Last Sunday(25th April) I was the guest on Niamh Bagnell’s regular Sunday Scrapbook proramme on our Lucan local ‘Liffey Sound’ station (96.4FM). It’s a weekly show at 4.00-5.00pm which features various writers dealing with various themes . The show has featured many excellent poets in the past few weeks (Raven, Anamaria Crowe-Serrano, Steve Conway, Ross hattaway…) so I had to be on my toes with at least passable stuff. You can hear the programe on <http://sundayscrapbook.blogspot.com>
I took ‘Politics & Poetry’ as a ‘theme’ because a lot of my work strays into
the worlds of buying and selling, marketing and hoarding, the environment, political partying (as distinct from just partying, though sometimes the two go together), the R-Word (we’re all not suppoesed to SAY that terrible word, remember?… because it might get even worse if we do), and all the things of the daily life we all must lead, whether we like it or not. And we have to like it because the alternative is … oblivion! And who wants that? Nobody’s a Zen freak around here, right?
The oldest poem I dealt with was ‘Campaign’ from my first collection (‘Dispatches and Recollections’, publ. by Lapwing) way back in 1998. It was a reflection on some political work I was involved in around that time as a member of the Workers Party and examines the ins and outs of electioneering on behalf of a small left-wing party and the attempt to get across a ‘socialist’ message. If the poem draws any conclusions it’s probably that these types of attempts are really difficult, even given the high level of unemployment and job-losses that existed then, and exist now again. How much a party can spend on its campaigns is a huge factor, some would say the ONLY factor.
But don’t go away! It’s not all poems about party political politics on my radio show! There’re others on various topics, political yes, but in the sense of dealing with people and their concerns. One of these poems, written around the same time as ‘Campaign’ dealt with the headlong pursuit of consumerism which began in real earnest in Ireland around the end of the 80s when the mantra was The More We Spend the Better Off Everyone Will Be. Also I tried to get a dig in at the notion of ‘brands’ and ‘labels’. The poem was called ‘Come Live with me and be my Coke (TM)’ and it was published ina UK magazine in 1994. Here it is:
COME LIVE WITH ME AND BE MY COKE (™)*
(or: The only good thing on the box is the ads)
I would arise and go where sun-tanned people
drink Seven-Up (™)* all day, chew Juicy Fruit (™)*,
where the requisites of life are very simple:
a swimsuit, a Swiss bank-account — and youth.
I long to chase Californian, unclad ladies
along a waters edge where palm trees lean,
then lie for hours in sun-creamed meditation
until it’s time for Sugar Puffs (™)* and cream.
Come live with me and be my Coke (™)*, my darling —
or better still I’ll climb up on the box —
Quick, before this adverts over, pull me
down and in and safe aboard your yacht!
We’ll drink our Coca-Cola (™)* in the sunshine
and soar the surf and talk of Dear Old Ireland (™)*
where it’s 1.00 am November (weather’s awful)
and the only thing that soars is unemployment.
*(TM) Registered Trade Mark. All rights reseved
And so it’s a big thank you to Niamh for her invitation. It was great to be on the show. Some of the other poems will appear in my forthcoming book ‘And Suddenly the Sun Again’ to be published next month by Seven Towers Ltd. I absolutely expect you to run out and buy it.