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  • Writer's pictureMarcas Mac an Tuairneir

Oisín Breen

Updated: Mar 21, 2020

Bàrd agus Neach-acadamaigeach

Tha Oisín Breen trichead s a còig agus na bhàrd agus na neach-acadamaigeach pàirt-ùine, a' dèanamh rannsachadh air iom-fhillteachd sgeulachaidh agus ag obair na neach-naidheachd ionmhais. Rugadh is thogadh e ann am Baile Átha Cliath agus bha e a' fuireach ann an Damasgas agus Pràg, mus tàinig e a Dhùn Èideann, far a bheil e stèidhichte o chionn deich bliadhna, a-nis. Dh'fhoillsicheadh a' chiad cho-chruinneachadh bàrdachd aige ‘Flowers, all sorts in blossom, figs, berries, and fruits, forgotten’ am mìos seo, aig Clò Hybrid.

Tha Oisín an sàs ann am bàrdachd stèidhichte air stoidhle, làn de na feallsanachail. Dh'fhoillsicheadh grunn dhàn aige, nuair a bha e na fhicheadan, ann an irisean air-loidhne, mus do ghabh e ùine dheth gus a cuid sgrìobhaidh leasachadh. O shin a-mach, tha a chuid sgrìobhaidh air nochdadh ann an ràitheachain clò-bhuailte agus claistneach, le The Blue Nib, Books Ireland agus Dreich nam measg.

To my mind the arts is a permanent expression of identity, memory, meaning, and it is its relational nature that gives it value

That said, beyond my mildly theoretical warbling on the subject of the value of art, in more concrete terms, I'd say when pressed to consider it locally, regionally, nationally and internationally, that locally the arts is both hugely important, and under appreciated, perhaps; and I often baulk at the phrase: ‘because it is difficult to access’, for I rail against the interpretation of ‘access’ that is typically assumed, namely that the solution to the problem of ‘access’ is to make arts easier to understand. I think that devalues the potential of people. What I mean by ‘access’ is it can be hard for those who are not part of a community that, lets be honest, is often very cliquey to get involved.

Art provides a means for reflexive thought, for building empathy, for wonder, and for the generation of new ideas in an interdisciplinary sense, so, considering it locally, it’s hugely important, and I'd apply the same answer to regional. When it comes to national, we, of course, enter the Benedict Anderson pitch of imagined communities, national identity, the treaty of North Rhein Westphalia and all that jazz... But in a nutshell, the art created within a particular form of social ordering (a nation state, for instance) most certainly reflects as a mirror the culture it comes from, and as such it is hugely important, but at the same time it can be devalued by its very appreciation. My land, for instance, the land of saints and scholars, oh the writers... we take pride in it, but at the same time the arts are woefully underfunded in Ireland and the very literary nature of the society is almost used as a means to say, ‘ah sure we don't need to support it’.

My thoughts on the relevance of art internationally - they’re much like the above, but the arts have a vital role in actively encouraging dialogue and understanding, and that's damnedably important

A hard question to answer is what role the arts play in my daily life - because that's almost tantamount to asking me what role does my front door play in my daily life. It's there, it opens, it closes, it keeps the draught and would-be pirates at bay, and it's a relatively comforting red. The arts are a part of my daily life, music is always playing, different forms for different mindsets, novels on the go, a spot of non-fiction nestling for when I have time and brainpower, poetry for those moments of pondering, and the odd grand TV series for a bit of wandering off into a story where you don't have to do much but enjoy tangles of plot. Obviously, presently in the Covid-19 era, the other aspect, your trips to the cinema / opera / concert / theatre etc. are out, but when possible they're a wonderful thing that gives new energy and new freshness to life. If you'd have asked me how I use the arts to articulate the things that matter when I was eighteen, I'd have a gigantic rant about it all and how integral it is.

Now, craft is as interesting to me as the rest of it, and I think podium-style grand-standing can be dreadfully frustrating, and even equate it betimes to stand-up without the jokes. That said, when it comes to politics, social issues, beliefs, personal philosophies and all that, and how they inform both an artists style, their craft, their message, and their themes, well, they do, and rightly so. Art is a process bound tightly with lived experience, as well as the fictive. But at the same time I have a moderate disdain for pieces of work that are effectively stump speeches/confessionals of pain that are as black and white as someone saying 'this is a teacup'. I feel craft requires an element of grace, an element of subterfuge, and an element of play, and that art itself requires more than the purely mimetic to be truly a worthwhile expression.

If asked what a creative life looks like in 2020, I'd suggest, glibly, asking me when I get around to rereading la Peste

But hell, interesting I suppose. I'm navigating the strangeness of launching a book in the middle of a pandemic, it's utterly odd. Just testing a live-streaming concept now. So challenges: navigating the plague is number one, number two etc. the rest is all links to the usual sort of doubt for those of us who aren't wildly well connected, namely getting better connected, and getting people to give our work air-time/read-time. In terms of opportunities? As ever, to get a sniff of a lead, then run with it, because all it takes is a second of a person's attention and then you have a means to show them what you do, and if it's worthwhile (and who's to say what I or anyone else does is actually worthwhile?) then you're at the races. Pitfalls? I'd argue that laziness, a lack of cash that stifles, or ennui are really the pitfalls for the artist.

An Aghaidh na Stainge

Fad na stainge, tha Oisín a' toirt aire do dhiofair phròiseactan, agus bàrdachd nam measg, leis an dòchas slighean ùra cruthachil a lorg, ma bhios de dh'ùine aige. Chuir e crìoch air pìos sgrìobhaidh ùr o chionn mìos agus tha e an dùil a bhith a' leasachadh pìos mòr eile san àm ri theachd. A-rèir Oisín, 's e rud grnìomhach a th' ann an leasachadh, a ghabhas a-steach sgrùdadh agus beachdachadh air obair fhaighinn air ais - rud a bu chòir a bhith leantainneach, na bheachd. San eadar-àma, bidh e a' reic leabhraichean is a' toirt air luchd-critig lèirmheas a dhèanamh air a' cho-chruinneachadh aige. A' coimhead air adhart, tha Oisín an dòchas co-chruinneachadh ùr a sgrìobhadh agus seo a chur a-steach do cho-fharpaisean. A thaobh margaidheachd, tha seo aig cridhe na cùise, ach tha e dùbhlanach, ma bhios tu ag obair làn-ùine san taigh agus no air ollamhachd, mar a bhios e fhèin. Do dh'Oisín, 's e th' ann an cruthachalachd an rud a ghabhas a dhèanamh, mar as comasach.

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