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Friday, 30 December 2016

2016 - the year of me being quoted in UK newspapers

One of the strange things that happened during the peculiar year that was 2016 was that poems of mine were quoted in The Daily Telegraph (pictured above), The Daily Mirror, and most recently The Times (London), in which former David Cameron adviser Lord Finkelstein took time out to take issue with one of them.
I look forward to 2017 when I expect to be quoted regularly in both Pravda and The Wall Street Journal.

Sunday, 25 December 2016

My new St. Stephen's Day Tradition

Tomorrow is St. Stephen's Day. St. Stephen is pictured below on one of his more challenging days.
In these parts it is traditional that young people spend some of St. Stephen's Day going door to door performing songs and doing traditional dances.  Despite being no longer in the slightest bit young, I plan to join in this tradition as of tomorrow. I will be going door to door around the West of Ireland, ringing door bells and reciting my new poem 'Of Course They Know It's Christmas' (after Bob Geldof and Midge Ure) over a small megaphone to anyone who answers. I will be dressed in traditional costume. See below.
Please give generously. I haven't yet decided what traditional dance I'll be doing and am, as ever, open to suggestions.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Of Course They Know It's Christmas

To mark the season I have re-written the original lyrics for Do They Know It's Christmas?

I've taken the liberty of retitling it Of Course They Know It's Christmas and it's published on Culture Matters, Socialist Unity, & We Know What's Up.

I wish you all an ecstatic Christmas. Personally I am mostly looking forward to December 30th when I will be celebrating the one hundred anniversary of the timely death of Grigori Rasputin.

Mr Rasputin's lawyers have asked me to make clear  
that he had no involvement in either Band Aid or Live Aid.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Poems For Jeremy Corbyn LONDON LAUNCH


Delighted to be reading my poem On Your Unsuitability For High Office at the London launch of Poems For Jeremy Corbyn, which is edited by Merryn Williams and published by Shoestring Press.

Contributors to the anthology include Pascal Petit, Penelope Shuttle, Nicki Griffin, Owen Gallagher, Ann Drysdale, Mike Jenkins, Tony Curtis, and many more. A total of fifty poems by fifty different poets. 


Monday, 8 August 2016

My 'New & Selected Poems' and a pamphlet of my political poems

Song of Songs 2.0 - New & Selected Poems by Kevin Higgins will be published in February by Salmon Poetry and will, it is hoped, be launched at the 2017 AWP Conference in Washington D.C. 


The book will include selected poems from my previous five collections of poems, The Boy With No Face (Salmon, 2005); Time Gentlemen, Please (Salmon, 2008); Frightening New Furniture (Salmon, 2010); The Ghost In The Lobby (Salmon, 2014); and 2016 - The Selected Satires of Kevin Higgins (NuaScéalta, 2016). 

It will also include a substantial collection of new poems.

Before that, I am delighted to announce, that the new Culture Matters imprint of U.K. based Manifesto Press will this Autumn be publishing The Minister For Poetry Has Decreed, a pamphlet collecting together a tightly knit group of twenty six of my recent more politically motivated poems.  
Following recent developments I will makes sure that all metaphors, similes, and hyperbolic outbursts contained in and around these poems are approved in advance of publication by the busy boys and girls of the Disputes and Discipline Department at British Labour Party Head Office.

SUSPENSION UPDATE The Continuing Adventures of Operation Ice Pick

Further to this story, I have today learned that my 'administrative suspension' as an overseas member of the British Labour Party has come about as a result of a frivolous complaint made my someone who was, it's clear, rather irked by three poems I shared on Twitter during the first few days of the attempted coup against Jeremy Corbyn in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote. 
The poems in question are Premature Elegy for Hilary Benn, The Ghost of Miniscule John Mann, and On Your Unsuitability for High Office. They can been read here, just scroll down and you'll find them.

They're sensitive souls at Labour Party HQ, and I am happy to admit that they have much to teach me about the need for me to be more subtle in the metaphors I use. 

Labour Party General Secretary, Iain McNicols, who has had an interesting day himself today, has appointed Sam Matthews of the Party's 'Disputes and Discipline' department to be investigating officer in my case. 

Just to be clear, that is not Iain McNicols pictured above holding the ice pick which killed Leon Trotsky. Mr McNicols is in fact pictured below. 
I look forward to discussing the subtleties of metaphor with Mr Matthews. 

P.S. Does anyone know of any expensive hotels in the central London area? Preferably one that has stuffed grape leaves and beetroot tapenade on the menu. I am presuming that I will have to travel to London for my metaphorical discussion with the good people of UK Labour Party HQ and that Iain McNicols will be paying my hotel bill.




Thursday, 4 August 2016

Two readings at Belfast's Féile an Phobail next week

I'm off to Belfast's Féile an Phobail next week to do two readings at the festival. 

On Thursday afternoon/early evening I'll be reading at the Scribes at The Rock event, alongside Paul Laverty and Gerry Murphy, at the Rock Bar on the Falls Road.

The following evening I'll be reading and talking about my work, alongside Glenn Patterson and Angeline King, at Duncairn Cultural Arts Centre on the Antrim Road. 

Full details of both readings below.


For full details of the programme for this year's @FeileBelfast see here http://www.feile2016.com

Friday, 22 July 2016

Media mentions of my suspension from British Labour Party for writing poems


UPDATE 5/8/2016 A few people have asked if the story about me being suspended as an overseas member of The Labour Party in Britain for writing satirical poems ridiculing Jeremy Corbyn's opponents is itself a satire. It is not: this has actually happened. For more see the links below.
 
Over a month after the suspension I have still seen none of the "evidence" against me, despite having written asking for it, and have no idea who made the complaint which I am also, under the rules of natural justice, entitled to know.


In an article by former Labour Parliamentary candidate Andy Newman on UK based Left Futures blog
And also in Gene Kerrigan's column in last Sunday's Sunday Independent

Saturday, 16 July 2016

"administrative suspension"-UK Labour Party Head Office Object To Pro-Corbyn Satires

I yesterday received a letter, see below, from Ms Katherine Buckingham, Head of Disputes and Discipline at UK Labour Party Head Office in London informing me that I am now subject to a "an administrative suspension from holding office or representing the Labour Party." 
I am an overseas member of the British Labour Party; as most people know I live in Galway on the West coast of Ireland. I was born in London in 1967 and so am entitled to membership as a member of Labour International. I am a full member of the party, having joined last July. 

I hold no office in and have never claimed to represent the British Labour Party. Most people would not even be aware that I am a member of it. However, I did help organise and edit the online publication '21 Poems, 21 Reasons To Choose Jeremy Corbyn' as part of last summer's leadership election campaign, which included poems by a number of prominent UK & Irish poets. 

My understanding is that the "comments made on social media" referred to in Ms Buckingham's letter are the sharing, see below, of three of my satirical poems lampooning Jeremy Corbyn's opponents in the Labour Party.

The first poem is a satire about pro-war former Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn MP, which was first published in The Morning Star newspaper last December. 
The second poem is a satirical re-write of the Bruce Springsteen song 'The Ghost of Tom Joad', dedicated to right wing Labour MP for Mansfield, John Mann, who is most famous for chasing Ken Livingstone up some stairs in front of the media while shouting about Mein Kampf. 'The Ghost of Miniscule John Mann' was published last summer on Ireland's leading alternative literature website The Bogman's Cannon.

The third poem was also published in The Morning Star newspaper last summer, and it ridicules Jeremy Corbyn's detractors, quite reasonably comparing them to a variety of discredited characters in British history.

This is a clear attempt to interfere with my right to free speech, and indeed artistic freedom. Clearly those who long for the good old days when the British Labour Party could be summed up by the pictures below, don't like being laughed at.
  
There is, of course, no prospect at all that I'm going to stop laughing at the politically ridiculous. 

Some people tend to be endlessly surprised at the re-appearance of The Inquisition, for that is what this is. 
However, I am always expecting them. 

Those of you who are so minded can register your opposition to this smaller, and altogether less stylish, latter day inquisition by contacted Labour Party General Secretary Ian McNicol here 

Social media shares of this blog post would also be appreciated. 

In the meantime, my most recent satire on Jeremy Corbyn's critics was published on the UK based Socialist Unity site on Monday. It's called 'A Regressive Centrist Speaks Electability' and is dedicated to former feminist intellectual and Murdoch hackette Caitlin Moran, pictured below.   
UPDATE for most recent development on this see here

Further to my 'Adminstrative Suspension' from the British Labour Party for writing satirical poems


Lorraine Hardy, Membership Secretary of Labour International
Lorraine Hardy is the Membership Secretary of Labour International, the section of the British Labour Party catering for overseas members, of which I am one.

Following this blog post, I received the email below from Lorraine on Thursday evening.


From: Lorraine Hardy
Date: Thu, 14 Jul 2016 18:01:25 +0200
Subject: Suspension from the Labour Party
To: kphiggins@hotmail.com


Kevin 

We are advised that you have been administratively suspended from the Labour Party.  You therefore no longer appear on the Labour International membership list.  

You have therefore also been removed from the Labour International closed Facebook group. 

If the result of the investigation confirms that you remain in membership of the Labour Party and thus Labour International, we will welcome you back to the FB Group. 

Regards
Lorraine 

Lorraine Hardy
Secretary LICC
Labour International Coordinating Committee


I replied:

On 15 July 2016 at 00:37, kevin higgins <kphiggins@hotmail.com> wrote:
Dear Lorraine,

Who advised you?

Regards,

Kevin

To which Lorraine answered:

From: Lorraine Hardy
Date: Fri, 15 Jul 2016 12:31:09 +0200
Subject: Re: Suspension from the Labour Party
To: kphiggins@hotmail.com


Regards
Lorraine 

Lorraine Hardy
Secretary LICC
Labour International Coordinating Committee

 
She has yet to reply to my subsequent email:
 
kevin higgins (kphiggins@hotmail.com)

Sent: 15 July 2016 12:01:15
To: Lorraine Hardy 
Dear Lorraine,

You enthusiasm to act without instruction from party headquarters is admirable.

You will note, then, from the letter sent to me, which you will, I know, have read in detail, that the "administrative suspension" does not bar me from attending meetings of my local Labour Party branch, but only from representing the party, and attending other meetings, such as National Conference, until this absurdity is resolved.

You therefore have no business removing me from the Labour International membership list, though you enthusiasm to take this premature action will, I'm sure, meet with approval from some.

Furthermore, I have taken some legal advice this morning and been told that "Labour International is the equivalent of [my] local Labour Party branch". This being the case, I have been advised to insist that you immediately reinstate me in the Labour International Facebook group, or I will be forced to take action.

In your original email, you made it sound like you were operating on instruction for Labour Party HQ - "We are advised that you have been administratively suspended from the Labour Party". It is now clear though that my removal from both the membership list and the Facebook group were acts you rather over enthusiastically took upon yourself.

You now need to correct both of these.

Regards,

Kevin Higgins

As soon as Comrade Hardy gets back to me with her reply, I will post it here. 

Friday, 15 July 2016

Minor Farts In A Much Bigger Storm

Danuta Kean is a loud online supporter of the neo-Blairite attempted coup against Jeremy Corbyn. Danuta supports denying the 150,000 people who joined the Labour Party recently a vote; she supports the ban on Constituency Labour Parties meeting until September.

When challenged on these issues Danuta says this sort of thing [to me] "You have officially tipped over into fascism. Orwell would be shocked to know you can spell when you clearly can't think for yourself." These days every clown on Earth, from Tony Parsons to Nick Cohen's cat starts digging up George Orwell's corpse when trying to justify their support for something horrible, such as the UK Independence Party or the imposition of martial law in the British Labour Party.

Despite the fact that Danuta clearly has no idea that fascism actually means the sort of atrocities pictured below, she is taken seriously by some, most of all by herself. She is books editor of Mslexia magazine and the sort of person literary types of not much discernible talent think it cool to stay on the good side of. 
What fascists actually do, given the chance
An important thing to remember about people like Danuta is that they essentially don't matter, their opinions are just small gusts of wind, minor farts, in a much bigger storm. 

Such unpleasant expulsions of air are proof though that some people in and around  the media and literary world in the UK are becoming a little (ahem) emotional at the possibility of no more frothy coffees in Brighton in post-Brexit Britain. They despise the people of the North East of England and South Wales who, though I would have supported remain myself, voted for Brexit for entirely understandable reasons. Frothy coffee in Brighton is one thing, but something else altogether when consumed in Gateshead or Merthyr Tydfil.

Many of these types have, in their usual shallow attention seeking way, leapt up to support the attempted coup against Jeremy Corbyn. The fact that, when interviewed on The Last Leg,  he said that he was “7 or 7 ½ out of 10” in favour of the European Union has infuriated the poor darlings. When I took an online test during the referendum campaign it told me that I was 6/10 in favour of the EU. So I understand Jeremy’s hesitation at giving the EU the 10/10 which was the only answer that was going to satisfy the aforementioned metropolitan midget-brains. How anyone could be as enthusiastic as they appear to be about EU after said institution’s attempt, just last summer, to starve the people and democratically elected government into submission by strangling the Greek banking system is beyond me. If you give the EU 10/10 after that then, I’m sorry, but you are part of what’s wrong with the world right now.

Argument makes no difference to such people. They are so far gone that they believe that sending Chuka Umunna to Sunderland and Swansea to tell the good people of those cities how globalisation is actually good for them would have swung the referendum for Remain.
Devilishly handsome Blairite dreamboat Chuka Umunna
Such a strategy would, I’m pretty sure, have led to an even bigger vote for Brexit.

Now, this tragic band of Julie Burchill wannabees want to put things right by replacing Jeremy Corbyn with someone such as the dreadful Angela Eagle or that guy with the Welsh accent no one has heard of yet. They want a leader of the Labour Party who talks against austerity a bit in opposition, though not too loudly, and then implements it in office. For this is what will happen if the coup attempt against Jeremy Corbyn is successful. 

For more re: recent comical events in the British Labour Party see here.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Monday, 9 May 2016

Rita Ann Higgins says I'm a wasp


I get a mention in Rita Ann Higgins's Opening Keynote Speech at Éigse Michael Hartnett​ 2016, and she quotes a verse from my poem 'Austerity Mantra'. 
Rita Ann Higgins
Other poets to get mentions are Theodore Roethke, Auden, Yeats, Eavan Boland, Bertolt Brecht, Sarah Clancy, Padraig Fiacc, Stephen Murphy, Medbh McGuckian, and Michael Hartnett himself. Rita Ann's speech is titled 'Wasp In The Mug'. Apparently I am a wasp, or at least several of my poems are. Anyway, you can listen to her talk here.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Anti-semites, sumo wrestlers, & The Head of Rabbi Baroness Julia Neuberger

Rabbi Baroness Julia Neuberger - she's the one on the right.
My newest poem 'The Head of Rabbi Baroness Julia Neuberger' was published today on the U.K. based website Culture Matters, having earlier in the day first appeared on The Bogman's Cannon

The purpose of the poem is to help the distinguished Rabbi and Baroness in future distinguish between the two things pictured below.
This is an anti-semite.
This is a Sumo wrestler.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

'Revolution' poems and Poetry Day

"Poetry Day Ireland will take place on Thursday 28 April in 2016. The theme for 2016 is Revolution, whether that be artistic, political, social, or personal. Poetry has always closely reflected social change and transformation. In 2016, we aim to bring that aspect of the written (and spoken) word to the forefront in every school, venue, café, and street corner in Ireland. The theme is more of a springboard than a rigid structure. We [Poetry Ireland] encourage organisers and collaborators to rebel against it, to revolutionize it and make it their own." For more see the Poetry Ireland website.


An actual revolutionary
Another actual revolutionary


Saturday, 23 April 2016

Up The Rebels! poem in which I suggest a possible innovative use for toothpicks

Are you a literary networker with no discernible principles, or ideas of your own? I have a poem in this (below) in which I suggest a possible innovative use for toothpicks. 

 

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Michael O'Leary of Ryanair to be new Minister for Health

CEO of Ryanair, Michael O'Leary, is to be Minister for Health in the new partnership government. 

He has today announced a detailed policy which will, when fully implemented, transform Ireland's Health Service. You can read the details here.

In a statement, Mr O'Leary said that the Irish people needed to "get sensible and stop voting for lunatics." 
With the help of an overhead projector, Mr O'Leary went on to say that "in the real world, and also in the one I live in, every fucker knows that good government happens when this sort of thing
 
and this sort of thing
 come together to give you this sort of thing"

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Therapy Group For People Traumatised By My Poems

Tao Lin
My latest poem 'Note to self re: Evils of Hipster Careerism in The Literary Arts' - after Mel Brooks - was yesterday published on The Bogman's Cannon.


One young Irish writer has taken exception to this poem, though I think she has rather gotten hold of the wrong end of this particular stick.
Either way, I will now be starting a therapy group for people who have been traumatised by my poems. I will be joining myself, as will Spectator columnist Nick Cohen, and the former owners of this web address.

At all group meetings, the wearing of bowler hats will be mandatory.
 

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

In which I'm carried through gates of Leinster House by six naked (male) TDs

Maureen O'Sullivan TD, Sean Canney TD, & Shane Ross TD have this morning sent a document to both Enda Kenny & Micheál Martin proposing that one of my poems be the basis of a 'Programme for Partnership Government 2016-2019'. 
'Pop-Up Policies' is available on Clare Daly TD's website. As a poet, or, as the eminent U.K. historian Francis Wheen prefers to call me, a 'poet', this is a proud moment indeed.

Shane Ross phoned me this morning to ask if I would come along and read 'Pop-Up Polices' to the negotiating TD's. 
 I told him that I will, on one strict condition. 
I must be carried into the meeting, through the gates of Leinster House, by a group of six naked (male) TDs. Two from Fianna Fáil, two from Fine Gael, one from the Independent Alliance, and, if at all possible, Leader of the Green Party Eamon Ryan.

Deputy Ross told me that, the way the negotiations are going at the moment, that should not be a problem.