Wednesday, May 17, 2017
The Rising Son is a debut children's novel by Brian Kirk. It is at once a comfortable and familiar read, familiar in the sense that it describes Irish family life and culture. While doing this it also educates the unfamiliar eye about what it means to be Irish. Kirk approaches this neutrality through the 12-year-old protagonist Jack O'Connor who has grown up in London with an Irish mother but without much sense of the Irish culture, for example his lost extended family in Dublin, Dublin city itself, the pleasure of tea drinking, the history of Ireland and Gaelic football.
While on one level The Rising Son is something of an erudition on Irish socio-cultural heritage it also attempts to explore the socio-historical in bringing the 1916 Rising to life through the eyes of Jack and his friend Willie Mahon. They do say that the best way to learn about something is to experience it. Kirk employs a fantastical blanket (capable of time travel) that has been passed down through the generations to do this. Does this go far enough to be fantastic or should it go further? You will have to read the book yourself to discover this. It is a nice touch by the writer to remind us through a character, Robert Burke, that the word dream comes from the Saxon and German word traum and since Freud's theories has had close links with the word trauma. Has Jack been dreaming or has he really been to the past?
The Rising Son is an enjoyable, well thought out and well conceived book. I was surprised I enjoyed it as well as I did. It poses questions for the times we live in by allowing time and mindset to overlap. It is testament to the writer that this can be measured but Kirk himself is the descendant of a member of the RIC and of a quartermaster for Cumann na mBan in 1916.
Friday, May 5, 2017
The The Ogham Stone is the gift that keeps on giving this year. The excellent introduction to the journal by Giles Foden appeared in The Irish Times recently. I was honoured to have a poem appear in the journal, Lau Tzu at the Door which I also recorded for Lagan Online's Poetry Day Ireland Mix Tape. Poet Glen Wilson also appears in The Ogham Stone and on the mix tape.
In relation to my poem Foden writes about how a channel for memory is created when things are given names. This is one of the powers of words and of writing, the power to sweep away the old and create the new in the naming. This is the symbolic if you like.
In other news I was recently delighted to make the Longlist of 20 for The Anthony Cronin International Poetry Award 2017.
Monday, April 24, 2017
Poetry Ireland Day will be celebrated in The Castle Arch Hotel, Trim, Co. Meath at 8 p.m. this coming Thursday night, 27th April. The Boyne Writers Group will host an Open Mic event. All are welcome to attend and read a poem or two. Tea, coffee and biscuits will be provided for all those signing up on the night.
More info here http://www.poetryireland.ie/whats-on/poetry-connects-in-meath
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
The Dreamer of Dreams - Edmund Dulac (1915)
The Ofi Press is an international online literary magazine based in Mexico City, Palma de Mallorca, Luxembourg and Savannah, Georgia. Submissions were accepted for a special ARCTIC edition to be co-edited by Jack Little and Agnes Marton, following Agnes' recent research trip to the Arctic circle.
I was delighted to have a poem called Norman Bates Dreams of Snow accepted for this issue of The Ofi Press which I commend for its highlighting of the beauty of the Arctic as it faces global warming melting the ice and companies seeking to exploit the environment for oil. According to Greenpeace The people and animals that live in the Arctic depend on its unique ecosystem to survive. Yet major companies like Shell and Exxon are making aggressive moves to usher in a new “oil rush” in the Arctic Ocean. In some places it has already begun. Russian oil giant Gazprom has already begun producing small amounts of oil from the Arctic in the ocean north of Russia.
I wrote three poems for this submission call and in the end Norman Bates Dreams of Snow wrote itself. There is a lot of quality work to read in this issue and I especially enjoyed Drawing the North by Ellis O'Connor for her first-hand account of being in the Arctic. Congratulations to all involved. You can read the entire issue here http://en.calameo.com/read/00473905900e81dd8869f
The Ofi Press Special Arctic Issue
Thursday, March 9, 2017
I picked up a copy of Doireann Ní Ghríofa's first English-language collection of poems, Clasp, in the library recently. I was happy to find that I enjoyed reading her poems and I got the impression that this is someone worth reading and listening to. There is a freshness and a simplicity to her lines that quietly pull you in.
The poems touch on subjects such as the moral quandary faced by the housemaid of Emily Dickinson; whether to burn her work or keep the poet's words which awaken the maid at night? (Valise of Memories) A trip to Chile is evoked in Maeve in Chile where Ní Ghríofa concludes that though she is very far from home geographically she has never been closer emotionally. Childhood memories arise in Triolet from the keeper of childhood memories, motherhood in Jigsaw and female mutilation in the uncomfortable Instructions To Kill A Daughter's Minotaur. Heady lust swims in After School and In the Post Office. Narcissus is a clever and modern take on the character from myth. The very Irish issue of industrial school abuse is explored in At Letterfrack. Waking meanwhile is dedicated to Savita Halappanavar. The book finishes with the long, weaving Seven Views of Cork City.
Clasp is divided into three sections, Clasp, Cleave Clench. I recommend reading a copy of Clasp, published by Dedalus Press, 2015.
Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Boyne Berries 21 will be launched on Thursday, 30th March, 2017 at 8 p.m in The Castle Arch Hotel by poet Jackie Gorman. All are welcome to attend. Many of the contributors will read on the night. Copies of the magazine will be available to purchase on the night.
Jackie Gorman is from Athlone. Her poetry has been published in a number of publications including Poetry Ireland Review, The Honest Ulsterman, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, The Lonely Crowd and Obsessed With Pipework. Her work has been commended in the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Awards. In 2016, she won the Phizzfest Poetry Award.She is currently studying for an MA in Poetry Studies at the Irish Centre for Poetry Studies at DCU.
Boyne Berries 21 features work by:
Anamaria Julia Dragomir
Maria Isakova Bennett
Christine Valters Paintner
Caroline Carey Finn
Sunday, January 22, 2017
The Ogham Stone literary journal are pleased to invite you to the launch of our 2017 publication. The launch is scheduled to take place on Saturday 4 February at 8pm at the Doolin Writers’ Weekend. Full programme details of the Writers’ Weekend can be found at http://www.doolinfestivals.
The journal will be launched by the University of Limerick Writer in Residence Julian Gough, and attended by many other writers, contributors, representatives from the university and members of The Ogham Stone editorial team.
The magazine will have a second launch, later in February at the University of Limerick. I'm delighted to have a poem included in this issue.