Well I suppose we can all be ‘holier than thou’ but some of the stuff laid bare by Brian Boyd in his Friday ‘Revolver’ column in the Irish Times ‘The ‘Ticket’ is fairly breath-taking. Bad enough that the likes of Mariah Carey, Beyonce, Nelly Furtado and other ‘artistes’ took millions for performing in front of the Gheddafi family, but worse that now in the light of recent events (such as the death of hundreds of civilians at the hands of the Libyan ‘security’ forces) several of these luminaries maintain that they were booked to play a private show and didn’t know who was ultimately paying them. Brian says: ‘ If you’re offered a million dollars for a 45-minute appearance (and there’s usually a private jet to and from the gig thrown in), it behoves you to find out the provenance of the money’. True, but haven’t you heard, Brian, that artistes are just that: ‘artistes’ and wholly incapable of dealing with monyt matters, so occupied as they are with their art? … No, I didn’t think you’d buy that one…  Anyway, it’s good to see the rush to donate all this money to charity. Better late than never.

Download a podcast of writer Shirley Benton talking with me on Liffey Sound FM about her new book ‘Looking for Leon’, published by Poolbeg Press and available in bookstores now (Eason’s ‘Book of the Month’). It’s a great read and Shirley tells me she has no problem with labels like ‘ChickLit‘ as long as people go out and buy her book and enjoy it! It’s  full of bizarre and humorous situations which will make you want to continue to the end. And who’s Leon? Ah now, did you REALLY think we’d tell you…?

You can download the podcast of by clicking on the ‘Radio Archives ‘ link in the Blogroll list on the right-hand-side of this blog (scroll down a bit!). This will bring you to Shirley on my‘Sunday Scrapbook‘ programme (and to many more luminaries). It will take a while to download, then you can fast-forward past the news and sport. Happy listening!

It was through reading Raymond Carver I got to reading John Cheever, who was something of a mentor to Raymond. Cheever’s short stories interested me both for their intrinsic merit as well-written short stories and also because their subject was, in many cases, suburbia. It was American middle-class suburbia of the 1960s and quite ‘upmarket’ in comparison to the housing estate where I lived during the 90s (and am still living) which Cheevers’ people referred to (negatively) as ‘the developments’. The houses were a lot bigger, the families wealthier, the jobs they had were more prestigious… say Blackrock, or Dalkey or Castleknock, and I don’t mean the sprawling housing estates, like mine, that appropriated the name because they were built (somewhat) near Castleknock. I mean the bigger houses near the Phoenix Park, home of Irish political dynasties. (Well, one anyway).

But there were similarities. The closeness and the distance inherent in living side-by-side. The ever-present awareness of neigbours watching. The small disagreements over kids. The Washing of the Car on Sunday. The Hosing of the Lawn.The over-indulgence in alcohol (and, later, drugs). The coming home from work each evening– from office and/or professional work, of course. The petty snobberies, the … well, suburbia. It may be that this scenario of detacheds and semi-detacheds has been written about better by other writers, but if so I haven’t found them.

So it is that I always take up a John Cheever book knowing that I and my kind are in there somewhere. As with ‘The Wapshot Chronicles’, ‘Bullet Park’ did not disappoint. I prefer his short stories because he keeps himself on a tighter reign and his writing is therefore more focused. In these novels he allows himself some largess and indulges in that episodic ‘picaresquesness’ so beloved of the Americans since Mark Twain. Being rather simple-minded I prefer my stories neater and in a straight line. But that’s me.

Listen to Phil Lynch discuss his poetry and life and times (so far!) in the Liffey Sound FM

Phil Lynch

programme ‘Sunday Scrapbook’. Download a podcast from the ‘Radio Archives’ site listed in the ‘Blogroll’ section to the right of this blog. It will take a few minutes (depending on your equipment) and then fast forward a little (unless you are a fetishist for out-of-date news and sports results). Phil covers a wide range of personal experience and explains how and (as far as possible) why he came to write poetry and his plans for a collection. A most engaging and honest assessment of his poetic journey so far.

Another Seven Towers reading in Chapters Bookshop in Parnell Street, Dublin at 6.30pm, this time on the theme of ‘Green Shoots’.

Liz McSkeane

The evening was MC’d by my good(?)self and I led off with a poem featuring daffodils. Nothing original there but Liz McSkeane had a new short story

Maeve O'Sullivan

and then Maeve O’Sullivan delivered some poems and then some Haiku. By the way,  Maeve’s book of Haiku is being launched at the Teachers Club (just up the road from Chapters in Parnell Square) on Thursday 14th of April at 6.30 so make a note! Bernie O’Reilly then provided some of her short poems and showed a copy of ‘Static Poetry’, a new publication in which she is represented. Congratulations, Bernie. Ann Morgan then read some of her work, followed by the multi-talented Oral Martin. Things looked like being a walkover for the ladies so I (being MC) persuaded Karl Parkinson to go on next (you know how shy he is?). His ‘Positivity Manifesto’ went down really well, as always.

Ann Morgan

Ross Hattaway finished up the evening with some ‘old’poems and some new poems from his forthcoming collection (‘Pretending to be Dead’) and then a terrific poem from a New Zealand poet Meg Campbell. This poem linked a quickening in the womb with the quickening underneath the earth’s crust when an earthquake occurs. Great stuff.

Thanks again to Chapters Bookshop for hosting this event which was enjoyed by all.

Listen to Glasgow-born (but now Dublin-based) Liz McSkeane discuss her poetry and prose and the work of other writers in a podcast of her programme on the Liffey Sound FM ‘Sunday Scrapbook’ programme. Download by going to the Radio Archives site. It takes a few minutes (depending on your equipment) and then fast forward a little to hear Liz. She’s full of ideas (as usual) and in great form. And she’s a great reader-out of her own work.


Ross Hattaway led off this Dublin Library Week reading at the Kevin Street Dublin Institute of Technology with some poems from his published collection ‘The Gentle Art of Rotting’ and then from his forthcoming book ‘Pretending to be Dead’. Brendan Devlin, the DIT Head of Library Services, read some recent poems, one an Irish/English composition and a very fine one on Anna Akmatova. Oran Ryan, whose work formed part of the library’s visual display, read poems (including ‘For the Want of Something Better to Do in Buffalo’) and some prose. Then three really outstanding ‘performers’ (hate that word!): Raven, with his stunning delivery and then Ashling Fox, who provided a terrific poem about the magic of Tory Island and its inhabitants, among others. (I didn’t know that the people had to fight the beaurocrats to remain on their island– but I’m not surprised). Unfortunately I have no picture of Aisling to put up here but she has promised to come on my radio show soon and I’ll be sure to get one then, She is  a really entertaining reader, as is Karl Parkinson who was up next. I never tire of hearing his ‘Ode to Me’. Philip Cohen followed with some short observant poems and I finished the evening with some from my book (‘And Suddenly the Sun Again’) plus some new ones.

Thanks to Brendan Devlin for arranging this reading,and to the Erasmus, and other, students who attended, and to Sarah of Seven Towers for organising and MC-ing.