Thursday, May 26, 2011

Regular readers of 'the paper of record' will know that I was a candidate (physicist & poet) for the University of Dublin constituency in the recent election to Seanad Eireann. I garnered ~400 First Preferences and exited with a final vote of ~560, a respectable vote for a first-timer, I'm told. To those who voted for me a very grateful thanks; to those who should have but didn't/couldn't/wouldn't (beginning to sound like Tom Lehrer's Sesame Street riff) you have 5 years to repent in...just kidding! Anyone who would like a peek at my manifesto can see it at

Many positives things came out of the campaign: for a start I now have some understanding of how to reach this diasporate (is that a real word?) electorate; I also connected with lots of people that I'd lost contact with; and I now have a website which is primarily now about poetry activity.

Back soon

Thursday, July 22, 2010

5 months on, either I'm getting better at this blog thing or my life has speeded up alarmingly (which it has). I'm back in Aarhus for a lengthy experiment at the synchrotron there - so lots of time for this sort of thing....

since February, I've been busy sorting out the "difficult second album"; it now has a publisher (the wonderful Dedalus Press) and a name "Safe House", and a very eye-catching cover (good man, Pat!). Still under wraps though as publication date is October. Feel rather nervous, much more than for the first collection; is that the sound of sharpening knives.....?

A most enjoyable weekend in Kanturk (County Cork) to read at the Arts Festival over St Paddy's Day. A cosy crowd in the library applauded local young poets; Other highlights were an art exhibition in a car showroom (ideal space), an exhibition of Patrick Casey's marvellous B&W photos (incl one of Brendan Kennelly and John B Keane) and a great concert by accordianist Liam O'Connor (fastest fingers in Guinness Book of Records!)

Upcoming gigs include The Yeats Summer School / Festival, a lunchtime reading on Friday 30th July and a National Poetry Day reading in Armagh on thurs 7th October (venue tba). Sandwiched between these two is a lengthy trip down under. First stop is Beijing for a physics conference and a couple of readings arranged by the good folk at ILE and local embassy staff. then on to Melbourne for a reading in Collected Works (the best wee poetry bookshop in the world!); then up to Sydney for the Australian Poetry Festival, hopping across the pond to Palmerston North to give a lunchtime lecture (Science and Poetry - not so different?) at the museum Te Manawa and a reading the same evening in Wellington. Next day the luxury of a ferry/train journey to Christchurch for the Writers Festival: 3 gigs here, a reading, an interview of Liam McIlvanney, author of a post-Troubles thriller "All The Colours Of The Town", and a Simon Cowell personation in the late-night Poetry Idol! Then down to Dunedin to repeat the lecture and back north to Palmerston North for a final reading. Grateful thanks to Culture Ireland for assistance with the international travel!!!

A final plug, this time a reading by visiting aussie poets that I am organising on Thurs 23rd Sept, 7.30 in the Irish Writers Centre; supported by The Australian Embassy and Poetry Ireland, it promises to be a great start to the new season!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Two years later....

Well, no one can accuse me of clogging up the internet, it being a fortnight short of two years since I last put middle finger to keyboard. Here is a brief summary of my life (in poetry) since:

First, 'The Irish Poem Is" didn't win the Strokestown Poetry Prize (sigh!). But the poem carried on regardless, being published in Southword 16, which is now an online journal. It also attracted at least one offspring, using the three-across-rhyme scheme.

Secondly, I read my sonnet 'To The Poet On His Birthday" live on the RTE Arts Show celebrations for 'himself'; it too attracted a degree of imitation,but of such a scurrilous nature that the item was removed from cyberspace (ah, the price of fame...)

Thirdly, last May I took part in the Auckland Writers & Readers Festival where I was interviewed on stage by Bill Manhire, New Zealand's top poet; I was also interviwed on Radio New Zealand by the fearsome Kim Hill who flumoxed me by asking if Barry's Amusements was still on the go in Portrush (it is, but not what it was). I also judged the Poetry Idol competition with Glen Colquhoun, a brilliant Kiwi poet, and Sonya Renee, the US Slam champion (whadda gal!). A most impressive festival (take a bow, Ms Rawnsley!) and great book-buying audiences!

More recently, I gave a lecture on 'Science and Poetry' to the Irish Literary & Historical Society of San Francisco and sneaked a visit (thanks Joyce!) to Djerassi Ranch, the Annamakerrig equivalent of SF (for lake, read Pacific Ocean). Wouldn't mind spending some time there....

Finally, closer to home, I read with Eileen Casey and Theo Dorgan at Tallaght Library in an event organised by Poetry Ireland and Trocaire to raise awareness of Climate Change. I was also the trail boss for the Stephens Green Writers Group benefit reading in aid of the Irish Writers Centre. No Arts Council money so time to rally round folks!

And finally, finally, a couple of pieces on recent Sunday Miscellany broadcasts (17th most listened-to programme apparently) "A Place in The Bronx" and "A Wee Girl's Bike", both available as podcasts.

Back soon!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

In need of translation?

I survived the italian job - a very pleasant evening, even if I missed most of what was said. It might even make for an enhanced enjoyment of a poem to finally hear it in your own language, a little island of rescue amid a sea of sound? I enjoyed talking to Riccardo Duranti; he has an interest in science and he has translated Cormac McCarthy and Patrick McCabe. I particularly liked his remark that the translator is the best critic; nobody will give a closer reading!

I may be in need of a translator myself. After many years I've managed to get on the shortlist for the Strokestown Poetry Prize - english section but the poem is a bit different from what I usually do; among other things it presumes on a fair bit of close reading of well-known Irish poetry. The competition is stiff, and I'm glad to be among them.

That last remark of 'what I usually do' reminds me of Miroslav holub's poem 'Conversation with a Poet' which takes the form of a dialogue. How do you know you are a poet? - I have written a poem! That means you were a poet, and now? - I will write another poem! How do you know it will be a poem? - it will be just like the last one! .......the stadium empties

Happy St Patrick's Day

Thursday, February 28, 2008

It's seems years since I managed to set up this blogger account and a couple of people have pointed out the obvious that I haven't actually posted anything since my opening shot (across a critic's bows?) The main reason, of course, is that I keep forgetting my password. Now comes a missive from head office (one of the stately ships of Irish poetry, apparently) that we poets need to put it about more in cyberspace, so here goes with (very late) notice of an event that I'm involved in:

Tomorrow, Friday 29th Feb, I'm taking a leap year leap into the strange world of translation; At 6 pm in the Istituto Italiano di Cultura, there will be a Serata di Poesia (pronounced po-es-SEE-a, I'm told). It will feature 4 italian poets, Andrea Cortellessa, Antonella Anedda, Maria Attanasio and Riccardo Duranti, ably supported by poet/translators Eilean Ni Chuilleanain and Jamie McKendick with a brief supplementary versioning of three Duranti poems by myself. I keep misremembering Mahon's line from the Last of The Fire Kings - something about "striking over the fields not knowing a word of the language". In truth Duranti is an excellent translator of his own work so I'm a bit nervous of what he will think of my versions. There probably should be the equivalent of the Hippocratic Oath, "do no harm". More to follow, if I survive....

Monday, July 16, 2007


This is an occasional poetry blog so titles are important - but let's not forget irony!

The best advice on receipt of a new car is to go out and put a scratch on it. So it is in poetry, there's no relaxation until the first negative review of your last book. In my case Poetry Ireland Review has handsomely obliged in the latest issue 90 pp 96-7. Apart from a misrepresentation of my birthright (for "Ballymena" read "Coleraine") I can finally move on. Or so I thought!

At a book launch last week I was chatting to a fellow poet; in hindsight, that conversation now seems rather stilted, with me doing most of the talking; eventually, for want of a topic, I mentioned the review; my colleague's relief was evident. He agreed that he had seen it and had judged it harsh but, more importantly, he freely admitted that he was too embarassed to mention it. It was like a death in the family. So, this is my plea: no more of "don't mention the review!" After all, nobody died!