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Sinéad Nic Síoda with her new publication, The Record Break Poetry Art Exposition. Photography by Eugene McCafferty

New book captures a record of creativity

A NEW book celebrating the creative synergies that exist between poetry and the visual arts will be launched in Ennis in September.
The Record Break Poetry Art Publication comprises 12 poems and 12 corresponding images of original visual artworks and has been compiled by Sinéad Ní Síoda.
Since opening The Record Break seven years ago, Sinéad has built a community of artists, writers and musicians who gravitate towards the shop for its coffee, its collection of vinyl albums and its dedication to contemporary culture.
“I hold an art exhibition annually at The Record Break,” Sinéad explained. “In 2019, we brought together 12 artists and 12 poets, and at the end of the year I decided to document the exhibition.
“Creative Ireland sponsored the book and just as lockdown was setting in, we managed to get the photos taken of the pieces on the walls of the closed shop.”
The relationship between the images and the poems is one that Sinéad describes as “ekphrastic”.
“It’s a Greek word,” she explained. “We had the artists create the paintings first and then the poets came in to respond to the pieces. It’s not an illustrative process, it’s deeper than that.
“The poets produced an emotional response to the visual art pieces. In previous years, it was vice versa with artists responding to poetry.”
The 55-page hardback book comprises images of the 12 paintings, the 12 poems and a number of landscape pictures capturing aspects of Ennis and Clare.
“Kevin Wright came to the café to take the pictures of the paintings,” Sinéad said.
“Aidan Sweeney provided landscape photos, including one of Inis Cealtra shot using a drone. I got a great picture of the Abbey from Gerry Doyle.”
While writing an introductory statement for the book, Sinéad began to research the Bardic tradition and its Clare connections.
“I was fascinated to learn about Bardic history,” she said. “I found out that my ancestor, Mac Conmara, saved four secular poems dating to 1100, so I was learning about my own history and bloodline and the history of Ennis and Clare.”
Contributors to the exhibition and the book include poets Knute Skinner and Mike Douse as well as a plethora of established and emerging visual artists. “I have had wonderful support,” said Sinéad.
Sinéad also paid tribute to Clare Library and the libraries at Cork, Galway, Trinity and Cambridge University Libraries.
The reopening of the popular venue has been going well to-date with copies of the book selling fast.
“I got 100 printed in the first run and we’re down to 30 now,” said Sinéad. “Copies are available in the shop and online (Therecordbreak.com) and I’ll be getting some more printed for the Ennis Book Club Festival. It’s wonderful to have the book in print. It’s really helped to capture what happens here and it’s a lovely memoir of what we’ve done.”
The book has been previewed online in March, as part of the Ennis Book Club Festival and a formal launch will take place at 7pm on September 11 at The Record Break.

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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