World-renowned Donegal Poet, Soolabhin Tiernan Mac Giolla Phármingham (more commonly known as ‘An Waftaire’), is at the Donegal Writer’s Centre for Donegal Writers today, launching a collection of his best known works, entitled ‘Donegal Foam’.
Our reporter caught up with the man himself for a cosy chat over a cup of Horlicks.
Out of the poems you’ve written, which is your favourite?
It would have to be the first time I regarded a buttercup, and thought to myself, isn’t that amazing. “Oh Dear Little Buttercup, I See You, Are You Really a Flower, Could your Petals be Blue?” It’s only some years after that magnificently pure moment that I discovered I was blessed with a mild form of colour-blindness, which is one of the reasons I’ve such an urgent and unique take on the world around us, all thanks to that, my first poem in 1956.
What inspires you today?
Everywhere I go, I see an innate poetry in people all over the world and in every animate or inanimate thing, there’s poetry in action. I think I made this point in my 1982 poem about a pencil on a table: “Pencil on the Table, You Could be Poetic, As I Slide you to the Edge, Might you become Kinetic?” It’s this very simple image of the static pencil which reveals so much of the scientific world around us, my only regret is not scooping a Nobel Prize for science that year. A real travesty to the modern world, don’t you think?
Quite! Describe your feelings for Donegal, how do you think it’s changed since you wrote your first poem so many years ago?
I get asked this question a lot, from people all over the world. Regardless of the extent of the industrial and technological advancement Donegal has witnessed over the years; some things just don’t change, like the blind appreciation for any old literal warbling at all. As a poet, I’m not unlike the great Merlin at the court of King Arthur, spewing my magical words to any old ear that will listen. I captured it best in my 1992 piece on the Maastricht treaty: “They tell us to Vote, Instead – Miss the Boat, And Look at This Epic Poem I have Wrote.”
What next for ‘An Waftaire’?
I think nowadays, the internet has caused language to change so much, and I’ve always prided myself on being able to move with the times, here’s an exclusive verse from my latest work, ‘The Bitter Twitter’: “I Move my Thumbs, My Brain is Numb, It Passes the Time on the Sh*tter, LOO? LOL! I’m on Twitter.” A sure hit with ‘the kids’, don’t you think?
END OF INTERVIEW
Our reporter has been taken to Letterkenny General Hospital with a severe case of narcoleptic ear-bleeding…