A Poetic Month In Dublin: ‘One City One Book’


Yes, it’s that time of the year again in Dublin’s fair city when we are all encouraged to read one book with a Dublin theme. ‘One City One Book’ is one of my favourite cultural events of the year so I cannot let it go by without a mention. This year for the first time since its inception in 2006, the organisers have plumped for a poetry anthology rather than choosing a novel. The collection is entitled If Ever You Go: a Map of Dublin in Poetry and Song (Dedalus Press) which was created by Pat Boran and Gerard Smyth especially for this event. Moreover, this poetry collection is heavy on contemporary writers so that the Dublin on the page will be one that many of us will nod in recognition at seeing in print.

I went along to Tuesday’s ‘One City One Book’ event at the National Gallery, which introduced the many fine poets in the collection. The unusual aspect to this book is that the rationale behind the choice of poems is that each poem had to be based upon a building or place in Dublin. Hence the word ‘map’ in the subtitle. You can truly take this brimming volume of poetry on a walk around the city’s streets and read as you go. In theory, any place you can think of will be included here. One exception is the Dandelion Market; the editors couldn’t find a poem to include on the famous market. Similarly, some poets who may be associated with Dublin and yet haven’t written about a named street, building or feature won’t have been selected. Apart from the familiar names of Synge, Yeats and Joyce are included many others such as Boland, Bolger and Meehan to name but a few.

Tuesday’s event was a very lively introduction to both the book and the month’s events. I suspect that Boran and Smyth could cheerfully have gone on reading from If Ever You Go for the rest of the day. I particularly enjoyed though, hearing recordings of Leland Bardwell and Patrick Kavanagh reading (or rather performing) their work. The recording by Kavanagh highlighted the fact that the anthology includes song and ballad lyrics as well as poetry and many items on the events programme have a musical flavour. I picked up plenty of ideas for future reading while listening to the speakers, though I have to confess that I haven’t yet bought a copy of the book. I also discovered that Phil Lynott once wrote and published a volume of verse, which was in poetry terms a best seller.

Check out the list of ‘One City One Book’ events at the link below. Many are free and as far as I can see, many don’t require booking but it’s always best to check. There are walks, talks, workshops, readings and music recitals so do go and explore.

Image courtesy of http://www.dublinonecityonebook.ie

  1. Chris, thanks for piece on If Ever You Go. Send me your address and I’ll happily send you a copy. Thanks for helping spread the word. Cheers, Pat Boran 🙂

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