Lisa Gibbons

Director and Outreach for this year's 'Bring Your Limericks To Limerick Literary Festival'

John Rainsford

Reporter:

John Rainsford

Lisa Gibbons

A ‘Limerick Lady’ from the heart of the city, I went to Scoil Íde for primary school, Laurel Hill for secondary school, and later studied Arts at the University of Limerick.

In 2012, though, I grew some wings and found myself travelling and working in Vancouver, Canada. Two years later, I returned to Ireland and I am now based in Dublin. Having assisted in Directing many successful events both here and in Canada I jumped at the opportunity of being involved with ‘The Limericks Summer Festival’. Dominic Taylor from the Limerick Writers’ Centre (LWC) helped with the development of the competition. Initially we set our sights on International audiences for The Gathering Festival (2012) which was ambitious but, in fact, we received entries from over 16 countries (including South Africa and Australia).

As a Director, you yearn to lead (but I don’t mean control!)

To invest time in a project I really need to feel that I am offering something new. ‘The Limericks Festival’, for example, combines my twin loves for poetry and marketing. Festivals and events are all about bringing people with similar interests together. Being then able to move things forward in a strategic manner, promoting Limerick City, and acting as an ‘outreach’ to all communities, is a dream come true. However, organising a festival is no easy task. So, to give-up on Limerick, which is the home of ‘The Limerick’, would be a lost opportunity. In fact, it is to be greatly hoped that an annual programme of events built around the festival will be a legacy for our City both now and in the future.

Last year, I assisted in organising an annual walking festival in Kerry, with walkers and nature enthusiasts from all over the world.

Poetry, like walking, is something that is accessible to everyone. People often use it as a means of escape. No subject, theme or attitude, is off limits. Language gives everyone the freedom to explore and to say how they truly feel through the medium of words. Today, I participate in an online poetry forum where members share thoughts, words and experiences. I keep my personal poetry private but the beauty of poetry is that anyone can harness their inner creativity if they put pen to paper. Sharing how you feel, even if it is just about a subject in five lines, can be very liberating. I fell in love with Derek Walcott’s poetry when I was younger. When you read poetry you should be able to feel, taste and hear the words on the page. Walcott uses his poetry to carve out notions of identity while tapping into the emotions of the poet.

My father was a budding entrepreneur, bursting with new innovations and my mother is one of the hardest workers I know.

They always encouraged me to be creative and greatly shaped my love for turning ideas into reality. Without passion there are no dreams, no hopes, no willingness to work hard at something; passion is the longing required for anything to grow. If I hear of a project that is expanding, where people have come together due to a similar interest, I get hooked. I have participated in innovation seminars where you have the chance to hear individuals speak of their hunger for success, this is where my inspiration comes from. I spoke at a Tech Summit in the RDS last year where you had the chance to meet people from all walks of life who are not only driven for themselves but transfer energy to each other. For me, success, therefore, has nothing to do with achieving fame or financial gains. Instead, it means waking-up happy to be doing what you do, at least five days a week. Time passes quickly so we need to be sure that it is well spent.

Complex notions of identity have never really left the Irish and in the process became our muse.

Rural Ireland, may indeed feel, that they continually suffer from their position on the side-lines but it is this alienated stance that makes us so unique. For example, Limerick’s troubled past may seem like a sore point for some, but for me, it is essential. It is the reason why we are bursting with stories to be told. Without these stories communities are lost. Currently, I am reading a book called ‘Sapiens’ by Yuval Noah Harari. It describes the evolution of humankind as an imagined order, pre-dating our foraging ancestors. With the cognitive revolution, around 70,000 years ago, came imagination, learning, and innovative ways of thinking. Our language enabled us to share inner ideas and emotions which was crucial to our development. Without those myths, we wouldn’t have been able to survive and prosper.

The Arts in Ireland are thriving at the moment; however, funding is a massive issue nationwide.

For example, my brother is a tenor, who has been to Stuttgart, Amsterdam and Vienna, to research their facilities. These countries invest heavily in artistic infrastructure. Sadly, this forward thinking isn’t at all evident here in Ireland. Personally, I think we need to focus on supporting local talent, whether that be through smaller grants, part-time funding, or employment for key individuals. This would mean that people better understand that the funding pot is more accessible. Currently, it feels like it is reserved only for the ‘big players’. Wouldn’t it be better to have every small initiative supported rather than focusing on one or two potential revenue generators? Tourism Ireland, for example, has done an excellent job in harnessing local talent, the government and Arts Council should follow suit!

‘Bring Your Limericks To Limerick Literary Festival’ will take place from August 25 – 27. For more information visit: https://limericksfest.wixsite.com/ limerickliteraryfest and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/irishpoetryfest/