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Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 3 The Long Night or Why the World Needs Fierce Girls and Strong Men

“Woman?” She chuckled. “Is that meant to insult me? I would return the slap, if I took you for a man.” Dany met his stare.

George R.R. Martin, A Storm of Swords

"You can do one of two things; just shut up, which is something I don't find easy, or learn an awful lot very fast, which is what I tried to do."
—Jane Fonda

"Don't compromise yourself. You are all you've got."
—Janis Joplin

I've been asked about this latest episode of Game of Thrones a lot since it aired, and I've avoided a response until watching it a third time.

The Night King is coming we've been told, that zombie king made of ice, who steals babies and lives beyond the wall. This fabled wall that 'crow' Jon Snow, a man of the Night's Watch protects. It is a long story of 'fire and ice' proclaimed by original author G.R.R. Martin (Tolkien anyone?)

Yet, you're into it. In the same way as you might have been into Harry Potter, or TLOTR, or Star Wars. I was concerned about Daenerys Targaryen (The Dragon Queen) and her 2 remaining dragons; Drogon, her charge, and Rhaegal, Jon's. Jon is, in fact, Aegon Targaryen, the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, in case you never knew that R + L = J. Jon is Dany's nephew.

I totally digress. This episode is all about the battle, the white walkers versus the Dothraki, the Unsullied versus the white walkers, the heroes against the villains. It is Arya Stark who explodes out of the thin, non whistling blue air in the end to kill the Night King with her dagger made of Valyrian steel. Arya has trained for months or years, to become who she is. She has endured trials and tribulations, many disappointments. She has never stopped believing in herself, nor her family. She has defied convention and become a warrior, rather than the lady her family believed she should be. Contrary to the  norm of what a 'lady' should be, Arya's sister, Sansa, has become  a lady/woman of leadership, diplomacy and foresight.

Daeneyrs Targaryen is standing strongly too at this dark battle. Of all women surviving surely she deservers her Iron Throne. She who has been abused, raped and tested, Daeneyrs, worthy of all her names:

Queen Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Lady of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm, Lady of Dragonstone, Queen of Meereen, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, the Unburnt, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons.

Lyanna Mormont stays her ground in the face of the dead and the ogres of childhood fairytale. The recently knighted Ser Brianne of Tarth is anther heroine.

Let us not forget Cersei, the antihero. What of Cersei? I think she is the subject of a blog of further inspection and introspection. Can any woman ever forget her 'Walk of Shame'? having witnessed it?

The loyal men in this episode are invaluable. Jon Snow, Ned Stark's bastard, the rightful heir of the Iron Throne, Aegon Targaryen, Jon who never gives up, Jon who is a man of honour. Greyworm and Jorah Mormont, and Theon Greyjoy, the faithful and redeemed men. The same could be said of Beric Dondarrion and Sandor Clegane.

What fate now awaits the Lannister men, Jamie and Tyrion?

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Publications Jan-March 2019

Spring has sprung and 2019 has been off to a good start with recent publications in issue 7 of The Bangor Literary Journal, edited by Amy Wyatt Rafferty, issue #5 of  Impossible Archetype, edited by Mark Ward, Ink, Sweat and Tears, edited by Helen Ivory and the current issue of FOURXFOUR, edited by Colin Dardis and Geraldine O'Kane.

In April I will have two poems in volume five of Quarryman. I will also have a poem in ROPES literary journal, the theme of which is 'Unearthed' for 2019. The journal will be launched as part of the CĂșirt Festival.

I was also delighted to learn that I had been shortlisted for The CĂșirt New Writing Prize by judge Thomas McCarthy. Congrats to those who were also shortlisted: Evan Costigan, Holly Hughes, Andrew Pelham Burn, Breda Spaight, Vincent Steed, Lisa de Jong and Fiona Smith. The winner was Jeremy Luttrell Haworth. I record the judge's comments on my work for posterity:

"‘I never thanked the water for all that it taught me’ begins the very 
fine ‘Rivers,’ a poem that creates a marvellous pen picture of an entire 
childhood world, the kingdom of a child’s farm. The magic of roaming the 
fields of Cloncullen, out-running the river but never out-running time, 
is beautifully done. It is beautiful writing. Time also features in ‘My 
Dandelion Clock’ where ‘It was heaven on earth/ and I did not know I was 
Icarus,/ wings waxen in the sun.’ This is a terrific poem, a meditation 
on time and time’s changes. ‘How the west was Won’ is also a 
consideration of the predations of time: ‘What hope did my Sioux friend 
have,’ the poet asks, conscious of how the civilisation of The Lone 
Ranger and Wyatt Earp would finally usurp an entire set of nations. This 
selection of poems, therefore, is impressive in its wisdom, its 
humanity, and its great sweeping narrative".

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Trim Poetry Competition Shortlist 2019

Well done to the ten shortlisted poets. The poems were judged completely anonymously by Michael Farry and I. I read all 220 poems entered. It was difficult in the end to reach a top 10. Thanks to Frances Browne, Boyne Writers Secretary, for all her work.

Trim Poetry Competition Shortlist 2019

The Ortolan Eater by Ruth Quinlan
Camera Lesson by Frank Farrelly
Lost Mornings by Eamon McGuinness
The Obstetrician's Waiting Room by Catriona Clutterbuck
Scattering the Fieldfares by Glen Wilson
Hefenfelth by Maria Isakova Bennett
Shadow Mirror by K.S. Moore
Riptide by Amanda Bell
Eastern Ghouta by Patrick Lodge
Hansheen's Gardens by Patrick Deeley

The shortlisted poets have been invited to attend on Saturday 16 March at 5 pm to read their shortlisted poem. The winner will then be announced. This event will take place in The Castle Arch Hotel. The competition result and readings will be followed by readings from The Bulls Arse Writing Group, Navan, and The Meath Writers' Circle. Poets Ron Carey and Enda Wyley will then read from 8 pm onwards. More information can be found here

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Boyne Berries 25 Cover Design

I'm delighted to share a preview of the cover design for Boyne Berries 25, by Rory O'Sullivan, with you. This cover is an homage to the cover of issue 1, 2007, by Greg Hastings. The magazine will launch on 15th March at 7.30 pm in The Castle Arch Hotel.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Trim Poetry Festival & Poetry Competition 2019

Peter Fallon

Boyne Writers Group are organising a poetry festival on the 15th and 16th of March, and a competition, to coincide with the launch of issue 25 of Boyne Berries Magazine (which I am about to start editing). Peter Fallon, Ron Carey and Enda Wyley will read at the festival.

Details can be found here