Hot on the heels of last week’s wonderful news regarding the John Hewitt Summer School bursary, I was delighted to receive another invitation for coffee with Ulster Scots bard, Wilson Burgess, in Coleraine. It’s always a pleasure to chat with fellow writers and, as I said before, Wilson is very encouraging in this respect!
Whilst I’m now more forthcoming about my writing activities on the blog (it serves its purpose well!) and whilst I now do properly call myself a writer as opposed to simply a journalist, there is still this hesitation which seems to surface when it comes to speaking about my own work, but I was flushed out of hiding by Wilson, who has found my blog and knows all about the writing!
His words of wisdom were refreshing as always – as he said to me – no-one would have known about Seamus Heaney if he didn’t put himself out there to begin with. There’s a time for squirreling oneself away and writing but equally, there must be a point when the writer takes their work out of hiding and presents it to the public, whatever the outcome. If you don’t tell people what you do, if you don’t show them…, well, they aren’t mind-readers! I know this and I think I’m getting there but of course, when your writing (and I refer here predominantly to my novel) isn’t yet published (and you don’t know if it will be!), an aura of not being properly established tends to hang around and whisper words of discouragement in your ear.
Anyway, everyone should have encouraging writer friends and non-writer friends and luckily that’s something I have, so the idea is to attempt to follow their advice!
Moving on… I was flattered to be asked to read over a short story recently written by Mr Burgess and as per usual, it was immensely enjoyable. I’ve read many of Wilson’s very funny and well written short stories before, which have been published as an ongoing series in The Big Issue and he certainly has a way with words! In my opinion, this particular story blended together beautifully the elements of lust and longing, hope (and a little despair), wistfulness, dissatisfaction and secrecy. It was both amusing and poignant and a very nice read – one to look out for!
Thanks to Wilson, I now also have another poet to look into as well – James Simmons, who established The Honest Ulsterman, an important literary journal which published work by many well known names, including Paul Muldoon.
So, after a discussion of everything from blogging, to literary festivals (Wilson is also reading at Coleraine’s Twelfth Festival this week!), short stories, networking and everything in between, it was great to catch up again so soon with Ulster Scot’s great local poet.
I look forward imminently to the John Hewitt Summer School experience and of course, there are many other events to follow and although I might not get to them all, I’ll certainly do my best! Here’s a flavour of what’s ahead…
Stendhal Festival of Art – August 16/17
On Home Ground Poetry Festival 2013 – September 20-22
Aspects Irish Literature Festival – September 26-30
[PS The pic is of Wilson and his Ulster Scots poetry anthologies with Patricia Saunders, Deputy Directo, and John Killen, Librarian at Belfast’s Linen Hall Library.]