Thursday, May 28, 2009

Percy French Summer School

The good news for Percy French fans is that the inaugural Percy French Summer School will take place in Castlecoote House, Co Roscommon from July 17th to 19th. It will be a very fitting tribute to one of Ireland’s most beloved song-writers and entertainers.

But of course he was much more than that, and it will be no harm to be reminded how good a landscape painter he was and of course he was a poet too.
Check out The Percy French Society website at to learn more about the man, see his paintings and hear a beautiful rendition of “The Mountains of Mourne”.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

mc nuts

Google mcnuts. I like it.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Love Poem - Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson's poem VI in section II.Love of Project Gutenberg's Poems, Three Series, Complete ( is really beautiful. It reminds me of Auden's "Stop all the clocks..........
Isn't it wonderful to be able to access the great writers so easily!


If you were coming in the fall,
I'd brush the summer by
With half a smile and half a spurn,
As housewives do a fly.

If I could see you in a year,
I'd wind the months in balls,
And put them each in separate drawers,
Until their time befalls.

If only centuries delayed,
I'd count them on my hand,
Subtracting till my fingers dropped
Into Van Diemen's land.

If certain, when this life was out,
That yours and mine should be,
I'd toss it yonder like a rind,
And taste eternity.

But now, all ignorant of the length
Of time's uncertain wing,
It goads me, like the goblin bee,
That will not state its sting.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Making eyes at you

The last post reminded me of a video I've seen on YouTube. Apparently Ida is on an evolutionary path linking humans to lemurs. I think I have a crucial piece of evidence linking the species, you may have seen the video below but is this lemur making eyes at the camera?

The Missing Link

Ida, the 47 million year old fossil primate found in Germany,is being put forward as the missing link, what with fingernails and all. And as soon as said, there’s a slew of scientists who disagree. Nothing new there, my belief is that there’ll never be agreement on that issue till a monkey rises out of Jurassic sandstone somewhere in South Africa asking for its toothbrush. Meanwhile, being endless in its philosophical ramifications and being still beyond our knowing, I think the whole area offers great potential for writers. This is from Sunfire:

Homo Sapiens.

They were anxious to put as many genera between us and ape
as possible; so each new jaw-bone, each different skull,
each new femur became a new genus.
Gradually then, all these rungs were being discovered.

Then someone said " Hey, where’s the cut-off."
No one knew, it hadn't been discovered,
or had but wasn't recognized.

So we're still waiting for him who'll come to announce:

"Hallelujah, this is The Bone, the One that'll divide the fossil record
into b.b. and a.b,
(before and after bone).”

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Brian Eno

I first became interested in Brian Eno’s music in 1986 after visiting his exhibition of video sculptures in the Douglas Hyde Gallery in Dublin. I was blown away by the spacey soundtrack. I was unaware of his solo work and collaborations through the seventies and up to then, but that changed immediately. Over the next few years I bought every EG record I could find in the shops and crossed them off my list of “must haves” one at a time. It changed my music ear for ever with names like Fripp, Budd, Michael Brook, Lanois, Roedelius, Hassell, Roger Eno, Laraaji suddenly beginning to populate my record collection.

This shift in listening habits affected my writing greatly and I spent many nights writing under the mixed influences of alcohol and ‘EG music’. My interests veered off towards Reich and Glass and opened up to many kinds of music while the poetry sometimes rose with the swell and sometimes floundered.

It is a number of years now since I have written in that way and I have not been keeping in touch with Eno’s music or the others on the list.(Maybe that explains the drop off in my output). In music, I’ve been getting to know the classical composers.But Brian Eno has influenced me hugely. If I was taking a few discs to my desert island I would have to include “Discrete Music”, Apollo and perhaps one or two others. I would also be taking Laraaji’s “Day of Radiance” which Eno produced and which is one of the few albums that produces a surge of happiness every time I hear those intoxicating notes on the dulcimer. Here is the first track, I strongly recommend you listen on earphones to get the full effect.

There is an online book on Eno : BRIAN ENO HIS MUSIC AND THE VERTICAL COLOR OF SOUND by Eric Tamm at
And there's a very generous video to be seen at

Monday, May 11, 2009

Poem Beside Your Hospital Bed

My father is dead many years now. He came back from a holiday in the U.S. on a stretcher. When I saw him in the hospital that first time, I was shocked: he looked radically changed. There was little doubt that his last days had come. When Kay came to visit him, he couldn't welcome her so he sang something incomprehensible tunelessly.

Poem Beside Your Hospital Bed.

Your face,
that I loved,
has changed so completely
that I already know
our time is gone.

And as dying,
like a sandstorm,
rearranges your features,
I am useless,
a cripple of words.

So if the winds in your head
will carry the smallest breath
of what I am saying, father:
let it be that
my proud years are tatters here;
I love you.

The photograph is a collage of some drafts of poems including this one; it must be from the late eighties or early nineties.But best of all is the rejection slip from Poetry Ireland.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Free Online Books

I've been using some free online books recently; it's fantastic to be able to access them so painlessly. Some of the websites are listed below. Interesting site from UCC: CELT, Corpus of Electronic Texts, for those interested in Irish culture and literature. The last site in the list has an amazing amount and range of information relating to English literature; the forums are well worth browsing through.

Hidden Cave:
Books-On-Line (not all are free):
The Online Books Page:
Classic Book Shelf (easy to use):
Harrison County Library System Online:
Project Gutenberg (huge): (straight forward):
The Literature Network:

Friday, May 1, 2009

Andrew Wyeth

Andrew Wyeth died in January. He along with Edward Hopper are my favourite American artists. I use art to stir ideas and emotions, and have found myself revisiting their works over and over, usually to kick-start my writing. They both use and space and emptiness in their works; figures appear alone, dreaming or lost in unfathomable thought. Houses or rooms with breezes stirring curtains, rooms devoid of life, man-made features still. They convey isolation or loneliness.

Not always of course. Wyeth has produced beautiful portraits of strong-minded, physically strong individuals with a countryish integrity in their features. He gives his models a dignity and they have a striking presence. I also think that he captures, and more accurately than other artists, the true essence of country life, the colours and textures of the rural landscape; he creates in his images an atmosphere of his home place Chadds Ford as distinct from a sterile representation.

My favourite is probably “Snow Hill” which apart from being a beautiful image is also cleverly autobiographic. It can be seen at along with a write-up. The following YouTube video is nicely done. It was posted by andrewckk.