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My Cultural Life: Poet Jessica Traynor


Poet Jessica Traynor. Picture by Bríd O'Donovan

Poet Jessica Traynor. Picture by Bríd O'Donovan

Poet Jessica Traynor. Picture by Bríd O'Donovan

Poet Jessica Traynor lives in Artane, her latest collection, Pit Lullabies, is published by Bloodaxe. The Wanderer, her dance opera for Irish Modern Dance Theatre, will premiere at Cork Midsummer Festival on June 20.

BOOK: Poetry Prize Entries

I’m currently judging the Seamus Heaney Prize for first poetry collections, so I’m working my way through a fascinating array of poetic debuts from Ireland and the UK, getting an insight into what makes the next generation of poets tick.

But I’m also on holidays this month, so taking the opportunity to catch up on some brilliant new Irish writing: The Raptures by Jan Carson, Dance Move by Wendy Erskine, The Quiet Whispers Never Stop by Olivia Fitzsimons, and Pacemaker by David Toms.

SCREEN: His Dark Materials

I’m a fan of the Poetry at the LexIcon reading series, curated by Rosamund Taylor, which brings together contemporary poets for readings and conversations. You can watch back any time on the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council YouTube channel.

My TV and film viewing is sporadic, but I’m looking forward to seeing how the BBC manage to pull off the last season of His Dark Materials, and I’ll probably watch the new Lord of the Rings adaptation on Prime. Writing this I realise we may be a sci fi/fantasy household.

MUSIC: Sad Girl Bands

I’m looking forward to the radio premiere of my opera Paper Boat, composed by Elaine Agnew, which is coming soon on Lyric FM. We recorded it at the Irish Chamber Orchestra Building in the University of Limerick, and it was spine-tingling being in the room with such talented musicians and singers.

I’m also veering between Irish folk – Ye Vagabonds, John Francis Flynn – and sad girl music (Mitski, Lucy Dacus, Sharon Van Etten, Soccer Mommy, etc). It’s kind of odd to have the musical fashions of your youth come around again before you hit 40, but I’ve decided to lean into it and enjoy it.

THEATRE: The Last Return

I’m excited for Sonya Kelly’s new play for Druid, The Last Return, at Galway International Arts Festival – I got a sneak script preview and loved it. She’s unique as a playwright and I think this play will feel especially timely.

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