In Conversation with Trudie Gorman | Guest Bloggers | Poetic Licence

Ben Simmons

To Love This Body, an evening curated by acclaimed Dublin poet Trudie Gorman, will showcase three women writers who explore themes of class, gender, and the body, with new work from Trudie Gorman, together with poetry from Sophie Meehan and Rosaleen McDonagh and music from special guest Lisa Gorry. Hosted by Poetry Ireland, this free event will take place in the beautiful surrounds of Belvedere House, Dublin City University, St. Patrick’s Campus, Drumcondra, Dublin 9 on the evening of Thursday 24th March.

For more information and to book your place, visit Poetry Ireland’s events page

Photograph of Trudie Gorman

In advance To Love This Body, I had the pleasure of speaking to Trudie Gorman. We discussed the subjects that inspire her to write and poetry’s powers of change and resistance.

Q. I would like to begin by asking, what drew you to poetry as a writer?

A. I came to poetry kind of late in my writing process. It was in my early 20s and when I started going to open mics in Dublin. I guess coming across a spoken word and feeling really energised by the work that I was seeing and the kind of shared process of vulnerability in those spaces and. I became really interested in spoken word as a medium and started writing spoken word pieces and performing spoken word pieces. I did that for a few years and then for the last few years I wanted to focus on my written word.I guess I also really wanted a collection of work to be the thing that I focused on for exploring the themes that I am exploring, which are class, poverty and illness,  because those are themes that aren’t often spoken about in the in the literature world, and so I wanted to bring them into those spaces and that’s why I focused on poetry and it’s written craft. I really believe in poetry as a process and a tool of resistance and of social change. I really admire the work of the likes of Audre Lorde and Bell Hooks. And so yeah, I guess I really believe in poetry as a process of empowerment, and I also use it in my work as a community worker. I wanted to bring those sorts of values into how I approach a collection of poems as well.

Q. What inspired you to curate the event To Love This Body?

A. I’ve been working on a body of work, a poetry pamphlet, for the last year and a half.  with the support of Arts and Disability Ireland and the Arts Council and with Poetry Ireland as my arts partner. As part of that process, there was always the plan to have a showcase of some sort and. I was always working closely with Poetry Ireland to bring that about.  It could have been a showcase just entirely of my work, but, I guess, I didn’t really want it to just centre on my voice. I wanted to include the voices of other women writers who are, at the moment, writing about similar themes and exploring topics that are often silenced in society at large and also in the  literary community. It felt really important to showcase multiple voices, speaking these lived experiences, of experiencing poverty, of experiencing class inequality and chronic illness.

When I thought about curating an event to involve other voices, I was really drawn to the work of Rosaleen McDonagh, who is an amazing writer and both nonfiction and poetry, and Sophie Meehan who is also a really fantastic writer exploring her experience of being a working-class woman and of living with illness as well

Q. The line up is a diverse and very engaged group of creative minds? How has engagement with other artists impacted your own work?

A. The work of Rosaleen McDonagh, who is a really prolific writer, she’s produced this body of work,  a collection of essays called Unsettled where she explores the interconnection between her identity as a traveller, woman and a woman with disability. Seeing that being done and being received within the mainstream literary community is really inspiring, but it’s also paving the way for writers coming from marginalised backgrounds to share their stories and to have their voices heard too. I really admire Roslyn McDonald’s writing and who she is as a person.

Sophie Meehan,  who’s another amazing writer and friend,  she’s the co-founders of the Irish Working Class Archive. We share a similar background and a lot of similar values in terms of how we sort of moved through the world as artists and want that art to be socially engaged and want it to speak about the sort of gritty, not always pretty, reality of what it’s like to come from a working class background, but also celebrating that fact.So yeah, they are two writers that I really admire and have been definitely inspired by and impacted by.

Q. Writing about To Love this Body you say, “We live in a society which silences the voices of the poor and the il”. What is the reason behind combining these different voices addressing some of the structural issues you mention? Do you think it starts with more open conversations in a creative space? 

A. I’ve experienced this strange phenomena in Ireland, where people are afraid to say  the word class as well.  Which, you know,  it’s just a very strange thing. There’s this sort of language now used around “socioeconomic background”, which obviously is an important language to be used in policy making, but I think there is a sort of fear around saying the word class and acknowledging that we live in a class-based society. Just because it, maybe, looks different to what class might look like in the UK doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist here, and doesn’t shape our experiences of the world. I think with the events, we’re hopefully doing things on two levels. On one it is honouring these voices and what they have to say and that it’s okay to speak about this. It’s also okay to speak about this stuff in the literary world which has traditionally been, you know,  quite middle class. That’s definitely part of what we wanted to do and it’s what it comes back to, what I believe  that poetry and art has the power to do. I think that it’s really important to name the world as we experience it, in order to to change it. And I think there’s a massive power in that and  it can be done very  engagingly, viscerally and beautifully through poetry. Yes, I think it’s very important to have these conversations. Through shared dialogue and making these experiences of marginalisation, of poverty, of illness visible, it then means, hopefully, that can have a knock on effect in how people advocate for their own needs and become critically aware of their own experiences and voice them. 

For more information and to book your place, visit Poetry Ireland’s events page

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