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Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Swift Satire Festival: Saturday, July 12th, 4pm, The Old Rectory Trim

I am taking part in the Swift Satire Festival in Trim, County Meath on Saturday July 12th.

Here is what is says about my event on the festival website:

Start: 16:00
A two-and-a-half-hour session of poetry, with an Open Mic, with featured poet Kevin Higgins from Galway.
The parlour in The Old Rectory has been kindly made available by Martina Quinn. It has space for less than 40 people. Time is also limited, so the Open Mic readers will be the first 25 readers to arrive.
Tea/coffee and biscuits served at the interval.
The poetry of Jonathan Swift will also be featured during this session.

Note: if the weather suits, we will move from the parlour to the grounds of the Old Rectory.
Kevin Higgins’s poetry features in the generation-defining anthologyIdentity Parade – New British and Irish Poets (Ed Roddy Lumsden, Bloodaxe, 2010) and one of his poems is included in the recent anthologyThe Hundred Years’ War: Modern War Poems (Edited by Neil Astley, Bloodaxe, April 2014).
The Ghost In The Lobby (Salmon, Spring 2014) is Kevin’s fourth collection of poems."

You'll find the rest of the programme here

I'm a huge Jonathan Swift fan and more than delighted to be taking part in the festival this year. I well remember watching RTE 1 the night Peter O'Toole declaimed Swift's A Modest Proposal at the special event to mark the re-opening of the Gaiety Theatre in 1984. Many in the audience did not understand that A Modest Proposal is a satire and believed that Swift/Peter O'Toole was literally advocating that the babies of the rural poor be prepared for the tables of the wealthy.  Many of the ungreat and the ungood stalked out, there was booing, and the RTE switchboard was jammed with complaints from up an down the country. I was seventeen years old and thought all this was great. 
Recently, I've had a bit of experience myself with people who've had an irony bypass. Yesterday, one lady interpreted this poem as actually being in praise of Jimmy Saville; a couple of weeks back someone interpreted the opening paragraph of this book review as literally advocating that writers should bother less about their writing and instead devote more time to literary networking and wire pulling. The more dimly lit the mind is, the more it tends to self righteousness. Stupid people, you've got to love them. Long may they continue - there's no sign of us running out of stupidity any time soon - and, when the time comes, may Beelzebub show their souls no mercy at all. 

You can read a little more about the reaction to Peter O'Toole's renditon of A Modest Proposal here. See you in Trim on July 12th; it's where all the groovy kids will be headed that day. 

In 2010 I wrote my own modest proposal, suggesting a number of measures to reduce the budget deficit. You can read that here