Maguiresbridge poet launches his debut collection

A POET from Maguiresbridge has embarked upon his first steps towards literary stardom after he published his first collection of poems.
Robert Elliott, 28, who combines studying for an English Literature degree at the Open University with his work at Costa Cafe, launched his debut book, “The Colebrooke Collection” at separate events at Lisnaskea and Enniskillen libraries last week.
The book is self-published and Robert says a Latin saying inspired him to put his work out there for the public to read and enjoy.
He said: “I’ve had it in my mind for quite a while – perhaps a year, maybe more – about getting it all out there.
“There is a Latin phrase, ‘Si ventus non est, remiga’, which means ‘If there is no wind, row’. So I made my own opportunity and self-published the collection.
“As for the title, the Colebrooke river runs through the village where I live – Maguiresbridge. The amount of times I’ve crossed that river, sat by it to read or write… the river doesn’t judge and it just seemed apt that I name this collection after it.
“It’s an acknowledgement of my roots as well. I’ve lived there all my life. The poetry is reflective of Fermanagh but there’s also a whole variety of poems that are about whatever hits me at the time. So there’s something for everyone in the collection – from pastoral poetry to robots. It’s very varied.”
As for where the poetry bug first hit him, a reading event in Enniskillen inspired him to improvise his first poem and he hasn’t looked back since.
The former Lisnaskea High School pupil added: “I guess you could say it’s a lifelong passion of mine. I have come a long way since I first read out a poem of mine that I made up on the spot.
“I wouldn’t say that reading one poem in particular inspired me to take this path. It was just something that struck me when I hit my 20s. Beforehand, poetry was just something that you had to do in school.
“However, years ago in Enniskillen, there was a place – which some might remember – called ‘The Happiness Trap’. They were hosting a poetry reading and I just happened to be there because a cousin of mine was there.
“I just decided to make up my own poem on the spot when I was hearing those already performng say theirs. They were nice enough to let me up and gave me some good feedback – even though, looking back, it was definitely not my best work but I don’t regret it.
“It was helpful that I had a supportive crowd that night as people can be very critical – you don’t need to be a poet to know that.”
Literary fame and riches might not be on his doorstep yet but as Robert admits himself, poets rarely do it for the money.
He continued: “I have to support myself (working at Costa) – we’ve all heard of starving poets. It’s not an easy thing to get into and we don’t expect to make much money from it.
“But that’s when you know you like writing it. You’re doing it not for the money. I haven’t tried out my poetry on my work colleagues but the staff have been supportive of me.
“As for a second book, it might happen because as I was getting this one published, I was still making up new poems. I’m not too sure if they will result in a second book but a while back I wasn’t too sure if I had enough for the first one – and that’s been published – so life surprises you.”

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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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