I didn’t know what to expect, but an hour later I was happy that I’d been at the opening night of the Bark Cafe in Alan Hanna’s Bookshop in Rathmines. The small space, at the back of the always friendly bookshop, was hosting its first evening performance and it went off with a real bang. Long may it continue as the city is crying for good, small venues and that is what you get in the Bark.
After a warm introduction from proprietor Charles (The Bookmesiter) Hanna, we sat back and were royally entertained by Canadian poet, novelist and singer Robert Priest. First of all he said that he had not been to Dublin since 1977, but he remembered Trinity College when he passed by. That’s understandable, as the place has been leaving impressionson on people for years! He read poems from his book Rosa Rose, and selected a few from his latest work Previously Feared Darkness. Some were long, but most were short, and to the point. He is not one for wasting words and his sharp observations of life and its vagaries are all the better for it. ‘Less is certainly more’ and Robert Priest is a master. In fact, his wordsmithery was particularly appealing to the small but rapt audience who clapped and cheered after each offering.
And if all that wasn’t enough he picked up his acoustic guitar and the evening really took-off. We heard that he had co-written a hit single for Alannah Myles (credibility!) and he sang a number of songs from his recently released Feeling the Pinch. His take on life and its foibles seemed even clearer as he went through The Bomb In Reverse, Song Instead Of A Kiss and the up-tempo Who The Fuck Knows which we all sang along to. Oh, what a magical moment! After the show Robert signed CDs and books and said, happily, that the night had been the best he’d ever had. Now that’s saying something, and the atmosphere in the Bark was woof, woof, wonderful! And the big question: will he be back again? Hope so, but hey, who the fuck knows!