This basement home for the Seven Towers Open Mic in the Twisted Pepper Cafe seems just the thing. Only thing is: the acoustics are so good no mic is needed. So how can one have an open mic without… a mic…? Well, one can, and very well can one. OK, my incoherence aside, we had good night of readings and performances with Susan Walsh from Wyoming making her debut ‘Last Wednesday’ and Helen Dempsey with a rather grim offering about “Judgement Day’ (she said she was inspired by Declan McLoughlin [our genial MC] saying last time that the world would end on May 21… I heard him say it too but I haven’t been writing poetry about. Just buying up tinned food and praying…). Great to see Andre Kapoor back again with his off-by-heart lyrics (I hate him), Ross Hattaway very serious with pieces on war and its needless sacrifices and a newcomer Raphael (I’ve forgotent his second name) with writing about the


recent Japanese earthquake. This prompted me to read my ‘Kasoturi Jidai’ poem (from ‘And Suddenly the Sun Again’) which deals with the devastation suffered by Tokyo during World War II.  Alan Garvey also gave some poems and afterwards exchanged books with me and I have been reading his ‘Terror Haza’ collection (Lapwing 2009) since with great interest. Very accomplished, hard writing. Many other great contributions on the night and, as I have said before, if you are not coming to this event every month… there’s no hope for you.

Delighted to be published again in Michael O’Flanagan’s monthly broadsheet ‘Riposte’. ‘Griffeeen Valley Park’ does what it says on the tin: it celebrates the coming of April to my preferred place of (ambulatory) worship and composition. The poem is structured negatively, being a piece that tells you all that a place is not, rather than what it is. That’s the way it is with us poets– Make the simple as complicated! But I really do think there is something in that old Victorian poem that finished with the lines ‘ … One is nearer to God in a garden / Than anywhere else on earth.’ (If he exists at all, that is. But I’m for Pascal’s wager…) Here’s another glimpse of Parnassus, and then the poem…


Griffeen Valley Park


There are no altars here

to dress for worship. Here

no genuflections at the railings,

only trees grown tall

through years of winds and rain

and sunshine streaming

through no stained-glass. Nor

do thuribles bear incense here

but wild flowers send their fragrance

down the riverbank where plainchant

never rises, only murmurings

of waters on their journey

to the sea. Here is full communion

with whatever is unknown,

unknowable, whatever makes,

unmakes, remakes— Whatever is

that shapes the world

as it is now this April,

as it will be in other Aprils.

As it was in the beginning.

Another ‘Behind the Lines‘ programme on Liffey Sound FM featuring writers from the South County Dublin area which were published in the book ‘County Lines’ in 2006 and edited by Dermot Bolger. Dermot writes in his introduction: ‘I have been truly privileged to work with all the writers in this book … between them they have created a unique quilt of life as lived in South Dublin over the past decades. As an editor I would like to thank them for their patience and hard work and for affording me that privilege and those insights.’ And I too would like to thank the writers featured in this broadcast for their permission to include their work: Tony Higgins, Colm Keegan and Dympna Murray Fennell, along with my own contribution to the book. The readers are Emer Horgan and Jonathen White. A podcast of the programme is available in the ‘Radio Archives‘ slot in the Blogroll on the left of this site.