I have been involved in the arts as an Actor Writer and Film Maker from most of my
adult life. The depth of beauty in this world has always compelled me as much as the darkness to create with my voice my body, my visual and my words. These tools have since growing up in such a beautiful and epic country like Ireland given me a gateway to a deeper understanding of the world around me. The noble resonance of a word thought then written then spoken or read by another gives me a sense of renewal of the heart.
My time in Ireland first as an actor then as a writer and film maker shaped the color
and depth of my worldview. When I moved to New York I transcended my past and
became immersed in a deep and flowing river of endless humanity. My art as a writer accelerated as much as the pain and rebirth was in tandem with this difficult flowering.
My inner narrative emerged as a man , as a human in a landscape that was changing almost by the moment. I had the advantage of my acting skills and my visual skills to
absorb characters, ideas, shapes and sounds. I filled the depths of my heart with all of the voices of the world. My spirit shaped amongst the millions.
Back in Ireland , when I first stepped on a stage , I was electrified by what was within rushing out into the light and allowing my soul to be free. Again it was words, unlocking the mysterious kingdom of the self. Always I felt changed. Breaking time whether it be by the pen or the expression of the words of others.
In New York I made a great leap with just a digital camera. The extension of my gifts like the tallest spires in Manhattan reaching beyond the impossible into the realm of a dream realized. I wrote and filmed and wandered and lost all that was me. I talked and interviewed and spun a web of beauty, light, darkness and something almost pure in a much wounded city. This film became HOME, and became a beacon to New York. It shone in it’s innocence of creation in an era of destruction. My words in the film soared
into the eyes and minds of tired New Yorkers.
I got Woody Allen, Liam Neeson, Mike Myers , Susan Sarandon, Frank Mc Court, Pete Hamil and others to recollect their own feelings about why New York was their home.
But it was my words, fragments of pain and light that scattered the cobwebs from my eyes. I was New York, it’s rhythm, it’s beat it’s pulse. The blood of this metropolis was pulsing in my veins. That film took me to London, Florida, Lincoln Centre, all over Ireland and it had it’s launch on PBS and across America. My words echoing in the
home’s of millions. I was commended by the New York Mayor and lauded by Gabriel Byrne and others of fame in the Irish American Arts.
I think back to Ireland then the beauty and the darkness, my own simple life, and I look also at the incredible journey of ten thousand miles walked around every block and alleyway and avenue and they seem worlds apart. They are linked by millions who share the idea of leaving and returning. Of their loneliness like I felt many times.
But for art, for writing it was gold, harsh cruel gold but shining nonetheless.
The scars are beautiful. For others to see and be transformed by. My journey in this
world with so many pitfalls and unmarked roads, has enhanced my gifts. Where are
we now in this darkening era of disconnection and myth less rage? I know I fall back on my art. The bard, the poet, the player of the story. I know the worth of being moved or moving someone in the heart. This awaits my own work I feel. My voice many times has touched lives with my film across the world. The voice of a simple man. Yet their is something extraordinary about an ordinary life. That is my wealth in my work.
When the Emmy’s in 2009 were announced as I sat in a humble supermarket after
returning to Ireland I felt the doors opening again. I felt the broken dream reassemble and beckon me back to the city of a thousand ideas.
The night I was in the hotel 50 floors up , apart in the silence and again back in the city, I smiled and looked at the tiny lights of a hundred thousand windows across Manhattan.
She was bending to me again , after so much strife and agony.
I knew her heart and the darkest essence that stirred beneath the pipes and bricks and cabs. That night I won. I won for best writing. It was a cinderella moment. Broken , beaten and now ignited again in this city . I dedicated the Emmy to those who had yet to come, to those who remained and to those who left and carried something of New York which only those that dared to risk truly knew.
The breath and width of my journey encompassing acting on stages both in New York and Ireland sharing a communion of emotions brought me to writing Naked In New York . After all the acclaim of HOME and the subsequent reaction from around the world,
I realized that people were deeply affected by my words and voice. Whatever I had
experienced in life somehow I could transmit directly into the sounds and shapes and vowels that people could immediately connect with.
My lineage , the great celtic blood of the dreamer that connects me with Joyce and
Beckett and Oscar Wilde in how the seen their own interior world and wanted to share this short and beautiful mortal life as passionately and resolutely with as many others
as possible. I have sometimes felt the ragged bones of failure haunt my life. The chosen road of a dreamer in such a dark era is paradoxical in the extreme. As the shadows
haunt the world and men of terrible impulses wage war on beauty. The poet and
dreamer and writer pushes against this every day. As the world moves in slow circles , I ponder and write and delve and sacrifice .
My book Naked in New York is an extension of my soul’s work. A transmutation in
poetic heaving paragraphs . The world is alone. In a planet of billions with so much
communication we are adrift on our own private islands. I wrote Naked in New York
to expunge the black liquid of pain and awareness of a cruel world and yet try and
highlight the beauty of a city that has the world’s greatest and lowest aspects of our tired race. I made a journey alone into a wounded city. I shared the suffering and felt wild anger and loss. I was bound by something greater to express the souls of New York in all their anguish yearning and their triumphs. New York changes you forever.
I watched from distant shores when I was there and thought of all I had left behind.
Now I have returned , I am amongst wild trees and a darkening Atlantic ocean that hides the secrets of a million souls that left and never returned.
I am in both places in the heart. Ireland is an illusive place of beauty and secrets. New York is a steel giant relentless and foreboding yet full of tiny achingly beautiful touching moments.
Who am I in the midst of these great journeys? I am a man, a dreamer, a celt, a poet an actor and writer. I will soon embark again on another journey. An epic odyssey around
Ireland to capture it’s heart, it’s essence and to find my own connection with this my
nation of birth. The project film and book will be called ‘ The Spirit of Ireland’ .
My book The Spirit of Ireland – An Odyssey Home will be available as an audio download here on my site soon.
I hope this to be another light a flickering and eventually will turn into a flame of power that can be ignited around the planet. Ireland calls out to many from the four corners and the 70 million around the globe who claim blood and lineage as part of this nation will answer I hope to my expression and my passion and poetry about this great and wounded country called Ireland.
Book blurb for Naked In New York
Naked in New York is a literary non fiction memoir by irish Emmy Winning Writer Alan Cooke. It is the story of Alan’s powerful journey of inner transformation in a post 9-11 New York. Naked in New York is a poetic eulogy and odyssey through a dark and bruised metropolis.