A question of taste - Carmel Winters

Carmel Winters is a Kanturk-born playwright and filmmaker. Her new play, Not Being Me, is in development with Gare St Lazare, and will be read on July 22 in Ma Murphy’s, Bantry, for the West Cork Literary Festival. The reading is presented in association with The Everyman, Cork where the play will be produced later this year.

A question of taste - Carmel Winters

Best recent book: The Garden Awakening, Mary Reynolds, has inspired me to see my overgrown garden as a bit of magic in the making.

Best recent film: We featured Cork filmmaker Oonagh Kearney’s dance films at Fastnet Film Festival in Schull this year.

It was moving to watch work inspired by the potent relationships between sisters, daughters and mothers. We don’t see enough of ourselves on screen.

Best recent show you’ve seen: These Tangled Threads, an art installation on the stairs of the Uileann Arts Centre by Toma McCullim, has stayed with me.

Inspired by her art collaborations with people with dementia, the work made loving and lucid meaning from the most lonely and confused of states.

I saw people cry out of gratitude that someone was making connections where perhaps it seemed all hope of connection was lost.

What formats do you access music? I love to enjoy music live and relive the experience afterwards by buying CDs direct from the artists.

I’m lucky to live near Levis’s pub in Ballydehob where there’s a mighty pick’n’mix of musical talent right on my doorstep.

Do you use ebooks? I pick up my books in secondhand shops so I can read them in the bath and leave them to dry in the sun next day!

Best piece of music you’ve been listening to lately (new or old): There’s a line in Patrick Kavanagh’s poem ‘Inniskeen Road: July Evening’ that mentions a ‘footfall tapping secrecies of stone’. I hear in Lisa O’Neill’s songs this same connection to place.

Her voice sounds our forgotten or hidden histories and mysteries, including the ancient Irish nomadic experience that Travellers today still struggle to keep alive.

First ever piece of music or art or film that really moved you: I remember as a child watching Gone With The Wind at Christmas.

I was appalled and enthralled at the notion that we might not come to know what we want until we have lost it.

I think that films we see when young really do have the power to (mis)shape us.

As children we are busy trying to come up with guiding principles about the world and how to relate to it. Gone With The Wind was not the best case study!

Best gig or show you’ve ever seen: There’s no ‘best’ for me, but I was very excited to see Annie Baker’s play The Flick in London recently.

It’s performed so slowly and precisely that you see each thought forming in the actor’s mind.

TV viewing: Documentary tends to captivate me more than fiction.

There are moments in the documentary, What Happened, Miss Simone?, where the veil is ripped and I saw Nina Simone’s uncovered spirit. I felt awed and afraid for her at once.

Radio: BBC World Service’s Outlook is a favourite for listening to people telling their own stories in their own voices.

I love the rhythm of listening in while matching odd socks or sorting out a jammed cutlery drawer.

Three of your literary heroes: Anne Michaels and Annie Proulx (both of whom I met at West Cork Literary Festival).

Closer to home, Irish short story writer Kathleen Murray has a genius for observing the absurdities of human behaviour.

Best celebrity encounter: When I was 12 and on a school tour to Dublin I spotted Twink buying a pair of knee-high boots. I have met the likes of Al Pacino and Barbara Streisand since, but celebrity doesn’t hold much glamour for me since my early teens.

Most expensive item of clothing you’ve ever bought: I like to hunt down my silks, wool and tweed bargains in charity shops and flea markets.

Often my entire outfit, excluding shoes and underwear, will have cost no more than a tenner.

I have seen first-hand the acres of sweat shops in Cambodia where much of our ‘expensive’ clothes are manufactured by slave-wage workers.

Unsung heroes: The people who care for the most hated or degraded members of our society are luminous in my eyes.

That includes a lot of mothers. And women and men who ‘mother’ the motherless.

You are queen for a day — what’s your first decree? ‘Let there be no more kings; come to the table one and all and enjoy your fair share of the earth’s bounty.’

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