Vernacularisms is my home for a series of notes containing ‘literary snapshots’ of everyday, ‘vernacular’ life in Belfast and the North of Ireland. Although the notes are specific to the places I write about, using street names and dialect words that may be alien to many who live further afield, they are nonetheless intended to appeal to a wider audience. When I write about the Ormeau Park, for example, I would like my readers to be able to visualise the same event happening in their locality, be it Central Park or Yoyogi Park.
In most of the notes I reference a certain ‘universality’ of human experience that I hope will be recognisable wherever the reader comes from. I keep the notes short, avoiding lengthy descriptions where I feel that providing too much detail would undermine this universal appeal. My writing style therefore leans towards the poetic in the choice of words and the punctuation used; the notes have to ‘punch above their weight’ by telling the story succinctly. The prose requires a similar depth of reading as would be brought to a poem. Although many of the stories have their roots in real events, I would like to make it clear that they are works of fiction: names, dates and locations have been changed where necessary. I am not writing about YOU. I use different narratorial voices, which are sometimes unreliable, and I also experiment with different genres of writing.
There are now audio clips (in .wav format) of readings for some stories; I shall be uploading more over the coming months. To listen or download, just click on the link at the bottom of the text. You can find out more about the readers and guest contributors on the ‘Readers‘ page.
To maintain the universal appeal, I have generally avoided using pictures of the various locations I mention in the blog, alongside the text. You can also visit the blog’s Facebook page, and my Pinterest page, where I post pictures of the places in the stories. There is a link to the Facebook page at the very bottom of this screen. A link to the Pinterest page can also be found on the side menu.
The photographs on this page are from the 19th Century brick wall of H J Martin at the bottom of Rugby Avenue, just off the Lower Ormeau Road. I used to walk up there every day on my way to Queen’s University. I had been doing so for years and had not noticed anything unusual, until one morning the combination of winter sunlight and rain on the wall revealed a patch where some twenty or so people had carved their initials and names quite elaborately into the bricks. I suspect they were the builders who had put up the wall. Unfortunately when H J Martin sold off part of their yard for a housing development, this stretch of wall was was pulled down. I didn’t get a picture of it. Only five carvings remain now.
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