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Riding The Poetry Bus

Writing.ie | Resources | Words in Many Forms

Peadar O'Donoghue

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Hello, my name is Peadar O’Donoghue and I’m a Bus Driver, that is I’m steering the legendary, mystical magical, world famous Poetry Bus Magazine towards it’s second issue. (what do you mean, you never heard of it?!)

I write things that can, almost understandably, be mistaken for poetry, I take photographs and am a recovering blogaholic. My (recently axed) blog was modestly known as ‘Totalfeckineejit, The World’s Greatest Blog’  and many is the night I wasted ( if indeed they were wasted!) surfing the small hours blogging away about life and poetry. I wittered on and on and out into the ethernet void, an echoless voice singing in the darkness. Then slowly people started talking back and I was hooked! Now this was real writing!

A few more like minded people joined up with me and after a while in a rather arbitrary manner I decided that Mondays could possibly be brightened up by writing a poem.

Initially it was just an experiment, I wanted us all to sit down at the exact same time across the world and just write whatever came into our heads and then post it on our blogs. I wanted to see if there was something in the Zeitgeist, that we might all write similar things. We didn’t, but the seed had been sown. I decided to make it a regular Monday task to write a poem to a theme or prompt, sometimes a song or a word or a photograph. This weekly task needed a name and because we were all so different it reminded me of passengers on a bus, and so The Poetry Bus was born.

I was amazed at the various takes on the one theme and also the quality of some of the writing and as time went on I began to think that some of this work deserved to be published and that a magazine was needed. I had no interest in doing a glorified self published anthology, I wanted a proper magazine for these poets, selected on merit and to mix the work of the bloggers with other invited poets and artists to make the thing special. That was issue one of The Poetry Bus Magazine.

Now PB2 and all future Poetry Bus’s use an open submission policy where everybody and anybody in the whole world could (and thankfully did!) submit. If you’d like to submit to Poetry Bus 3 (Christmas Special) or Poetry Bus 4 please send your very best work, 4 or 5 poems to thepoetrybusmag@gmail.com I’m looking to have my socks knocked off, a speeding bullet between the eyes!

I had thought for a while that there was room for a different type of Poetry Magazine in Ireland, a real alternative that would be seriously good while not taking itself too seriously. It tapped into the mood and energy of the new wave of poets appearing across Dublin at The Glór sessions, Nighthawks, Chapter and Verse, Wurm im apfel and The Brown Bread Mixtape ,to name just a few – young people like Stephen James Smith getting up and creating things doing things, promoting and supporting each other instead of slagging.

I wanted a magazine like that, I wanted a magazine that had the best new poems and poets, not just from Ireland, but around the world. A magazine that people would really want to be seen in and yet feel that they actually had a fair chance of having their work accepted. A vibrant, buzzy, cool, innovative magazine, effervescent with new ideas.

I wanted a magazine with world class contemporary illustration. Poetry Bus 2 for example is extremely fortunate in having illustrations by one of the world’s greatest conceptual and street artists Adam Neate. It has Kevin McSherry, SCALDER (aka Padhraig Nolan) Una Gildea, Benjamin Robinson and if I get enough money for another colour illustration, The Pencil Twins.

To be different, more entertaining and to offer terrific value for money we also have an audio CD of the poets reading their poems which brings a whole new dynamic to the magazine, bringing the printed word to you in the very form it should be in – spoken by the poet (and a bonus track by Martin Egan!)

It’s very interesting to read a poem in your head and then listen to it become a whole different thing altogether when it’s creator performs it. Every magazine should have an audio CD, but on The Poetry Bus has, if you only read the poem, you’re only getting half the experience.

The recordings are all different styles and voices and expressions, some are super confident and crystal clear others more faltering and harder to catch but each has its own charm and potency. One reading (from newcomer Conor O’Reilly) even has a real thunderstorm in the background which adds a certain dramatic atmosphere, I love that!

The funny thing is it can be really hard to get a poem published and if people don’t want to let you in, you won’t get in. But if you want to start a magazine and are fiercely determined to do so, then nobody can really stop you! The way I see it, is that the poetry world is an old leather football, one of those rock hard old fashioned traditional ones with a heavy lace in it and a bladder, it’s shared by a few established teams at the top, an elite who choose the ‘right sort’ to have a kick of the ball. But mainly they just want to keep the ball to themselves, to protect it and preserve it.

After a few spirited attempts to get a kick at this turgid ball I realized they would never let me, so I thought ‘Feck it’ we’ll get our own ball, a new one, lighter brighter and better and share it with everyone (even them!) or at least give everyone an equal chance of scoring a goal. We will be top of the league with skillful star players who score highly but this will allow us a bigger squad and we’ll be comfortable enough to take a few chances on others, encourage them and if we score the odd own goal it won’t sink us.

Naturally we didn’t get any establishment funding for this brilliant magazine, but like I said where there’s a will there’s a way and writer Kate Dempsey pointed me in the direction of Fund It , itself progressive, new, different and forward thinking, a healthy alternative, another new ball. It facilitates and promotes crowd funding via it’s excellent modern website fundit.ie

Basically it gives you a quality platform to reach out to other like minded people, tell them all about your creative project using words images and video, then via a reward system get them to pledge to help fund your project. For example if you pledge € 8 (or more) towards the publication of Poetry Bus 2, you will get a copy of the magazine and the audio CD posted to your front door anywhere in the world. (Hint, hint!!). The downside of Fund It is that if projects don’t reach their target, they lose all the money pledged. At the time of writing, we have achieved 76% of our target of €900 raised from 44 funders: €684. I have a bus load of talent raring to go, all I need is the money for the diesel.

Best wishes,

Peadar O’Donoghue, Bus Driver.

About the author

(c) Peadar O’Donoghue for writing.ie 2011

Peadar is a practising insomniac and recuperating serial blogger. He writes things that from a distance look a bit like poetry and takes photographs. Some of his works have amazingly appeared in magazines including Poetry Ireland Review, The SHOp , The Stinging Fly, Magma,The Dubliner, Village and Revival. Currently he is in charge of driving The Poetry Bus, which has been described as ‘The worlds greatest poetry Magazine’ (Thanks mum.) His ambition is to get a good night’s sleep



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