Anyone for the Reading Rooms?

Story by Tom Kelly

Wednesday, 28th October, 2009 5:00pm

Cavan's very own Reading Rooms sessions - unique evenings of poetry and song that bring local and international talents together - are to kick off on Wednesday, November 11.

The special guest of the evening is one of the UK's finest poets, Hugo Williams, with support from Ciarán O'Rourke, Ireland's most promising young writer, and Cavan's very own musical star, Lisa O'Neill. There'll also be an open mic slot for singers and poets, along with music in the cellar bar afterwards.

Funded by Cavan County Council's Arts Office, the Reading Rooms are initiated by Cavan poet, Rebecca O'Connor, who has taken part in festivals including the Caomhnú Literary Festival and the Flat Lake Arts and Literary Festival.

The sublimely talented singer/songwriter, Lisa O'Neill, grew up in Ballyhaise and now lives in Dublin, where she makes coffee and songs. You might have seen her perform at Chapter 1 earlier in the year, or at Electric Picnic, but if not, then the 11th of November is the perfect time to catch some of her extraordinary sounds, fresh from her newly-released debut album. She's a bit of a poet too: "She once sang a few for Ronnie Drew, This excited Lisa through and through, Lisa O'Neill is writing this poem, On her kitchen bench in her Dublin home, Tomorrow's Good Friday I'm not gonna drink, I like the pubs but sometimes they stink, But even if you think that the pubs stink too, you should come and hear me anyway and then I'll hear you ..."

And if that wasn't enough, the wonderful Ciaran O'Neill and Brouhaha will be performing in the cellar bar afterwards. Hugo Williams was born in Windsor in 1942. His first poetry book was published by Oxford University Press when he was just 23. He's been quoted as saying that "having not succeeded at school, I've always thought of poetry as the holidays, rather than term-time". He has worked as a television critic and poetry editor for The New Stateman and a film critic for Harpers & Queen, and he's been writing a column for the Times Literary Supplement since 1988. His latest poetry collection, West End Final (Faber), was shortlisted for the 2009 Forward Poetry Prize (Best Poetry Collection of the Year) and he is the recipient of many poetry prizes, including the Queen's Gold Medal.

Ciarán O'Rourke is a rising poetry star. At just 18 years of age he has already won the Lena Maguire New Irish Writing Award at the Cúirt International Festival of Literature 2009 and The Listowel Writer's Festival poetry award (18 and under) in 2006, 2007 and 2009. He was also the overall winner of the Boyle Art's Festival poetry competition in 2008 and one of 100 recipients of the UK Poetry Society's Foyle Young Poet's Award 2008.

• Tickets cost €10 and can be booked in advance by contacting Rebecca O'Connor at or 087 2657251. Also contact Rebecca if you'd like to take part in the open mic, as there are limited places available.

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