Wednesday, 29 April 2015

My poem for Breda O'Brien & Iona Institute gets Irish Times mention

My poem 'What The Virgin At Knock Would Say If She Could Speak', which is dedicated to Breda O'Brien and The Iona Institute, got a mention on the Irish Times website yesterday.

The poem is from my 2014 collection The Ghost In The Lobby, which was published by Salmon Poetry

RTE Poetry Programme Interview

I was on the RTE Poetry Programme last Saturday evening talking to Rick O'Shea about my upcoming online poetry workshop, which starts next week. You listen to the show on the RTE player here. My interview is, more or less, the final ten minutes. 

If you're interested in booking a place on the course, which starts next Wednesday, you can do so here

Saturday, 25 April 2015

'Static' by Gráinne McHale

Poem by Gráinne McHale


Backward steps
into a burnt-out womb.

The smell of those trees I knew.
There, looking at me,
across from a house
I lived in years ago.
I live near it again now,
beside the landlady’s son[i]
but he doesn’t know me.
I think.

People go by too fast for me to know.
People I used to know in each place.
All gone,
always going.
I know no one now,
no one knows me.
No one would know if I was not here.

If I died that would be some comfort
if there was someone who missed me
I could wait around for a bit
to help them get over it.
My Mum n’ Dad would be sad,
my brother
but the people I loved
without permission -
The Boys -
like they were my own soul
like they were God’s soul.

A Holy Trinity -
Jodie, Johnny, Roddy.
The last two were mirror similar:
ginger, freckled, ivory, svelte.
A beautiful, self-perpetuating
biological pattern,
like cancer.

Being so displeasing to one
might have been alright.
But three?
No, I suppose it would’ve been
like drinking and limits.
Two’s my limit,
way over with the third.

The third being Roddy,
with the rose petal, crème egg kisses,
belonging to some new girlfriend
or other every time I saw him.
Then – every time - he stole a kiss
goodbye from my lips
and I’d never see it coming.
To go home and put my hand in the fire.

I left his city
and came back to my town.
Out of fright,
out of exhaustion.

To live again near the trees
that knew me to see
back then before I left
for the big city.
I didn’t know them then
but remember them now
to smell.

[i] The landlady’s son referred to is me. Mom died on May 31st 2011.

Gráinne McHale is from County Galway. She graduated in 2010 with a BA Fine Art in GMIT Galway and is currently studying for a MA Writing at NUIG. She writes poetry and fiction; has made a number of short films and her artwork has been exhibited both internationally and at home. Her website is and her work also features on The Bogman’s Cannon. Gráinne was a Featured Reader at the March Over The Edge: Open Reading in Galway City Library. 

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Poem I was commissioned to write by Trinity College Dublin

Today I completed an occasional poem titled simply 'Poem Commissioned For Trinity College Symposium on Eustace McNally'. 

The English Department at Trinity College Dublin commissioned me to write this piece; I’m reliably informed that a number of academics will have to be sold off to raise the money needed to pay me my fee. 

You can read it here

Sunday, 19 April 2015

The Haircut

I've published a number of new poems online recently and the reaction has been universally positive.
Here is my most recently published effort which is less overtly political than recent others; it's called 'The Haircut' and thanks to Chris Murray for giving it space on her fine Poethead poetry website.
I will be getting a haircut myself on Tuesday (it being Cúirt Festival week here in Galway) and plan to get one in this style myself.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Aborted babies heating British Hospitals?

Cora Sherlock, Vice Chairperson of the Irish Pro-Life Campaign, is, as the Weekly Standard once said of Sinéad O'Connor's ex-boyfriend, John Waters, "one of the most original thinkers in Europe right now".  

On April 1st Cora issued the following audacious Tweet 
Despite the date, it was not an April fool, at least not consciously so. Indeed it's nothing Cora hasn't said before. When Cora said similiar on Twitter late last summer, it let me to write 'Renewable Energy: Cora Sherlock’s Excellent Suggestion', a constructive contribution to the ongoing abortion/renewable energy debate, written in poetic form. It was originally published on Chris Murray's always lively Poethead site. 

Cora's April fools day resurrection of the issue on Twitter resulted in this article, in which both Cora's excellent suggestion and my poem feature, being published yesterday on the U.S. based left wing political blog We Know What's Up.  

It appears that Cora is a bit miffed by all this, and thinks I'm joking. 

I can assure you Cora, me auld mucker, I am quite, quite serious. 

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Ode To Ian Duncan Smith - a second poem for the UK General Election

My poetic tribute to Ian Duncan Smith (IDS) is published today here

The British General Election campaign kicked off on Monday. IDS is the Minister for Welfare Reform, and  Member of Parliament for the constituency of Chingford and Woodford Green, in North London, which neighbours Edmonton, an area I used to live in, and about which I published a poem on Sunday.  

Today was a very emotional day for me, politically. This afternoon Edmonton Labour Party began following me on Twitter
This momentous event comes twenty three years, six months and twenty days after I was expelled from Edmonton Labour Party's ranks for membership of The Militant Tendency and "sustained activity likely to bring the Labour Party into disrepute" because of my involvement in the anti-poll tax campaign.

It is an emotional day for all concerned, obviously. I may even have privately shed a small tear.