“I have a RIGHT to be a poet, but no responsibility towards poetry. I have a RIGHT to be published, but no responsibility to study my craft." So types yer-man-who writes-letters-to-the-Connacht-Trybewn, like Eoghan Harris on downers. As ever, he turns an article that at the outset is, at least superficially, about something else i.e. the recent proliferation of plagiarism scandals in the poetry world internationally, into a more general attack on poets he thinks don't know their place.
It is ironic, truly, that
these words should be posted on an online magazine which publishes almost 100% per cent of the poems
and stories submitted to it i.e. a publication that is precisely what
yer-man-who writes-letters-to-the-Connacht-Trybewn pretends to complain about
when he types today's opinion. It's akin to a spoiled priest publishing a condemnation of the promiscuity of others on the website of his favourite brothel.
If he really believes what he
says when he takes this angry swipe at those poets (and not poets) who think they "have a RIGHT to be published" then he must also believe that the Galway Review, where he published these
brilliantly perceptive observations, is the worst online literary magazine in
Ireland, and by some distance.
He’s had a busy Summer has yer-man-who
writes-letters-to-the-Connacht-Trybewn. A few weeks back he leapt onto the UK
based current affairs website affairs website Harry’s Place to protest against
the notice my poem The Eternal Peace Activist
had received from readers.
Higgins is well known in the city of Galway for attacking the Left and anti-war
activists, and he steers clear of them. He's entitled to do this. But his
attacks on them, occasionally in doggerel published in a local free-sheet
paper, appear more personal and peevish than would befit a genuinely 'engagé'
poet. Personally, I don't see Mr Higgins as possessed of any political views at
all. While the peace activists he so derides give of their time and energy to
get out into the streets, organise demonstrations and, most particularly,
demonstrate monthly at Shannon Airport against the use of that airport by the
US military (being harassed and even arrested by police, two of whom are facing
court appearances this month) Mr Higgins is conspicuous by his absence, risking
nothing and, of himself, giving nothing. He has managed, very cleverly and
safely, to work into the attentions of Left-wing publications - a poem here, an
essay there - while remaining very definitely un-political. I have yet to see
him seriously challenged on this non-involvement, this very 'respectable' and
perhaps even 'cool' (in some quarters) pseudo-engagement, where the author of
invective against peace activists remains safely hidden in the hedges, standing
back from political commitment while sniping, not at idealism, but, in camouflage,
at certain individuals with whom he has issues. Peace activists are necessary;
perhaps Mr Higgins envies their courage. Does he, in this case, even attack
Donovan and Pete Seeger, activists whom he is too young to have experienced
when their work meant a great deal?" Signed, yer-man-who writes-letters-to-the-Connacht-Trybewn
He is obviously right when he
taps out manically on this keyboard the words: “I
don't see Mr Higgins as possessed of any political views at all."
People have been thinking that about me for years,
decades even. Truth is, I’m less political than Mariah Carey and Enya merged into one person. And now yer man has been brave enough to come out and say it. More power to his creaky auld elbow. All this makes me feel like Gore Vidal in search of Norman Mailer, because Norman Mailer yer man certainly isn’t.
Good night from me. And good night from him. Well, we can only hope.