Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Flaws in Democracy


I've been thinking over the flaws in democracy; these points apply to different extents in different countries. 

·         The choice open to us at elections does not span the range of political opinion.

·         There is no genuine debate on what is best for citizens as adherents to a particular party frequently have no wish to engage with opposing views.

·         Debate among political parties tends to concern itself with providing opposition rather than being in any way constructive.

·         Mass media is used to indoctrinate or win over electors with sound-bytes rather than considered argument. Similarly recruiting celebrities to support a party is  barely more  than an exercise in cajoling the electorate.
 
·         The public have limited say in the externally imposed conditions, and international powers that national governments must satisfy or oblige.

·         Powerful advisors are faceless to the general public and we are not made aware of the activities of lobbyists.

·         We elect parties on the basis of promises and policies that are blatantly reneged on after the election.

·         We are frequently fed spurious facts and data, or we are given spin, or treated to barely disguised obfuscation.

·         Governments frequently overrule the popular opinion of the people.

·         Leaders frequently refuse to accept responsibility for mistakes, and almost never apologize.

·         Loyalty to the party generally outweighs loyalty to the people. The party whip system frequently prevents a member from following his/her own principles.

·         We are asked to vote simply yes or no on treaties which often have multiple strands, each of which deserves separate consideration.

    ·         Governments find expedient ways of flouting their own laws.

·         The system does not appear to be conducive to female representation.

·         Money spent  is often the crucial determinant in winning minds.



 
 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wyeth: Magic and Poetry


Tell All The Truth
 
Tell all the truth but tell it slant,
Success in circuit lies,
Too bright for our infirm delight
The truth's superb surprise;  

As lightning to the children eased
With explanation kind,
The truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind.
 
 

Real beauty in eight lines by Emily Dickinson, and a message to all would-be poets.  And, as in poetry in art. Andrew Wyeth’s famous painting ‘Christina’s World’ has, perhaps, been reproduced once too often, but it has what makes the magic: a suggestion or more, and the space for the viewer to go in search of it.
Similarly, Snow Hill, in which subjects from a lifetime’s painting dance around a maypole on a page-white landscape; the landscape Wyeth lived and painted in. But is this a gently tongue in cheek retrospective of his paintings, a magical counterpoint of a May scene in deep winter, or a poignant reflection on the lives he shared and painted over the course of his life? 
 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Give Me

Give me
Gucci or Prada,
Louis Vuitton,
Chanel.

Give me
Cartier or Rolex;
Because
Because I’m worth it.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Audio Piece on The Roscommon Anthology

Conor Reynolds' audio piece features  excerpts from interviews with kevin Hora, John Waters and myself. Also included is a reading by one of Ireland's finest poets, Patrick Chapman, and singer Noel O'Grady, both recorded at the Dublin launching of The Roscommon Anthology on Thursday 28th November 2013 in the Uppercross House Hotel, Rathmines.

 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Growth

A dot: curious, stirring. 

A fleck: moving, creating. 

A fly: forming, inflating.          

A rock: swelling, building.          

A truck: bulging, looming, 
             
             bullying,
            
                            roaring

                                          You.

 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Shannon Memory


Revisiting Lough Ree    

Morning comes colourless;
trees stoop to the lake like pilgrims
witnessing images that are riddles in the water.
 
A sudden shriek. “Over here, no here, over here."
I see nothing; the lake keeps its children chilled
in ice buckets among the reeds. 

Once I trailed a ripple from a boat
that bevelled this water. I remember the oars'
loud soft thud, slap till I die.  

It was June. Insects teemed on the  surface.
The sun, that tanned our backs, lulled the countryside
into sleep before the fields were even cranked.
 
My father was there. 

Now December. The lake drags its cutlery
through this cress-green landscape
with an indifference that leaves memories shivering.
 

 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Roscommon Anthology Comes Home

This Friday The Roscommon Anthology comes to Roscommon on the final leg of its tour; 6.30pm in the Bank of Ireland. Brian Leyden will launch the book with support from Seamus Hosey, Seamus Dooley and others.
Vincent Woods featured the anthology on his Arts Tonight show tonight; the excerpt includes brief interviews with Leyden, John Waters, John O'Dea and myself reading The After-Mass Men, (Sabne, I don't have a reading on YouTube, will get to it sooner or later) Here's a link to the programme; the Roscommon Anthology section begins 25mins in. 

http://www.rte.ie/radio/utils/radioplayer/rteradioweb.html#!rii=9%3A10227286%3A0%3A%3A

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Roscommon Anthology is in the Shops


The Roscommon Anthology was launched on Thursday night by Vincent Woods in the majestic King House, Boyle. A great night, with readings by featured writers: Jane Clarke, Mary Turley McGrath, Brian Leyden, John Waters, Gerry Boland and myself; Elaine O’Dea read a Margaret Cousins’ piece, and singer, Cathy Jordan, gave the most beautiful renderings of Percy French songs. We are indebted to County Roscommon Library Services for hosting the event.
The reaction to the book was fantastic. The artworks by Roscommon-associated artists really lifts the publication, the accompanying literary map is a work of art, the biographies add an extra level of interest to the content.
The celebrations now move to Dublin. Radio producer, writer, Seamus Hosey, will launch the anthology in the Uppercross House Hotel, Upper Rathmines Road this coming Thursday, Nov 28th, at 6.30pm. There will be readings by some of the anthology writers, including Patrick Chapman, Kevin Hora, Kieran Furey and myself. A special treat on the night will be an appearance by Noel O’Grady. We are very grateful to Roscommon Association Dublin for sponsoring the Dublin launch.
The book is now available in selected shops including, in Dublin, Alan Hanna’s, Books Upstairs, The Winding Stair and Connolly Books. Distribution will become wider, check http://www.theroscommonanthology.com/ for outlets countrywide or order directly from the website.
Here’s the wonderful Noel Grady performing.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Missing Guinness Ad


Back in Feb 2012, I was bemoaning the fact that I couldn't find a particular Guinness ad that I used to see in the cinema back in the eighties. I spent hours trying to find it. There was Joe McKinney dancing while the pint settled, there was the pub clock ticking as the rowers transported a barrel of Guinness over Galway Bay, Louis Armstrong telling us "there is all the time in the world", and the white horses galloping in the waves. When I keyed in surf that's the one I got, but I was looking for a Hawaiian beach circa 1980. I was looking for the quintessential summer experience: sea and sand, sexy girls and sun, glorious heat and azure seas. And surfing. Surfing was still a rarity in Ireland back then;  the ad was a two-minute dream vacation. And the music! I had the ghost of that guitar still playing somewhere in my head and I had a longing to hear it again; for the sun and the bright light and blue rolling ocean and, I suppose, two minutes from my youth.



Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Mountain


First I saw a goat, a prehistoric creature with colossal spiralling horns,
coarse matted hair and yellow eyes.
A herd of goats trailing down a gorge
was her hair, ragged streams divining routes down her back,
a cloak of autumn-gold tussocks
with swirls of inlaid bronze bracken blazing in the sun.
Her face was a graphite sheen; eyes: crags in a waterfall,
nose: a darkened  boulder with cold glittering cheeks on either side.
Close by, a rowan’s red mouth was chortling;
a cloud had torn itself to rags escaping the clutches of a hawthorn;
above us hail stones were ripening for a fall.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Left Field Self-Portraits

 
I think the process of writing good poetry is very similar to painting in non-conventional styles, in some ways there is more in common here  than there is with prose-writing. The more radical the approach the more interesting. Here is a selection of self-portraits that stand out; artists that can do these, I think must have that poetry thing. Indeed I think dwelling on any of these for a while might well inspire a poem.
 
 
Schiele in typical Schiele fashion

Francesco Parmigianino's Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror; I love the hand.

Tintoretto seeing himself with rheumy eyes


Dali company-keeping with bacon: Soft Self-Portrait with Fried Bacon

Escher Self-Portrait 1919 Woodcut


 
 Crespi Self-Portrait

 
Courbet (forgot his mobile)


Difficult to decide which Kahlo, but this has some of her trademarks



Francis Bacon looking pensive. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Roscommon Anthology Launch Dates

A Celebration of Roscommon’s Writers

What have Oscar Wilde’s father, Douglas Hyde, Oliver Goldsmith, John McGahern, Turlough O’Carolan and John Waters got in common? Put a Ros before the common and you’ve got it. They are all writers connected with County Roscommon. 
They, along with 25 other Roscommon connected authors, will feature in a new book to be published this month. The book will be illustrated with artworks from artists with Roscommon connections. A colourful Literary Road Map of County Roscommon is also being published as a companion document. The book entitled THE ROSCOMMON ANTHOLOGY was edited by two natives of Roscommon town, Michael and John O’Dea. The foreword was written by Prof Mary McAleese, ex-president of Ireland and a woman of Roscommon ancestry. The book promises to surprise many people with the great literary heritage that County Roscommon possesses.
.
The Anthology will be launched at 7.30pm on Thursday 21st Nov in King House, Boyle. Roscommon Libraries will be hosting the event, and Vincent Woods will be launching it.
There will be a Dublin launch at 6.30pm on Thurs, Nov 28th in the Uppercross House Hotel, Upr Rathmines Rd, and a Roscommon launch at 6.30pm on Friday 6th Dec in The Bank of Ireland, The Square, Roscommon.
And you are definitely invited!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Goethe's Last Supper



It takes a good writer. I had never registered the hands, not to mention the tiny detail of the knife. Goethe's observation of the detail in 'The Last Supper' is great.

---an excerpt from a piece written by JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE (from Great Pictures, As Seen and Described by Famous Writers, edited by Esther Singleton, pub. Dodd, Mead and Co., New York, 1899) ---

.........The exciting means which the artist employed to agitate the tranquil and holy Supper-Table are the Master's words: "There is one amongst you that betrays me." The words are spoken, and the entire company falls into consternation; but He inclines His head with downcast looks; the whole attitude, the motion of the arms, the hands, and everything repeat with heavenly resignation which the silence itself confirms, "Verily, verily, there is one amongst you that betrays Me."
Before going any farther we must point out a great expedient, by means of which Leonardo principally animated this picture: it is the motion of the hands; only an Italian would have discovered this. With his nation the whole body is expressive, all the limbs take part in describing an emotion, not only passion but also thought. By various gestures he can express: "What do I care?"—"Come here!"—"This is a rascal, beware of him!" "He shall not live long!" "This is a main point. Take heed of this, my hearers!" To such a national trait, Leonardo, who observed every characteristic with the greatest attention, must have turned his searching eye; in this the present picture is unique and one cannot observe it too much. The expression of every face and every gesture is in perfect harmony, and yet a single glance can take in the unity and the contrast of the limbs rendered so admirably.
The figures on both sides of our Lord may be considered in groups of three, and each group may be regarded as a unit, placed in relation and still held in connection with its neighbours. On Christ's immediate right are John, Judas, and Peter.
Peter, the farthest, on hearing the words of our Lord, rises suddenly, in conformity with his vehement character, behind Judas, who, looking up with terrified countenance, leans over the table, tightly clutching the purse with his right hand, whilst with the left he makes an involuntary nervous motion as if to say: "What may this mean? What is to happen?" Peter, meanwhile, with his left hand has seized the right shoulder of John, who is bending towards him, and points to Christ, at the same time urging the beloved disciple to ask: "Who is the traitor?" He accidentally touches Judas's side with the handle of a knife held in his right hand, which occasions the terrified forward movement upsetting the salt-cellar, so happily brought out. This group may be considered as the one first thought of by the artist; it is the most perfect.
While now on the right hand of the Lord a certain degree of emotion seems to threaten immediate revenge, on the left, the liveliest horror and detestation of the treachery manifest themselves. James the Elder starts back in terror, and with outspread arms gazes transfixed with bowed head, like one who imagines that he already beholds with his eyes what his ears have heard. Thomas appears behind his shoulder, and approaching the Saviour raises the forefinger of his right hand to his forehead. Philip, the third of this group, rounds it off in the most pleasing manner; he has risen, he bends forward towards the Master, lays his hands upon his breast, and says with the greatest clearness: "It is not I, Lord, Thou knowest it! Thou knowest my pure heart, it is not I."
And now the three last figures on this side give us new material for reflection. They are discussing the terrible news. Matthew turns his face eagerly to his two companions on the left, hastily stretching out his hands towards the Master, and thus, by an admirable contrivance of the artist, he is made to connect his own group with the preceding one. Thaddæus shows the utmost surprise, doubt, and suspicion; his left hand rests upon the table, while he has raised the right as if he intended to strike his left hand with the back of his right, a very common action with simple people when some unexpected occurrence leads them to say: "Did I not tell you so? Did I not always suspect it?"—Simon sits at the end of the table with great dignity, and we see his whole figure; he is the oldest of all and wears a garment with rich folds, his face and gesture show that he is troubled and thoughtful but not excited, indeed, scarcely moved.
If we now turn our eyes to the opposite end of the table, we see Bartholomew, who rests on his right foot with the left crossed over it, supporting his inclined body by firmly resting his hands upon the table. He is probably trying to hear what John will ask of the Lord: this whole side appears to be inciting the favourite disciple. James the Younger, standing near and behind Bartholomew, lays his left hand on Peter's shoulder, just as Peter lays his on John's shoulder, but James mildly requests the explanation whilst Peter already threatens vengeance.
And as Peter behind Judas, so James the Younger stretches out his hand behind Andrew, who, as one of the most prominent figures expresses, with his half-raised arms and his hands stretched out directly in front, the fixed horror that has seized him, an attitude occurring but once in this picture, while in other works of less genius and less reflection, it is too often repeated

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Strange Parallel: Libel Cost the Wildes, Father and Son, Their Greatness


    The parallel that exists between the end of Oscar Wilde’s glittering career and his father’s, William Wilde, is striking.
    Oscar Wilde brought his lover’s father, the Marquess of Queensbury, to court in a libel action in 1895. Homosexuality was illegal at the time , so Wilde was on a hiding to nothing when Queensbury brought rent boys into court to bear witness to Wilde’s homosexual  activities. The libel case was lost, and later Wilde was arrested on charges of gross indecency. He was found guilty and sentenced to two years hard labour. Released in 1897, he soon after moved to Paris where he died penniless in 1900, aged just 46 years.
   Thirty one years earlier, his remarkably gifted father, William Wilde, was also embroiled in a libel case, which led him to give up a career in which he had achieved international acclaim and a knighthood.
    A patient, Mary Travers , with whom he had been involved, later embarked on a campaign to discredit him; in a pamphlet she wrote and circulated, she characterised him as Dr Quilp, who raped his patient while she was under the influence of chloroform. When Lady Wilde complained to Travers’ father, Mary Travers brought a libel case against her. Travers won the case but was awarded damages amounting to one farthing. The financial cost to the Wildes was large, but the damage to his reputation was much more serious. The scandal was the talk of the town. He retired from his medical practice, (he was Ireland’s leading occulist),and removed himself from Dublin society to the west of Ireland.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Then



It was the time of Afton and Albany,
Joe O’Neill’s band and the Adelaides,
hay forks sharing pub windows
with Daz and Persil; the Smithwicks sign
and the Harp sign, half-ones of Guinness.

It was a time of pipe-smoking
beneath naked bulbs and neon strips,
         the priest in his cassock,
Hillman Hunters, Ford Corsairs,
Wilkinson Swords and Fruit Gums. 

Of scarved heads at mass, berets,
the Messenger and the Far East,
dress makers and blacksmiths;
hollowed faces in the County Home,
yanks in the sitting room.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Lessening the Risk for Alzheimers' Sufferers

The recent, tragic death of Peggy Mangan, an alzheimer's sufferer, in Dublin has been on my mind, as it has been on the minds of many around the country. She walked away from her home on the south side of the city, only to be found dead, 4 days later, on the other side of the city. When found, her dog was standing over her body.
My question is, would it not be appropriate for people who have this condition to wear a badge or some identication, so passers-by can be alerted to the possibility of the person being lost or confused. Might this not have saved Peggy Mangan's life?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

She Takes to the Sky


Through baffled bogs, disengaged mountaintops,
I led whistling rocks, croaking ice
till earth turned its blue eye upward.
I drew cream grass from the ground,
graphite cliffs from the sea,
and all the time, slaking the thirst of rivers,
ran rigid fields amok. 

I laughed a stampede of one-legged herons,
cried chains of crocodiles,
roared bees;
and balancing on a lake-shore,
threw myself  to the winds
to fly with them like rain.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Green Road

The blackthorns above Fenore
are flight rooted;
they are folklore’s skeletons,
beggars of the green road.

Scoured to the knuckle,
stunted on burren karst,
they are the hags on the mountain
hunched from Atlantic gales.

Yet even this stone-weary day,
with hunger perched on their throats,
a robin is singing in each
notes that singe the February air.

Beneath the huddling sky,
into the ear of the green road
it pours, clear as water,
the music of tin whistlers’ dreams.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Doesn't red sound nice

From Ted, a compelling argument for becoming a cyborg.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Anguish





 

Mouth:

howl, that shape.
 

We

leave it space.
 
 

The space gets bigger.
Detail from Francis Bacon's Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion,1944

Thursday, September 19, 2013


 
Once my father and I found a skull
in a field with the hum of a bee inside.
My father said it was a last thought,
that a man’s last thought stays forever
in his head. 

I didn’t want to touch the skull,
just to move closer to see a last thought;
but as I did the bee flew out and I ran
terror-stricken back to my father;
horrified for having tipped the natural order.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Expressing Depression

 'O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall/Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed'.

These lines cause me to wonder if the search for the appropriate words, and the subsequent expression of one's condition helps to ease the effects of depression. By making a prayer of it, I assume Hopkins was shifting some of the weight towards heaven.


No Worst, there is None.

                                   by Gerard Manley Hopkins

No worst, there is none. Pitched past pitch of grief,
More pangs will, schooled at forepangs, wilder wring.
Comforter, where, where is your comforting?
Mary, mother of us, where is your relief?
My cries heave, herds-long; huddle in a main, a chief
Woe, wórld-sorrow; on an áge-old anvil wince and sing —
Then lull, then leave off. Fury had shrieked "No ling-
ering! Let me be fell: force I must be brief."
    O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall
Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed. Hold them cheap
May who ne’er hung there. Nor does long our small
Durance deal with that steep or deep. Here! creep,
Wretch, under a comfort serves in a whirlwind: all
Life death does end and each day dies with sleep.
 
 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

In My Mouth


Love, the word: 
lush;
a summer night’s rain.

Itself:
taut, brittle.
 
I had it on the end of a forceps;
bead of mercury:
it escaped.

Love, the word:
I swallowed it. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Demented Trees


Trees keening winter nights away;
their wails woven into the wind.

Heads of hair like seaweed from the strand,
knots tailing limply towards the sea.

Underground, roots twisted toward some source,
shaped by memory.

Trees like abandoned lovers,
scratching down the marble of night-time.

from Above Ground Below Ground

Monday, September 2, 2013

Seamus Heaney


In the last few days, thousands of people will be remembering the day the met Seamus Heaney; experiencing the sadness one experiences on losing a friend. He had that ability, with gentle smile and generous engagement, to make a stranger a friend in a fleeting exchange.

It seems appropriate to listen again to his beautiful poem ‘When all the others were away at Mass’, now that those encounters are memories.

This links to footage of him reciting some of his most famous poems; ‘When all the others were away at Mass’ is included.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Roscommon Anthology - Culture Night Reading

The Roscommon Anthology  will most likely be launched in October, but the first Anthology reading will happen on Culture Night. Alice Lyons, Gerry Boland (Roscommon's current writer in residence) and myself will be reading at 7pm, Friday, 20th September in Roscommon Library. As with all events on Culture Night, admission is free. So put it in the book.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Voice from 1889 - Robert Browning

English poet, Robert Browning (1812 – 1889)  reciting his poem 'How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix' on  April 7th, 1889. It was recorded on the Edison Cylinder.



There is a treasure trove of rarities at https://www.youtube.com/user/transformingArt/videos

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Which is my face?

First published in Prairie Schooner, Volume 85, Number 4, Winter 2011

Mary Byrne

Old Mary Byrne posed for the camera
holding a photograph
of herself taken years ago.
 
Two faces:
the first a plate
embellished for display;
 
the second
a pattern of neolithic swirls
engraved into stone
 
—a life carved into its face—
two dangling earrings:
two broken chains.
 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Famine: Media Coverage

A Brief Note on an Imminent Famine.

Everyone here will starve:
each bone will be a stripe,
each hand a bowl,
each leg a stick.

Then there’ll be the gluttony
of cameras:
our threadbare skin
will be devoured,
our eyes exported
shining like pickles.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

At One End of a Bench

 
At one end of a bench
an old man wearing Winter clothes
regards the fountains and Summer
through melt-water irises. 

This man needs my ear to be a conch
so that he can call to the past down these auditory canals.
And when he calls, his wife and sons will resurrect,
return, reverse like filings into a family. 

It is mid-morning in Stephen's Green;
the usual sounds: clacking fowl and fountain symphonies,
outside the thrash of traffic and voices. 

In a moment:
two strangers on a bench are traveling backwards to Mayo;
elsewhere a beggar has recreated himself in a bank window
and somewhere, busy in a kitchen, a woman is conversing
though the voice that answers has not been heard for years.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Old Men


 The breed of old men I’m remembering is gone now. I remember them out from the county home, on walks into town or sitting on the low stone wall in summer sunshine. They were countrymen, wore well battered suits and flat caps, leaned on walking sticks and did or didn’t say hello. Some, of course, were very friendly, and some carried bags of sweets. The women were less visible usually; they tended to stay closer to the old building.
I didn’t realise it then but a lot of them had sad stories, and the silent ones had good reason. Some were almost dumped there, for others the Co. Home was a salvation. For many, the old home was still too close to its workhouse history to  be a comfort, and maybe some recognized in the old double ditch, 400 yards on the road, the boreen that led to the workhouse cemetery.
Whatever, they were very much part of the grain of my Roscommon childhood. 

Who Has Seen The Old Men

Who has seen the old men
getting their suits
tanned to their backs? 

Ghost of a check,
button holes frayed,
crew cut threads. 

Years worn on face
and on cloth;
the cloth becomes the face. 

And when the Summer colours
come clashing
on the young,  

who will see
the old men
in their concrete cloth?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Fall


When apples fall
like pocket watches
among the trees
and leaves
like closing old hands,
the fog is rising,
old souls
over the green.

There is a quietness
like padded feet
or, quietest of all,
the droplets
playing in the hedge;
and the grumpy whimper
of hedgehogs
scuttling for their sleep. 

Most of all I notice
                the thud of Winters
changing children into men.

 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Irish Curse

The Irish language is famous, from bardic times, for its curses; a poor host  got a verbal flaying. Likewise praise can be most eloquent an elaborate.  Declarations of love: off the scale.

James Stephens gives a fine example in  the following poem of a blood-curdling curse.


The Glass of Beer


The lanky hank of a she in the inn over there
Nearly killed me for asking the loan of a glass of beer:
May the devil grip the whey-faced slut by the hair
And beat bad manners out of her skin for a year.

That parboiled imp, with the hardest jaw you will ever see
On virtue's path, and a voice that would rasp the dead,
Came roaring and raging the minute she looked at me,
And threw me out of the house on the back of my head!

If I asked her master he'd give me a cask a day;
 But she with the beer at hand, not a gill would arrange!
May she marry a ghost and bear him a kitten and may
The High King of Glory permit her to get the mange.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Dylan Thomas Reading "A Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire, of a Child in London "

What an amazing resource the Poetry Archive is! Here Dylan Thomas introduces his poetry in that high-blown way that was the fashion. At the age of 16 he declared himself to be exceptional. He was, but I wonder how many listeners threw their eyes up to heaven, and turned the dial. In truth, listening to many of today's poets, I wonder how many still do.

 
  http://www.poetryarchive.org/poetryarchive/singlePoet.do?poetId=7091#

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Day Room

 
This is where the old men sit,
sacks of coal against a wall;
time to dream
and all their dreams defunct.

A slant of sunlight through the window
like a beam from a projector,
as though, not only heat,
but life itself is somewhere else.

Monday, July 15, 2013

An Interview with Harold Bloom

Vincent Woods interviewing Harold Bloom for RTE's Arts Tonight. Absorbing listening; Bloom's encyclopedic knowledge of literature is jaw-dropping.

http://www.rte.ie/radio/utils/radioplayer/rteradioweb.html#!rii=9%3A10161915%3A0%3A%3A

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Flesh and Stone


This painting by Andrea Mantegna was reproduced in our family Bible. As a boy, I used to look at it and marvel. I still marvel.
    It is monumental yet intimate, sculpted stone yet flesh, cold and warm simultaneously. The Lamentation of Christ dates from  about 1480. I imagine Mantegna must have been satisfied with the painting.
    It reminds me of an argument I had, in which I maintained the mental process for artist and poet is very similar. Both are striving for a striking composition, new angle, a different perspective; something that make the whole greater than its parts. 
    This image achieves it from the torn holes in Christ’s feet to the expression on His face, dignity and torture.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Life is short

The River Took Me was first published in the Prairie Schooner, Irish Number, December 2011.
 
The River Took Me 

Once, in a sodden flaggered field
beside the river,
the current took me;
not a canoe but a trout,
a water’s flint smoothed by its flow,
a ripple’s almond. 

All sleekness and fluidity,
all instinct;
a lidless eye running,
seeing and discarding,
gorged on movement,
passing all argument.