Listen in to Liffey Sound 96.4 FM next Sunday (Jan 30) at 4.00pm for Ann Tannam’s interview with me on ‘Sunday Scrapbook’ about her poetry and especially about her new book ‘Take this Life’ to be launched on Saturday week (Saturday 5th February, 6.30-8.30) at The Exchange, in Dublin. For more details  log onto Anne’s site    Great to see Anne’s book coming out. Top class work and anyone who has heard her deliver her work over the past while at the Seven Towers open mic in Dublin will know how good her poetry is.

Take this lifecover.jpg

All the terrible things you’veever seen and read and heard about North Korea are borne out by this book ‘Nothing to Envy’ by veteran US reporter Barbara Demick. Unless of course it’s all reverse propaganda? The US and most of its citizens are not inclined to favour N.Korea in any way. It was branded as one of the Axis of Evil byBush and Blair, remember, and every month that goes by we learn how much their declarations about ‘evil states’ were worth. Not much, it would appear.

So are we to believe the horriffic accounts of persecution, starvation, and brainwashing given in this book? Particularly as the accounts are from those who fled the country and (therefore) cannot be expected to have anything good to say about the North Korean government. Admittedly, Demick did try to get information first hand by getting into North Korea (after much difficulty), but found herself tracked everywhere by minders and really could not get close enough to the ordinary people to find out what was actually going on. Still, her informants for this book are those who escaped and as such, as said above, surely a little suspect?

I am always willing to find that our overbearing western capitalist culture has once again overlooked the fundamental good in another, foreign, system. But I have to say my skepticisms wore off quickly enough as I forged through this (very well written) book. The accounts given by Demick’s informants are harrowing and all those cliched comparisons made between this communist state and Orwell’s 1984 seem proved to be not just cliches but extremely relevant.

Demick adopts an open style that lets people tell their stories about the miseries they suffered ‘back home’ and the miseries their relatives are still suffering there. She tells of the privations and indignities they had to endure on their dangerous routes of escape through China into South Korea (and the Chinese do not make it easy for them). I was even more convinced of the truth of their stories by reading of their often expressed love of their unfortunate country and their desire to go back if things showed any sign of improvement.

The title ‘Nothing to Envy’ apparently comes from a song taught to children in school which contains the lines: ‘Our father is here / we have nothing to envy in this world’ — the ‘father’ being Kim Jong-il’. I know we have our own ‘Our Father’ in the West, but at least he’s supposed to be God.

Good book.

Gigolo? Who? Me?

Very Pleased to be included in Limerick’s ‘Revival’ mgaazine and hope to be at at the launch at the Locke Bar in Limerick at 8.00pm Thursday Feb. 3rd. Inclusion in ‘Revival’  is a signal honour as this is a magazine with a great track record of bringing to the fore  local writing and writing from ‘beyond’ the local boundaries. Hearty congrats to the editorial committee on their excellent and discerning good taste in selecting my poem ‘Gigolo Italiano‘ for inclusion. May their quills never go dry!

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 2,700 times in 2010. That’s about 6 full 747s.


In 2010, there were 75 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 124 posts. There were 272 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 132mb. That’s about 5 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was October 18th with 41 views. The most popular post that day was ‘Immaculate Deception: The Shocking True Story of Christina Gallagher and her House of Prayer’, by Jim Gallagher. Merlin Publishing 2009..

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for christina gallagher, christina gallagher 2010, eamonn lynskey, tvivf, and jane addams.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


‘Immaculate Deception: The Shocking True Story of Christina Gallagher and her House of Prayer’, by Jim Gallagher. Merlin Publishing 2009. January 2010


HOMEPAGE June 2010


About Me: June 2009


7 Towers ‘Last Wednesday’ Open Mic. March 31st April 2010


The Ragazzi (Ragazzi di Vita) by Pier Paolo Pasolini, (Trans. by Emile Capouya). Publ. Carcanet 1986. Original Italian text published in 1955. February 2010