It gives me great delight to welcome the one and only Damien B Donnelly back to Patricia’s Pen. Damien is one of the most supportive poets I know and he’s come along to tell you all about his Parisian experience in his brand new collection Enough! published by The Hedgehog Poetry Press. And that’s enough from me and over to Damien.
Damien B Donnelly
Thanks Patricia for having me back. It’s a fantastic platform for writers to share news of their collections and I feel that my first full collection has been brewing for a very long time. Perhaps since that ordinary rainy night in October, at 22, arriving in Paris and considering, for the first time, the recklessness of moving to a country whose language I’d never studied, where I didn’t know a single person, didn’t have a job or even a place to live. However, back then, none of that seemed daunting. When you haven’t begun to discover who you are yourself, perhaps it doesn’t really matter where you are.
25 years later, now back living in Ireland, I’ve taken the time to consider this Parisian chapter, and, in the end, it’s rightly called Enough! Ça suffit, non?
The story unfolds throughout a collection of poems and photographs split into sections – the leaning in, the living, the loving, the moving, the leaning out and the leaving. An exploration of a connection to a city so determined not to change, that it forces those who dwell between its cut of concrete to either be crushed or be equally as creative – sometimes I sat in a musée on a Sunday wondering how the model felt when master moulded him into something else.
It was a haunting, from the very beginning, and, with no history of my own, I shivered often beneath the weight of its centuries that shimmered on every street when I came – to sleep, shit, smoke, slip, to bash my own knuckles against banal and back again, to seduce ideas of being a somebody having already left everybody. In Paris, in the early days, we were all prisoners to the poison that we couldn’t get enough of.
To be a foreigner in Paris, no matter how long you live there, is to know you will always be a foreigner and so you seek out the great shadows of fellow foreign predecessors- Wilde, Beckett, Mitchell, Hemingway, the brave ones who came before – to slip into currents others already caressed, and so I stared at these stars – curious as to whether someday someone would wonder where we sat, would wonder if we were the owners of all those brollies they wanted to grab hold of in the hope they’d feel the weight of a purpose.
Years later, under those brollies, I found myself – running along all those boulevards, as if they were battlefields and the droplets were bullets and I couldn’t remember how to say That’s Enough in French. And yet, I will return and others will follow, coming, like I did – as cattle into the chaos, munching our way from the farms of everywhere else to the stench of what we have come to identify as cult.
Love, life and all the lies we tell ourselves in between to make it bearable amid such beauty.
Sometimes, the endings are there to be seen, right at the very beginning.
And if you haven’t already pre ordered your copy then now’s the time as you don’t want to miss out on an awesome produced limited edition copy published by The Hedgehog Poetry Press. And I’m sure Damien will sign the copy for you too.
About Damien B Donnelly
Damien B. Donnelly is the author of the pamphlets Eat the Storms, Stickleback and In the Jitterfritz of Neon, co-written by Eilín de Paor, all published by Hedgehog Poetry Press. He’s the host / producer of Eat the Storms, the poetry podcast and the editor-in-chief of The Storms, a printed journal of poetry, prose and visual art. His work has appeared in various journals, online and in print. He’s lived in Paris, London and Amsterdam but is now back in Ireland. He was a pattern maker for 23 years before becoming a poet but has always made very good cakes.
I can never get enough of Damien expressing himself in his inimitable fashion. I smiled as I read through this recitation of the back story of his collection, of the effect that Paris had on Damien and on countless others, including me. So many of Damien’s poems are intensely personal, yet some feel universal in the emotions they evoke.
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Absolutely agree, Mike. Thank you for reading and commenting.