Wednesday 20 July 2011


Novigrad is in Istria, Croatia, not far from the more well-known seaside resort of Porec. One of the town's features is a kind of loggia that stands all on its own, unattached to any larger building. These municipal loggia were typical of Istria, and placed on the external side of fortified walls. The one in Novigrad dates from the 16th Century. I imagine that these loggia were viewing points, places where the citizens could go and admire the view, i.e. when and if the town wasn't under siege.

Margaret and myself recently spent several days in Novigrad, which had the uncluttered relaxed air of an Irish seaside town in the 1960s, except that the weather was better. The first time I saw this loggia it reminded me forcefully of a painting by Magritte. Not any painting in particular, but for me the sight of the loggia standing alone (why wasn't it attached to a palace or something?), with its three windows looking out on empty sea, as in the above photo, evoked a strong impression of Magritte's style of surrealism.

How fast the horizon flies where suddenly
after aeons upon aeons of empty sea
a petrol tanker's spit of flame ignites.
(from Eugenio Montale's 'La Casa dei Doganieri', in my own translation.)

Speaking of Montale reminds me that we noticed (or rather, heard) a lot of Italian holidaymakers in Novigrad during our stay. Istria was historically a colony of Venice on account of its salt-works, and the Italian connection is long established. Anyway, it is not a very long drive from Trieste to Novigrad.

 Photos by Margaret (not Magritte)

Monday 11 July 2011


On 18th June last, I gave a presentation in the Academy of Arts, Pariser Platz 4, near the Brandenburg Gate, on behalf of Cuisle Limerick City International Poetry Festival, at the Berlin Poetry Festival organized by Literaturwerkstatt. The morning session was a kind of 'Poetry Market' in which representatives from various poetry festivals and projects throughout Europe, together with spokespersons for events in Canada and Chile, shared information and experiences. Each delegate had up to ten minutes to present their festival or project (although the official deadline was five minutes). One of the topics up for discussion in the afternoon session was 'The willingness of European Festivals to invest together in co-productions of poetry and other arts products'. In addition, it was agreed that a petition to governments, regarding imminent draconian cutbacks to arts budgets, would later be sent around by e-mail for the signature of everyone present.