Be pepared to be AFRAID. Very AFRAID… No, no! Come back! … It’s not that bad! But plenty to listen to (click HERE) as regards poetic and prose-poetic offerings for the season that’s in it. Anne Tannam, Bernie O’Reilly, Pauline Fayne, John W. Sexton, Karl Parkinson and Anne Morgan deliver some haunting moments (pun intended) in Chapters Bookstore. Oran Ryan from the Seven Towers Agency does the MC honours and the reading was broadcast on Liffey Sound 96.4 FM  last Tuesday (18.10.2011) on my programme ‘Behind the Lines’ (every Tuesday 8.00pm and available on the station website  Because of the podcast time restriction I couldn’t squeeze in Ross Hattaway. I will include him another time. He  also had some fine work to deliver on the evening. Click on the podcast (see above) and see what you think.

Oran, Ross and John W.

Attended an intriguing talk by Jonathen Williams, the well-known literary agent,  recently on the subject of book titles. A good title is a crucial part of getting your book off the shelf and into the hands of a prospective buyer. That’s an important stage on the road to it’s being bought. Lots more in the same vein from Jonathen and all of his talk a salutary reminder of the demands of the market place, all of it plain common sense but liable to take a back seat as we (poetasters especially) brood about the ‘shape’  and ‘style’ of our creations.

A title I always thought was a good one  was ‘The Diary of a Nobody’ (by George and Weedon Grossmith, 1892) the word ”Diary’ gives the impression of a relaxing read (which it is) and the ‘Nobody’ bit arrests the interest because… well, how could there be anything of interest about a ‘nobody’? Again, I think there’s a good chance a browser (not the internet kind) would pluck the book from the shelves and look inside.

On the other hand  ‘The Diary of a Nobody’ is a ‘classic’ and therefore might probably be avoided
by many on that score. Besides, most bookshops have shelves reserved fo rthe ‘classics’ way down at the back of the store where the hand of man rarely sets foot. What about a more up to date example? What about Dorian Lynskey (no relation, unfortunately)? His book ’33 Revolutions per Minute’ is very well-titled. Of course, unless you know that the subtitle is ‘A history of protest Songs’ and you remember that vinyle LPs (long playing records) had a speed of 33revolutions per minute, you might not get the message. Still, I think it’s a great title. It’s also a great book and a must for anyone remotely interested in the way the protest movement of the late 50s and 60s cascaded into song and the way that protest-song ‘genre’ was finally snuffed out by commercial exploitation. There’s a great chapter in it on Bob Dylan’s  great song ‘the Gates of Eden‘, by the way.

Another great Open Mic night at ‘The Poetry Place’in Betterton Street, London on Tuesday 2

Niall O'Sullivan

August, hosted by the genial Niall O’Sullivan … I read my rather grim poem ‘Deposition’ about Dublin’s drug-related gangland killings (a rather grim subject), but then lightened things up a bit with my ‘Coming Back’ and ‘When People Say’. Lots of  really good stuff, including poems in memory of the late unfortunate Amy Winehouse. Donal Dempsey had one about retrieving his soul which he had given away in mistake to a charity shop. Janice Windle read her poem ‘Agency Teacher’ which is full of black humour. I liked Betty Davies’s simple poem about London and I feel very sorry to see the mayhem that occurred just after I returned to Dublin. I like the city a lot and always feel good there, having been a resident for two periods of a few years each. I liked also John Paul O’Neill’s ‘The Pacific Ocean’, which he gave without a script. Niall informed us of upcoming celebrations due to ‘Poetry Unplugged’now reaching it fifteenth year. 15 years!!! OMG! Tempus fugit.

Click HERE to listen to a podcast of Radio DJ and writer Steve Conway talk about himself and his

Steve Conway

work on my ‘Behind the Lines’ programme on Liffey Sound FM 96.4. The programme goes out live on Tuesdays 8.00 to 9.00pm on FM and on   Steve discusses his very successful book ‘Shiprocked’ (‘Life on the Waves with Radio Caoloine’), an account of his times with the pirate station. He has lots to say about his various experiences as a rookie radio presenter and the adventures associated with his early times on air. Anyone who has read Steve before, or has seen him perform his work live, will know that there are many good laughs in store in this programme. He also reads from other work and has lots of advice for how to get published. Well, he can tell you how HE got published… and every little helps!

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.

I’m sorry for the grunts get killed, blown up 
or shot in the face in downtown Baghdad,
 Mosul, or Basra or whatever place
 in occupied Iraq the Emperor
has sent his legions to bring order to the world
with tanks, gunships and Pax Americana.
I’m sorry for young soldiers who stop cars
and find their lives are stopped forever. And
the way their colleagues – caught on videocamera –
come scrambling to collect their twisted bits
of intestine and bladder off the ground
and try to push them back inside again.
‘Sorry’. Such a word! The word I use
to squeeze past someone on the bus or when
I accidentally drop a teaspoon. But
I want a word won’t sound ‘poetic’. Won’t
turn this into another formulaic
anti-war tirade, laying blame,
demanding peace. I’m sorry for the mothers
and the wives who lift the phone or get
the telegram or whatever way
it’s broken to them. It must be the end
of everything. And then the airport, funeral
out to Arlington, or wherever. In
the catalogue of tortures every Iraqi
man, woman, child has had to suffer
since the legions came I know the deaths
of legionaries will count for little. Still,
I’m sorry for the grunts get killed, their bodies
burned, their charred limbs held up as trophies.



Scarce into our second week we find
long caterpillar tracks when we return
at evening. Just today another cable
swings in long U-shapes against the sky
and poppies wave on mounds of broken soil.                                                                    
The road is stopped at stunted hedges gathering
strength to tackle scutch and briar and thistle.
All that once was green is grey here now
and dust hangs in the air as metal monsters
masticate the hillsides, delve ravines.                                                                                    
We make our meals on one small camping stove,
and talk about the mortgage. Only just last night
we heard the water gurgle in the taps
at last. Tonight we thought we saw a light
shine two doors down. Have we neighbours?

Morning pours God’s plenty: Java sparrows
 perch on plum trees, thrust their chests out, fill
their picture frame with song. Doorknobs blaze
effulgent, clothes on chairs disclose their folds,
shoes coalesce and share a shadow,
buttons glow. An open book allows
a single page stand wavering, recalling
that last monastic moment before sleep.                                                                            
Nine hundred million miles and more across
the sterile void this waterfall of liquid
fire has plunged a headlong torrent, crashed
through fields of asteroids and stirred the storms
of Venus, eternally ordained to slant
this golden scripture on this bedroom wall.

When I am become again
 the furniture of the universe,
 my several entrails, teeth and tongue
 at one with roots and lichen, all
the hurried turmoil of my days
dispersed, my marrow mixed with clays
and chandlers, all my molecules
restructured into rains: become again
will I be when, mere artefact
of nature’s whim, my stomach muscles
decompose to rainbows, all
my sinews stretch in stellar space,
my eyelash frets an insect wing,
my breath is caught in April winds
that trouble swollen lakes, that shake
the yellow scent from daffodils.
When I am become again ethereal,
my memories meshed with moistures
I will to look for you, my friend — these
many years a gleam along Orion’s sword,
whose laughter I’ve heard often
in the eaves at night. These,
my particles, far-scattered into twig
or stone or star, will seek you out.