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Tuesday, 17 September 2013

It's akin to a spoiled priest publishing a condemnation of the promiscuity of others on the website of his favourite brothel.

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.

"Mr 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.