiry students and teachers from Fingal Community College and Hartstown Community School have explored ideas of zeitgeist, civic agency, collaboration, collectivity, public art, memorialisation and cultural representation. Videographer Jenny Brady recorded these dynamic investigations and we now invite you to attend the film premiere at 11 am on 12/05/16 in Draíocht. Following the film, writer Sue Rainsford will read a section from her commissioned text, opening up themes held within. Composed by Distinctive Repetition, a significant graphic poster serves to complement the workshops and film, while also sharing this commissioned text with a wide audience. The celebration will take place in the presence of Councillor David O’Connor, Mayor of Fingal, and Mr. Paul Reid, Chief Executive of Fingal County Council..
When I was younger I was in the habit of buying very old and tattered books I knew I'd never read. I bought them because I liked the way they looked, and because the older they were the softer the binding was, and the more strongly the pages smelled of damp. I suppose I thought I was obtaining an object that had already been 'intellectualised', or already made romantic. Last March, I had to look up the word 'aporetic', and when I saw the definition I thought it a fairly lovely word for a fairly unpleasant thing. So I began writing a short piece called Aporia's Circle, a piece about a girl whose illiterate mother gives her a beautiful sounding name and whose life is marked by a contradiction: she loves her brother, who taught her how to read, all the more for his absence. When Emer and Tracy asked me to take part in this year's Foaming at the Mouth, I thought Aporia's Circle would work: it's a short piece driven by images, and it incorporates much of my research around erasure and textuality. But how to perform it, rather than read it? I thought about illustrations, about bringing with me a shelf's worth of books referenced in the story and whose presence would in some way see its content manifest. As an exercise, I decided to make an erasure work of a book I'd bought in Donegal in 2004. I'd never done this with a piece of writing other than my own, and was surprised as I went through the pages -- not reading them, but selecting words that struck me -- how readily the theme of Aporia's Circle presented itself: someone teaches a child how to read, and it changes the child's life. When I looked up the title of the book and saw that this was indeed its story, ... Read more ».
The Centre For Dying On Stage #1 is an exhibition featuring works by Karl Burke, Dina Danish, Dan Graham, Krõõt Juurak, Meggy Rustamova and Christodoulos Panayiotou, curated by Kate Strain. It is also a research platform that generates new artistic undertakings, anchored to notions of disappearance and performativity. A series of Dive Bar events, run in conjunction with the exhibition, expand on the machinations of such a platform. I was invited by Emer Lynch, Project's curatorial assistant, to present a material encounter with Ernest Hemingway's Death In The Afternoon at the first. I have been reading Hemingway for about ten years, and Death In The Afternoon has always resonated strongly as a book as much about writing -- its practice and activity -- as about bullfighting. In reading the first chapter again I was struck afresh by Hemingway's detailing the role of the sun as one third of the bullfight, throwing down as it does the matador's gestures in shadow-form. I remembered studying classical architecture and being told that intense, bright sunlight was the best time at which to view it. This static, blanched bleached haze and the effect it has on one's self-awareness -- the different way we greet ourselves in the context of extreme heat -- is something I focused on while writing my novel Follow Me To Ground. Applying his advice of 'removing the scroll work' from one's prose to reveal 'a sequence of motion and fact which made the emotion' to a scene from my novel, saw the scene shed its excess and present an abstract rhythm comprised of gesture and emotive impact. The scene I treated is one in which a little boy, Oliver James, dies. I chose it not only for its allusions to the exhibition's themes, as Oliver James dies with a small audience surrounding him, including his mother and a healer who are quickly redefined in the ... Read more ».
..in following the broken line of our acts of attention, we think we perceive separate steps. --Henri Bergson, Creative Evolution When drawing, or looking at drawings, I focus always on the staggered progression of the line. This has particular resonance for life drawing, where a body often comes to be depicted by segmented or fractured means. In following the shapes of a body with ink I wonder how it comes to exist in space, that it is manifest and situated in another's gaze. There are procedures to its appearance that enact upon it constantly; this much I know. My approach to the figure is a broken one full of misunderstandings. We are a hatching presence that falters. We are a trickling in the night. In life drawing we assess how the body occupies time and space, and when completely still the element of occupation is negated; the means of being in the world become passive, without emotive consequence. This pondering of how the body sits in reality is my focus, rather than gauging its correctness and proportion. Proportion, though I know it is a fact, is something I can only glimpse sporadically and after great effort. It is something my eye cannot quite understand, leaving me only the option of tracking the line; shoulders relieving themselves into the spine and the back rounding into buttocks before narrowing into the legs below. This line is of course ruptured by disparities in my attention, obstacles in my sight-line, processes of introspection temporarily surfacing with sufficient strength to obscure my outward gaze. I instinctively employ the broken line because I find it says something of that movement which is implicit even in a still nude, the movement which is a process of the body operating in time and time in turn impacting on the body. I do not mean over a period of years, ... Read more ».