Meet Erin Fornoff, Digital Slam winner

Wednesday 25 September 2013

We are handing this blog space over to the winner of our Digital Slam, Dublin based American poet, Erin Fornoff. Check out her winning StAnza Digital Slam performance here.

In this post, Erin tells us a little about her background, her favourite poets and what she's doing performance wise in the lively poetry and spoken work scene across the Irish Sea.

I am from Asheville, North Carolina, a hippie town in the middle of the Bible Belt of the Appalachian Mountains--the prettiest place on earth! I work for a charity doing social entrepreneurship, and spend my days talking to social visionaries about how they are changing the world and how they got to be the way they are--a privilege. I have lived in Dublin for the past four and a half years.

I came from a creative family and read constantly but was always more focused on visual art. When I was in college, I did nothing artistic, but I got to be friends with a gang that was writing a thousand lines of poetry for their senior thesis. The group also went to a local dive bar every Thursday after class for pitchers of beer with the professor. I'd join them sometimes (the pitchers were free), I loved all the artistic chatter, and started wondering if I could write poems too. I decided to try and write one. I worked on it for ages--about whitewashing a house, badly, during a brief sojourn in Spain--and submitted it to the University literary journal's poetry contest. I was floored when it won first prize! Baffling to me now, I didn't write one again for years and years until I moved to Dublin and was swept up in the thriving literary scene here, my favorite part of which is performance based. I found a home and a crew and an endless source of inspiration in the basement bars and festival tents where poetry comes alive in a different way. I found some great friends who were extremely supportive, got me on stage and clapped after, and I will never forget it.

My favorite poets and influences are too many to mention--Mary Oliver and her journeys and wild geese was an early first love; and Philip Levine with his poems about eating potatoes with butter and salt and "Can you taste what I am saying?";  and Richard Wilbur and his daughter and how he "hoped everything I hoped for her before, but harder"; Billy Collins and the sheep and the Gutenberg Bible; Gerald Manley Hopkins and his "heart in hiding/stirred for a bird"; Hafiz and casting all his votes for dancing; Langston Hughes and jazz like a hypodermic needle; Emily Dickinson's "If your nerve, Deny you/ Go above your nerve"; and Yeats and his romantic Ireland (or lack thereof). Others include Goodie Mob, the hip hop poets of the Dirty South, my mates Colm Keegan, John Cummins, Kalle Ryan, Stephen James Smith, and those astonishing English musical hybrids Kate Tempest and Dizraeli.

Upcoming I have a few gigs, I'm doing one end of October at Farmleigh House where the Queen stayed when she was here, with my Glastonbury friend Hollie McNish and another friend, Hozier, who's a rising soul/blue singer, hosted by Peter Sheridan, their Writer In Residence, a playwright and author who became a friend and mentor after he vanquished me in the finals of Literary Death Match. Very excited about that one, partially because it's not a place with a lot of spoken word and hopefully we can shake it up! http://www.farmleigh.ie/Events/Title,25003,en.html

I'm also curating "Righteous Verse," a group of some poets performing at a festival called Fading Light in Kerry in the October bank holiday--a small thing that takes over all the pubs in a whole little village in Caherdaniel, the far southwest of Ireland. http://fadinglightfest.com/

Finally, I'm working with a group of performance and page poets, all mates, and we're organizing Dublin's first spoken word festival, called Lingo, next spring. No official date set but one coming soon!

Erin Fornoff

View more of Erin's poetry at  http://erinfornoff.wordpress.com/videos/

 
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