The theme was ‘Arrival & Departure’ at this Seven Towers reading in Chapters Bookstore in Parnell Street in Dublin. Karl Parkinson set things going with that ‘Mountjoy Jail’  poem of his which features earthy descriptions of a chap being released from the clink, a fellow you would NOT like to meet up a dark alleyway. His recent New York tour (… tour. Like that, Karl?) inspired his ‘New York Fragment‘ in which the line ‘..my Brooklyn Lager tastes like any other lager…’ just about sums up the NY hype. Great stuff, as always.

Bernie O’Reillygave some homely poems (to settle us down after Karl), one called


”Wisconsin’ and another in memory of that late great Dublin ‘character’ The Diceman. Also one about a floating candle she put some effort into making and then… it just sailed away from her! … That’s life, Bernie. Steve Conway read his very sensual ‘ballon story’ ‘Bristol Awakening’ and Bob Shakeshaft gave poems entitled ‘Dying Embers’, ‘Adam’s Soil’ and from the Census anthology ‘It Is Autumn Full’, a very evocative, pastoral piece. Oran Ryan, ever modest, didn’t bring anything but borrowed Bob’s Census to read his ‘1947 Prelininary Design for a Universe Circling Spaceship’ an enigmatic journey into a future world.


I tried out my latest ‘The Canals of Mars’ plus‘The Coming Back’


and (another new) ‘Railway Crossing’. I found a few things in the last-named which need tightening-up. All in all a very enjoyable session, MC’d with the usual aplomb by Sarah Lundberg. The next themed reading will be on Thursday Sept 15 at 6.30 on the subject of ‘Animals’. Come along and join the fun.



A reading today at the Twisted Pepper Cafe in Middle Abbey Street, Dublin at 3.00pm organised by Seven Towers: Noel Duffy, Pauline Fayne, Eamonn Lynskey and Alma Brayden. Noel read from his book (sorry didn’t get name of , yet), including a poem focusing in bees and their intricate social organisation. Pauline obliged with some from her recently published book ‘Mowing in the Dark‘ (Revival Press 2011) and Alma read from her book ‘Prism’ (Seven Towers 2011) and some some new work.  I also read some new work with which I am just now wrestling. Oran Ryan did duty as facilitator. There is a fine range of Irish publications on sale at this venue every Saturday. More to the


point, it is here you will get absolutely up-to the minute work, some of it ‘hot off the press’, like Pauline’s book (which is really good). Another opportunity to here up-to-the minute scribblings is next Wednesday (27th July) at the regular Seven Towers Last Wednesday Open Mic (same venue) which starts at 7.30 pm. See you there!!!

Spent this last week in Kinsale where the Arts Festival was in full swing. Providentially amazing sunny weather which certainly did NOT detract from the various enjoyments. Got to hear Denis O’Driscoll read in the Lord Kingsale pub and was, as always, taken by his quirky humour in ‘Misunderstandind and Musak’ and many other poems. Lots of local talent followed, including Matthew Sweeney, but unfortunately I had to leave. Family!

Later on attended a ticketed event at the Carmelite Friary where Derek Mahon introduced Harry Clifton. Apart from his great stuff I was glad to hear Harry say that his recent appointment as ‘Irish Professor of Poetry’ (apparently making him the equivalent of Irish ‘poet laureate’) seemed to him like a huge wheel which, when he stepped onto  it, seemed to want to wheel him off in its own directions. BUT that he resisted! He read some early poems and from ‘Secular Eden’, his paris-based book and his  delivery showed he still has not yet developed the ‘poetry voice’ but reads clearly and directly to his audience. His explanatory remarks and introductions also were well judged and not, as is so often the case, tedious. It was a very well received reading . Very professional while not being too distant.  

 Also got to see a ‘music prodigy’, or at least I don’t know just how one would otherwise describe Ben Burton who, at 18 years of age gave a concert at the Carmelite Church on Friday 15th which was wonderful. Bach, Rimsky-Korsakov and many others (I am too ignorant to have heard of) on the xylophone and marimba. The MC told us that Ben, who studied at the County Cork VEC School of Music, will leave Kinsale in September to study at the Royal Academy of Music in London. No surprise there! What a great musician he is.  Full credit too to his friends Alex Peyton and Mark O’Sullivan who accompanied him.

Kinsale is a very attractive town. Colour everywhere and real friendliness. Traffic is a bit horrific, and parking… well, let’s not go there. But you can’t blame the town: those winding ‘olde worlde’ streets were not meant for cars. It is very pleasant to walk around and look into the shops, which are many and varied. Great artwork on display too everywhere. Great beaches too and lots of activities for everyone. And, no, I’m not getting a brown envelope for saying all this. It’s just the honest truth! I really enjoyed myself. And I’ll be back!

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.


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.

And another series of themed readings at Chapters Bookstore got underway last Thursday

Catherine Ann

with ‘Love and Chocolate‘  as the focus and with a star-studded cast headed up by Catherine Ann Cullen who gave us a poem on chocolate (and the making of it). Then she read from her Doghouse collection: ‘Cicatrice’ (about a love that didn’t go as planned) and one she wrote for her husband about meeting at the Chester Beatty. So romantic! Pauline Fayne began with one from her book with (not-so-romantic) title of ‘Killer of Fishes’, followed by one I’ve heard before and never tire of: ‘Poor Little Poet Man’, Pauline’s mini-essay on misogyny — It always bring to my mind that era when the poet world was a ‘Men Only’ enclave.


(Remember that Leaving Cert poetry anthology of yore that had only ONE woman poet in the whole book!). Ross Hattaway promised to read about Love and apologised about the Chocolate bit. He read from his ‘Gentle Art of Rotting’ and also a new poem ‘Skating’. Karl Parkinson finished the evening with his usual style: no shortage of love poems here, with also a running commentary on their genesis. Great to hear again his ‘Ode to Me’ with its breathtaking arrogance and narcissism. And the women love him for it! (Even Pauline Fayne!). How does he do it!

Somewhere in the line-up I obliged with a few love poems, including one called… ‘Love Poem’. A highly original title, doncha think?

A very entertaining evening, ably MC’d by multi-talented Oran Ryan.

Did Eliot say his audience was ‘few but select?’ He would have been very pleased with our

Ross Hattaway

themed reading  (‘Christmas Cheer’) organised by Seven Towers, where there was plenty to entertain the intrepids that ventured out on this cold winter evening. Ross Hattaway read from his collection (‘The Gentle Art of Rotting’): ‘Summer New Years’, a poem I always see as something of an elegy for our lost pasts, those times we might have lived (or think we might have lived) more in touch with things before they all vanished. And ‘Singing in Choirs’ which tries to pin down that desire for unity/perfection when we might get everything to go really well for us: the athlete who manages to bring it all together at the moment when it counts… Rare moments! Also Ross gave some from his forthcoming new collection.

Anne Morgan

Anne Morgan gave some memory poems, one about a person who nursed a poet through a serious illness and then married him. Lucky poet to meet up with someone like that in his hour of need! Anne’s eye for description comes out very well in ‘Swans in the Winter’. Also some frustrations: she always wanted to do ballet lessons but ended up with Irish Dancing. My sisters too, with similar disappointment! I also liked her poem ‘The Notebook’.

Nothing, not snow, ice or anything else, stops Karl Parkinson

Karl Parkinson

delivering his stuff. And what stuff! I really enjoy his poetry with it’s startling imagery (snow=white death). As well as some of his own, he read ‘Thanksgiving’ by William Burroughs and it was so good I am tracking it down to read again.

I read ‘Bosnian Housewife’ from my ‘And Suddenly the Sun Again’ collection, then ‘Metsu’s Woman’, a first outing for a poem on the art of Gabriel Metsu (1629-1667) whose exhibition in the National Gallery has to be seen to be believed, it’s so good. Then I read a short Xmas poem, just to include myself (somehow) in the evening’s theme.

A very enjoyable reading. And thanks to Sarah who acted as MC.

Donal Moloney and Ross Hattaway

Poetry and prose today at Chapters at lunchtime organized by Seven Towers– Ross Hattaway providing the poetry and Donal Molony the prose.

Ross is working very hard on his next book (he says) and it’s going to be a cracker (he implies). Well, with poems like ”Killing My Husband’ it’s going to be at least unusual. The poem is divided into three parts: (1) The Trigger, (2) Pulling the Trigger, and (3) The Requel. Fascinating stuff. Trouble is that Ross does such a line in sardonic comment that I’m not sure whether to take him seriously or not. It could all be tongue in cheek. Then again, on the other hand…  … To finish up he lightened the mood  with a poem from Kate Dempsey about man’s faithful friend. Not being a dog-lover (to put it mildly) I appreciated the artistry but not the subject matter. Never can quite get to grips with this dog-loving business, particularly as, when I meet them, they always seem to want to get to grips with me….  Anyway, it was the usual cool, calculated, delivery from one of New Zealand’s finest exports.

And after wondering about whether or not killing one’s spouse might be a good idea (or might not?) it was good to get back on the level playing field of good, solid prose. Donal Moloney read an excerpt from his novel ‘In the Balance’ where we see the hero (Donal will reject THAT description), Michael, in a pub meeting up with a lady who comes across as rather arch and certainly more worldly-wise than… our hero (sorry, Donal). Like much else of what happens to Michael, this visit to the pub, and the meeting with the lady, is quite unplanned. It happens to him  by accident, not by design. Really good atmospherics and very exact character portrayls and analysis. And not a dog in sight, thank God.

Another enjoyable lunchtime reading and please give a warm round of applause to Oran Ryan who did MC. The Power is with him…

Oran Ryan in evangelical pose

This Seven Towers reading at Chapters Bookstore, Dublin, at lunchtime Wednesday 3 November was from novelist Clar Ni Aonghusa and poet Eamonn Lynskey.

Clar read a piece from her novel ‘Civil and Strange’, which covered some aspects of Irish life


Clar Ni Aonghusa


which were prevalent in the recent past, such as: a curious shrinking away from the sexual act and some really extraordinarily cruel and unfeeling attitudes towards women who suffered miscarriages and stillborn births, not to mention the callous treatment of their unfortunate babies. It is hard nowadays to credit such infamous views, but they were widely held and part of ‘our’ culture until at least the mid-sixties. Clar also made reference to ‘the marriage bar’, by which a woman HAD to retire from her job on becoming married. Unbelievable? Maybe, but that’s the way it was then. Anyway, to brighten us up a bit after that particular trip down a rather dark memory lane, Clar then read  some attractively descriptive poems dwelling on more congenial memories, one about her grandmother and one about the experience of living on the Great Blasket Island for a while when she was a schoolgirl. She was well prepared for it, she told us, having read Tomas O Criomhthain’s  ‘An tOileanch’. And what a great book that is! Must dig it out again.

I read ‘The General Takes Command’, a new poem about David Petraeus arriving in Kabul July 3 this year


My Goodself


to see what can be done about that dreadful ‘war’ (or, more accurately: ‘hopeless mess’) in Afghanistan. Petraeus had some success in putting together the ignominious ‘exit strategy’ that got American troops out of Iraq (though there is still a lot there) and so there is much is expected of him in Afghanistan. Then I read ‘Black Saturday‘, a poem which is about the London Blitz of 1940 and the problem of seeing war as a kind of hero-sum game. My ‘Colloquy in Mile End Park’ (a conversation I had with William Wordsworth one morning: What a great place London is!– You never know who you might meet) went well with’ Black Saturday’ since Mile End Park in East London is itself a former bomb site. I then read my ‘Early Christian Chronicles‘ which covers much the same ground as that dark period in recent Irish history that Clar had referred to in her reading: I tried to give a somewhat humorous treatment to it– Not easy, considering the ferocious and uncharitable attitudes then prevailing toward human failings . And, like Clar, I tried to brighten things a little by finishing with a few of my (by now) infamous ‘fast-food’ haiku.

Cats in the Garden

stalking birds all day.

I really must get out more.


Well, a rather SERIOUS reading overall. We promise loads of jokes next time around… And thanks to Oran Ryan for a great job as MC. Next ‘Chapters & Verse’ lunchtime reading is on Wed. 10th Nov. with Neville Keary and Catherine Ann Cullen.


Kevin Higgins and Karl Parkinson


A chance to see two top poets in action so why wouldn’t I make my way into town at all costs (2.20 on the bus from Lucan) to hear them.

Karl Parkinson in fine form with a chapbook to sell (‘a sacrament of song’, published by Wurm Press, and priced at less than the busfare from Lucan). He read or delivered without script his ‘Listening to classical music while thinking of some great artists and their suffering’ a great composition and one I’ve mentioned before on this blog. Also, among others, his inspiring The Positivity Manifesto. The language in this poem is pure Karl Parkinson: arresting, sparkling, compelling…. How I hate him! And his stuff  delivered with his usual unusual dramatic gestures.  A true performer.

Kevin Higgins told us he was a bit fed up of reading from his new book (‘Frightening New Furniture‘, published by Salmon) so most of his stuff tonight was new stuff including a terrific poem entitled something like ‘The People Who Protested Lightly and Then Went Home’… so many of these types of ‘protest’ I have seen in my time. Especially in my late-and-not-lamented time as a teacher. So nice, the teachers, when they are (were) protesting. Nothing French about them. Thanks, Kevin, you hit the nail on the head. Also the amusing poem inspiredby his wife asking him, in an off-hand way, what he would like done when he… er… passes away. The line that struck me was the one about any poet who shuffled up to the mic in the church and asked to read/sing a tribute… well. Kevin wants those people to be buried with him. Apart from the humour, I take this to be a dig at those shameless ‘tribute’ readings and concerts put on to boast the reputations of the living than rather than honour the dead. Well done Kevin.

Yes, a chance to see two top poets but, with all due respect to them, what absolutely bowled me


The Chapter House, St.Mary's Abbey


over was the venue, St. Mary’s Abbey.  Enormous in its day (around 1550, though founded in 1139) only the Chapter house remains. It’s up a little side street  ‘Meeting House Lane’ off Capel Street and as long as I have been in Dublin (like, from birth) I’ve never been in it, and had only vaguely heard about it. Too much history attached to it to deal with here. All I’ll say is you MUST go there  for the next reading organised by Wurm im Apfel (see Facebook or their new website http://www.wurmimapfe.net) which will be on Nov. 25th with Dave Lordan, Cah-44 and Claire Fitch on the bill at 6pm. The acoustics are absolutely great and they prove that those monastery builders knew a thing or two about sound long before HiTech  systems came along. So YOU remember to come along and get great music, poetry… and a history lesson! (Wrap up well, as it can be a little chilly if you rely only on the hot poets to keep you warm).

Much thanks to MC Kit Fryatt. What a great reading and well attended. And it started at the civilised time of 6.15 and finished  about 7.30… Other venues please note!!!