Follow by Email

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Making Love To John Prescott - 'Blair's Advice' - poem written at suggestion of Danny Morrison

A couple of days after the recent U.K. General Election I posted this Tweet.

It prompted the following response from Danny Morrison.

A tall order indeed!

The resulting poem 'Blair's Advice' is published on The Bogman's Cannon and on the UK based political blog Socialist Unity, which is edited by Andy Newman who was the Labour candidate for the Chippenham constituency on May 7th. 

Cliff Cocker, the Arts Editor of The Morning Star newspaper, emailed me yesterday to say he'd read the poem on Socialist Unity and would like to re-publish it in The Morning Star. It is republished in today's issue of the paper. 

UPDATE 22/5/14 The Irish Times have also republished the poem today on their website.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Innovative poetry competition in which there are only two poems-your votes and opinions required

Yesterday evening I attended a local street meeting, the subject of which was how to organise against the installation of water meters in our area.
Last night I shared this photo of the event, not taken by me, on Facebook and also shared some lines from, and a link to, my poem 'Kelly', which is my tribute to the great work Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly has been doing lately on the issue. You can read the poem here.  

This provoked a poem in response to mine by former Labour member of Westport Town Council, and water charges enthusiast, Mr Keith Martin
Former Labour Councillor and aspiring poet Mr Keith Martin
Mr Martin posted his poem on Facebook. It goes as follows
“There was a Man called Higgins,
Who told Irish Water 'no.'
He didn't want his meter put in.
Irish Water said oh!
But in it must go this is Ireland not Russia
Who do you think you are?
Vladimir Putin?” 

This immediately prompted a comment from former Labour Lord Mayor of Dublin, and distinguished literary critic, Mr Dermot Lacey, who had this to say:

"Far better poem than the first one posted here Keith."

Former Councillor Martin was, until now, best known for calling Mick Wallace TD "a moron". 

I am delighted, though, to accept Keith Martin's poetry challenge and am now asking you, the plain people of Ireland, and indeed the world, to decide amongst yourselves which of these two poems is the better. Mine, or Former Councillor Martin's? 

I look forward to your verdict. 

If you decide that Keith Martin's is the better poem, he will receive a free place on my next online poetry workshop, which starts in September. (The current term just started today). I can say no fairer than that. Let the voting, and opinion giving, begin. 

Saturday, 2 May 2015

145 writers have signed petition protesting the PEN America decision to give award to Charlie Hebdo

145 writers have signed this petition protesting against the PEN America decision to give an award to Charlie Hebdo magazine. The signatories include one U.S. based poet with whom I share a publisher. I should warn readers in advance that this petition contains what Gore Vidal once described as “The three most dispiriting words in the English language: Joyce, Carol, and Oates”. 
Here is something I wrote about the Charlie Hebdo issue at the time of the massacre, the article was also re-posted on the U.K. based political blog Harry’s Place and on the U.S. based left wing website We KnowWhat’s Up.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

My poem for Breda O'Brien & Iona Institute gets Irish Times mention

My poem 'What The Virgin At Knock Would Say If She Could Speak', which is dedicated to Breda O'Brien and The Iona Institute, got a mention on the Irish Times website yesterday.

The poem is from my 2014 collection The Ghost In The Lobby, which was published by Salmon Poetry

RTE Poetry Programme Interview

I was on the RTE Poetry Programme last Saturday evening talking to Rick O'Shea about my upcoming online poetry workshop, which starts next week. You listen to the show on the RTE player here. My interview is, more or less, the final ten minutes. 

If you're interested in booking a place on the course, which starts next Wednesday, you can do so here

Saturday, 25 April 2015

'Static' by Gráinne McHale

Poem by Gráinne McHale


Backward steps
into a burnt-out womb.

The smell of those trees I knew.
There, looking at me,
across from a house
I lived in years ago.
I live near it again now,
beside the landlady’s son[i]
but he doesn’t know me.
I think.

People go by too fast for me to know.
People I used to know in each place.
All gone,
always going.
I know no one now,
no one knows me.
No one would know if I was not here.

If I died that would be some comfort
if there was someone who missed me
I could wait around for a bit
to help them get over it.
My Mum n’ Dad would be sad,
my brother
but the people I loved
without permission -
The Boys -
like they were my own soul
like they were God’s soul.

A Holy Trinity -
Jodie, Johnny, Roddy.
The last two were mirror similar:
ginger, freckled, ivory, svelte.
A beautiful, self-perpetuating
biological pattern,
like cancer.

Being so displeasing to one
might have been alright.
But three?
No, I suppose it would’ve been
like drinking and limits.
Two’s my limit,
way over with the third.

The third being Roddy,
with the rose petal, crème egg kisses,
belonging to some new girlfriend
or other every time I saw him.
Then – every time - he stole a kiss
goodbye from my lips
and I’d never see it coming.
To go home and put my hand in the fire.

I left his city
and came back to my town.
Out of fright,
out of exhaustion.

To live again near the trees
that knew me to see
back then before I left
for the big city.
I didn’t know them then
but remember them now
to smell.

[i] The landlady’s son referred to is me. Mom died on May 31st 2011.

Gráinne McHale is from County Galway. She graduated in 2010 with a BA Fine Art in GMIT Galway and is currently studying for a MA Writing at NUIG. She writes poetry and fiction; has made a number of short films and her artwork has been exhibited both internationally and at home. Her website is and her work also features on The Bogman’s Cannon. Gráinne was a Featured Reader at the March Over The Edge: Open Reading in Galway City Library. 

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Poem I was commissioned to write by Trinity College Dublin

Today I completed an occasional poem titled simply 'Poem Commissioned For Trinity College Symposium on Eustace McNally'. 

The English Department at Trinity College Dublin commissioned me to write this piece; I’m reliably informed that a number of academics will have to be sold off to raise the money needed to pay me my fee. 

You can read it here