Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I'm sorry, actually, I can't tell you that or how poems can get stolen

I was having lunch today with Matthew Sweeney and Gerry Murphy in the Farmgate Cafe under their fabulous poetry wall (the great poetry wall of Cork). Last week as one of my dayjob duties I hosted a joint launch of their new books. The boys were so busy signing books for other people (over 90 books sold on the night) that they hadn't got around to exchanging books with each other, so today they finally did just that. Matthew has developed a taste for writing all his book inscriptions in German lately, a language Gerry cannot understand. I was there to assure Gerry that it was complimentary ("to a great friend and an excellent poet"). Gerry wrote "hugs and kisses" for Matthew. Yes, yes, gay in all senses of the word.

As is usual, the topics of conversation strayed far: gossip concerning an editor none of us likes; Neil Prendeville's miraculous discovery that Neurofen Plus works better than Viagra; good and bad literary festivals abroad etc. I can't remember how we got onto the subject of blindness - in spite of the old housewife's connection between that affliction and Prendeville's public past-times. Matthew suddenly said "They've discovered how to make blind people see".

So I asked, do you mean by attaching a piece of technology to the optic nerve?

He said yes. I then proceeded to tell him how there were all different causes of blindness, some where the eyes are perfect but the connection to the brain or within the brain is at fault.

"I read about all different kinds of blindness in a particular neurology book. For instance....." Fortunately my brain was working faster than my mouth and the schema for an entire new poem comparing and contrasting different types of blindness unveiled itself to my mind's inner eye before I continued with the sentence.

"Jeesuz, what am I doing, I'm not going to tell you pair. I'm writing that poem meself."