Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sydney Bernard Smith

I was sorry to hear that Sydney Bernard Smith died a fortnight ago, he did me a great service.

He published some very early poems of mine in a broadsheet published in association with Sligo Arts Festival and later took some time to criticise my poetry. I think he was disappointed with what he saw.

We met up in the International Bar where he took a red biro to my efforts. By the time he finished there were red lines through most of it. Initially discouraging, (he said that my only saving grace was that I was so new to writing), it turned out to be the most valuable few hours tuition I ever got.

His criticisms were crisp, accurate and flawlessly observed; he left me with a clear understanding of the need to be concise and efficient, to avoid waffle and pointless adornment. He left me with an insight into the value of ruthless editing. He did this with authority but without superiority.

You can download 2 of his books from the Irish Literary Revival website

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

How We Fell

Glen Colquhoun’s most recent collection, How we fell: A Love Story (Steele Roberts, 2006),is the beautiful and evocative telling of how the relationship with his former wife was and went.

The poems go beyond what words can describe like garlic on the breath. Understanding might depend on recognizing the territory; it’s like feeling for solidity in cloud, but you will feel; and there is a universe to feel. Their relationship, as he describes it, was passionate and spiritual; consumate. The title is interesting: there’s clearly the fall, and there’s the fall in love; but the second (phrase) is unfinished.

Is it possible that after love has crashed through like a meteorite, we remain, carried forever (our atoms just) suspended in its brilliant tail.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Panda Sneeze

Not poetry in the usual sense but I got a great laugh when I was shown this today. So thanks to jimvwmoss for posting this on YouTube

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Rain and Phone Scams

Today is WET. The world is full of running water and stiffling greyness; as Leo Sayer says it’s raining in my heart. It started with a nightmare last night. Sleeping past the alarm this morning. And now a cloud stuck over the city like an elastoplast. It reminded me of one of the first poems I had published, but without the slightly romantic note:

Damp and Drizzle.

Damp wet, wet, wet.
Grim drizzle
Leaning against the wall
All day.

If I could hum the mood
In your ear
You'd know what I mean;
You'd remember.

The mood may be connected to my annoyance yesterday at discovering I been done out of maybe €4 a week (or more) for over a year. Having registered for a quiz last year I kept receiving questions by text on my mobile. I never replied to them, but still was charged €2 for receiving each of them.

No doubt I missed some very fine print at the outset and I wasn’t keeping an eye on my costs, but surely this type of scam, though legal, is obviously an unfair lure to take your money. Is it not time the legal loop-holes that allow these sort of practices were closed.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Favourite Poems and Poets Online

What a wonderful thing the internet is. My favourite poem is Fern Hill; I search and find

Thanks to CSteierNKU for posting this on YouTube.

Among my favourite Irish poems are Patrick Kavanagh’s; hear his voice at Poetry Archive:
And find a generous selection of his works at

And Walt Whitman’s voice, ( believed to be), at The Walt Whitman Archive:

I love the upbeat mood and rhythm in Whitman’s ‘songs’ and other poetry; it would be difficult to avoid being infected with the celebration that starts with ( shout it if you can)

I CELEBRATE myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.

My tongue, every atom of my blood, form'd from this soil, this air,
Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their
parents the same,
I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,
Hoping to cease not till death.