CONTEMPLATING THE MUSE – Linda Ibbotson features Annette Skade

Tony Floyd Kenna | September 18, 2013 | 0 Comments


No 5

Linda Ibbotson

“Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen “
Leonardo Da Vinci
Thank you for joining me again on my poetic journey. Last time, we were wandering “In the Garden of the Lunar Grapefruit”, a suite of poems by Federico Garcia Lorca, and enjoying the poetry of Leonard Cohen.
Now, autumn is donning her garment decorated with rich colors.  Softly fading pastels of summer sweet peas that clamber with delicate tendrils up hazel wigwams stand astride the bold russet red dahlia blooms next to giant golden pumpkins.. As with nature,such is music, art, and poetry too,  Each glorious unique piece being, both complementary and harmonious.
No better place than to see this splendor is in the 7 acres of gardens at Lismore Castle. Co Waterford., The Yew Avenue walkway is thought to be the inspiration for Edmund Spencers “Faerie Queen.” and can be enjoyed  as part of a cultural evening including an exhibition launch, music  and poetry 20th September 6pm-9pm (No entry charge) where my next guest will be reading poetry along with fellow poet Kathy D’Arcy.
I am delighted to introduce you to Annette Skade.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m from Manchester and still have strong ties with the city. I moved to Ireland over twenty years ago and I live on the beautiful Beara Peninsula in the South West. I have three grown up children. I recently won the Cork Literary review Manuscript Competition and my first collection, “Thimblerig” was published in July 2013. I’ve also been published in the Poets meet Painters anthologies, The SHOp Poetry Magazine, Abridged and the most recent Cork Literary Review.
When/why did you start writing?
Although I’ve loved reading poetry all my life, I only started writing it about ten years ago when a friend persuaded me to go to a poetry workshop. My first reaction was “Why would I go? I don’t write.” I started slowly at first and I was hesitant about my own voice. A turning point for me was a week-long poetry workshop with Paula Meehan, now Professor of Poetry in Ireland, at Anam Cara Writer’s and Artist’s Retreat Centre in Beara. I learnt so much from her, not least to trust myself and what I wanted to say.
As creative people we are often influenced by music / travel /nature/ art etc What influences your creativity.?
My poetry is largely a response to what I see and hear, or remember seeing and hearing. I find most of life amazing or strange. A grain of something scratches away at the back of my brain: something in nature or the city, a piece of art or music,a photograph,  people I’ve met, a story or phrase someone has spoken, a memory. This process may take days or weeks. Then I grab a pen and splurge it out. Afterwards the work starts! But the process of writing and re-writing becomes quicker as I work my craft.
I would love to hear about highlights in your writing career..
My writing career has been relatively short. Getting published in my first poetry magazine was wonderful. The poem was called “The Boat Train” and it was published in The SHOp. Then I did an MA in Poetry Studies at DCU (the inspired vision of Michael Hinds). This was in reading poetry not writing it. I got a First and, in the same week I graduated,  I heard that I had won the Manuscript Competition for the publication of a first collection. I was so amazed it took about fifteen minutes of a telephone conversation with the publishers Bradshaw Books, before I could take it in! I urge anyone to try for this prize. I was a rank outsider and I won.
I was also delighted to be in the Cork Literary Review recently. I’ve four poems in there, one next to John Clare’s “I am”. He’s one of my favourite poets of all time. One of the poems included is “Kist Burial”. Bernard O’Donoghue critiqued it at a short informal workshop a few years ago and was very positive about it, which I was delighted about as I love his poetry. I little thought that a few years later the poem would be in a publication alongside his poems.
In July Ruth Padel launched my book “ Thimblerig” which was a great thrill for me. I admire her work enormously. This was a local launch and many of my friends were there. It was so wonderful to see their faces on a landmark day for me.
I’m also really looking forward to reading at one of my favourite places in Ireland, Lismore castle, on Culture Night September 20th. Kathy D’Arcy, another Bradshaw poet, and I will be reading at 8pm.
What motivates you to keep writing ?
I’m tempted to say I continue to write because it has become my default way of expressing myself, of explaining things to myself, but this is only half true. A tipping point for me was winning the manuscript prize. Although I’d been published a few times, I had been rejected so many, many more! I was beginning to feel that, although I had a voice, nobody particularly wanted to listen to it. A measure of success got me writing on a daily basis and it is undoubtedly true that the more you write, the more you’re able to write – a  bit like hardening finger-ends by playing guitar.
Ambitions / goals for the future ?
I have a demanding job which sometimes takes up all my head-space. I’m at the stage where I need to take the risk of re-arranging my life so I can prioritise writing. My goal is to do that in the very near future. I’m also working towards a second collection.
Other writers you admire ?
I’m very influenced by the Northern England poet, Basil Bunting. I love the simple, charged words he used in his poetry, his belief that poetry should be about things, not philosophies, and that poetry is dead on the page until some voice brings it to life. He believed a poem should have the qualities of a piece of music and that, like music, it should be laid on the air.
I also love Elizabeth Bishop for her keen, shifting perspectives, Anne Carson for her fusing of past and present,  Lavinia Greenlaw for her sharp, true eye and above all Seamus Heaney for all these things, and for his translations of Greek plays and Beowulf. I’ve met Seamus Heaney, as many people in Ireland have done as he was so generous with his time, but I didn’t know him. Yet when I heard of his death I felt someone had torn a hole in the sky. He was a fixed point around which all other poetry moved. On the day of his death I felt we’d lose our bearings, but now I’m trying to remind myself that his poems are still there.
Information and reviews of Annettes collection.
‘A couple of lines from one of Annette Skade’s poems describe perfectly the
scope of vision in the book Thimblerig —
at once small as a wormhole
and wide as the curve of star-netted space.
Always there is language reaching to say more than the words themselves
allow, to transform the quotidian and mirror it back at us as pure magic’
Paula Meehan
‘These poems of sea and land, of birth and death, face the great issues; but they face them with a wit and matter-of-factness which recognize that, except for luck and chance, they might not have existed at all. The theme is absorbingly sustained throughout this brilliant book
Bernard O’Donoghue’
13th July 2013, ISBN: 978-1-905-374-37-3, Paperback: 66 pages, Price: €15.00, Bradshaw Books, Civic Trust House, 50 Pope’s Quay, Cork City
Tel: 021 421 5175
Annette Skade’s Thimblerig is a strikingly original first collection. Her poems show a gifted vitality with regard to language and in turn, her subject matter and even titles are imbued with a sense of saying something differently, from ‘A Map of My House in Terms of Light’ to ‘Garden Geometry’ lies an interesting otherworldliness. It is as if, in her own words, ‘I’ve tried to explain the strangeness of working without the sun…’ Annette Skade is from Manchester. She moved to the Beara Peninsula, in West Cork, in 1989. She has just completed an MA in Poetry Studies from D C U, where she read everything from Anne Carson to the York Mystery Plays, Elizabeth Bishop to Maurice Scully. She is a member of the Bantry Writers’ Group and her poems have recently appeared in the SHOp poetry magazine, and
Abridged. She is the winner of the 2012 Cork Literary Review Competition 2012. Thimblerig is her first collection.
Here are 3 of Annette’s poems.

Cello Lessons

Is it the low ostinato
as wheel hits expansion joint,
or the way we sway lightly,
in time, towards a single point;
how our eyes track rails,
electric cables, telephone poles
that prompts him to tell me of cellos?
That the back of a cello is a fingerprint,
that photographs are filed
of colour, wood grain, signs of wear;
that great cellos are not made
except by time. They belong
to no one: always passed on
from musician to musician;
that the cello played by Yo-Yo Ma
was once in the hands
of Jacqueline du Pré
I lean on the headrest,
think gently
on safekeeping
and surrender.


Corded wrist, thick fingers
set down the pint glass, snatch again
at the coil of rope round his ankle
as it drags him over the side.
This is how we live through survival,
telling and retelling: how the gear
swept him into chest-piercing water,
left him helpless from the jolt.
How he swung in thick dark,
worked his hand loose,
worked out  which way was up,
freed his foot from the noose
and climbed up to the surface:
the side of the boat like a building,
faces of mates high on the rail,
waiting for his body to come up.
He told them how he did it:
the plans in bunk
for every type of escape;

Reading Poetry in a Car outside the Trafford Centre

I’ve tried to explain the strangeness of
working without the sun, bundled
with countless others down consumer cataracts,
all seeking their own seeking:
Netbook; IPod; BlackBerry;
a token; a statement; a trophy.
No east or west, no horizon,
small wonder I read to the last second.
Words rise as I cross the car park;
the tread of feet
on pink marble is a heartbeat,
the weaving in and out
a dance that we all know
and this shopping mania a gathering.
Links Book on Bradshaw Books website
Notes: Picture number 5 shows Annette with Ruth Padel.

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Category: Poetry & Literature