On Wednesday Oct. 13, West Chester had the privilege of welcoming Irish poet Micheal O’Siadhail to Phillips Autograph Library for a craft lecture and a reading of his work. According to Poetry Center Director, Dr. Kim Bridgford, O’Siadhail’s visit is a part of the new global emphasis initiative the University is in the process of implementing, as well as a goal of the new Poetry Center. “I think it’s exciting for WCU because of the global emphasis. It’s important to have an international [emphasis] because of the quality of West Chester Students Art should be shared. Micheal O’Siadhail is the perfect place to start.” Bridgford said.
The reason why O’Siadhail is a prime example of this global emphasis, because his work is influenced by the places he has traveled and the languages he speaks.
“I have a terrible disease. I cannot bear to go to a country where I don’t know the language. I hate being a tourist. I like to be a visitor” O’Siadhail said.
O’Siadhail dubs Japan as the most influential place he has been, calling it “a great marriage between Eastern and Western culture.”
The craft lecture which took place during the afternoon was based upon the form of the sonnet. O’Siadhail covered the history of the sonnet and paid homage to users of the sonnet throughout history like Shakespeare, Donne and Thomas Wyatt. He brought to the forefront how these writers used the sonnet differently, as well as the evolution of the form. According to a student who attended the lecture, it was interesting to how the sonnet in its simple form affects the world of poetry on many levels.
The reading took place at 7p.m. and was centered on readings from two of O’Siadhail’s books: “Globe” and “Love Life. “The two books are an example of the contrast that O’Siadhail likes to use in his work between extremely personal and impersonal pieces. “Love Life” is a collection of poetry chronicling O’Siadhail’s 36-year relationship with his wife, and is about the dynamic between two people. “Globe,” a more recent collection, focuses on the ideas of globalization, embracing social change and the dynamic between humanity. A text messaging and cyberspace are relevant themes in Globe and this was evident when O’Siadhail shared the poem entitled Footprint.
The reading started with O’Siadhail reciting the poem Consentina from the book “Love Life.” He then spoke about different synonyms for the act of marriage and read a poem based on the words “knot,” “slice,” “hitch” and “plunge.” The poem was separated into four sections based on the words, a method that O’Siadhail is accustomed to both in individual poem and whole collections. “Globe”
is separated into four sections according to the theme of the poem.
For example, part three, called “Wounded Memory” is about how we as a society remember world tragedies, with titles such as Bushmen and Palistine. Part two describes what O’Siadhail refers to as Knot-Tying, the knot-tyers being influential people throughout history. During the evening he read a poem about Nelson Mandela to exemplify this. The evening was ended with the recitation of the poem Overview.
Samantha Greenberg is fourth-year English major with a minor in journalism and can be reached at SG655862@wcupa.edu.