The first time I ever attended a poetry reading was in Kilkenny many years ago. Carol Ann Duffy was reading from one of her collections. I laughed until I cried, and then I felt the first pangs of jealousy.
When I first read Brendan Kennelly’s poetry, little did I know that a few years later, I would meet him and be taught by him in Trinity College in Dublin. He taught me drama. It was a module required as part of the English undergraduate degree course. I was in fact a very mature student by the time I made it to Trinity. In every Drama class I wanted to speak to Brendan about poetry but I never dared, and every time I read his poetry I wanted to write poetry.
It takes twenty years apprenticeship to become a poet, Paul Durcan told us one evening in 2010 at a poetry reading in Fighting Words, the creative writing centre in Dublin where I volunteer. It was my first time to hear Paul Durcan read and I loved it. It was the beginning of another love affair with a different poet and a different poetic voice. I wrote the little poem below that night.
I once read that Poet is a posthumous title but I don’t agree. I can’t allow myself to agree. A poet is someone who writes poetry, who loves to write poetry and to share it with the world. That is why I now love to call myself a poet, even if it is only in the silence of the room where I write. I want to feel the feeling now. I can’t bear to wait for that time when I won’t be around to hear someone else give me the title.
The August Poet
Paul Durcan made me a poet
One evening in June, two thousand and ten,
When at a poetry reading he said,
“It takes twenty years apprenticeship to become a poet.
Patrick Kavanagh himself told me that.”
“I am nearly there then,” I whispered to myself,
with delight, that night.
“I am nearly a poet.
I have been writing poetry for nineteen years and ten months.
By August I will be a poet.”
I am a poet.
© Eithne Reynolds