BORN in Killaloe, some of my happiest memories are of going into Limerick as a child to attend Mass, or just for a trip out on a Sunday.
This background featured, later, in some of my poems, for example ‘City Mass’. I began my education at the convent girl’s primary school, and then, attended St. Anne’s Community College, (both are in Killaloe). After this, I studied Fine Art Sculpture at Limerick School of Art and Design (LSAD). I can’t say that I enjoyed national school, but I had two spectacular teachers in secondary school namely, Ms. Mellett for art, and the late Ms. McDonnell, for English. However, LSAD was my happiest period of education, I absolutely loved it there. I made great friends and had wonderful tutors like, Tom Fitzgerald, Sean Taylor and the lovely Martin Folan (RIP). Indeed, I might go back to college yet, in order to study English.
Thankfully, my parents supported my life decisions.
My Dad is a great musician and I grew-up with a lot of music in the house. I tended to listen to the lyrics and found the poetry within them. So that was a big influence on my own work. My parents never discouraged me from studying art, even though it wasn't the most practical choice, in terms of earning potential. Reading and writing were, also, very important in my house growing-up and I was taught to read the newspaper before ever going to school. Indeed, I always had a book in my hand from an early age. From about the age of eight on I, also, kept a journal, and as I grew older, poems featured prominently in it. That was how it all began.
It was always my ambition to be either an artist or a poet.
If I had to choose, I would choose poetry, even though I didn't study it at college. I have been writing poetry since my teens and I love it, it acts as a release for me. I think of it as something that I have to do for my own health and for the good of those around me, too. I write mostly about relationships, love, family, and also about my health. I have Bipolar Disorder and the experiences I have had as a result of that diagnosis, have fed deeply into my work as a poet. I, also, tend to read a lot of poetry, so the passion stems from that. I like the confessional poets, particularly, the likes of Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath. However, I still paint from time to time, with some of this work appearing on my website. In fact, one of my paintings will be published in the next issue of ‘The Ogham Stone’ so I will be attending the launch of that.
My debut book is made-up mostly of work that has been written in the last five to six years, since my diagnosis.
A lot of this material is about my struggle with that, with hospitalisation, and with the impact that it has had on my relationships with those close to me. The book is entitled; ‘The Chaos Within’, which comes from a Nietzsche quote, where he said: ‘One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star’. Hopefully, this book will turn out to be my own ‘dancing star’, featuring as it does poems about health, love, relationships and children.
Although, this is my very first book, to date, I have had work published in selected poetry journals down through the years.
For example, in ‘The Creel’, ‘Crannog’, ‘Electric Acorn’, in Dublin and ‘Haiku Harvest’, in the USA. Most of the poems that were published in these journals will appear in ‘The Chaos Within’. If you are a writer it is something that you can’t help doing, in effect you write because you have to. You might get dry spells, everyone does, but you will always go back to it. Even if you never make your name at it, that persistent urge to write makes you want to be a writer. That said, it is very difficult to be a writer (or any type of an artist) in the current climate. Funding for the arts is always the first to be hit in a recession and it is a struggle to make policy makers understand the importance of art at times like this. No matter what the financial situation may be, we need the arts, as much as we need the air we breathe.
Everyone should be encouraged to be a writer, or an artist, for that matter.
It is important to follow your heart wherever that might lead you. There are plenty of supportive groups around. For example, the writers, David Rice and Kathleen Thorne, run a wonderful monthly writers’ group, of which I am a member. There are about 25 of us in all, moving around from house to house every month, although David and Kathleen graciously end-up hosting it most of the time. It is really inspiring to attend, because there is invariably a good mixture of poetry and prose. So, I always come away feeling renewed!
Deirdre Grimes will be doing a reading of a new poem at the launch of ‘Crannog’ magazine, at the Crane Bar, Galway on February 26. Her debut book ‘The Chaos Within’ will be published by Revival Press this March. For more information about the writer please see the website www.deirdregrimes.com and Facebook (‘Deirdre Grimes Poet/Artist’). Alternatively, please contact Dominic Taylor, Community Literature Officer of The Limerick Writers’ Centre on 087-2996409 or email: email@example.com