The Viva Voice

Demonstrate your Poetic Prowess…

Join us for a lively afternoon of poetry, song and story. Participate in the ‘Open Mic’ where prize money will be awarded for the best performed original poem and the best performed Hartnett poem. Prize money of €300 for the Viva Voce winner in the original poem category and €100 for best read Hartnett Poem.

Viva Voce adjudicating panel: James Harpur, Helena Close and Paddy Bushe.
Venue: Ned Lynch’s, The Square, then onto Cartlidge’s Pub, Maiden Street.
Bí Linn agus Fáilte / All Welcome

Viva Voce 2011 Winners

2011 marked the second year of the Michael Hartnett Viva Voce competition. It was a very lively afternoon with a healthy interest in the original poem category and in the best performed Hartnett poem category. Noel King from Tralee was selected as the winner in the original poem category for his poem ‘The Statistics and I.’ The announcement of the joint winners of the best read Hartnett poem was greeted with great applause when Newcastle West locals Margaret Cahill and Sean Kelly shared the ‘necklace of wrens’. Margaret read ‘On those who stole my cat a curse’ and Sean read ‘The Maiden Street Ballad’

Open Competition Winner: Noel King

Sadly since this happy day at Eigse Michael Hartnett 2011, the Joint Winner in the Hartnett Viva Voce section Ms. Margaret Cahill has passed away. A very popular winner on the day with her reading of Hartnett’s ‘On Those Who Stole My Cat A Curse’, Margaret was a great enthusiast and participant in arts events in Newcastle West and her bright spirit will be missed at this year’s Éigse.
Ar Dheis Dé A Anam Dilis

Viva Voce 2010 Winners

Open Competition Winner: Mike Gallagher.
Hartnett Competition Winner: Louis Mulcahy

Mike Gallagher, Hartnett Viva Voce Winner 2010 has been published extensively throughout Europe, America and Australia. Born on Achill Island, County Mayo, he lived for 40 years in London and personally experienced the sense of displacement, despair and anger that emigration visited on previous generations, an experience that is now being forced on a new generation. His poem “Stick on Stone” which was chosen as the winning Viva Voce reflects these emotions.

The Statistics and I

by Noel King

As an Irish citizen of Palestinian origin, stating my country of birth often poses a problem, never more so than in completing Daonáireamh na hÉireann (Census of Population of Ireland, Sunday, April 10th 2011).

I mean Jesus, Mary and Joseph
were surely not asked as many questions in the time of Caesar Augustus. My birthplace, Beit Jela,
lies in what is now the Israeli-occupied, West Bank.
Until 1948, it was Palestine.
But when I was born in 1951, it was under Jordanian rule
and I received a Jordanian Birth Certificate.
It was occupied by Israel in 1967
and is now referred to as the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).
So, as I try to fill it all in
I notice I can only put in 17 characters for my answer,
so that officially sanctioned name – Occupied Palestinian Territories
does not fit. I wasn’t sure if OPT was a recognised abbreviation,
so I called the Central Statistics Office help-line.

A very helpful boy put me through to a very helpful girl, who put me through to a very, very helpful girl, who put me on hold before putting me through to a very helpful boy who assures me he has trained as a statistician and the people in his department are statisticians too and after much consultation between me, my statistician and the rest of the statisticians the spokesman speaks:
“we all know it’s occupied… so… Sir, you should just simply put down’ Palestine'”. Which I have done with pride and satisfaction.

© Noel King

Stick on Stone

By Mike Gallagher

We knew each other only as men
Emigration saw to that:
Him in London, me in Achill,
Me in London, him in Luton.
Even living together, we remained
Strangers in a rented room,
Speaking, not talking,
Robbed of our relative roles.

Sure, there were memories –
One golden Dukinella day
When Mick, the Yank, called;
We straddled a low stone wall,
Talked of Wimpy and McAlpine,
Roads and bridges,
Digs and pubs;
The boy was man!

A lunchtime booze in Wandsworth;
Three of us now living in London,
Yet chatting only the once.
Inheritance was split, spoils divided,
Unequally, but with good humour,
Pádraig was always his favourite – and mine.

Nights in Castlebar hospital
After the emigrant’s dreaded summons:
Come now, while he still knows you.
Between the awkward silences,
Came words of stuttered support;
And he survived – again and again.

I almost made it, that last time,
Got to Westport before news
Of our final silence.
Now, as I walk in Dromawda,
His gnarled stick, a stolen spoil,
Taps the unsaid
On the tarstone road.

© Mike Gallagher