Tuesday 16 July 2019

My cultural life: poet Micheal O'Siadhail

Micheal O'Siadhail
Micheal O'Siadhail
The Verdict
Long Walk to Freedom
Convention Centre

Poet Micheal O'Siadhail was born in Dublin, and lived there most of his life. When his wife Bríd died after a glorious 44-year marriage, he moved to New York where he is very happily remarried to Christina. He worked for nine years on his latest collection, The Five Quintets, published by Baylor University Press, and recently launched by the Chief Justice Frank Clarke at the RHA. baylorpress.com

Film: The Verdict

The Verdict

I had never really been a movie buff, but over the last few years my wife Christina and I have taken to watching films late at night on a laptop. Christina introduced me to the films of Paul Newman and he is definitely my favourite actor. I particularly love The Verdict (above), a courtroom drama depicting love, betrayal, and good winning out over evil.

Music: Mozart

One piece of music that always moves me to tears is the theme from the film Elvira Madigan. At least that's how most know it - more officially it's the slow movement of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21. Strange how a piece composed in 1785 is so associated with a movie about a Danish tightwire walker with an Irish surname. Why Madigan? For years this puzzled me until I found out that her mother had remarried an Irish American circus artist whose name she used as a stage name.

Book: Long Walk To Freedom

Long Walk to Freedom

I have many favourite novels but as my latest work, The Five Quintets, involves conversations with historical figures, I have been reading endless biographies and autobiographies. One of these was Nelson Mandela's Long Walk To Freedom (above). Nelson Mandela is one of my saints. I'm astonished how a man could emerge from 27 years in prison with such courage, forgiveness and above all, such a smile. Mandela had an amazing sense of humour. I wonder how he would have smiled if he had watched - as millions did on television screens across the world - the extraordinary gestures of the impostor's fake sign language at his memorial service.

Playwright: Brian Friel

I delight in Brian Friel's plays. I loved the wistful Afterplay, where Andrey from Chekhov's The Three Sisters and Sonya from Uncle Vanya meet in a Moscow cafe 20 years later. I saw its premiere at the Gate theatre, and two years ago I saw it again in the wonderful Irish Rep Theatre in New York with Dearbhla Molloy and Dermot Crowley and directed by Joe Dowling. Some years earlier at a party in Joe Dowling's house in Dublin, while talking to Dearbhla Molloy, I backed into a lit candle setting fire to my jacket. I knocked on her dressing room in New York sending a message that the only poet who ever went up in flames for her wanted to congratulate her!

Design: Convention Centre

Convention Centre

The ultimate in design is good architecture. Writer Anthony Cronin used to claim it was the most influential of the arts. For me the beautiful tilted glass barrel that is the Dublin Convention Centre (above) is one of the daringly designed buildings I like best. My friend Dermod Dwyer, who chairs the board of the Convention Centre, was instrumental in the choice of Kevin Roche as the architect. I'm delighted that a Dubliner, who made his name as a top architect in America, leaves this iconic trace in his native city.

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