The Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghkerrig, Ireland
photo credit Angela Gardner

An introduction to the Irish special feature

In 2009 I stayed at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Ireland courtesy of an Australia Council for the Arts Literature Residency. I had no idea what to expect and anticipated the trip with both mounting excitement and some trepidation. What, if when faced with an empty writing desk I also found myself with an entirely empty mind? And not in a good Zen sense! What if after all these years of sneaking time for my art practice and poetry writing I saw the hours stretch out with nothing to show for it? Well luckily it wasn’t like that. The quiet was creative and filling and the time with my fellow artists, poets, composers, musicians, script-writers, novelists and dancers was fun and fabulous. The Open Studio/Recital/Reading evenings were particularly enjoyable and allowed us all to see and discuss our work.

The extensive poetry library at the Tyrone Guthrie gave me a perfect space to read books by current residents as well as read or reread poetry from around the world. I am grateful to Dr Pat Donlon, Director of The Tyrone Guthrie Centre, who arranged a special loan of Peter Brook’s The Empty Space and The Shifting Point, and of Jerzy Grotowski’s Towards a Poor Theatre from The Dublin Institute of Technology.

In Dublin I was able do research in the Reference Room facilities at the Chester Beatty Library where I looked at text and image manuscripts and also illustrated reference material regarding Islamic scientific instruments for navigation and astronomy. Also while in Dublin I was able to attend the final in The Stinging Fly ‘Summer Readings’ series and a preview night of Sheridan’s The Rivals at The Abbey Theatre. It was fantastic to be able to get to know Dublin a little, finding its best bookshops and travelling by DART around the bay: the perfect setting to read James Joyce’s Dubliners or to cozy into a tiny bar with a pint of Guinness.

But above all the residency gave me time to write and rethink the direction of the manuscript I arrived with, so that I no longer felt the tired and distracted self that began the journey.  I am particularly grateful to the Australia Council for generously giving me this opportunity to write, to discover new places and to meet such wonderful people.

In the Special Irish Issue of foam:e you can meet just some of the poets I met: Enda Wyley, Cherry Smyth and Enda Coyle-Greene, and be introduced to them in their own words. If you were in Dublin currently you would find Enda Wyley's poem Clooncunny on the DART train. Thanks also to Barbara Smith author of Kairos from Doghouse, and Ann Leahy author of The Woman who lived her Life Backwards from Arlen House, both of whom took the time to talk to me about their work during some wet days at Annamakerrig.

Happy reading

Angela Gardner
Dydd Dewi Sant
1 March 2010