Pat Carton was first published in the mid 1990s in a letter to this newspaper, and his life since then has been a rollercoaster of writing recitations and performing his work on television, at festivals, and in theatre venues. However much has changed now for 53-year-old Pat, when he became a father for the first time, on Christmas Eve, when his daughter, Charlotte Jane was born.
Pat and his fiancé, Anne, had been preparing for the birth over the past few months, by refurbishing his 250-year-old family home in Horseleap.
“It’s a fantastic old house, and it has take up a lot of time and work, but I have continued to write my poetry and Anne has been a wonderful inspiration to me, and now Charlotte Jane is also,” he said.
Seeing his own words in print in the Westmeath Independent in the mid 1990s unlocked something in Pat, and encouraged him to continue on with his production of words into poetry.
“When you see your words in print, it’s no longer part of you anymore, and I’ve been writing something ever since, and I like writing poetry that rhymes, and the stuff I write is to be recited aloud,” said Pat.
Pat describes himself as “a farmer’s son”, and he was the middle child of the late, Michael and Mary-Jane Carton. He has four sisters, Mary, Bridget, Margaret and Catherine.
As a performing poet, Pat has presented his work on RTÉ’s 'The View, and produced his own poetry compact disc, 'Now You’re Talking’. He has also performed several one man poetry shows around the midlands and west based on his cd.
“I am a voracious reader and as a child I read Enid Blyton books, but I had the plot worked out by Chapter 3,” he said laughing. “Then I graduated to writers like Alistair MacLean and Jack Kerouac. My poetry influences were the likes of Paddy Kavanagh, WB Yeats and Bob Dylan.”
The local writer went to school in the Carmelite College, Moate, and worked in Athlone Library in Fr Mathew Hall for a number of years in the late 1970s, with the then librarian, Ernan Morris, who is now deceased. It was his first permanent job after leaving school, and he could have stayed there, but got the travel bug from looking out the window of the Fr Mathew Hall, and seeing cruise boats sailing on the Shannon.
“The cabin cruises were mostly owned by Germans and Dutch tourists, and I wanted to go off and visit their countries, and even then I was always a bit of a scribbler, and didn’t really trust myself to let my work out, but at the end of the day I think of it as expression,” he said.
Pat had done some acting with Horsleap Players in the late 1970s, in a comedy play called , 'Anyone Can Rob A Bank’. His father, Michael had directed many plays with the Rosemount Players. Pat’s most recent play to act in, was 'Sharon’s Grave’ with the Rosemount players a few years ago.
Through his 20s, Pat travelled throughout European countries, Germany, UK, Turkey, Italy, and Holland, and supported himself by working in factories and youth hostels.
“I lived a long time in Germany and in Dorset in the UK, but all the while the writing was there with me, but I returned to Ireland in the mid-1990s, and planned to go to college as a mature student,” he said. “I hadn’t went in my 20s and it was always something I wanted to do, and I did a degree in English and Philosophy at NUI, Galway, and did my masters in Philosophy there.”
He got involved in DramSoc in Galway university, and acted in 'Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead’ and directed Paul Vincent Carroll’s 'Shadow and Substance’.
He did a series of one-man shows as well in the Punchbag Theatre but he started his poetry recitations down in the Crane Bar in Galway. He appeared at the Bardic Breakfast as part of the Cuirt Festival in Galway, and also performed at the Kings Head and returned during a college break to the midlands, to do a one man show in Tuar Ard, Moate. He has also performed at the Dean Crowe Theatre and Passionfruit Theatre at various festivals.
“I write about anything and everything, and sometimes about love, life and what is happening,” he said. “I am fascinated by the theatre and by live performance. I do a lot of work on my poetry and my performance, but for it to work, you really need a good audience.”
Pat strength lies in the performance of his poetry, and he literally turns himself inside out with his shows, and delivers his lyrics with the same passion which he obviously puts into his writing.
Pat runs an acupuncture clinic in Main Street, Moate, which is something he trained for in Dublin, after his Galway years.
He became interested in Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) while studying philosophy in Galway. He found it very beneficial as a client so he decided to become a practitioner himself.
He studied at the Irish College of Traditional Chinese Medicine (ICTCM) in Dublin. Pat has a Licentiate in Traditional Chinese Medicine (Lic. TCM).
This qualification is recognized in China as equivalent to a BA Degree by Guangzhou University. He also has a Certificate in Medical Qigong from the ICTCM.
Pat met Anne during a poetry night in Mullingar, on October 1st, 2009, when he was one of a group of poets performing.
“She saw me reciting poetry there, and fell in love with me, and she had never seen me before,” he said laughing. “After the show she came up and bought a pint for me, and that’s how she won my heart.”
He said at the moment, he is still writing, and searching for new performance venues, but laments the fact that his book is still not on the shelves.
“I’m ambitious about my poetry, and I want to have my book published, but I want it to be a very good collection, although I probably have enough for a few collections,” he said. “Anne encourages me in my poetry and I would be aiming to publish a popular type of poetry, where people knows what the writing is about, and which has structure.”
However he also said he has to be inspired to write, and Anne and Charlotte Jane are an inspiration to him, and also he said he gets a lot of his best ideas first thing in the morning.
“I don’t consider myself properly dressed without a notebook and pen, and by writing, you do keep the channel to the spirit open,” he said.