Monday, March 30, 2009

Unbalancing the Boat

I came across an old poem recently called “Do dreams have wheels?”. It’s a question one of my daughters asked when she was young; I used it in a poem which was a collection of questions my children asked. They ranged from “Can I finish your Guinness?” to “Did you put that mountain there?” (I used to say I put various parts of landscape in position).

“Do dreams have wheels?” is a brilliant example of a line you don’t scrap because you’ve taken such a shine to it. Another line was “Did the man really collect pink farts in a bag?” (Another yarn.) But these favourite lines unbalance and sink the poem.

On a different tack, I wonder if sending the gardaí into Today FM to enquire about some well executed cartoons isn’t another example of unbalancing the boat. To me it smacks of the type of action more typical of a dictator-run state.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Your stories

Listening this morning to a BBC World Service documentary on the return of Chinua Achebe to his native Nigeria, I was struck by his appeal to listeners at a rally: "Where are your stories? Where are your stories?”

It would be constructive for us all to keep an eye to our developing stories rather than blunder, (or in some cases plunder), through life. It would foster reflection, awareness and probably some degree of responsibility for our activities.

As opposed to the ever- increasing monitoring of individuals by the state, people would monitor themselves.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Poet Laureate of the People's Republic of Cork

Gerry Murphy’s poetry performed by Crazy Dog Audio Theatre in a production entitled “Poet Laureate of the People's Republic of Cork” was staged during the 2008 Jazz Festival in Cork and will be presented again in June 2009 in the Everyman Theatre.Take a look at the excerpts on YouTube,I'm hoping they'll come to Dublin; if not I'll be in Cork this June.

Gerry Murphy's poetry is thankfully a million miles away from the verbal knitting that has killed off a lot of interest in modern poetry; see him with Ger Wolfe in "Festival under the Clock", part of the Rathmines Festival, in April in Rathmines College. Admission is free courtesy of Rathmines College, CDVEC and Poetry Ireland.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Poetry in Kahlo's Paintings

The introspection in Frida Kahlo’s work, her story as related through her images, the strength of her metaphors literally hanging from her neck or sitting on her shoulder make her one of the most poetic of all painters. If I was teaching a creative writing course, I would include her works as a spur. Her choice of expression gives a writer a firm starting point. Search for her works, dwell on them, they cannot but affect you.

"The Broken Column" above is one of the most vivid depictions of physical pain in all art.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Festival Under the Clock

The Rathmines leg of Rathmines Festival has just added two real treats to its programme, the "Legend of Luke Kelly" at 8pm, Sat 25th. Chris Kavanagh and The
Patriots recreate the sound of the legendary singer. It's been received with rave reviews everywhere and Kavanagh is by all accounts a dead ringer for Kelly.

The second is Colm O'Snodaigh of Kila who'll be presenting songs from his solo album, Giving.Fans of Kila will tell you that this is a gig not to be missed; it's at 3.30pm Sat 25th.The gigs are free and are happening in Rathmines College,under the clock :)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Poems about Love

I’m surprised how many poems I have written that relate to relationships both in and out of love.

I could do a reading presenting them in a logical order to tell a story, but then I’d have the makings of a play, and that would probably be more entertaining. Then I remember Sam Shephard and Joseph Chaikin’s “Savage Love” (read it at and so the play thing’s been done; and that’s why stuff ends on the shelf.

Meanwhile here’s the backbone of my proposed story,3 poems that were included in the collections "Sunfire" and "Turn Your Head"


When I am sleeping
you come
softly over these stones;
I turn deeper.
You slip words into my ears,
liquid syllables,
sickles sliding down.

Night-time turns drunk;
longing for more,
your tongue to enwrap me;
I turn deeper.
You trickle down dreams;
our limbs braided,
we slip into one.


It's a certifiable moment
a punch-drunk second
a pulse's high tide.

A dog eats grass
a water drop shivers
a barrel fills to its brim
an apple falls
a body drifts
a face buckles
a lover screams.

At the tip of an orgasm
passion powders;
the creek turns to dust.


He, who covered my body
with snail-trails,
whose hands were wrack
swept over my skin,
kisses on my back
a colony of shell fish.

He, who would have crossed a mountain range
for an hour between my thighs
now crawls over me
with wizened passion.
Gutted of love,
he comes clawing,
and insults me with lies
that have made greater pincers
of his mouth than his hands.

What does he see in me?

Meat to excite him,
his groper's desires,
even his fingertips betray him.
But no more,
the erotic becomes ugly,
decrepit manoeuvres disconnected
from their original meanings;
the touches stain you.

I have watched him slither from my gaze
a thousand times a night
while slipping the word love
from his vocabulary;
watched him develope this communication
of knives and forks.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Daffodils in Poetry

I was thinking of writing a Daffodil poem. Something original, “To Daffodils” is gone but not “Two Daffodils”. There are a lot of daffodils poems; apart from the obvious, there is Ted Hughes’ Daffodils.
Besides, we still weren't sure we wanted to own
Anything. Mainly we were hungry
To convert everything to profit.
Still nomads-still strangers
To our whole possession. The daffodils
Were incidental gilding of the deeds,
Treasure trove. They simply came,
And they kept on coming.
As if not from the sod but falling from heaven.
Our lives were still a raid on our own good luck.
We knew we'd live forever. We had not learned
What a fleeting glance of the everlasting
Daffodils are…………………………

ee cummings reminds that daffodils know things we don’t;
from in the time of daffodils

in time of daffodils(who know
the goal of living is to grow)
forgetting why, remembering how

My favourite is Amy Lowell’s To an Early Daffodil

Thou yellow trumpeter of laggard Spring!
Thou herald of rich Summer's myriad flowers!
The climbing sun with new recovered powers
Does warm thee into being, through the ring
Of rich, brown earth he woos thee, makes thee fling
Thy green shoots up, inheriting the dowers
Of bending sky and sudden, sweeping showers,
Till ripe and blossoming thou art a thing
To make all nature glad, thou art so gay;
To fill the lonely with a joy untold;
Nodding at every gust of wind to-day,
To-morrow jewelled with raindrops. Always bold
To stand erect, full in the dazzling play
Of April's sun, for thou hast caught his gold.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Hughie O’Donoghue in IMMA

I’ve not been to IMMA as much as I used to, but the arrival of the Hughie O’Donoghue exhibition will be reason to set that right, particularly the Passion paintings. His work is absorbing and thought-provoking, sometimes with the seed of the work clearly represented but immersed in abstraction; the type of material that often inspires me to write poetry. And in that I’m not alone, the accompanying publication includes a poem by Gerard Smyth inspired by Blue Crucifixion.

The exhibition is on till mid May and coincides for a while with an exhibition by James Coleman (dare I say, yet another interesting Roscommon man).