Linenhall Library Writers’ Forum, my oldest’s writing bug and a library turtle poem…

I was telling my kids about a visit with my beloved to the wonderful Linenhall Library, where we heard new writing read by Glenn Patterson and Sinéad Morrissey. 

Glenn’s words were, of course, highly skilled and dripping with talent. A master craftsman. Doing justice to Sinéad’s poetry remains beyond my vocabulary. The best I can do as a newbie to poetry is this: a roller-coaster of sounds, feelings and textures with playful switches of timing and deep journeys into images and characters. 

Glenn and Sinéad were introduced with genuine pride and even excitement by Michael Nolan and Padraig Regan.

The readings had been organised to mark the launch of the latest Writers’ Forum events at Linenhall Library, which are held as “an opportunity for Northern Irish talent to read pieces, both published and non-published, and share their work with an audience”.

The chance to hear Glenn Patterson and Sinéad Morrissey read work with a flavour of how it sounds (and feels) to them was priceless. 

Future events will also feature new writers. Further details from Linenhall Library.

When I told them about the event my girls asked me if we could write a poem too. I’m not a poet, however our attempt is below.

With apologies to Sinéad Morrissey as well as thanks to my beloved, the writers/ hosts and to the Linenhall Library for a truly wonderful evening….

The Writing Bug and the Library Turtles

My oldest has the writing bug, a joy for me to see. Dogs and cats and talking pets, sparked by rows of rainbow-coloured paperback adventures.

My youngest likes to build things for Ninja Turtles and Lego and a cat called Ginger White Love. A beach-house with a Bar-B-Que for Leonardo, roofless rooms for pizza and green plastic shields.

She could build us a library to fill with books and animal epics, happy and messing and surrounded by words of four-legged daring. And a turtle land in Aisle B, Shredder and Krang defeated between the legs of readers in lost vast worlds.


Teachers – putting the hop in happy kids 

I have a problem with a teacher my oldest had in primary school. But a good problem.

To this day, every time I see the two of them in the same room, my oldest bounces up and down with delight. And the pair of them clap their hands and chatter like a pair of, well, very happy kids. The teacher usually smiles and says “she’s always hopping!”.

I find it genuinely moving to see and always walk away in awe of the heart and dedication that must be behind that kind of trust and generosity of spirit. The problem being that I’m always too reserved to say a huge thanks.

We all have teachers we remember clearly from many years ago. But nothing is so stark a reminder that teachers have a hand on the future, and lifelong memories, of your child than seeing a scene like the one I described.

Then there’s another person who taught my daughter: she proudly calls him The Messer – a title normally reserved for myself and my dad for our habit of acting like kids ourselves – as she comes home with stories of jokes and magic tricks.

And my youngest: I remember sitting her on my knee for lots of hugs when a favourite teacher was moving to a new school.

It makes me think back to a Primary Seven teacher from my day of BBC computers and handout sheets in purple Parma Violet ink. Over 30 years ago and I can still remember the passion and obvious love for his calling as he went off-curriculum on long but completely engaging talks about everything from religion and World War Two to personal hygiene, getting us to take turns story or joke-telling along the way.

But there’s something I’ve never been able to tell that teacher who makes makes my oldest bounce with joy.

Why does she hop? She hops because of you. And because of your colleagues. And she loves school because the people there love to teach.