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Friday, December 31, 2010

Bright Blessings for the new year 2011

It is now time to bid farewell to the Holly King and welcome in the Oak.  May it be a prosperous year.  Love and light to all!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Southword 19

Since I have some time on my hands I've been reading some of the poems in the very impressive Southword Journal online.  It is edited by the somewhat prodigious to date Leanne O'Sullivan.  The American poet Billy Collins has two poems included.  I frequently read his collection The Trouble With Poetry and Other Poems in the bath.  He is a cool writer:

The birds are in their trees,
the toast is in the toaster,
and the poets are at their windows.

They are at their windows
in every section of the tangerine of earth-
the Chinese poets looking up at the moon,
the American poets gazing out
at the pink and blue ribbons of sunrise.

he writes in his poem Monday.  I like this poem because it makes me think how it is the mundane the poet always sees anew, and how poetry is simply a way of life.  In Southword he has a poem about Paris as does Mike Alexander.  I must visit Pere Lachaise cemetery if I return to that city. 

Vona Groake has a great poem called The Galway Train in the journal.  A lot of the poetry seems to be influenced by travel and European (is that now a dirty word?) culture.

There is a lot to read in this journal so here is a link

Myself, I've written three verses of a poem that may offer a comment on the year that is ending.  It came about suddenly when I was startled by the colour of the evening sky.

Happy New year if I'm not back again beforehand.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

NUIG Writers Exchange

I was invited by Liam Duffy of  NUI Galway's Writers Society to participate in this exchange.  I met Liam a couple of years ago when I had a poem published in The Sharp Review (the journal of the writers society).

I sent some poems to the society and recently received some anonymous work back.  I have to comment on the pieces and choosing one I like in particular email it to the society explaining why I like it.  This piece will be published in a chapbook.  At the end of January I will receive the address of the writers work I am reviewing and post my critique to him/her.  I should then receive a critique of my collection too.

Liam says "remember to give as much feedback as you feel you would appreciate as a writer, comment on individual pieces, comment on the collection as a whole, comment on style, structure, phonetics, directions you would like to see the writer go, what you enjoyed, what you didn't and why, feel free suggest to restructuring or cutting and anything else you need to say."

Fortunately I have some experience in this field already as I have helped Michael edit some poetry for Boyne Berries magazine in the past.  Concentration is now needed after the Christmas revelry.  My sister Vivian and I are pictured below on Christmas day.  She thinks I should have written a book by now, no pressure like!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

I've spent the afternoon and evening cleaning the kitchen and laying the table for dinner tomorrow, in the end a thoroughly enjoyable task.  If you can manage to enjoy your labour then it becomes no labour at all!  On the creative side of things I've had the image of some sort of blue angel popping in and out of my mind for a week now.  Who are you?  You're a pure, caring and happy guy anyway.  I think he needs to be painted perhaps, though I did paint his resemblance on a large sheet of paper that was to serve as part of the set for our Christmas carols in Montessori class.  The songs were cancelled of course due to poor road conditions.

This morning I hoped to hand in a hamper of foods to the St. Vincent de Paul but the shop was closed and I didn't know where else I could have left it.  I was disappointed by this.  It's probably about -11 or-12 again tonight and I've noticed the foxes appearing close to the roads (like last year).  I'm really looking forward to going to mass, exchanging presents, spending time with my family and having a glass of bubbly tomorrow. 

Merry Christmas everyone!

As once the winged energy of delight

As once the winged energy of delight
carried you over childhood's dark abysses,
now beyond your own life build the great
arch of unimagined bridges.

Wonders happen if we can succeed
in passing through the harshest danger;
but only in a bright and purely granted
achievement can we realize the wonder.

To work with Things in the indescribable
relationship is not too hard for us;
the pattern grows more intricate and subtle,
and being swept along is not enough.

Take your practiced powers and stretch them out
until they span the chasm between two
contradictions...For the god
wants to know himself in you

Rainer Maria Rilke

Sunday, December 19, 2010

December Boyne Readings

Pictured above is myself and below are Paddy Smith and Tommy Murray on Thursday in the Knightbridge Village Hall Library.  It was an enjoyable night and we had tea/coffee, mince pies and chat to complete the event.  Tommy Murray from Meath Writers Circle attended and it was agreed that he has had a very successful year.  He read his pieces that have been included in The Stoney Thursday Book and The Moth.

Also present was Peter Goulding who has recently won the Odes to Olympians poetry contest. 

Pictures are courtesy of Michael Farry (I'd forgotten to bring my camera).  I read three festive poems, Butterfly in December, Advent and Santa Claus.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Rainer Maria Rilke

I had a friend once, well I'm not sure if she was a friend or an angel sent to help me along my way but she was a formidable presence and so very intelligent and wise.  I knew this woman superficially yet I believe she knew me very well.  One thing I know she liked was poetry and she liked my poetry.  Rainer Maria Rilke makes me think of her:

You, You Only, Exist

You, you only, exist.
We pass away, till at last,
our passing is so immense
that you arise: beautiful moment,
in all your suddenness,
arising in love, or enchanted
in the contraction of work.

To you I belong, however time may
wear me away. From you to you
I go commanded. In between
the garland is hanging in chance; but if you
take it up and up and up: look:
all becomes festival!

Rainer Maria Rilke

I remember (love)

So long it has been but now and then
(and on dark winter nights)
it is with gladness of heart
that I greet the form of you
come back for an instant
to make me smile
like the flame from the fire
or a forgotten voice

but you are gone,
far down the river,
whispering back so that I know
you were true, shadow
that cut deeper than any blade,
that raised my eyes to the sun
and laughing, suddenly you were done!

No thanks could be given. None at all.
But I take you with me to a blue sky
to the calligraphy of the birds
with pounding chests
drenched with rains of light
on their wings.

Orla Fay

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Freeze Travel Survival Guide (Things She Learned in the Frost)

Frozen Trees, Retaine

What a trying week it has been.  We returned to work  despite the elements but it has been an adventure.  On Monday night the snow returned coming down to us from the north west.  I found Wednesday morning the coldest I have ever experienced.  (This was also the morning after the budget)  I woke up in the night to find my joints cold and when I went downstairs to open the front door the ice had come inside and even got into the lock.  I knew this was different.  I then turned on my car to see the temperature reading -13.  I had trouble getting my car to move forward and when on the Trim to Navan road I had to stop.  To conclude this much longer tale my brakes had frozen and the back right tyre locked.  Some hot water set me right and eventually on my way.

I have learned the following things from experience and observation which will leave me prepared for next year:

1) If your tyre isn't turning the brake pads are likely frozen and you should pour hot water on the pads, or de-icer.
2) Bring a shovel in your car.
3) Keep a bag of sand in your boot.
4) Bring your wellies in the boot and an extra coat.
5) Always have credit in your mobile phone in case of emergencies.
6) Don't pull into a snowy verge to allow someone to pass as you will get stuck.
7) Don't use your brakes, go down in gear instead.
8) When driving up a hill keep a steady pace.
9) Give yourself an extra half hour to get where you are going.
10) Don't stop if you can help it as it is best to have the momentum with you.

These are hard and harsh times.  Christmas is around the corner.  I hope everyone has someone to help them through any difficulties they might have.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Snow, No Work, Winterlight & Two Pairs of Socks

I've been drinking too much coffee and tea as I've been off work since Wednesday due to the snow, ice and bad driving conditions.  It is very frustrating not being able to work and slightly unnerving but I'm hoping to be back on the job on Monday.  Yesterday and today I've been wearing two pairs of socks and wellies when outside.  The King Arthur Trilogy by Rosemary Sutcliff has arrived and I read Curious Wine by Katherine V. Forrest the other night. 

On the plus side I have written two new poems, a 32 and a 38 liner of free verse.  I found myself greatly influenced by the snow, the arthurian legends and raw emotion in composing these.   Today I'm going to work on a short story that is unfinished.  I have about 1000 words and  would like to get another 1000 done!

Winterlight is a poem by Connolly that has at its heart some very personal meaning for the poet and the poetic voice she has is very strong.  In winter the sun's rays hit the northern hemisphere at an oblique angle which means that the same amount of solar radiation has to be spread out over a larger area, I fink. Now I am also wondering what are the  months of winter, are they November, December and January or December, January and February?

The River Thames was frozen sometimes between the 15th and 19th centuries.  This makes me think of Orlando by Virginia Woolf, which is just an outrageous and wonderful book:

Instead of taking the road to London, therefore, they turned the other way about and were soon beyond the crowd among the frozen reaches of the Thames where, save for sea birds and some old country woman hacking at the ice in a vain attempt to draw a pailful of water or gathering what sticks or dead leaves she could for firing, not a living soul ever came their way...

Hence, Orlando and Sasha, as he called her for short, and because it was the name of a white Russian fox he had as a boy - a creature soft as snow, but with teeth of steel, which bit him so savagely that his father had it killed - hence, they had the river to themselves.

pg. 18 Orlando, Virginia Woolf.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Sleep of Winter

Yin and Yang (summer is yang and winter yin)

Yes another blog title that may become a poem!  I read today on a facebook status update that during this time of year the margin between Here and There wears thin and the life dreamed is blended with the life lived.  Where exactly is There you might find yourself asking?  Ah who knows but the sage or the shaman, isn't this the great mystery? 

While driving slowly into town I thought of Susan Connolly's concept of winterlight, of course I cannot find her collection of poems now that I am looking for it, maybe it's under the bed, or in the car or hiding away under some books.  The light in winter can be spectacular, the sunsets especially in December have taken my fancy in the past few years.  Now I feel the oppressing presence of winter on my mind at times but according to the Chinese winter is a time when we should slow down and nourish our inner selves, just as the animals hibernate perhaps so should we.  When we are at peace with ourselves there is nothing we cannot conquer.  Again I am amazed by nature and how everything we need to learn may already be woven within its divine tapestry for us to discover and interpret.   I feel a bit frustrated as I know I could describe these concepts better if I understood them more.  While I have always seen spring as the time to create and start anew now I can sense that these dark months can be used to plant seeds and create as roots sleep in the earth surely they must dream of the life to come?

"Water element represent the most extreme Yin state. It is the phase when the energy is stored, awaiting a time to explode outward, initiating a new life cycle. Winter is the season associated with Water. If the energy of water can be retained, it will provide strength through the life cycle. If the energy is wanted, the remainder of the cycle will be weakened. Deficiency of water manifests in fear, paranoia, poor resistance, cold, lower back and knee pain and general bodily weakness." from

I think that if I have learned anything from today it is not to forget the beauty of poetry and to remember why I write at all, or ever wrote, which is because life is so beautiful sometimes that it cannot be contained but must find a medium of expression. 

Death of a Season

(translated by Catherine O'Brien)

All night long it rained
on the memories of summer.

We went out in the dark
between the dismal thundering of stones,
standing on the brink with outstretched lanterns
to explore the danger of the bridges.

Pale at dawn we saw the swallows
drenched and motionless on the wires
looking out for secret signals to depart -

and on the ground they were reflected
in the defeated faces of the fountains.

Antonia Pozzi

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Mordred by Kamille Freske

Sir Mordred has held my interest for a couple of weeks and I wanted to write my next sonnet about him.  I didn't find much out about him online.  He was the bastard son of Arthur by Morgause (some say by Morgan le Fay).  Morgause was Arthur's half sister.  It is unclear whether the King raped Morgause or whether she mistook him for her husband or enchanted him.

I found it interesting to try and play devil's advocate by understanding how Mordred might have felt growing up and how he became the villain of the tales.  In pursuing this vein of thought I discovered that Rosemary Sutcliff wrote some books on Arthurian legend (which I have ordered a trilogy of) and another she wrote is called Sword at Sunset.  Hint hint, if anyone wants to get me a Christmas present I'd love this book!  I was a huge fan of Sutcliff when I was 11 and 12 and The Eagle of the Ninth left a lasting and good impression on me.

It's been another productive week for me as I finished a different poem I have been working on since Sunday tonight too.   I think I'll move onto Lancelot next maybe. 


Child you are learning to detest this world,
roaming the forests alone and forming
a genesis from rumour and half told
truths. I sigh to see you old becoming.
With a heart full of negativity
you are lost in the flames of revenge, fate,
despair and self loathing. Depravity
would seem to be an inherited trait.
This land will one day be yours to govern
and you will take a queen that is not yours
to hold when Arthur is on soil foreign;
your father and uncle by ill powers.
Still now a boy for your mother to mould,
if only innocence could hate unfold!

Orla Fay

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson

The first part of the final installment in the Harry Potter series has hit our screens and it makes for a fine and well made movie with good performances from the cast.

Harry, Hermione and Ron find themselves on the run and in a desperate search for the horcruxes that when destroyed will end Voldemort's reign of current terror.  Dumbledore the wizard is dead and Voldemort is an evil sorcerer who wants to kill Harry Potter.  His band of followers are called Death Eaters.  Helena Bonham Carter stars as the cruel Bellatrix Lestange and is wonderfully insane at times in the film.  Watch out also for Nagini (shudder), the snake of he who shall not be named.

There is lovely scenery on display in the form of the English countryside and even London itself looks great (I want to go there again, *pine). 

One part of the movie that is excellent is the animated enactment of the story of The Deathly Hallows.  These comprise the most powerful wand ever made; the Elder Wand, the Resurrection Stone and the Cloak of Invisibility. 

Harry Potter was written by some woman called J.K. Rowling, never heard of her before! Lol

Thursday, November 18, 2010

November's Boyne Readings and Open Mic

Grainne Toher, Frank Murphy

I'm just home from the latest open mic session in the village hall in Knightsbridge in Trim.  The reading took place in the library of the venue which was full to capacity.  I found myself seated beside the lovely Frank Murphy of The Meath Writers Circle (who has advised me to find a poem about Sir Galahad) and the equally charming Michael Farry.  Michael read his poem My Interest in Polish Poetry had been Aroused which has been published in The Shop magazine. 

The featured reader tonight was Grainne Toher who has published her novel Comings and Goings.  She read three chapters from her book and the author was very well received.  Congratulations to her.

Also present were Tom Dredge, reading Shapes and James Linnane, reading The Hospital.  These were some of the highlights of the night for me.  I read three poems, Fulcrum for Lauren and Aoife, The Once and Future King and finally The Weight of the Wind.  The Boyne Writers Group were well represented by the excellent chairman Paddy Smith, reading a quirky poem, Caroline Carey Finn, Ann Crinion, Barbara Flood, Jenny Ansersson and Maria Durnin.

from Sir Galahad by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

The clouds are broken in the sky,

And thro' the mountain-walls
A rolling organ-harmony
Swells up, and shakes and falls.
Then move the trees, the copses nod,
Wings flutter, voices hover clear:
"O just and faithful knight of God!
Ride on! the prize is near."
So pass I hostel, hall, and grange;
By bridge and ford, by park and pale,
All-arm'd I ride, whate'er betide,
Until I find the holy Grail.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Morning Miscellany

It looks like it does in the picture in my previous blog outside this morning.  Winter is truly arrived.  Over coffee, brown bread and jam I listened to some of Sunday Miscellany.  The last story was about Alexander Selkirk and was written and read by Vona Groake.  It was really well told over the radio.  Selkirk features in Kavanagh's poem Inniskeen Road:July Evening

Oh, Alexander Selkirk knew the plight

Of being king and government and nation.
A road, a mile of kingdom, I am king
Of banks and stones and every blooming thing.

Selkirk's abandonment on the island of Juan Fernandez off the coast of Chile is thought to have inspired Defoe's Robinson Crusoe.  Vona Groake is a well known poet published by Gallery Press.  Her collections include Other People's Houses and Spindrift.  You can listen to the story here

I also listened to my parents discuss the economy and what's happening in the country.  When will the general election occur and who would you vote for?  What will the budget have in store?  How are we going to cope with what's ahead?  News just broken is that Jerry Adams is going up for election in Louth. 

And I sewed a button in my work trousers.  The three poems I was working on are finished though I might look at them again later.  What's next, another Arthurian sonnet, and?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

My November Guest

 Trees in the Mist, Sheila Curzon

Last night I was trying to create the atmosphere of the dreary world outside for a poem I'm writing when I remembered Frost's poem.  I went to read it again and thoroughly enjoyed it. Is The Road Not Taken his most famous poem?  Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening must come in close second to it.  He lived to the great age of 88 and was awarded four Pulitzer Prizes for his work. He recited a poem at JFK's inauguration in 1961.

I was thinking today that I am a mirror of the seasons sometimes in my writing.  I suppose we must relay what is happening about us, what is pressing on us and causing impressions, aside from flights of pure imagination which can be difficult.  Is the poet addressing himself here or is he talking about a specific person, or?

Anyway here it is...

My November Guest

My Sorrow, when she's here with me,
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
She walked the sodden pasture lane.

Her pleasure will not let me stay.
She talks and I am fain to list:
She's glad the birds are gone away,
She's glad her simple worsted gray
Is silver now with clinging mist.

The desolate, deserted trees,
The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so truly sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these,
And vexes me for reason why.

Not yesterday I learned to know
The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
And they are better for her praise.

Robert Frost

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table

I'm back to finishing another sonnet on Arthurian Legend.  This next poem has taken me to reading about King Arthur himself.  The purpose of the shape of the round table was that everyone was equal and that no one, not even the King, could sit at its head.  Arthur presided over the table.   On the marker to Arthur's grave

Hīc iacet Arthūrus, rex quondam, rexque futūrus — "Here lies Arthur, formerly king, and king to be." is said to be inscribed. 

I wonder is chivalry dead or is it just an old fashioned idea?  The code of chivalry which the knights adopted according to Giovanni Boccaccio in "De Casibus Virorum Illlustrium" is as follows:

The Knights of the Round Table Code of Chivalry
  • To never lay down arms
  • To seek after wonders
  • When called upon, to defend the rights of the weak with all one's strength
  • To injure no one
  • Not to attack one another
  • To fight for the safety of one's country
  • To give one's life for one's country
  • To seek nothing before honour
  • Never to break faith for any reason
  • To practice religion most diligently
  • To grant hospitality to anyone, each according to his ability
  • Whether in honour or disgrace, to make a report with the greatest fidelity to truth to those who keep the annals 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

November Sunrise in Salthill

I know this could be the title of a poem and I have some quick lines jotted down in my notebook from this morning after I had taken a stroll along the prom, but they're classified for now! 

A storm had been forecast to hit Galway but it was calm over the weekend.  Perhaps it will come later.  I'm now working on three poems.  Two are two thirds of the way through and one has just begun, or dawned on me obviously!

I came across this quote in a book in Navan library:

"The kingdom of Shambala exists only within your own heart."

Shambala is a Sankrit word which means a place of peace, happiness and tranquility.

As I finish editing this even the wind has risen and the rain is driving against the window eek!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Poetry in Motion/Viaduct Bards Open Mic and Readings

Anti-clockwise Susan Connolly, Paul Kerr, Eamon Cooke, Michael Farry, James Linnane

James Linnane, Michael Farry, Paul Kerr, Eamon Cooke and I represented the Boyne Writers tonight in Drogheda as special guests of the Viaduct Bards.  The event took place in the Drogheda Arts Centre, Stockwell Street.  It was an intimate gathering with some great work being read  followed by warm discussion of poetry.  The group had been invited by Emer Davis who has just published her collection Kill Your Television.  I read four poems but I felt unworthy among such good poets.

At the beginning of the night I met Bernadette Martin whom I had known from New Poems of Oriel.  Its editor Mary Kearns had brought Bernadette, Brid McDonnell, Conor Duffy and I together perhaps five years ago.  Also in attendance was the lovely and talented Susan Connolly.  Her collection Forest Music was published by Shearsman in 2009.  En route to the venue we had discussed Francis Ledwidge as we were passing by Slane.  Connolly has a poem about Ledwidge in Forest Music.  There are some very visual poems in this collection and I am delighed to see an illustration of and a poem about The Five Roads at Tara in it.

Viaduct Bards

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Happy Birthday Sylvia Plath

Tomorrow is Sylvia Plath's birthday.  She was born in 1932 in Massachusetts.  She was a confessional poet and I read before that she would write a piece straight off and it would be complete to her.   Despite a suicide attempt while in college she graduated with honours from Smith and obtained a Fulbright scholarship to study in Cambridge.

At Cambridge she met the poet Ted Hughes whom she married and bore two children for.  The couple split in 1962.  It was one of the coldest winters in recent history and Plath's depression returned as she cared for her two very young children alone.  In early 1963 she committed suicide by placing her head in an oven and inhaling carbon monoxide fumes.  She was 30 years old.

Plath is remembered for her novel The Bell Jar, her first collection The Colossus and her posthumous collection Ariel.  Poems I like by her are Daddy, Lady Lazarus, Mirror and Morning Song.  My favourites by her are Blackberrying and Poppies in October.  There is something wonderful about some of her poems and I have a place in my heart for Plath though she makes me sad, she is like an old friend.  Happy birthday chick!

Poppies in October

By Sylvia Plath

Even the sun-clouds this morning cannot manage such skirts.
Nor the woman in the ambulance
Whose red heart blooms through her coat so astoundingly --

A gift, a love gift
Utterly unasked for
By a sky

Palely and flamily
Igniting its carbon monoxides, by eyes
Dulled to a halt under bowlers.

O my God, what am I
That these late mouths should cry open
In a forest of frost, in a dawn of cornflowers.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Book of Tara

After spending a wonderful afternoon exploring the Hill of Tara with my nieces we wandered into a little bookstore on the Hill.  The girls picked up some very old children's books and I a booklet on The Druids at Tara.  When we were paying the man running the store said he would sign the booklet for me, being none other than the author himself.  Michael Slavin is the author of The Book of Tara

I love this ancient place and have been reading about the 5 roads to Tara.  Today we went to Rath Grainne (Grainne of Toraiocht Diarmaid agus Grainne fame) and found our path along the woods on the slopes.  We visited the Well of the White Cow, which is also known as St. Patrick's Well, The Well of the Dark Eye, the Well of the Healer and Cormac's Well I think.  The Sons of Mil worshipped Edain Echraidhe (the white mare).  Before them the white cow was worshipped.  Around Tara the valleys belong to the white mare and the white cow where the rivers Gabhra and Skane meet.  Now the M3 cuts through the valleys and this is why so many people were against the motorway coming.  Some people say that Opus Dei are part of a conspiracy to ruin the area.  I think that it would be tragic to lose the voices of our past.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Tick Tock

I haven't had much time to blog lately as work has been so busy however I have written a couple of nice poems when alone.  Next week is mid-term so I have Monday off for the bank holiday and Wednesday.

One of the sweetest things happened to me in work yesterday when an almost 4 year old boy who doesn't have much English (his parents are Lithuanian) came up to me and taking my hand to his chest said, "Teacher, tick, tock", before smiling and marching off.  I had been getting the children to listen to my watch going "tick tock" some days earlier.  It is very difficult to get them to sit still or to have some silence.

I missed the Boyne Reading where Emer Davis was the featured guest on Thursday night.  Next Wednesday I hope to travel to Drogheda with other Boyne Writers to participate in the Viaduct Bards Readings.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Garcia Lorca

It was some years ago that I came across Gacela of the Dark Death and I found that it struck a chord with me.  Now I have been reading about the poet's life.  Garcia Lorca was murdered at the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains by Spanish Nationalists and he had to dig his own grave.  The whereabouts of his remains is unknown, how sad is that and how prophetic this poem.  Below is another translation of Gacela de la muerte oscura.  A gacela is a poem of Persian/Arabic origin (ghazal) that has a strict metrical pattern and tends to have an erotic theme.

 A ghazal may be understood as a poetic expression of both the pain of loss or separation and the beauty of love in spite of that pain. The form is ancient, originating in 6th century pre-Islamic Arabic verse. It is derived from the Arabian panegyric qasida. The structural requirements of the ghazal are similar in stringency to those of the Petrarchan sonnet. In its style and content it is a genre which has proved capable of an extraordinary variety of expression around its central themes of love and separation. It is one of the principal poetic forms which the Indo-Perso-Arabic civilization offered to the eastern Islamic world. (Wikipedia)

This now leads me back to Sufism and the poet Rumi.  I must look even more deeply into this.

Gacela of the Dark Death
by Federico García Lorca
translated by Robert Bly

I want to sleep the sleep of the apples,
I want to get far away from the busyness of the cemeteries.
I want to sleep the sleep of that child
who longed to cut his heart open far out at sea.

I don't want them to tell me again how the corpse keeps all its blood,
how the decaying mouth goes on begging for water.
I'd rather not hear about the torture sessions the grass arranges for
nor about how the moon does all its work before dawn
with its snakelike nose.

I want to sleep for half a second,
a second, a minute, a century,
but I want everyone to know that I am still alive,
that I have a golden manger inside my lips,
that I am the little friend of the west wind,
that I am the elephantine shadow of my own tears.

When it's dawn just throw some sort of cloth over me
because I know dawn will toss fistfuls of ants at me,
and pour a little hard water over my shoes
so that the scorpion claws of the dawn will slip off.

Because I want to sleep the sleep of the apples,
and learn a mournful song that will clean all earth away from me,
because I want to live with that shadowy child
who longed to cut his heart open far out at sea.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

National Poetry Day, Thursday 7th October 2010

To celebrate National Poetry Day I'm revisiting 5 of my favourite poems:


there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I'm not going
to let anybody see

there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pour whiskey on him and inhale
cigarette smoke
and the whores and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that
in there.

there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too tough for him,
I say,
stay down, do you want to mess
me up?
you want to screw up the
you want to blow my book sales in

there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too clever, I only let him out
at night sometimes
when everybody's asleep.
I say, I know that you're there,
so don't be
then I put him back,
but he's singing a little
in there, I haven't quite let him
and we sleep together like
with our
secret pact
and it's nice enough to
make a man
weep, but I don't
weep, do

Charles Bukowski

somewhere i have never travelled

somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully ,suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility:whose texture
compels me with the color of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens;only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands

ee cummings

Another September

Dreams fled away, this country bedroom, raw
With the touch of the dawn, wrapped in a minor peace,
Hears through an open window the garden draw
Long pitch black breaths, lay bare its apple trees,
Ripe pear trees, brambles, windfall-sweetened soil,
Exhale rough sweetness against the starry slates.
Nearer the river sleeps St. John's, all toil
Locked fast inside a dream with iron gates.

Domestic Autumn, like an animal
Long used to handling by those countrymen,
Rubs her kind hide against the bedroom wall
Sensing a fragrant child come back again
- Not this half-tolerated consciousness
That plants its grammar in her yielding weather
But that unspeaking daughter, growing less
Familiar where we fell asleep together.

Wakeful moth wings blunder near a chair,
Toss their light shell at the glass, and go
To inhabit the living starlight. Stranded hair
Stirs on still linen. It is as though
The black breathing that billows her sleep, her name,
Drugged under judgement, waned and - bearing daggers
And balances--down the lampless darkness they came,
Moving like women : Justice, Truth, such figures.

Thomas Kinsella

The Dead

The dead are always looking down on us, they say,
while we are putting on our shoes or making a sandwich,
they are looking down through the glass-bottom boats of heaven
as they row themselves slowly through eternity.

They watch the tops of our heads moving below on earth,
and when we lie down in a field or on a couch,
drugged perhaps by the hum of a warm afternoon,
they think we are looking back at them,

which makes them lift their oars and fall silent
and wait, like parents, for us to close our eyes.

Billy Collins

Gacela of the Dark Death

I want to sleep the dream of the apples,
to withdraw from the tumult of cemetries.
I want to sleep the dream of that child
who wanted to cut his heart on the high seas.

I don't want to hear again that the dead do not lose their blood,
that the putrid mouth goes on asking for water.
I don't want to learn of the tortures of the grass,
nor of the moon with a serpent's mouth
that labors before dawn.

I want to sleep awhile,
awhile, a minute, a century;

but all must know that I have not died;
that there is a stable of gold in my lips;
that I am the small friend of the West wing;
that I am the intense shadows of my tears.

Cover me at dawn with a veil,
because dawn will throw fistfuls of ants at me,
and wet with hard water my shoes
so that the pincers of the scorpion slide.

For I want to sleep the dream of the apples,
to learn a lament that will cleanse me to earth;
for I want to live with that dark child
who wanted to cut his heart on the high seas

Federico Garcia Lorca

Friday, October 1, 2010

Boyne Berries 8

L - R Orla Fay, Tom Dredge, Brendan Carey Kinnane, Rory O'Sullivan

Last night, Thursday 30th September, saw the launch of Boyne Berries 8 in the Castle Arch Hotel, Trim, Co. Meath.  The magazine was launched by Noel French and introductions were done by Michael Farry.  Once again the magazine's cover illustration is by Greg Hastings and on this occasion an image of gravestones in Glendalough is portrayed.

It was a very enjoyable night and it was wonderful to see so many of the Boyne Writers Group present.  Evan Costigan read his poem Corncrake, Tom Dredge his poem Fruit and Brendan Carey Kinnane his poem Meath.  Well known writers included in the magazine are Connie Roberts, Emer Davis and Maire T. Robinson.  Twenty year old Rosie Rock read her poem Just Today which is the poets first published poem.

Over Coffee Over the Edge New Writer of the Year longlister Michael Farry & shortlister Evan Costigan

The Magazine can be purchased in Antonia's bookstore, Trim, or via the Boyne Writers website 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Do Not Disturb!

Tonight I've been happily printing out my sonnets.  In fact I feel like a little kid hiding away from the world.  I guess I'm lucky to have such peace and satisfaction from writing.  I love the craft of writing a poem.  I know sometimes there are sparse periods when I can write nothing and what I do write seems just awful to me.  Anyway I finished that poem on Arthurian legend and called it Nimue after The Lady of the Lake.  I can probably read a couple of these poems at the Boyne Reading later in the year.  It's nice to finally come up with some new material.  Nimue may also be Vivien of the myths.  She was Merlin's lover but she trapped him in a tree trunk or in a cave. 

I also have ambitions of tackling a short story I had been writing in the style of gothic fiction.  I remember doing gothic fiction in 2nd arts in Galway years ago.  I studied The Monk and Frankenstein well enough.  The short story is a rewrite of The Ties That Bind that I wrote maybe nine years ago and I cringed so much reading it now. I feel like rewriting the entire rewrite.  Oh my God how do fiction writers ever finish a novel?  I feel like I should get in character though to write this story and find my inner madness and horror.  I'd certainly have to retreat into myself for a day.

At work I was teaching the children a song called "In the graveyard".  Its lyrics are:

In the graveyard, in the graveyard
when the moon begins to shine
there's a doctor a crazy doctor
and his monster Frankenstein.

Oh my monster oh my monster
oh my monster Frankenstein,
you are very, very scary
don't come near me frankenstein.

I can't do the song anymore however as one little boy and a girl are afraid of the song!  Since I'm now writing about work I am pleased that I got my course work results.  I blogged a bit about my studies over the summer.  I got three distinctions and one merit so I was thrilled with that.  I've also found myself better able to write reports and observations in work which is partly due to my blogging and partly to do with my increased knowledge from study.

Merlin is Spellbound by his lover Nimue, Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale

 Love and light to all readers.  I feel my own light and compassion returning.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

This, that and the other!

Four Queens Find Lancelot Sleeping, Frank Cowper

I fulfilled one of my ambitions today which was to try my hand at archery.  I shot a bow and arrow at the Rathmoylyon fair.  It was a lovely autumn afternoon and evening.  I loved trying to control the strength in my right arm when holding the arrow back.  I had three shots for 2 euro and scored 9 out 30.  Of course I'd like to try it again.  In fact I'd love to own my own bow.

I also got to do some writing this morning and worked on my sonnets.  I wrote a new one called The Isle of Apples as I am still interested in Arthurian legend.  I want to write another sonnet based on the legends.  I had a vision earlier which I hope to convert into poetry later, or during the week about it. 

Boyne Berries 8 is being launched in the Castle Arch Hotel in Trim on Thursday night at 8pm.  I hope to attend and read my poem The Fall which is being published in it.

Autumn Leaves, Kenneth Leech

Sunday, September 19, 2010


I love this BBC series.  It is based on the legends of Camelot and the magic of the old religion.  King Uther is in power and his son Arthur Pendragon is a brave knight.  Uther is played by Anthony Head who starred in Buffy the Vampire Slayer as Giles. Arthur's servant is the future magnificent magician Merlin.  Merlin goes to every length possible to hide his magic as magic is banned in Camelot and is punishable by death.  King Uther has a terrible fear of the art and holds it evil. 

King Uther's ward is however the Lady Morgana.  Morgana is Morgan le Fay who in Welsh folktales is associated with Avalon or the "Isle of Apples".  How lovely, I am becoming totally enchanted!  There is dispute about Morgana's character, was she a seductive villainess or a powerful healer?  Arthur and Morgana are said to have had the same mother; the Lady Igraine.  Le Fay is an ancient word for fairy and Morgan is the Breton for water nymph.

The Lady Morgana, Kaitie McGrath

In this series Guinevere is also a servant in Camelot.  Mordred (the Lady Morgana's nephew?) is a young druid boy.  Merlin, played by Colin Morgan, frequently has chats with a dragon whom he has promised to free in time.  The dragon is voiced by the actor John Hurt.  Each epsiode deals with some aspect of the old legends in a fresh way. 

Morgana could also be associated with the celtic goddess the Morrigan who I think is a triple goddess and associated with the Cailleach.  The Morrigan can be an old woman, a bird (raven/crow) or a mist.  She is associated with death and incarnation.  From the Morrigan one can gain wisdom knowing that trials and suffering can be overcome.  Some scholars totally dismiss any connection between the Welsh Morgan and the Irish Morrigan ( Mor: great and rigan: queen).  You can see Merlin on BBC 1 every Saturday night at 7.30.
Morrigan by Louis Le Brocquy

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Lucky number 7

Niamh Boyce at Words a Day passed this award onto me.  Thank you Niamh.  I now have to share with you seven things about myself.

1) I had a sudden and strong desire to visit Berlin in the near future tonight.

2) My bithday has a seven in it, it falls on the 17th of June.

3) Yesterday while cycling in the rain it was very sunny and while obseving a rainbow I thought "what is the difference between a rainbow and a tornado."

4) I will probably want to look up the history of the number seven now and research why people think it is lucky.

5) I have three tattoos and would like to get another one.

6) I am currently rewatching episodes of the tv series ER.

7) I am excited that it is autumn again.

The seven blogs I enjoy to read are:







Womenrulewriter and Goerge Szirtes

oh dear I've broken the rules...

Thanks again for including me Niamh :)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Secret Scripture, Sebastian Barry

When I was in Dublin airport recently I picked out this book to read.  I found the novel quite moving.  It is divided into three parts and into two accounts; Dr Grene's Commonplace Book and Roseanne's Testimony of Herself.  There are twenty two chapters in the novel.

Roseanne Clear is 100 years old and has spent the majority of her life in a mental hospital.  She is telling us of her tragic past.  Dr. Grene is the Senior Psychiatrist of the mental hospital who has a great interest in his patient, Roseanne. 

Ah well I'm glad I wasn't alive in the 1930's in Ireland when the Catholic Church and De Valera ruled the roost.  The character of Father Gaunt is despisable. 

I thought this was lovely:

"We are never old to ourselves because at close of day the ship we sail in is the soul, not the body."

Does anyone know what the author means by this:

"Grief is about two years long, they say, it is a platitude out of manuals for grievers.  But we are in mourning for our mothers before even we are born."

There are some lovely insights in The Secret Scripture and the main character Roseanne or Mrs. McNulty possesses great dignity. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Prato do Dia

I spent last weekend in the Algarve in Portugal.  I was staying near the town of Albufeira (Arabic: البحيرة (al-Buħayra = "the lagoon").  After landing in Faro I was intoxicated from the warm, exotic and spiced air.  After a while my familiarity grew and novelty faded.  It was last year that I first encountered the sense of this one early morning in Seville.  I smiled inwardly to have the experience again.

When I saw the Portuguese word "dia"  which means day I immediately thought of our Irish word "Dia" which means God. God and day.  I wonder how far back in the languages of mankind these two entities may be entwined?

It was extremely hot and difficult to sleep at night.  Temperatures were pushing 40 degrees celsius I believe.  It truly is a world away and I could sense Africa below us,almost calling.  If I go back again next year I would like to go to Gibraltar and I will stay for longer.

In the market-place,
The smell of something or other -
The summer moon.


All the fishermen of the beach
Are away:
The poppies are blooming.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Expendables, etc...

I'm just in from the cinema where I saw The Expendables starring and directed by Sylvester Stallone.  Well - it was entertaining and action packed as you might expect and featured heavyweights such as Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mickey Rourke in minor roles.  The movie also starred Jason Statham, Jet Li AND Dolph Lungdren.  The lead female characters are played by Giselle Itie and Charisma Carpenter.  To my surprise the Diamond Cinema in Navan was packed and consequently I have a sore neck (no I was not bitten by a vampire though the moon is full) as we had to sit in the second row; how big the screen seemed.  The streets of Navan had been deserted and going home despite the exodus from the movies some tumbleweed passed.  It was an okay movie and only cost five euro to see.  I loved the tattoos and motorbikes featured in the film.

Also showing at the moment is Salt with the exciting and beautiful Angelina Jolie.  I've seen this too and it is watchable.  Jolie plays a CIA agent named Evelyn Salt who had been trained as a Russian spy to infiltrate the agency.  Angelina is back kicking ass again and was last seen jumping out of a helicopter and running off injured through the woods.

Now I can hear my man Justin Timberlake in the background so I plan to watch some of his Live in Madison Square Garden concert on dvd.  What can I say, I'm being a popular culture junkie today.  I've also been reading a book about David Grohl of the Foo Fighters and re-reading Sarah Water's Fingersmith.

The moon is bewitching tonight.  If you can draw back your curtains and gaze I suggest that you do so.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Boyne Writers Group Meeting 19th August 2010

Pictured in Drogheda
L-R Boyne Writers Tom Dredge, Brendan Carey Kinnane, Orla Fay, Michael Farry

Last night I attended what was an interesting group meeting.  Firstly Evan Costigan (who introduced me to the group over two years ago) was in attendance.  He had been abroad in Japan where he was teaching English for a year and a half.  I believe Evan will be back to attend meetings on a more regular basis now which is good as he is a great writer.  Secondly Evan and Michael Farry have been long listed for the Over the Edge New Writer of the Year 2010.  This is a great achievement by both poets. 

We had a large group in attendance including Rory O'Sullivan (who writes in calligraphy and illustrates his rhyming poetry), Barbara Flood, Anne Crinion, Caroline Carey Finn, James Linnane, Jenny Andersson and newer members Bill Comerford and Maria Durnin.  Paul Kerr dropped in too.  Paddy Smith, the group's chairman, was absent so I chaired some of the meeting in my role as vice chairwoman. 

Michael Farry discussed Boyne Berries 8 with us and it looks like the magazine will be launched on the third Thursday of September.  I had helped edit some of the poetry for the magazine a couple of weeks ago.

Exciting times!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Perseid Meteor Shower

I wonder will I be able to see some shooting stars later.  The earth will pass through the debris of the comet Swift-Turtle.  Dust particles light up as they enter our atmosphere and buring up create the illusion of shooting stars.  Magnificent isn't it? The science of magic!  From 10.30 on is meant to be the best time to view.  The meteor shower appears to come from the constellation of Perseus. 

Anyway apparently these showers have been happening every August for thousands of years.  I'm sure my sister Vivian, who is turning 21 this weekend had these stars to herald her birth.  I found a sweet poem called The Sea Sprite and the Shooting Star which you can see by following this link

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Get your teeth into this...Bram Stoker Dracula Halloween Horror Festival

Love & Pain/Vampire Edvard Munch

Below is taken from

In conjunction with the Stoker Dracula International Halloween Festival of Horror 29th – 31st October 2010, entries are invited for the Stoker Academy Gothic Horror Writing Competition. This is your chance to get that spine chilling ghost story off your chest – and display your writing skills as well!

The competition is open to everyone, everywhere! The scope of the theme field is just about limitless…..ghosts, vampires, banshees, death, blood, haunted houses, spooky graveyards, creepy bell towers, gruesome dungeons, horror castles, scary blood curdling noises, eerie nightmares, macabre happenings….all can be real or imagined!

All entries must be in English and the theme must be gothic/horror with a maximum of 2000 words.

Entries can be in the form of a prose piece, a short story, a poem, a play (drama) or even a song or ballad.

Entries must be typed on A4 size paper (on one side only) with a one inch margin. Your entry must be your own unpublished work and must not have won a prize in a previous competition. You may enter more than once if you wish, but entries cannot be returned.

There is a €10 entry fee per entry – no cash in the post, just cheques or money orders made out to The Stoker Dracula Organisation.

Entries from under 16’s must be signed by a parent/guardian/teacher/community leader.

First Prize €500 and ''The Bram''
2nd Prize €75
3rd Prize €50

Entries will be Judged by Trinity College School of English
Gothic Section

Closing date for entries is 15th October 2010.

All entries/correspondence to:

The Director/C.E.O.
The Stoker Dracula Organisation
32 Howth Road Clontarf
Dublin 3 Ireland

The 12th Francis Ledwidge Poetry Award 2010

First Prize is the Ledwidge plaque inscribed with the winners name.  Cash prizes for second and third and merit certificates for finalists.  The first three poems will be entered in the Forward Prize UK.  Poems must be your own work and not previously published or broadcast.  Poems must not exceed 40 lines.  Entry fee: 4 euro per poem, 3 for 10 euro.  Maximum of 6 poems can be entered (20 euro).  Name, address and telephone number on a separate page.  All entries must be submitted before the 5th November to:

The Francis Ledwidge International Poetry Award 2010,
43 Emmet Crescent,
Dublin 8.

Previous winners include; Ann Dean, Paul Murray, Colum Clarke, Roderick Forde, Catherine Ann Cullen, Ray Mullen.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Salthill Again


The swell foams where they float and crawl,
A catherine-wheel of arm and hand.
Each head bobs curtly as a football.
The yelps are faint here on the strand.

No milk-limbed Venus ever rose
Miraculous on this western shore;
A pirate queen in battle clothes
Is our sterner myth. The breakers pour

Themselves into themselves, the years
Shuttle through space invisibly.
Where crests unfurl like creamy beer
The queen's clothes melt into the sea

And generations sighing in
The salt suds where the wave has crashed
Labour in fear of flesh and sin
For the time has been accomplished

As through the shallows in swimsuits,
Brown-legged, smooth-shouldered and bare-backed
They wade ashore with skips and shouts.
So Venus comes, matter-of-fact.

Seamus Heaney

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Font Times New Roman, Font size 12, 1.5 Line Spacing, Harvard Referencing System

Another day and I was up at 6.30 doing my course work.  I find it much easier to work in the mornings.  I was only disappointed this morning as it is Sunday that the church bells didn't sound out through the countryside.  The challenge I had today was to stadardise my assignments with the above formula.  It is a time consuming process.

Yesterday I wrote an overview of the childcare sector in Ireland.  Until 1996 there were no regulations governing childcare.   An increase of women in the workforce and a general interest in the quality of early childhood care and education led to these new laws and regulations.  It was most interesting to read about UNICEF and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  It was adopted by the UN in 1990 and ratified by Ireland in 1992.  It is the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history.  I was thinking wouldn't it be something  amazing to do voluntary work abroad or to do some human rights work.  At the end of 2000 a ten year plan (The National Children’s Strategy) was outlined to progress the implementation of the Convention. It is a comprehensive national children’s plan which has resulted from the work of the Children’s Rights Alliance (1995 established) and the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

In the childcare sector we speak about towards 2012.  This means that by 2012 all preschool leaders will have to have a minimum qualification of fetac level 5 to participate in the ECCE. 

I'm getting really anxious about my assignments and I do hope that I have done enough and that the quality is up to scratch.  I still have to complete my supervision module but I have some days left.

I wonder who came up with the names for the font times new roman?! Ah Wikipedia:  

Times New Roman is a serif typeface commissioned by the British newspaper The Times in 1931, designed by Stanley Morison and Victor Lardent...

Referencing work is also difficult and I'm sure I haven't done it accurately enough.