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Friday, December 30, 2011

A Dull Moment (Sigh of Relief)

Some sort of normality is imminent with Christmas over and New Year's Day on the horizon.  It's been a tough year but a good year for me I think, lots of character building went on and when I fell I got back up again.  I expect January to be a lean and long month but once over it Spring will rise.  Happy thought.  :)

The highlight of my year undoubtedly was reading in The Irish Writers' Centre for The Lonely Voice, that was just an incredible feeling.  The publication of Boyne Berries 10 too was a great achievement.  I loved having work in Wordlegs and in The Linnet's Wings, I'm especially proud of my poem Drawn to the Light

This morning I received a letter from Graham Rippon of Carillon Magazine who will publish a poem of mine in 2012.  This is wonderful as it will be my first poem published outside Ireland. 

Happy New Year to everyone even though time is a continuum and doesn't end (is this strictly true?). Boyne Writers' hold their first meeting of 2012 on Thursday, 5th January at 8.30 pm in The Castle Arch Hotel, Trim. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Cards

Nollaig Shona dhuit!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Grail

From the title there's no guessing as to where my thoughts lie just now.  It's been another weekend of distraction so it has been difficult to find some time alone to concentrate, and I do need time alone to sustain myself, but too much time alone is not good either.  Back on topic in these few snatched minutes when the sun is setting behind my red curtains - the blood of the grail.

Last night someone told me that they did not know what The Holy Grail is.  I tried to explain it, that it was the cup that Christ used at The Last Supper and how people over centuries have gone on quests for the grail, and how perhaps everyone is on their own quest, a sort of spiritual quest to find the grail, and finally how the grail as a cup can be used to represent womenkind, a cup being a symbol of feminity.  Now I suspect that there is a lot more to the grail than I now know or will ever know, but maybe when I am older and wiser I will understand more.  And maybe I already have my grail and I am complete but I fail to see it sometimes. 

Queen Maeve below holds a cup, is it the grail?  And my poem The Fisher King in thefirstcut is about the legendary keeper of the grail. 

"The nearer the knights of Arthur's court approach the Grail Castle," William Nitze remarks, "the more illusive and intangible the holy vessel appears. Thus one might say the Grail symbolizes in its evasiveness the problem of its own origin."

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Sunday, December 4, 2011

thefirstcut 4

Lady of the Irises by Fionuala O'Toole

thefirstcut is the on-line magazine of the Listowel Writers Group. The group has met regularly in various venues since 2003. The past year has seen a hiatus in our activities because of various commitments and illness; this interruption has served to focus our member's minds on just how important the group is to us, both in the pursuance of our hobby and as a social outlet. We therefore intend to reform the group in September. This e-zine is being published as additional outlet for our merry clutch of scribblers, and, of course, being on the Web, it is open to all-comers. Use it, broadcast it. How it develops is up to you. Send your contributions to:

My poem The Fisher King is included, on page 28.  The e-zine is edited by Mike Gallagher.  It looks like there is a lot of quality to read here!  Thanks for including my piece. You can find it here

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Abridged 0-25: Silence Submission Call

Fortress of Solitude

"To those who have ever known sound, true silence can be but a myth. It is a phantasm, and something to be feared, for in silence we are vulnerable to our own conscience and its persistent echoes of memory, desire and confusion; we lose the means of dismissal and voluntary ignorance and become vulnerable. In silence we are naked, stripped of the sound layers we have used to define ourselves to outside eyes, a defensive muffling of truths. Today we abjure silence, avoiding its solitude. We are in a constant conversation with an ultra-social and info-overdosed humanity repeatedly relaying sculptures of mundane phrases that numb us to the experience of meaning. We dare not lie still enough to stir or coax the phantom film reels of our past from their shadows. Instead we light fires, shouting and stamping our feet to drive back the dark and its inhabitants. It is our fear of the silence of the void, the vacuum. Humanity cannot see nothingness but we run from it, choking the subtle sound of our own breathing with the bustling of contemporary life where everything is virtual and reality utterly abandoned. We convince ourselves we grow by sponging up the noises of the clattering world that engulfs us. In silence we are trapped as we are made to face the cold starkness of what we feel is missing, or the fierce jab of what we long to erase. We stand in silence and we stand in a room of mirrors. A ticking clock is a heartbeat.

Abridged, the poetry/art magazine is looking for submissions for its Silence issue. A maximum of 3 poems may be submitted of any length. Art can be up to A4 size and can be in any media. It should be at least 300 dpi. Submissions can be emailed to or posted to: Abridged c/o The Verbal Arts Centre, Stable Lane and Mall Wall, Bishop Street Within, Derry BT48 6PU. Closing date for submission is Jan 14th 2012.

…lay me down the long white line, leave the silence far behind…"

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Tree Hands

Coloured paper
Coloured card

Tuesday, November 29, 2011



I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
What ever you see I swallow immediately
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.
I am not cruel, only truthful---
The eye of a little god, four-cornered.
Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.

It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long
I think it is a part of my heart. But it flickers.
Faces and darkness separate us over and over.
Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me,
Searching my reaches for what she really is.
Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon.
I see her back, and reflect it faithfully.
She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands.
I am important to her. She comes and goes.
Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.
In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman
Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.

Sylvia Plath

Ropes and Crannog Seek Submission

Get your work ready in the immediate for submission to Ropes (Review of postgraduate english studies at NUIG).  The theme this year is Links.  I had a short prose piece published in the 2010 issue.  Details to be found at and email submission to by the 9th of December.

Crannog are also looking for submissions.   I have had poems in Crannog 20, 23 and 26.  They seem to like my spring poems and I love Crannog and Galway.  These are both great Galway publications.  Submission period for Crannog ends 01st January I think.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Peace Comes Dropping Slow

Druid on Tara via iphone - magic!

It's been a weekend of total distraction so no writing has been done though I do have an idea for a new poem.  I'll say no more.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Work in Progress...

A Host of Angels

Paper plates,
pipe cleaners

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fleetwood Mac

They just don't make them like this anymore!  The 80's were a creative period, musically especially it seems to me.  Music shapes us.  It's all going on in this video.  Hold me is from the album Mirage, hence the desert setting and mirrors I suppose.  And what genre of art is being evoked, surrealism?  What painters, Rene Magritte, Dali.  There is a girl with a white horse and the sand dunes make me think of Star Wars, doesn't Stevie Nicks look just a little bit like Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia)?  How did Fleetwood Mac write such amazing songs.  Was it chemistry?

Did you know that the video for Everywhere is based on the poem The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes:

THE wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees,
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding—
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Lunchtime Readings at The Irish Writers' Centre - Susan Connolly

This coming Friday at 1 pm you can catch Susan Connolly in The Irish Writers' Centre where she will read poetry.  The event is in association with Poetry Ireland.  I won't make it but if you can be there then you will be in for a treat as Susan is a wonderful writer.  I think she is one of my favourite Irish poets.  She read at The Boyne Readings in Trim (which incidentally I kind of miss, hopefully they will return in the new year) and she has a poem published in Boyne Berries 10.  Susan has many lovely poems about life, relationships, ancient Ireland, her native places and the beauty of the countryside.  Yes I am a fan!! Go and buy one of her collections ( For the Stranger, Winterlight, Forest Music) for yourself and you'll see what I mean. 

These are busy times in the literary world.  In fact I have just been thinking that I haven't taken my foot from the floor all year in regards to writing.  This week Kate Dempsey will read Some Poems from The Moth editions in Maynooth Contemporary Arts Centre at 7.30 pm.  On Thursday night there is an event in The Irish Writers' Centre celebrating  Frank X. Buckley.  I have been invited as I entered a competition to write some poems based on the paintings in the Irish Writers' Centre.  It looks like it will be a fabulous event.  I don't know if I will be able to attend Kate's reading or the latter as I am in work all this week until 6 o'clock.  The winners of the Frank X. Buckley Competition are Elizabeth O'Carroll, Paddy Doherty, Susan Stairs, Eleanor Hooker, Eoin Hegarty and Patricia Clark.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Lost Heifer

The Lost Heifer

When the black herds of the rain were grazing,
In the gap of the pure cold wind
And the watery hazes of the hazel
Brought her into my mind,
I thought of the last honey by the water
That no hive can find.
Brightness was drenching through the branches
When she wandered again,
Turning sliver out of dark grasses
Where the skylark had lain,
And her voice coming softly over the meadow
Was the mist becoming rain.

Austin Clarke

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Watchmen and Tori Amos

Silk Spectre and Dr. Manhattan

So the movie Watchmen has left a big impression on me.  I loved the character Dr. Manhattan as he is cerebral.  He goes to live on Mars and he's blue and shimmers!!!  The character Rorschach is intriguing too.  Silk Spectre is the daughter of Sally Jupiter, the original Silk Spectre. 

Speaking of Jupiter - Tori Amos performed Hey Jupiter from Boys for Pele in The Grand Canal Theatre on Wednesday night.  I was lucky enough to be there.  Tori wore green and performed from her current album Night of Hunters which is a concept album that Amos has described as "a 21st century song cycle inspired by classical music themes spanning over 400 years."

Tori Amos - Night of Hunters 2011 Tour

Dublin, Ireland 09-11-11 SETLIST

... MR ZEBRA (Solo)

First encore


Second Encore


"...if I only could I'd make a deal with God and get him to swop our places, be running up that road, be running up that hill...."

Boyne Writers' Group Meeting - Thursday 10th November

Six of us attended the meeting on Thursday last.  Maria Durnin had some prose about a singing competition she has competed in, Rory O'Sullivan a balladesque poem about the dark and fear, what hides in that, Eamon Cooke a poem he had revised since the last meeting about the sea and balance, Barbara Flood some thoughts about opposites, especially the light and dark, and I brought a poem called Sweep, which on one level is about cleaning out a stove fire.  It would be fair to say that we were all influenced by the season.  Ann Crinion told us about her new book of photography which will be launched in early December. 

Eamon Cooke told us about his poetry collection Berry Time which was published by Dedalus Press in 2002.  I had an interesting conversation with Rory about super heroes and he told me about the beauty of graveyards.  One he spoke about somewhere between Trim and Navan sounded like an enchanted garden. 

I was working on two pieces during the week.  They're done now so I will be looking for something else to write about.  There is a multitude of competitions to enter at the moment; The Trocaire Poetry Ireland Competiton, The National Poetry Competition with Windows Publications and Cavan Crystal, The Gregory O'Donoghue International Competiton and The Ballymaloe International Competition to name a big four.  Most will look for poems of 40 lines or less and have deadlines in December so there is still time to write and submit. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Stony Thursday Book - 2011

Yes finally I got home from work and it was here, arrived in the post today.  Included was a lovely little note from the Arts Office of Limerick City Council, from Kathleen O'Connor who says that this will be her last Stony Thursday Book as she is retiring on 09/11/2011.  I'm only sorry I couldn't make it to the launch of the book. 

My poem is on page 17.  There are lots of great writers included; Peter Goulding, Brian Kirk, Tommy Murray, Kerrie O'Brien, Geraldine Mitchell, Eileen Sheehan, Shirley McClure, James Lawless, Kevin Graham, Mary O'Gorman, the list goes on... There are 70 pages in all.  The editor is Mary Coll.  The cover art is Inspiration is Pervasive, a hand printed lithograph by Pauline Goggin Wrixon.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Samhain ar Teamhair na Ri

The Mound of the Hostages, Tara, which has an alignment close to Samhain with the sun. It is a meagalithic passage tomb, dated c. 3000bc

Hi everyone.  Happy Hallowe'en.  I finished my murder ballad this morning, 52 lines, exciting!  It was hard though.  I'm even more excited as I've written a poem as Gaeilge for the first time and it's pasted below.  As it's a first and it is about the feast of Samhain on the Hill of Tara I'm letting it appear on my blog. 

Oíche Shamhna

Teamhair mo chroí, Teamhair mo chroí,               
táim ag lorg an púca agus an cailleach
ar do sliabh.

Tá an Samhain ag teacht agus táim caillte
leis an gaoth atá ag séideadh
trasna na duilleoga

agus atá ag tiomaint na scamaill
sa spéir liath agus brúite
leis an tráthnóna.

Beidh an capall ag rith suas an bóthar
tar éis tamaill. Beidh Cormac an rí
ag marcaíocht

go dtí an tine mór. Beidh féasta ar siúl
agus feicfidh mé na daoine aosta
ag siúl leis na daoine beo.

Orla Ní Fhéich


Tara my heart, Tara my heart,
I am looking for the ghost and the witch
on your hill.

Samhain is coming and I am lost
with the wind that is blowing
across the leaves

and that is driving the clouds
in the sky grey and bruised
with the evening.

The horse will be running up the road
in a  while.  King Cormac
will be riding

to the big fire.  There will be a feast
and I will see the ancient people
walking with the living.

Orla Fay

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Murder Ballads

Busy day in work and I've been painting my bedroom, second coat tonight and it will need another, it's harder to go from green to cream than I thought.  I've also been writing a murder ballad -

daDUM da DUM daDUM daDUM
              daDUM  daDUM daDUM
              daDUM daDUM daDUM

- but it is unfinished and I will work on it again tomorrow.  It's also harder to write than I thought but it is a good way of telling a story in a shorter form than a novel.  That's not a cop out by me, just a thought!  Some examples of murder ballads in song form that I like are Where the Wild Roses Grow by Nick Cave and The Pines/Where Did You Sleep Last Night by Leadbelly, and covered by Nirvana. 

Jake Adam York, an American poet, writes In the murder ballad, the singer undertakes to narrate a horrific crime, at times in the first person, but does so in a melody so sweet, that though at first it seems perversely insensitive to the horror comes to act as a kind of consolation for the terror of the narrative and thus functions as a measure of remorse or loss. So, the poems of Murder Ballads seek to find a music in language that can act as a melodic consolation for all the poems must relate. 

Some of his work here

Hmm it's a lot to think about.  The funniest part of my day was hearing a four and a half year old break out into the chorus from The Wanted's song Glad you came -

The sun goes down
The stars come out
And all that counts
Is here and now
My universe will never be the same
I’m glad you came

Monday, October 24, 2011


I've been google imaging venetian masks but the trouble is I want all the images of masks.  I love these masks and I do own one.  Of course it's Hallowe'en soon and people wore masks in case they would encounter spirits, in the hope that the spirits would take the mask wearer for one of their own, thus not running off with their souls, or something like that. 

I received the second issue of the new Batwoman comic in the post today.  It's a DC comic and it's really cool.  And oh my god Kate Kane (aka Batwoman) kicks ass. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sunday Morning, Tea, Toast and Poetry

Hello blog.  I'm back to poetry this morning.  I've just been editing a poem which I think is good to go now.  I'll have one final read before I approve it.  And I had to go looking for a sheet of paper I'd written on during the week.  I found it on the chest of drawers in a book.  I hope that these scribbled words will form the foundation for a new poem.  I had some haunting thoughts which I had mentioned in the previous post.  I've also thought of a title for a poem, just the title.  It struck me yesterday while I was driving.  Just the title.  It seemed to have weight or it was like the lid of a well with a deep bottom.  These are a couple of ways that poems begin for me.  One can also pick a subject to write about and work on that base. 

The picture above is meant to be an empty well but I don't see it that way.  I mean water to be found at the bottom.  I think I'll have another cup of tea.  The sky is fairly clear so we could have a day without rain and I'll be able to spend some time outdoors later.

Be back soon.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Cuisle Poetry Festival 2011

I would dearly love to be going to Limerick on Thursday night for the launch of The Stony Thursday Book but work committment will not allow it.  The editor of this year's Stony Thursday is Mary Coll from what I can gather.  I can't wait to see the book but I'll just have to.  Thanks very much for including my poem dear editor.

The festival has some star attractions:

British Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and the hugely popular Paul Durcan; Catalan poet Joan Margarit; a night of Slovenian poetry with Iztok Osojnik and others; Dubliner Paula Meehan and Mary O’Malley from Galway; Lee Harwood and Clare Best from Sussex; Limerick poet Mark Whelan reading from his new book Brighton Suite.

There will be discussions, socializing and crack, open mic sessions, book launches, including The Stony Thursday Book edited this year by Mary Coll, and the much-loved Cuisle Poetry Slam.

I haven't written anything in well over a week but I opened my mind a little today and allowed it to enter my heart.  Now that sounds profound doesn't it, I must be onto a winner.  Or as Madonna quotes at the end of her Express Yourself video "Without the heart there can be no understanding between the hand and the mind."  I remember learning to use quotation in school.  It just goes to show that so much work goes into forming us as individuals and so much time passes.

I love old books I've decided.  A copy of Sword at Sunset by Rosemary Sutcliff came into my possession at the weekend.  By old I mean aged.  It's second hand.  I got it in the book shop on Tara.  This is currently my source of inspiration.  It makes me feel like I could fall in love with language all over again.  I have a great desire to make what I see and feel visible, "So it must have been after the birth of the simple light In the first, spinning place..."

Sunday, October 2, 2011

West to Galway - Boyne Berries 10

Kevin Higgins

It was then that we packed up and went to Galway, on Friday, 30th September for the second launch.  This launch was performed by Kevin Higgins.  It was a warm occasion and contributors from Galway and hinterland who read were Alan McMonagle, Mari Maxwell, Rachel Coventry, John Pinschmidt and Kevin Higgins.  Evan Costigan recited his poem Leaving Nagasaki from memory.

Evan Costigan

Greg and Catherine Hastings and Paul Kerr made the trip to Galway too.  Catherine read The Skate and Paul, A Trim Trek to the Reek.  Later Carolyne Van Der Meer taught me to pronounce la coquille from my poem O Sonho do Mar properly, the l's are not pronounced.  I hope I have that right!  Many thanks to Charlie Byrne's Bookshop for providing the venue.  When we woke, in the morning, it was October.

Evan Costigan and friend, Carolyne Van Der Meer, Michael Farry, Alan McMonagle

Boyne Berries 10 Magazine Launched in Trim

The castle, majestic, rises - Cover art by Greg Hastings

Despite missing one of her captains (Paddy Smith) Boyne Berries 10 was launched in Trim on Thursday last into a sea of welcoming crowd.  Peter Fallon performed the launch here and it was so very interesting to hear him speak about his life, the Gallery Press, poems, lines of poetry he had liked from past issues of the magazine.  It was a privilege to be there on the night, a night of glittering stars in the firmament.

Michael Farry acted as master of ceremonies and many of the contributors read their pieces; Susan Connolly, Brian Kirk, James Lawless, Peter Goulding, Honor Duff and of course those from our own group, Boyne Writers.  Peter Fallon read his poem The Fields of Meath to end the night.  And one poet, Carolyne Van Der Meer had travelled from Canada to attend the launch. 

This issue is a special issue, in colour and featuring images.  It is available to purchase for 12 euro in Trim in Antonia’s Bookshop and in Spar, and in Galway in Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop and can be bought by PayPal here:

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Red Room East

The Red Room, Henri Matisse

I'm returning to two poems I started on Tuesday.  One I'm really into and I think it will turn into a nice piece.  The other is vague and needs to be battered into shape.  Are pieces like this worth the mental aerobics?  And there is no guarantee that it will become something good.  I'll give it a lash.  And I have to do a size of research for these two poems so that they are legitimate. 

It's Sunday morning and I'll be listening to RTE radio 1 Sunday Miscellany on livestream.  I've already heard a striking report on the danger of earthquake to Tibet and Nepal.  The reporter described sitting in the doorway of a house and being rocked like a boat on the sea.  How frightening, that the land could become the sea!  The buildings there are not properly built and a big earthquake will cause devastation.  I worte a poem about this region once called The Red Room West, or was it East, I can't find it anyway and it's not in my documents.  I dreamed the poem one night.  It was also a recurring dream.  I had the same dream in my childhood but I can't remember details.   I wonder could I find the missing poem somewhere? 

I'm looking forward to an eventful week.  I have my jacket bought for the Boyne Berries 10 Launch on Thursday and it should be a very exciting night.  Then on to Galway for the second launch on Friday evening.  I'll have to take some photos for this blog, and memory. 

The goddess is descending to the underworld.  I hope everyone finds time to celebreate this beautiful time of the year. Autumn.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Hard Knock Life

I'm feeling very hyper tonight.  I think I should have gone for my cycle after work.  Anyway I'm sure I'll wear myself out in ten or fifteen minutes.  It's not like I'm not tired.  I've been dancing around a bit and shadow boxing.  I know I'm not the only one who does this so be off thou, demon, shame!  I'm increasingly becoming a fan of rap and especially of Jay-Z and Tupac. 

Hmm also in the mood for some beat poetry uh-huh, gonna ad lib, write it down!  Soon.  When I can sit still.

Take the bassline out, uh-huh

Jigga (bounce wit it), uh-huh uh-huh uh-huh, yeahh
Let it bump though

["Annie" sample]

It's the hard knock life (uh-huh) for us
It's the hard knock life, for us!!
Steada Treated,we get tricked
Steada kisses, we get kicked
It's the hard knock life!!


From standin on the corners boppin
to drivin some of the hottest cars New York has ever seen
For droppin some of the hottest verses rap has ever heard
From the dope spot, with the smoke Glock
fleein the murder scene, you know me well
from nightmares of a lonely cell, my only hell
But since when y'all niggaz know me to fail? Fuck naw
Where all my niggaz with the rubber grips, bust shots
And if you with me mom I rub on your tits, and what-not
I'm from the school of the hard knocks, we must not
let outsiders violate our blocks, and my plot
let's stick up the world and split it fifty/fifty, uh-huh
Let's take the dough and stay real jiggy, uh-huh
And sip the Cris' and get pissy-pissy
Flow infinitely like the memory of my nigga Biggie, baby!
You know it's hell when I come through
The life and times of Shawn Carter
nigga Volume 2, y'all niggaz get ready

I flow for those 'dro'ed out; all my niggaz
locked down in the ten by fo', controllin the house
We live in hard knocks, we don't take over we borrow blocks
Burn em down and you can have it back daddy, I'd rather that
I flow for chicks wishin, they ain't have to strip to pay tuition
I see you vision mama, I put my money on the longshots
All my ballers that's born to clock
Now Imma be on top whether I perform or not
I went from lukewarm to hot; sleepin on futons and cots
to King Size, dream machines, the green fives
I've seen pies let the thing between my eyes analyze life's ills
Then I put it down type braile
I'm tight grill with the phony, rappers y'all might feel we homies
I'm like still, y'all don't know me, shit!
I'm tight grill when my situation ain't improvin
I'm tryin to murder everything movin, feel me?!

I don't KNOW how to sleep, I gotta eat, stay on my toes
Gotta a lot of beef, so logically, I pray on my fours
Hustling's still inside of me, and as far as progress
you'd be hard-pressed, to find another rapper hot as me
I gave you prophecy on my first joint, and y'all lamed out
Didn't really appreciate it, til the second one came out
So I stretched the game out, X'ed your name out
Put Jigga on top, and drop albums non-stop for ya, nigguh!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

13th Francis Ledwidge International Poetry Award 2011

Ledwidge's Cottage & Museum, Slane, Co. Meath

First prize is the Ledwidge plaque inscribed with the winner's name.  There are cash prizes for second and third prize and the top three winning entries are entered in the Forward Prize UK.  The winner will be asked to read at the annual Francis Ledwidge Commemoration at the National War Memorial Gardens in July 2012.   Commended entries receive certificates.  I had a poem commended two years ago but I had no placement last year.  Michael Farry and Evan Costigan of Boyne Writers usually do very well in this competition and Tommy Murray was commended also last year I think.  So expect stiff competition if you do enter.  Rachael Hegarty won last year.  It would be great to see a Meath based writer win this competition since Ledwidge was one of our own.

Poems must be 40 lines or less, be the writers own work and have never been previously published or broadcast.  Place your name, address and telephone number on a separate sheet.  The entry fee is 4 euro per poem and 10 euro for three poems.  Include a stamped addressed envelope or an email address for a winners list. 

All entries must be submitted before Saturday, 5th November to:

The Francis Ledwidge International Poetry Award 2011,
C/o 43, Emmet Crescent,
Dublin 8.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Peter Fallon to Launch Boyne Berries 10

Peter Fallon launched Boyne Berries 4 in the Autumn of 2008 and it is an exciting thought that he will be back in Trim on Thursday, 29th September to launch Boyne Berries 10.  I found the below on the Aosdana (of which he is a member) website :

Peter Fallon is a poet, editor and publisher. He was born in Germany and grew up near Kells, Co. Meath where he now lives. He is an Honours Graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, where he has been Writer in Residence. Since 1978, his collections of poetry include: The Speaking Stones; Winter Work; The News and Weather; Eye to Eye; The Deerfield Series: Strength of Heart. His selected poems, News of the World, was published by Wake Forest University Press in 1993. An expanded edition, News of the World: Selected and New Poems, was published in Ireland in 1998. This expanded edition was included in the Irish Times' Books of the Year in 1998 and was reprinted in 1999.

In 1993 he received the O'Shaughnessy Poetry Award from the Irish American Cultural Institute; he was Poet in Residence (1996-97) at Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts and, in spring 2000, he was the inaugural Heimbold Professor of Irish Studies at Villanova University, PA. He was also conferred with an Honorary Doctorate by Villanova University. He has given more than 200 readings throughout the USA, Europe, Canada, Japan and Ireland. In 1990 he edited, with Derek Mahon, The Penguin Book of Contemporary Irish Poetry, and contributed to The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing 500AD to the present.

Aged 18, he founded The Gallery Press, which has published 300 books of poems and plays by Ireland's foremost writers. It is recognised as a pre-eminent publishing house, and received a Better Ireland Award in 1991.

Finding a poem by Mr. Fallon proved a little more difficult but he does have a poem in a collection which I own, a lovely collection, Forgotten Light: Memory Poems:

Another Anniversary

You turn
hearing the joy
of football
in the yard.
You yearn
for that footfall
of the lost,
the scarred.

Again, again
and again
you feel the sten -
gun attack
of that "What if?"
and that "What then?"
Well, then
he'd be a boy

who's ten.

Peter Fallon

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Saturday's "In Conversation With..." @ The Irish Writers' Centre

Jack Harte, Chairman Irish Writers' Centre

I strolled into this wonderful event on Saturday morning shortly after ten to find proceedings were underway.  Dublin's Lord Mayor, Andrew Montague, officially welcomed the Italian Writers and then a round table discussion took place.  Notable speakers for the Italians were Federica Sgaggio, Francesca Capelli and Francesco Facchini.  Capelli spoke about translation.  She brings her work to bed and has a relationship with it trying to understand a work's music and meaning.  The Italians showed a great passion for writing.   It was agreed that there is but a small market for translated literature in Ireland.  The lovely Catherine Dunne conducted this session.

In the second part of the morning IWC Chairman Jack Harte took the helm and June Caldwell, Niamh MacAlister, Mark Kilroy, Brian Kirk, Monica Strina and I spoke about our interest in writing and read a piece each before lunch.  I read two poems as did Niamh MacAlister.  I could not make the afternoon session which was to be dedicated to more established writers. 

June Caldwell has been shortlisted for this year's Over the Edge New Writer of the Year Competition.  Good luck to her.  She read an excerpt from a short story she had entered for this competition about Ireland's missing women.  It made me think of Margaret Atwood's poem Owl Song.  I spoke with Brian Kirk who will have a poem in Boyne Berries 10 and in The Stony Thursday Book.  The writers seemed to agree that being published is often about who you know in the business and also about the importance of having an agent.  A few of these emerging Irish Writers have completed novels and I am awed by this.

To become a member of the IWC follow this link

Owl Song

By Margaret Atwood

I am the heart of a murdered woman
who took the wrong way home
who was strangled in a vacant lot and not buried
who was shot with care beneath a tree
who was mutilated by a crisp knife.
There are many of us.

I grew feathers and tore my way out of her;
I am shaped like a feathered heart.
My mouth is a chisel, my hands
the crimes done by hands.

I sit in the forest talking of death
which is monotonous:
though there are many ways of dying
there is only one death song,
the colour of mist:
it says Why Why

I do not want revenge, I do not want expiation,
I only want to ask someone
how I was lost,
how I was lost

I am the lost heart of a murderer
who has not yet killed,
who does not yet know he wishes
to kill; who is still the same
as the others

I am looking for him,
he will have answers for me,
he will watch his step, he will be
cautious and violent, my claws
will grow through his hands
and become claws, he will not be caught.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"In Conversation With..." Irish Writers' Centre, Saturday 3rd Sept.

I will be attending this cultural exchange initiative between the Irish Writers' Centre and the Italian Institute of Culture.  Part one, a morning session, will be devoted to emerging writers and part two, in the afternoon, will comprise of a round table discussion between established Irish writers and the Italian guests. 

The Irish Writers’ Centre, in association with the Italian Cultural Institute, is delighted to announce the launch of a Pilot Project: ‘Cultural Exchange Initiative 2011’.

On September 1st, a group of Italian writers, journalists, actors and academics will arrive in Dublin to take part in four days of cultural and literary activities. The main focus will be an event entitled ‘In Conversation With…’ where the group will meet with Irish writers, both emerging and established, and explore common interests, concerns and traditions.

The objective is to foster cultural links which can be nurtured and strengthened in the coming years. Discussions are already underway for an Italo-Irish Literary Festival in the near future. The Citta di Nardo, Provincia di Lecce, in a kind reciprocal gesture, has already invited a group of Irish authors to Italy for a similar cultural exchange in 2012.

All organizations involved hope that this will be the first of many such events. Our visitors will also experience traditional Irish hospitality, a literary walking tour and visits to some of the highlights that illuminate Dublin’s status as UNESCO City of Literature.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Stony Thursday Book 2011

I'm delighted that my poem Glove is to be included in this year's Stony Thursday Book.  The editor is Mary Coll.  The launch will take place on Thursday, 13th October in The Belltable Arts Centre, Limerick at 7pm.  The book will be launched as part of The Cuisle Poetry festival.   I'd love to make it to the launch. 

The Stony Thursday Book was founded by Limerick poets John Liddy and Jim Burke in 1975, and has also been edited by Mark Whelan, Kevin Byrne, Patrick Bourke, Knute Skinner and Thomas McCarthy.

The Stony Thursday Book is one of the longest-running literary journals in Ireland and celebrated its 30th Anniversary Edition in 2005.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Fisher King

The Fisher King - William T. Ayton

Today I've been thinking about Arthurian legend again and magic.  I started reading about the Holy Grail and I'm somewhat baffled by all there is to read about it, so many intricacies of timelines and people involved.  Its origin is mixed with legends of pagan cauldrons and Christianity.  Joseph of Arimathea is said to have collected Christ's blood in the cup of the grail.  And the Fisher King belongs to a lineage of men charged with keeping the grail.  He is wounded in the legs or feet and awaiting healing.  A consequence of this injury is that the King's land falls into decline and becomes barren.  But if the King has the grail shouldn't that heal him?  Many go to try and help the Fisher King.  The Fisher King could be anyone I am thinking, you or I.  And looking at the picture above, isn't he indeed a sad character and in need of help?

There are some who say that the boy Jesus spent time in England with Joseph of Arimathea and Jerusalem by William Blake supposes that.  It's not like we know much about Jesus' life anyway, barring his birth and death.  What did he do for those 30 years?

And did those feet in ancient time

Walk upon England's mountains green:
And was the Holy Lamb of God,
On England's pleasant pastures seen!
And did the Countenance Divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills?
Bring me my Bow of burning gold:
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!
I will not cease from Mental Fight
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,

In England's green and pleasant Land!

(William Blake 1757-1827)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Das Schloss - Trim Walled Town Heritage Day

I spent some time today in Trim, by the castle, as a day celebrating Trim as a walled town had been organised by Noel French of Meath Heritage Centre.  The Boyne Writers and The Meath Writers' Circle had been invited to read some poetry.  Trim had 5 main gates along the wall; Water Gate, Athboy Gate, Navan Gate, Sheep Gate and Dublin Gate.  The castle was erected by Hugh de Lacy in the 1170's. 

As I am in the frame of mind for german literature I found myself thinking of Das Schloss by Franz Kafka, excerpt below.

"It was late evening when K. arrived. The village lay under deep snow. There was no sign of the Castle hill, fog and darkness surrounded it, not even the faintest gleam of light suggested the large Castle. K. stood a long time on the wooden bridge that leads from the main road to the village, gazing upward into the seeming emptiness.

Then he went looking for a night's lodging; at the inn they were still awake; the landlord had no room available, but, extremely surprised and confused by the latecomer, he was willing to let K. sleep on a straw mattress in the taproom, K. agreed to this. A few peasants were still sitting over beer, but he did not want to talk to anyone, got himself a straw mattress from the attic and lay down by the stove. It was warm, the peasants were quiet, he examined them for a moment with tired eyes, then fell asleep.

Yet before long he was awakened. A young man in city clothes, with an actor's face, narrow eyes, thick eyebrows, stood beside him with the landlord. The peasants, too, were still there, a few had turned their chairs around to see and hear better. The young man apologized very politely for having awakened K., introduced himself as the son of the Castle steward and said: "This village is Castle property, anybody residing or spending the night here is effectively residing or spending the night at the Castle. Nobody may do so without permission from the Count. But you have no such permission or at least you haven't shown it yet."

K., who had half-risen and smoothed his hair, looked at the people from below and said: "What village have I wandered into? So there is a castle here?"

"Why, of course," the young man said slowly, while several peasants here and there shook their heads at K., "the Castle of Count Westwest." "

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wings of Desire

Oh my God those angels are troubling me again!  I have City of Angels on dvd but I read dialogue from Wim Wenders' film Wings of Desire in the Being Human anthology today.  Wings was firstly called Der Himmel uber Berlin (The Heavens over Berlin).  I still want to visit Berlin some day.  Rainer Maria Rilke's poetry inspired Wenders' movie.  There certainly is something about Rilke and angels.  I haven't even seen Wings of Desire, yet.  City of Angels is an American remake of Wings of Desire by the way.

The Angels

They all have lips profoundly tired
and lucid souls without a seam,
and yearning (like a sin desired)
moves sometimes slowly through their dream.

They nigh resemble one another
and walk His gardens silently:
so many intervals that gather
in God's majestic melody.

But only with their wings extending
do they call forth the heaven's gales:
like sculptor God Himself were bending
the pages, and His hands were mending
the book of dark creation tales.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Die Engel

Sie haben alle müde Münde
und helle Seelen ohne Saum.
Und eine Sehnsucht (wie nach Sünde)
geht ihnen manchmal durch den Traum.

Fast gleichen sie einander alle;
in Gottes Gärten schweigen sie,
wie viele, viele Intervalle
in seiner Macht und Melodie.

Nur wenn sie ihre Flügel breiten,
sind sie die Wecker eines Winds:
als ginge Gott mit seinen weiten
Bildhauerhänden durch die Seiten
im dunklen Buch des Anbeginns.

Rainer Maria Rilke

And all of this because?  I was trying to write a poem about the human condition, morality, what is good? What is bad?  It's written anyway and I'm going to bring it to the Boyne Writers' meeting tomorrow night.  I'm sure they will offer me some comment and advice on it.  Being Human is a cool anthology.  Another poet who keeps catching my eye is Louis MacNeice, how awesome are his poems!!! 

I read the poetry for Boyne Berries last week and returned it to Michael Farry for further reading and editing.  The poems were of a very good standard and there were seven or eight that really stood out.  The reading made me think about what makes a poem stand out.  For me it is subject, style, imagery, rhyme, use of language, clear thought and a great poem usually has a really good idea at its centre.  If the voice of a poet comes through strongly then that is also wonderful.  The launch of Boyne Berries 10 will be upon us in no time and I can't wait to see the finished product. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Italian Writers at the Irish Writers' Centre - Catherine Dunne

Due to my involvement in The Lonely Voice Short Story Introductions I've been asked by Catherine Dunne, pictured above, to participate in a morning dedicated to emerging writers on September 3rd in the Irish Writers' Centre.  Events are being organised by Catherine on the Saturday for the benefit of a group of Italian Writers who will be visiting Ireland.  This initiative has at its heart the development of cultural tourism.  We are to bring one piece of work which we may be asked to read from, a CV and contact details. 

Catherine Dunne is the author of six novels and one work of non-fiction. Her last novel Set in Stone was published by Macmillan in October 2009 and Catherine will be launching her latest novel Missing Julia at the Irish Writers' Centre on Friday 24th September. She has been shortlisted for several prizes, including the Kerry Fiction Prize, and won the International Award at Vigevano, Italy, in 2006. Her work is widely translated and has been optioned for television. Catherine has taught creative writing for the Irish Writers' Centre, Dublin City Council, Writers' Week Listowel and the Arvon Foundation in the UK.  She is a member of the board of The Irish Writers' Centre.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

On the Sea

I'm back from holidays and easing myself into the "back to business" frame of mind.  When you fall out of routine it takes concentration, focus and some self-belief to establish a stride again.

While away in the Algarve I was influenced by the sea and the sunshine.  One night I thought of Keats' poem On the Sea and vowed to look it up again when I got home.  I've six word documents open at the moment.  One is blank.  I hope I can fill it tonight.

On the Sea

It keeps eternal whisperings around
Desolate shores, and with its mighty swell
Gluts twice ten thousand Caverns, till the spell
Of Hecate leaves them their old shadowy sound.
Often 'tis in such gentle temper found,
That scarcely will the very smallest shell
Be moved for days from where it sometime fell.
When last the winds of Heaven were unbound.
Oh, ye! who have your eyeballs vexed and tired,
Feast them upon the wideness of the Sea;
Oh ye! whose ears are dinned with uproar rude,
Or fed too much with cloying melody---
Sit ye near some old Cavern's Mouth and brood,
Until ye start, as if the sea nymphs quired!

John Keats


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Some Holiday Reading

Cabo de Sao Vicente

I'm off to Portugal tomorrow evening for a week.  To Olhos D'Agua which is near Albufeira in the Algarve.  It is going to be around 30 degrees so the warmth will be a bit of a shock but it will be a welcome one.  I've packed some books to read and a notebook with pens and pencils.  I hope to write a few pieces.  I have Being Human the latest Bloodaxe anthology to read.  I haven't allowed myself to look at it yet.   I also have a collection of short stories by Chekhov, Shutter Island, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and a copy of The SHOp to muse through and over.  I won't have my laptop with me.  I also plan to take some nice photos.  Below is a poem by Maya Angelou who wrote I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings which I have started already. 

Touched by An Angel 

by Maya Angelou

We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love's light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.

Cape St. Vincent

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Boyne Berries 10

It's that time of the year again.  Autumn of course I mean (well nearly).  Last weekend she told me she was near by allowing a leaf to fall and tap me on the shoulder.  I miss writing and have been so stressed out the last few days but I'm gettiing my holidays tomorrow so I will write over the two weeks I'm off.  The moon is full too which could be partly why I feel a bit haywire. 

And also that time of the year - as the Autumn issue of Boyne Berries is being prepared and it promises to be a delectable cocktail of poetry, prose and image.  You still have time to submit.  Send your piece before the 31st of July to .  And read the submission guidelines here . I have to write something for it myself and submit.  I remember submitting to Boyne Berries 1 four years ago and I spent some hours thinking about whether I should send an email or not.  Having something accepted for publication in it would mean being thrilled and being rejected - well who likes rejection?  But I am used to being rejected now too, developed a tougher skin it seems.

I don't think I've much more to add tonight.  But I will be back soon. 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Lonely Voice at The Irish Writers Centre - July

So I took up the sword and here I am on the steps to the reading room in The Irish Writers' Centre with Paddy Smith and Michael Farry from The Boyne Writers' Group.  I have to say thanks to them for coming to hear me read and to a couple of my friends who came too.  The judge Leo Cullen liked the imagery in my story and I am happy about that as creating imagery is for me a huge part of being a poet and I do tend to see my writing in a strong visual way.  It was, as has been mentioned in Michael's blog, and by the judge, a bold piece, it said something anyway.  I think now that I need to give more concentration to stories and to perhaps something, dare I say, longer, while still working on my poetry. 

I attended a Boyne Writers' meeting on Thursday night and there is great excitement about the forthcoming Boyne Berries 10.  I also saw the reclaimed Battle of the Books trophy.  It seemed to glitter in the dimmed light of the Castle Arch Hotel. 

Congratulations to the other three writers who shared the experience of The Lonely Voice: Short Story Introductions with me; Guy Barriscale, Deirdre McClay and  Sarah Gimartin.  We are pictured below.