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Thursday, 23 January 2020

Joint Statement from Susan Millar DuMars and Kevin Higgins

When faced with the choice, we side with those who don’t have power rather than those who wield it.  That said, it would not be appropriate for us to comment about any of the issues surrounding #WakeUpIrishPoetry. 
Except to say this: the issue has been raised as to what redress individual artists and arts workers have when faced with a possible abuse of power situation of any sort. The complaints procedures within most arts organisations are in reality heavily biased in favour of those who have power and against those who don’t. They are often not worth bothering with. The arts sector has hardly any trade union representation and the artistic world is, sadly, an extremely individualistic place. In our experience, people don’t tend to stick together. So what is one to do when faced with power being wielded inappropriately against you in the arts sector?  

            Each situation is different. But we would recommend that artists and arts workers faced with such a situation consider doing the following: contact a left wing TD and supply them with details of your case, which you can do in absolute confidentiality, and ask them to put in a written question to the relevant government minister about your case. Written questions must be answered and cannot be waffled around in the way that oral questions asked in the Dáil often are.
The TD can frame the question in general terms and supply additional specific details pertaining to your case to the relevant minister and her or his departmental officials. You need not be named in the question. When selecting which TD to approach, do not bother with any of the establishment parties as they will likely not support you. But most left wing TDs will, even if you do not live in their constituency. Remember, TDs are national, not local, representatives and are meant to represent the whole country. 

            Well over a decade ago, we briefly worked for a (now defunct) arts organisation where there were issues regarding late payment of wages, lack of contracts for employees, and related matters. We left after working there for less than a year. During the decade that followed, this organisation continued to intermittently post hostile commentary about us and our work on its official website and social media. This only stopped when we approached a left wing TD, supplying them with details, and they put a written question to the relevant minister. We were invited to meet with top officials in the relevant government department locally and we supplied them with detailed evidence. The hostile commentary ceased. The arts organisation in question no longer exists, while we continue to work happily in the sector. 
           The approach we took may not suit everyone. But we think it could help many. TDs’ email addresses are available on the Oireachtas website.

Friday, 13 December 2019

It's loud and it's tasteless and I've heard it before

Jeremy Corbyn on a picket line during the 1984-85 miners' strike
The defeat on Thursday will be seized upon by all the gathering forces of reaction - many of them claiming to be 'progressives' or 'soft-left' - to try and permanently destroy the reborn socialist movement, not just in the UK but elsewhere in Europe and especially in the US. The forces of reaction - from the BBC to the editors of the Guardian, the New York Times, and the Irish Times to Alistair Campbell, Joe Biden, Benjamin Netanyahu, Eoghan Harris, Mock the Week and Fintan O'Toole - want all of the young people inspired by the essential, the vital socialism of Corbyn, Sanders and others around Europe to give up and drop out of political activity, to become sour and cynical like all reactionaries-pretending-to-be-soft-left are.  

Fintan O'Toole receiving yet another award from the Irish establishment
Such people want parties such as the UK Labour Party to go back to being empty shells with hardly any active members, which are vehicles for the careers of future Tony Blairs, so that even when parties such as the Tories (or Republicans in the US) lose an election, the people who gave us the banking crash, the Iraq War, climate change, and poor people dying young because they are poor have another political party through which to perpetuate their rule.

These people will stop at nothing in the next few days and their friends in the Arts establishment - people I'm all too familiar with because of my area of work- will join in as joyfully as teenage boys who've been let into their first orgy. 
The devil is on the prowl this weekend and he (or she) is pretending to be a "soft-left" "progressive" because he wants your help making politics safe for his owners i.e. the people who are destroying the planet. You can help the devil if you want to, I won't. In the words of David Bowie: "It's loud and it's tasteless and I've heard it before." And I will do everything I can to resist it.
Jacob Rees Mogg with the next Tony Blair.

Thursday, 27 December 2018

2019 Poems for Patience competition ENTER NOW!

Galway University Hospitals Arts Trust is seeking entries again for its exciting annual poetry competition. 
2018 Poems for Patience launch
CRITERIA: poems entered in the competition should be no more than 32 lines long. They must be the original work of the entrant. Poems previously published in magazines or poetry collections are eligible. Multiple entries are accepted; poets can enter as many poems as they wish.

*the winner will have her or his poem published and displayed on the Arts Corridor of University Hospital Galway as part of the 2019 Poems For Patience. Poems For Patience is a long running series which over the past decade has featured poems by leading Irish and international poets such as Seamus Heaney, Philip Schultz, Jane Hirschfield, Michael Longley, Naomi Shihab Nye, Vona Groarke, Tess Gallagher and many more. The poems after exhibition on the Arts Corridor are then displayed in waiting areas throughout Galway University Hospitals.
*the winner will be invited to read his or her winning poem at the launch of the 2019 Poems For Patience at the Cúirt International Festival of Literature in April 2019.
*the winner will be provided with accommodation in Galway if travelling for one night during the 2019 Cúirt International Festival of Literature
*the winner will be given a copy of their poem printed and framed as a Poem for Patience poster
*the winner will be asked to submit six poems for consideration to be a Featured Reader at the Over The Edge: Open Reading series in Galway City Library.

ENTRY FEE: to enter one poem the fee is €10. If you enter two or more poems the entry fee is €7.50 per poem i.e. to enter two poems it costs €15, to enter three poems €22.50 and so on.

Payment should be made by cheque or postal order payable to Galway University Hospitals Arts Trust. Alternatively for online transfer contact the arts office.  Details below.

Entries should be sent by post to Bridget Cheasty, Arts Assistant, Galway University Hospitals Arts Trust, Galway University Hospitals, University Hospital, Newcastle Road, Galway. Do not put your name on the poems; please include your contact details on a separate sheet. 

THE CLOSING DATE is Friday, February 22nd  2019

THE JUDGE: The competition judge is Kevin Higgins. Kevin Higgins is Writer-in-Residence with Galway University Hospitals Arts Trust. He is co-organiser of Over The Edge literary events, teaches poetry workshops at Galway Arts Centre, Creative Writing at Galway Technical Institute, and is Creative Writing Director for the NUI Galway Summer School. He is poetry critic of The Galway Advertiser. His poetry is discussed in The Cambridge Introduction to Modern Irish Poetry and features in the generation defining anthology Identity Parade –New British and Irish Poets (Ed. Roddy Lumsden, Bloodaxe, 2010) and in The Hundred Years’ War: modern war poems (Ed. Neil Astley, Bloodaxe, April 2014). Kevin’s poetry has been translated into Greek, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Russian, & Portuguese. In 2014 Kevin's poetry was the subject of a paper 'The Case of Kevin Higgins, or, 'The Present State of Irish Poetic Satire' presented by David Wheatley at a Symposium on Satire at the University of Aberdeen.  He was Satirist-in-Residence at the Bogman’s Cannon (2015-16). '2016 - The Selected Satires of Kevin Higgins' was published by NuaScéalta in early 2016. A pamphlet of Kevin’s political poems The Minister For Poetry Has Decreed was published last December by the Culture Matters imprint of the UK based Manifesto Press. His poems have been praised by, among others, Tony Blair’s biographer John Rentoul, Observer columnist Nick Cohen, and Sunday Independent columnist Gene Kerrigan; and have been quoted in The Daily Telegraph, The Times (UK), The Independent, The Daily Mirror, Hot Press magazine,  on Tonight With Vincent Browne and read aloud by film director Ken Loach at a political meeting in London. The Stinging Fly magazine has described Kevin as "likely the most read living poet in Ireland." His most recent book Song of Songs 2.0: New & Selected Poems was published last year by Salmon and includes a substantial number of new poems as well as selections from his six previous poetry collections.  
For further details: Tel: +353 (0)91 544979 Email:    
Competition judge Kevin Higgins

Friday, 31 August 2018

Cultural liaison during Donald Trump's Irish visit

Minister for Culture, Heritage & the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan TD has asked me to help with "Cultural liaison" during his Excellency President DonaldTrump's upcoming visit to Ireland. 

Specifically, Josepha has asked me to access "two retired adult film stars" to attend a special event at Club Lapello on Dame Street "to attend to the needs of the President, his entourage, and some of the Irish government ministers who will be in attendance." 
At the same event my poem 'I Am Pleased To Congratulate On Behalf Of The People Of Ireland' will be read aloud over a big microphone by former Taoiseach Enda Kenny. You can get a preview of the evening's activities here. I  am open to suggestions as to what other cultural events should be included in the evening's programme, as I know is Josepha. 

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Video of Ken Loach reading from one of my poems

Video of Ken Loach - director of Kes, The Wind That Shakes The Barley, & I, Daniel Blake - reading from one of my poems at a meeting at Conway Hall in London on Monday, January 29th.

The full poem can be read here 'What Did The Politician Get His Wife?' 

The poem is a rewrite of Brecht's 'The Soldier's Wife' which is sung by PJ Harvey here.
From now on, I plan to dress the way P.J. Harvey does in this video while reading this particular poem. 

For the background on the political controversy regarding this and some other poems see here.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Ken Loach read one of my poems in London last evening

So, apparently the film director Ken Loach read one of my poems at a political meeting in London last evening.

For further details re: the background see here.