About a month ago I was invited to Borris House in Borris Co Carlow to the festival of Writing and ideas. The premise of the festival is to allow artists, mainly writers to come together and discuss their craft and whatever else they might wish.
PJ Harvey spoke to Anne Enright. They discussed the process of creation – maturity, subject matter, and research. PJ’s last album ‘Let England Shake’ is about war. PJ spent a great deal of time and energy researching the subject. She went to great lengths to take herself out of the narrative and leave the listener with a module of emotion and information that did not try and enforce or sell any one idea or point of view. She worked with Seamus Murphy to make a series of short films to go with the songs and music. I saw one on the day and it was beautiful. She comes across as a powerhouse with a selfless devotion to her work. A scholar.
The land in Borris is rich. Trees follow the undulating earth way off into the distance. The sun brought everyone out and it felt like we were blessed. I met a day old foal who was born on Friday night.
I met Ben Okri and spent a fleeting hour sharing a stage with him discussing his life and work. I asked him had he any stalkers because I did! A voice from the house responded “they are all here”!
He read a poem in honour of his father…’O Lion! Roam no more.’ and one for his mother ‘My Mother Sleeps.’ These he delivered with great power at the beginning and at the end of the conversation. He also read ‘The Mysterious Anxiety of Them and Us’ – a type of short story in Haiku style. I can only recommend finding it and reading it. His work is astounding. He said he takes, often, six months to read a book to do proper justice to and to fully experience the work. Also a book is such a wonderful thing why rush finishing it?
He is a man of great generosity. I admire the man who is willing to wrestle with his mind and give the time to exposing himself through the medium of a story. A book is a great thing.