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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

North West Words writing weekend

I am mightily looking forward to heading up to Letterkenny next Friday to take part in the North West Words writing weekend.

This festival programme looks lively and offers a wide range of readings and workshops, featuring both poets and fiction writers. Among the other writers taking part are Gerard Smyth, Mia Gallagher, and the long suffering Susan Millar DuMars

Friday evening will see the Letterkenny launch of my book The Ghost in the Lobby, when I will be doing a reading alongside Averil Meehan.

The details of that are as follows - 
When: July 25, 2014 @ 8:00 pm
Where: Café Blend
Letterkenny
Co. Donegal
Ireland
Cost:
Free 

I will also be facilitating a workshop on 'Writing New Poems'. Details of that are:
When: July 26, 2014 , 2-4.30pm

Where: Radisson Blu Hotel
Letterkenny
About the workshop: Kevin Higgins’s workshop ‘Writing New Poems’is for beginner poets, those who’ve had poems published in magazines, and everyone in between. The aim of the workshop is to get each participant working on at least one brand new poem. Kevin will use a pre-existing poem by a published poet as a writing prompt for the session. 
And to put a nice scoop of strawberry ice-cream on an already most excellent slice of apple tart, I also have a poem in the excellent first issue of online publication North West Words, which is published in association with the event.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

TDs arrested at Shannon

I just got home from having lunch and gossip with the notorious Sarah Clancy, pictured here centre, to learn that the two people pictured either side of her - TDs Clare Daly & Mick Wallace - were this afternoon arrested at Shannon Airport for attempting to inspect what they believed to be two U.S. military aircraft. 

It has long been alleged that military equipment and 'rendition' prisoners on their way to very bad places are regularly transported through Shannon. I have a, well, complicated relationship with the anti-war movement. I just find it a bit hypocritical of some to loudly oppose torture and illegal invasions by the U.S. when you were enthusiastically for the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, or indeed anywhere else the Soviets chose to invade, and are sorry the Stasi are no longer there to torture those you think need torturing. It may be a minority, but a significant part of the anti-war movement is soft on tyrants, and by soft on tyrants I mostly mean soft on themselves. In the hearts of some 'peace activisits' there certainly lurk future Ceausescus. Then again, I would say that wouldn't I, because, as Cillian Gillespie of the Socialist Party used to like to say before the Party told him to shut up, I am a raving pro-war imperialist and, even, "an apologist for mass murderers". By "mass murderers" I think he meant Paul Wolfowitz. Poor Cillian. It can't be easy for him.  

Unlike too many others Clare Daly and Mick Wallace have no record of such secret worship of the interrogation methods of the East German secret police; or of endlessly downplaying facts inconvenient to their own side, such as the continued existence of George Galloway and Tommy Sheridan. Quite the reverse. Both have made enemies of those gurus on the Irish left who would, given the half chance, crown themselves Emperor. Whatever else can be said about Clare Daly and Mick Wallace, and some of the online commentary this afternoon has been predictably toxic, they probably have more courage between them than the entire rest of the Dáil put together. Reading much of the online commentary against them, I suspect that many of those venting are impotent males who these days can only achieve release by endlessly mowing the lawn. 

Finally, as well as having had lunch with the notorious Sarah Clancy this afternoon, I should declare a further interest, Clare Daly launched my book of essays, Mentioning the War, in Dublin in 2012, while the other, Mick Wallace, launched my recent poetry collection at the Cuirt Festival in April. 

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Between the sheets with Andrew Motion

I am between the sheets with Andrew Motion, Brendan Cleary, Mario Petrucci, and many more in the 2014 issue of the Chichester based publication 'Poetry & All That Jazz'. 

I read in Chichester in April at an event organised by Barry Smith, who is also one of the publication's editors.

My poem, titled 'Sympathy for the Sympathetic' is in part inspired by the Rolling Stones' 'Sympathy for the Devil'. 
 

Friday, 18 July 2014

Probably the worst poet in Ireland predicts I'll be eaten by a wolf

There are several other serious contenders, but it can objectively be said that Thomas Carty - the McGonagall of County Offaly - is one of the worst poets in Ireland.

A recent masterpiece of his, 'Egregious Idiot', is all about me. I do admit, I am a fascinating subject. Indeed, I am as fascinated by me as he appears to be. Shame, though, that as a poem it's not much good. 

In the last line, Carty appears to predict that I will end up being eaten by a wolf.
We can but both live in hope. It would, I agree, be a fitting end for me and would surely be good for book sales

The immediate cause of Mr Carty's current interest in me is the fact that a post I published on this blog ruined his glittering political career. You can read it for yourself here. Within a couple of days of this article being published, he was dumped off the Anti-Austerity Alliance ticket faster than George McGovern dropped Thomas Eagleton, though Mr Carty's demise was, it almost goes without saying, of far greater political significance.

Carty thinks he's a left wing 'pro-lifer' but, in all likelihood, if a fascist movement emerged in Ireland, it is there that he'd find his true home. 

Here is what he had to say about my poem 'The Euphemisms', which was published on the website of Clare Daly TD, in the immediate aftermath of the death here in Galway of Savita Halappanavar in late 2012.

Carty got particularly excited last year about my poem, What The Virgin At Knock Would Say If She Could Speak, you can read his wise words about that here.

At the end of the month the poets of the old Third Division South have their annual gathering at an as yet undisclosed location. It was rumoured in today's New York Times that the climax of this year's feshtival will see Thomas Carty reciting his Egregious Idiot while all the other festival attendees discreetly pleasure themselves sexually. 

Tissues will not be provided.

N.B. Thomas Carty's legal team have insisted that we clarify the post above. There is far more to Mr Carty than him being just a mad eejit with rosary beads constantly muttering prayers against abhortion. Carty is that, yes, but he is so much more. In particular he is a big supporter of badly run government employment schemes which allow the employers to trample on employees rights. I apologise for this previous omission which was, I acknowledge, unforgivable. I am particularly sorry to have offended Thomas so appallingly in the lead up to the seventieth anniversary of the death of his secret political hero.

Interview in The Galway Hub

I am interviewed in The Galway Hub. Among other issues I talk about a possible solution to Galway's jaded hippy problem. Here, to whet your appetite, is one of my answers. 

Question: What person, living or deceased, do you most identify with?
Answer: Jonathan Swift after he went mad. 

You can read the interview in full here.
Jonathan Swift shortly before the final whistle