Thursday, 22nd August 2019
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Des Dillon: An Honest Man Without Pretension

By Mary Irvine

An exceptionally warm sun with only a slight breeze, just the day for relaxing in the garden or maybe a family day out in the park.

But a talk on poetry in the local library at 2pm on a Saturday afternoon – surely no one would turn up to that?

Well, if that’s your opinion then you weren’t in the audience of some 45 people at Dalmuir Library to hear from writer and poet Des Dillon and Dalmuir Library’s resident reading champion Donny O’Rourke.

The event was part of this year’s Booked! Festival and Mr Dillon began by emphasising the importance of story-telling in a child’s life. He believes everyone has a story to share and feels himself fortunate to have grown up in an Irish-Catholic culture where story-telling plays a major part.

Less than two minutes in and already you could sense an instant rapport between the speaker and his audience. He then began reading some of his own poetry, all based on his life experiences.

His first poem combined religious imagery with the memory of a brother who began drinking at the age of 12 and died young as a result of alcohol. Further poems followed in the same vein – society making judgements, alcohol and fame – all equally moving.

The fervency of Des’ personal beliefs and comments on the social system came through clearly in his poems and I identified with many of his comments on the latter and whether or not you agreed with his politics you couldn’t deny his passion which permeated every poem he shared with us and which continued with his final readings which were all to his wife, each one of them imbued with deep, enduring love and respect.

The poetry was followed by an open conversation between Des and Donny about reading in its widest sense. It was interesting just to listen but the audience soon joined in and ‘questions’ became part of the conversation, that’s how relaxed the atmosphere was. What did I say about rapport? You didn’t feel he was performing for an audience but sharing with us.

Two quotes stick in my mind which I would like to share with fellow writers.

“Life is his literature,” Donny of Des and from Des: “Life tells you all you need to know about writing.”

And writers might want to consider some implicit advice from Des who told us his first book had been rejected by 57 publishers before he finally accepted that the reason for all these rejections was that it was sh–e!

I am reading more of his poems and continuing the pleasure of that visit to Dalmuir Library and would thoroughly recommend his poetry anthologies to all.

All of Des Dillon’s books are available on Amazon

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