Thursday, 30 January 2014

Granard Co. Longford thirty years ago tomorrow

The 1983 anti-abortion Ammendment to the Irish Constitution had nothing to do with Ann Lovett's death, thirty years ago today, while giving birth alone, at the age of fifteen, in this grotto in Granard, County Longford in the same way that Governor George Wallace of Alabama and Governor Ross Barnett of Mississipi and Governor Lester Maddox of Georgia had nothing to do with lynchings. Funnily enough, they were against abortion too.

Poem: 'Irish Government Minister Unveils Monument To Victims of Pro-Life Ammendment'

Saturday, 25 January 2014

5C Vicarage Parade, Tottenham, London N15

I have a new poem 'To A Smarties Mug' which is superficially about, well, a tea/coffee mug which once lived at 5C Vicarage Parade, Tottenham, London N15. It's about a lot more than that of course.

Anyone who ever lived at, or visited, said address should buy a copy of Skylight 47 poetry paper, in which the poem is just published, and immediately consult his or her solicitor. 

The poem may also be of interest to those who know the Tottenham area. 

Or even if you're unlucky enough to have never been to Tottenham, you may still be interested in buying a copy of the current issue of Skylight 47 which can be purchased here via Paypal at a most reasonable price.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Poets For Sale: All Offers Considered

I have an opinion piece on the subject of corporate sponsorship of poetry in the new issue of Skylight 47, to be launched next Thursday, January 23rd, 6.30pm at Galway City Library. 

The piece is titled ‘Poets For Sale: All Offers Considered’ and includes the words ‘mankini’, ‘rotund’, ‘gentlemen’, ‘farmers’, ‘Fidelma’, ‘Healy’, ‘Eames’ and ‘transactions’.
Come to the launch next Thursday, January 23rd, 6.30-8pm in Galway City Library, or if you can’t make the launch, do buy a copy. It can be purchased online here.

 Below are the photos I got when I googled ‘mankini’, ‘rotund’, ‘gentlemen’, ‘farmers’, ‘Fidelma’, ‘Healy’, ‘Eames’ and ‘transactions’

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Have You Been Actively Seeking Work Since You Last Signed?

Joan Burton believes in redistributing wealth from the unproductive economy i.e. the unemployed to the more enterprising elements in our society. Such as the now famous consultants employed by Irish Water

My poem 'Have You Been Actively Seeking Work Since Last Signed?' is one man's tribute the heroic work of Joan's Department of Social Protection. The poem was published yesterday on the website of Clare Daly TD for Dublin North.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Outburst's outburst & New Planet Cabaret: Two Roads Diverge

I have a poem in the latest issue of Outburst, alongside George Szirtes, Breda Wall Ryan, Michael O’Loughlin, John Ennis and others. You can read the magazine here.  

Sadly, the editorial in this issue is, well, and I say this with the greatest respect, a load of reactionary garbage. Not reactionary in the witty, amusing Evelyn Waugh/William F. Buckley manner. That would be fine. 
William F. Buckley Jnr

I can be a bit of reactionary myself sometimes; earlier this evening the great Marxist theoretician, Jimmy Dignam (late of Joe Higgins’s Dáil Office) called me a “right wing scumbag” on Twitter and he’s probably at least partly right; my poem ‘Use’, for example, which you can read here, could not have been written by someone who wasn’t a bit of a right wing scumbag at least some of the time. 

The editor’s introduction to this issue of Outburst is a cranky and ungenerous attack. He even implies that the true poems are written in "isolated garrets". A piece of nonsense  for which he should, at the very least, be awarded dinner for two with Barney Sheehan. 
One of the points the Outburst editorial tries to make flies in the face of my own very recent experience: “The notion of writing for a so-called ‘public’ is sad, in any case. The number of people who actually read poetry can be numbered in the low hundreds and of those the numbers who try to understand it can be slashed by multiples.” 

Well, to mention just one example, my ‘Pantoum for Limerick National City of Culture’, has, Chris Murray tells me been viewed a couple of thousand times since it was published on her blog earlier this week. 

A while back I found one of the poems from my first book, The Boy With No Face, quoted in an article about Occupy London. The internet has opened up tremendous possibilities for poets capable of writing poems those the Outburst editorial so contemptuously refers to as the "so-called 'public' " might want to read. Not because some poetry world head says they should. But just because. Those are the readers I am most interested in these days. You know. Real people and the like. 

Certainly, there are bad poets who try to use Facebook to push their work. But to use a magazine editorial to make what amounts to a generalised attack on the community of Irish poets, especially the younger social media savvy generation, is a disgrace. As I say, dinner for two with Barney Sheehan would be a fitting punishment. 

Here is the Outburst editorial in full: 
"It is unfortunate that the poetry scene has been tarnished by recent, highly publicized instances of plagiarism, yet the revelations of the despicable practice should not surprise poets. There are too many poetry competitions awarding too much money to the winners. Fame, it seems can come too easily by way of social media. Facebook seems to have created a new phenomenon, the instant poet, whose ‘work’ often seems to have incubated overnight with little attention having been paid to the craft of writing, before it is thrust upon a tired public. 

Of course the Irish poetry world is clique ridden and exclusionist and has been so for too many decades, yet this very Irish trait should inspire, rather than deter poets. Maybe not enough of us are asking, for whom do we write? If the answer is for awards, or fame, or, God help us, for publication in Poetry Ireland, maybe we should be writing jingles for Tayto crisps or Milk Tray chocolate. The notion of writing for a so-called ‘public’ is sad, in any case. The number of people who actually read poetry can be numbered in the low hundreds and of those the numbers who try to understand it can be slashed by multiples. Someone has said if we get three people to read our poems we are doing well, a sobering observation and not one without foundation if we recall some of the gushy references to Seamus Heaney’s work in the aftermath of his death. 

True, driven, poets will continue to write poetry in spite of the distractions that plague the scene. Forged in the fire of rejection and crafted in the isolated garret, it will endure to enthral and enlighten when the instant poem and its unworthy mentors are lessons in how not to promote the arts in Ireland."

Meanwhile, an alternative to such crankiness is outlined by Dave Lordan in his introduction to the recent anthology New Planet Cabaret: Billy Ramsell has used the term amphibious to describe our post-2.0 generation of creative writers who seem to breathe just as easily between the covers of the book as they do in front of a lively late night audience, who produce work in the multiple formats found on the web, who are not sure and perhaps not all that concerned whether they are poets, performance poets, rappers, stand-ups, filmmakers . . .  who organise and promote gigs and festivals, as well as performing at them, who publish books as well as writing them. What are we a ′tall a ′tall? We are whatever we desire to be at the time, I guess. We are what the occasion demands. Trans-writers is how I like to think of us and a trans-generation that takes pride in usurping outmoded artistic distinctions and labels in the Arts is a generation I’m very happy to  belong in.”  Dave’s full introduction can be read here

I know which vision of the future I prefer. Indeed, if I believed the Outburst view of the Irish poetry world was anything like reality I’d lock myself in the wardrobe this minute and start lighting fires, which is perhaps something I should consider doing anyway.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

My poetic tribute to Pat Cox's ongoing linguistic genius

He is one of those great men that littler men (and indeed women) often try to bring down. Unlike your average gurrier in the street, former leader of Europe Pat Cox knows how to talk in big fancy sentences connected together by lots of semi-colons.

The former President of the European Parliament has been the subject of a certain amount of criticism from fringe elements for his role, as Chairman of the Board, in the great success that has been the first week of Limerick National City of Culture 2014.  

My poetic tribute to Pat Cox's ongoing linguistic genius, 'Pantoum for Limerick National City of Culture 2014', was yesterday published on poet Chris Murray's blog Poethead and also on Irish Left Review

There is no truth at all in the rumour being spread by some subversive elements on the internet that, shortly after he heard about this poem, Pat Cox was yesterday cautioned by Gardaí for trying to steal a pair of Pantoum from the lingerie department of the Childers Road branch of Dunnes Stores.

Another former leader of Europe reacts to news of Limerick National City of Culture's glorious first week.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

I Have Been Invited To Read My Poems At 'Monster Rally'

I have just received a phone call inviting me to read two of my poems at the Monster Rally that is being organised by Lucinda Creighton at a very large venue, to be announced, later this month.

The two poems I will be reading on the day include one that has been personally requested by Lucinda Creighton herself, which you can read here, and another that has been requested by Shenator Fidelma Healy Eames, which you can read here.

This is a great honour, obviously. Also taking part will be David McWilliams who will be there to appeal to middle aged women of no particular opinions. And - a little something for you rugby types out there - according to today's Sunday Independent Tom McGurk's roasting testicular sac will be driven into the stadium in a Popemobile

Ice will be provided free of charge to all menopausal men in attendance. 

Friday, 3 January 2014

First Marilyn Monroe, then Princess Diana, now Jimmy Savile

Limerick City of Culture 2014 - Time To Say Goodbye

As Limerick City of Culture 2014 descends into something approaching total disaster, I think it's clear why:

"FORMER MEP and president of the European Parliament Pat Cox signed off on hiring his former assistant to a top job which was not advertised." (Irish Independent, November 2013) 

Patricia Ryan was an assistant to Cox while he was an MEP and also worked for Cox’s Progressive Democrat colleague Mary Harney while she was in government. She has no specific experience of working within the arts sector.

She was appointed to the job of CEO of Limerick City of Culture. Pat Cox is the Chair of the Board. The job was not advertised.

Ms Ryan’s lack of arts experience showed when she asked that lyrics in a rap song composed for Limerick City of Culture 2014 by two young people from Moyross, Nathan Keane and Calvin McNamara, be changed. See today’s Irish Times. The lyrics remained the same and you can hear them here. The rap song starts about one minute and fifty four seconds in

Limerick City of Culture 2014 began on January 1st i.e. on Wednesday. Then yesterday, January 2nd, the Artistic Director Karl Wallace (below) and two other people involved in programming the festival all resigned. 

I've always thought Pat Cox a knob of the most extravagant order, with all due respect to knobs everywhere, which can actually be quite useful in certain circumstances, certainly more useful than the appropriately named Mr Cox. Surely now he should be told by the government to resign as Chairman of the Board and his former assistant, Patricia Ryan, should be asked to clear her desk also? It isn’t working. 

Pat Cox, second from right, urging people to say yes to a bunch of stuff 

I'm not a petition signer generally, when it comes to arts related issues. Those who rush to sign them, especially the online variety, tend to be a mix of the most tragic bastards going and people who fantasise that the arts establishment and perhaps also the Jews are conspiring against them.

However, I would certainly put my name to a petition of artists and arts organisers calling on the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan, and the Limerick City and County manager, Conn Murray, to tell Patricia Ryan and Pat Cox that, though it's been fun, it is - in the words of Andrew Lloyd Weber - time to say goodbye.

Given Pat Cox's dismissal of the issues raised by the resignations my poem 'Portrait of The Boss Shaking Hands With Himself' is, I think, appropriate. It's from my 2005 collection The Boy With No Face.