Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Caccini's Ave Maria

This is exquisite. Don't bother about the pictures, turn it up, close your eyes and savor

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Pádraig J Daly and RS Thomas

Pádraig J Daly is a poet I have great time for. I find his poetry thought-provoking and persuasive. He does not roar his presence, for many he had to be found but once found he leaves a lasting impression. Some of his poetry is reminiscent of the poems of another clergyman, RS Thomas. “Clinging to the Myth” (Dedalus Press, 2007) is his most recent collection and you can get a sampler of these poems by following the links on the Dedalus Press website. He can also be heard in the Dedalus Press Audio Room. A selection of poems by RS Thomas can be found at
<>; his poem “The Bright Field” can be found in a number of places on the net, but I think you might enjoy it most at the following address <>

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Tuol Sleng Still

In 1999 I wrote a series of poems called Tuol Sleng Still. They were inspired by the gut-wrenching photographs of the inmates of Tuol Sleng, S-21, a Khmer Rouge death-camp in Phnom Penh. Between 1975 and 1979, 14,000 were tortured and died there. 7 survived. Inmates were photographed with numbered tags, and they were photographed again after their deaths.

Anyone who has experienced such horrors would probably consider my poems from the comfort of 1999 Ireland wryly. I was horrified by my ignorance: during those years I was enjoying a carefree college life. But to see the fear in faces that are little different to those that fill my everyday; I immediately felt immense sadness and felt I should, at least, inform myself. And by researching, writing and publishing the poems I could at least make the experience more real to me and contribute in a minute way to the calls against the wars and barbarism that seem to me to exemplify the pitiful limitations of us humans.

I chose Tuol Sleng because the photographs that inspired me were from there. There is a danger that I will suggest that people from far-off lands with different features to ours are barbaric, however I consider the vacuum-pack cleanliness of American mass-murder by air-strike at least as obscene, if not more so. I consider the war in the Middle East carried out and supported by governments in our name to be abhorrent. That era in the seventies is and isn’t history: unfortunately, for too many around the world it is Tuol Sleng still.

I looked at him,
Cambodian like myself,
similar in height and age.
He was handing out the tags;
I was bare to the waist.

I held the tag in my hand,
holding it up to be seen;
feeling awkward, conspicuous.
“Pin it onto your chest”
he said and waited.

I pinned it into my skin;
the humiliation delighted him.
Before the camera I stood erect
like I was proud to wear it,
like it was made of gold.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Gorumna Island, 360 degrees Connemara Landscape

I'd forgotten about this snippet of video from a walk in September 2006. Pass through the island of Lettermore over the bridge onto Gorumna Island. A stunning part of county Galway and away from the worst excesses of tourism. My dancing's rough, so is the terrain but isn't it beautiful. Kay on camera. Reminds me, it's about time for another visit.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Roscommon Writers

Now that the O’Dea house in Roscommon is no more - my mother died two years ago and the house has since been demolished – I feel quite eager to put together an event comprising Roscommon writers and musicians to take place in Dublin, Roscommon, and anywhere else that would stage it. The suggestion was put to me some years ago; lately it has been on my mind again. I launched my first collection Sunfire in Roscommon and it proved to be a marvellous occasion.

I am also weighing up an anthology of writings by Roscommon writers, eg Douglas Hyde, Percy French, John Waters or alternatively, writers with Roscommon connections. The two lists would make interesting reading. Writers belonging to either or would include John McGahern, Patrick Chapman, Jack Harte, Patsy McGarry, Kieran Furey and..... I must investigate.

If this question still interests me tomorrow morning; I’ll take the first step.