Saturday, 29 March 2014

My Upcoming Reading Tour of Syria

Bashar al-Assad was once rather cruelly descibed, by Christopher Hitchens, as "the human toothbrush". There is, undeniably, a certain likeness. Many people don't like Mr Assad. It's said of him that he's a homicidal dictator and even more desperate to stay in office than Alan Shatter. 

Mr Assad is clearly prepared to kill as many of his own people as he needs to so that he can remain leader of the country he inherited from his papa. A few in the west find something strangely admirable about this and get very foamy around the mouth if their hero is criticised.

These people think of themselve as "anti-imperialists". In the past being anti-imperialist meant being against bigger countries, such as Britain, Germany, Russia, Japan, France, Austria-Hungary, the United States or Ottoman Turkey using their military and economic might to impose their will on countries such as Ireland, India, Serbia, Vietnam, Algeria and so on. 

There are still some genuine anti-imperialists around - those who can bring themselves to oppose all those forces currently trying to interfere in the Ukraine i.e. the EU, Russia and the United States. But, increasingly, anti-imperialism is a bit like prog-rock. Once it's name has been spoken, you know you're on a downbound elevator which only stops in Hell.   

Anti-imperialism increasingly means (1) a serious love of psychopath dictators such as the unfortunately still alive Bashar al-Assad and (2) a love of world powers such as Russia and China because, and only because, they are not the United States.

Such people have always existed. Now, partly because of the ongoing anaemic weakness of the Left, they actually have some influence. If, say, Athlone Alliance Against War And General Badness, were to issue a statement clearly condeming the attempts of both the EU and Russia to interfere (and, in Russia's case, more than interfere) in the Ukraine then the aforementioned pure "anti-imperialists" would be out the door to set up a rival alliance of those who are really against war; so against it that they get a big silly hard on every time they see a picture of a Russian soldier doing his bit to annex the Crimea. 

In the past most of the Left would have been happy to let such people take that neccessary walk. Nowadays, it seems that the comrades are so politically lonely that they are generally willing to avoid such issues in order to placate the most deluded political hunchback in the room. This sometimes means pretending that there is some doubt as to who carried out the 9/11 attack. Other times it means avoiding anything more than passing criticism of gentlemen such as Assad and Putin. Unity at all costs, comrades, unity! One result of this is it often appears to the amateur observer as if the anti-war movement at grassroots level is mostly made of up of, well, oddballs.

In an entirely unrelated incident, I was this morning invited to do a reading tour of Syria. The invitation came from Micheal de Burca who, I think, lives in Dublin. Micheal has a problem: he is in love with Bashar al-Assad. Personally, I think Micheal's love for Mr Assad is a beautiful thing and that he should be allowed to fully express it. Perhaps, if Assad is overthrown, he might seek asylum here in Ireland and himself and Micheal could be a couple. If they decided to get married - here's hoping the referendum is passed - I would be happy to give Micheal away on the day, if he wanted me to. There is so much hate in the world; it's important that we properly celebrate the reality of love, even when it's a case of a bloke from Dublin with the hots for a political criminal who, all things considered, should probably have been smothered at birth. 

One result of Micheal's palpatating love for Assad is that he doesn't much like me. His dislike is such that he has offered to pay, out of his own pocket, for me to do a two month reading tour of Syria this coming June and July. Air fares, hotel accommodation, the lot. In his own words: "It will be worth it to get rid of you for a few months." 

I am delighted to accept Micheal's most generous invitation. Damascus, here I come.

Here is a poem which I dedicate to Micheal, may he rest in peace.

Friday, 28 March 2014

"I've been to paradise but I've never been to me"

I'm currently going through a phase of re-writing texts which interest or amuse me. My version - written from the male point of view - of Charlene's 1982 classic, I've Never Been To Me, is just published on the Jotters United Lit-zine. It's called 'Streets I'd Not Revisit'.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Galway, London, Dublin with Mick Wallace, Nadia Conway & Susan Lindsay

GALWAY LAUNCH @ The 2014 Cúirt International Festival of Literature. Sunday 13th April – Galway Arts Centre, 47 Dominick Street- 4:00pm. Salmon Poetry presents the launch of The Ghost In The Lobby by Kevin Higgins. The launch will be MCed by poet Elaine Feeney and the book will be launched by Mick Wallace TD.

Join the Facebook event here

The Ghost in the Lobby will be launched by former Conservative Mayor of Enfield Nadia Conway MBE @ Haringey Irish Centre, Pretoria Road, TottenhamN17 8DX on Sunday, April 20th. LAUNCH STARTS: 3pm. 

Nadia Conway with Prince Charles who, sadly, is not free to attend the London launch. 
                               Join the Facebook event here.

DUBLIN LAUNCH @ PEARSE STREET LIBRARY The Ghost in the Lobby will be launched by poet and editor of Skylight 47 Susan Lindsay on Tuesday April 29th, 6pm @ Pearse Street Library, 144 Pearse Street, Dublin 2. On the same evening Kevin will launch Susan Lindsay’s second collection of poems Fear Knot (Doire Press).  

Susan Lindsay 

Join the Facebook event here. 

In advance of the launch The Ghost in the Lobby can be purchased direct from the Salmon website.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Interviewed on The Catskill Review of Books

This week’s Catskill Review of Books, 3:30 Friday 14 March, Ian Williams talked to Irish poet Kevin Higgins about his most recent collection “The Ghost In The Lobby,” not to mention poetry, writing and politics.

You can listen to the interview here   

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

On Howie's Corner

There is a piece about my new book of poems, The Ghost in the Lobby, on the UK based political blog Howie's Corner blog. Thanks to Howard Fuller.

Kevin’s poetry has successfully attracted the ire of both right wing Catholics, one of whom described a poem of his as an “atrocity”, and Galway Socialist Workers Party whose response to one of his poems was to suggest that he had, in their collective opinion, masturbated too infrequently when he was a teenager.” Read the full article here.

RIP Bob Crow: "She is not au fait with trade unions..."

So sad to hear of Bob Crow's seriously untimely death today. In these days of short term contracts and most of us slowly working, and stressing, ourselves to death, Bob Crow successfully made a difference for his union's members. 

Here, in his memory, is a poem about a vile yoke I once worked with, who was "not au fait with trade unions": 

Each of her days its own picket line
she pleasures herself by crossing.
She is not au fait
with trade unions but smiles
like Magda Goebbels,
 of whom she has never heard.

The poem also features in my new book The Ghost in The Lobby.  

Monday, 10 March 2014

New poem 'Leaving The Party' published on Harry's Place current affairs website

I have a new poem, 'Leaving The Party', just published on the never controversial, UK based peacenik website Harry's Place. You can read the poem here.

In one of its stanzas the poem deals with George W. Bush's greatest crime: the fact that his foreign policy led to people writing poems in which "Iraq" was rhymed with "attack". For this, Bush should certainly be put on trial at The Hague.

More generally, the poem is about the way that left wing activists often find themselves in strange alliance with people who are, undeniably, a good deal stupider than the average reader of The Daily Express

The poem takes a pretty extreme position, a lot of which is tongue in cheek. No doubt this will be lost on many of those against whom the poem is aimed. They'll think I'm actually in the pay of the Israelis. Not to worry. There's only so much that can be done for those whose new best friend is a man called Vladimir Putin. God rest their souls.

The poem features in my new book The Ghost in the Lobby, which has its Galway Launch as part of the 2014 Cúirt Festival of International Literature on Saturday, April 13th, 4pm at Galway Arts Centre, with Mick Wallace TD doing the launch speech.

Word is Galway Friends of Vladimir Putin are booking a mini-bus to bring them all to the launch. They could just walk but, well, they like mini-buses. And who am I to criticise anyone's sexual preference.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

'The Ghost in The Lobby' to be launch by Mick Wallace TD at 2014 Cúirt Festival of International Literature

@ The 2014 Cúirt International Festival of Literature 

Sunday 13th April 
– Galway Arts Centre, 47 Dominick Street
- 4:00pm 

Salmon Poetry presents the launch 
 of The Ghost In The Lobby by Kevin Higgins  

The launch will be MCed by poet Elaine Feeney.

 The book will be launched by Mick Wallace TD

Admission: Free 
Praise for Kevin Higgins’s poetry: 
“His contribution to the development of Irish satire is indisputable ... Higgins’ poems embody all of the cunning and deviousness of language as it has been manipulated by his many targets... it is clear that Kevin Higgins’ voice and the force of his poetic project are gaining in confidence and authority with each new collection.” Philip Coleman

“Comedy is part of his poetics, and what I especially like in his work is its swiftness of wit, its tone of buoyant contrarianism and jubilant disappointment”, Eamonn Grennan, The Irish Times

“It is a profound compliment to the quality of Kevin’s writing that you can disagree with the content and yet find yourself still reading on and appreciating the style. You’d have to say that he is one of the lead poets of his generation in Ireland at this stage.” Clare Daly TD

“good satirical savagery”. The Cambridge Introduction to Modern Irish Poetry, 1800-2000 

Copies of The Ghost in the Lobby can purchased here in advance of the launch. 

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Ennis Book Club Festival

I will be talking about how to read poetry - not your own but other people's - at the Ennis Book Club Festival next Saturday morning.

I find new poets, for the most part, in poetry anthologies. One poem I stumble across will lead me to seek out more poems by the same poet. I'll be focussing on four anthologies in particular:

Staying Alive edited by Neil Astley, published by Bloodaxe, 

The Penguin Book of English Verse edited by Paul Keegan, 

99 Poems In Translation edited by Harold Pinter, Anthony Astbury & Geoffrey Godbert, published by Grove Press

& Identity Parade: New British & Irish Poets edited by Roddy Lumsden, published by Bloodaxe.

I will also talk a bit about the way the poems I read sometimes influence, very directly, the poems I write and will give a couple of  examples. Last November I rewrote a section of the Song of Songs, the sexy bit of the Bible, after reading it in a poetry anthology. I will read the result next Saturday morning.

Tickets for the event can be booked here.

After lunch, I will be reading from my new poetry collection The Ghost in the Lobby, alongside American poet Christopher Locke, whose work I have long admired.