Friday, August 18, 2023

Exciting news update: Poetry jukeboxes, author interviews, mentoring and upcoming festival appearance

How are you keeping? And how are you enjoying these damp but bright late-Summer weeks as the return to school looms on the horizon? I didn't intend to leave a six-month gap between posts, so I'm mildly shocked to discover my last one was back in February! How the months have flown with many rich and diverse developments in poetry, creative writing and life in general (I had a milestone birthday, my son, Lee made his Confirmation and finished his primary schooling...). Rather than attempting to shape an article that links these disparate events and attempts to find some cohesive thread, I'm going to highlight my literary-related news in pithy bullet points below, which I hope you enjoy reading! • I’m currently working on my fourth collection of poetry. In the meantime, I’m delighted to share that some new poems of mine have featured in a variety of journals between February – August 2023 including: The Honest Ulsterman February 2023, Crannóg 58, Skylight 47 Issue 17, Cyphers 95 and Poetry Ireland Review 140
• I'm excited that my poem, "Bridget's Hope" can now be heard in Galway's Poetry Jukebox as part of the 'Poetry as Commemoration' initiative. The poem, which follows the thoughts of Cumann na mBan activist, 'Bridget', who is based in Athenry as the Truce is declared in July, 1921, was commissioned by Galway Public Libraries as part of their Decade of Centenaries programme. The Poetry Jukebox (see pic below) is a free sound installation, located outside Galway City Museum at the Spanish Arch, that features the work of eleven poets: Nithy Kasa, Attracta Fahy, my colleague at UL, Eoin Devereux, Dominic J Sweeney, Frances Browner, Aodan McArdle, Roisin Leggett Bohan, Michael Farry, Nuala Roche, Diarmuid Cawley and myself. You just choose the poem you wish to hear and crank the handle. Fabulous!
Thank you to Catherine Wilson, Creative Producer of Poetry as Commemoration and to all involved in this unique project. Galway's Poetry Jukebox can be enjoyed for the next twelve weeks, from mid-August onward. To learn more about the Poetry as Commemoration project and its Poetry Jukebox visit • Next week, I’m delighted to be returning to my home county, 'Lovely Leitrim', to read as part of the 2023 Drumshanbo Written Word festival at 8:00pm on Thursday, 24 August in the Mayflower Ballroom, Drumshanbo. I'll be reading alongside fellow Leitrim poets, Roisin Kelly and Mary Guckian and we'll also be chatting to author and journalist, Ronan McGreevy. Tickets cost €12 and are available from • It was fun to catch up with multi award-winning UK poet, Roger Robinson over the Summer and to hear all about his most recent poetry projects. My interview with Roger was published in the June 2023 issue of The Honest Ulsterman and you can read it online here
• As part of Glór Art Centre's 'Artist to Artist Mentoring Scheme 2023', I was delighted to be selected to Mentor highly talented, emerging poet, Deirdre Devally. Thank you to Glór Arts Centre in Ennis, Co. Clare for their valuable work in supporting artists. I am holding four mentoring sessions with Deirdre between June and August 2023 and very much enjoying this journey with her. • I also mentored the lovely, gifted poet and artist, Aine Rose O'Connell during January & March 2023 as part of a training initiative by Age & Opportunity to support artists and that was an immensely enjoyable experience. I thoroughly enjoy mentoring other poets and it is always an honour when writers choose to work with me. • Back in April, for Poetry Day Ireland 2023, I hosted a special reading by the MA in Creative Writing students, members of UL Creative Writing team - Donal Ryan & Eoin Devereux -with guest poet, Anton Floyd (pictured below) at 1:00pm - 2:15pm in the Bourn Vincent Gallery, above the University Concert Hall, at the University of Limerick. This was a free event but all donations on the day went to the United Nations Refugee agency Ireland (UNHCR-Ireland).
• To mark the launch of his best-selling Irish novel, My Father's House, I had the great pleasure of interviewing author and Professor of Creative Writing, Joseph O'Connor in a special event at 4:00pm in the Bourn Vincent Gallery, Foundation Building, University of Limerick on Wednesday, 19 April 2023. As everyone knows, Joe is not only a truly inspiring author, but also a thoroughly engaging speaker who is also much loved by all his colleagues and students at UL. We continue to keep Joe and his family in our thoughts at this sad time after the recent tragic loss of his sister, Sinead O’Connor. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Reading at the Limerick Literary Festival this Friday morning, 24 February

Spring is well and truly in the air, it's glorious to be settled into the new semester at the University of Limerick, and I'm looking forward to my first public reading of 2023, at this year's ever-fresh Limerick Literary Festival. I'll be sharing some recent poems, as well as a variety of older poems from my three collections, at 11:00am in Dooradoyle Library this Friday, 24th February. Admission is free and all are very welcome. The festival line-up is reliably fantastic and I'm honoured to be featuring in the first event on this year's programme. Check out the full stellar programme and we look forward to seeing you on Friday morning at Dooradoyle Library!

Monday, October 31, 2022

Three new poems just published & reflection on a busy October

October has been frantically full, from start to finish, but also highly enjoyable. I'm typing this on the last day of the month - Halloween - as I get ready to submit student marks and before we carve our massive pumpkin after lunch. We still have a few final spooky decorations to festoon in the sitting room too. I can hardly believe it's a full month since renowned traditional Irish fiddler, Eileen O'Brien and I performed our commissioned work, 'Sionann: a suite' for its world premiere at the 2022 Dromineer Literary Festival in Nenagh Castle on Saturday, 1st October. I didn't get a spare moment to write about our project at the time, so it is a pleasure to reflect back on that occasion now and I'm delighted to share a few photos from the event, taken by talented photographer, Odhran Duchie.
Having both grown up on the banks of the river Shannon, in Dromineer and Carrick-on-Shannon respectively, Eileen and I created a suite in four movements and words that integrates an air, planxty, slip jig and reel as the river gracefully rises and flows toward Lough Derg and its estuary. Filled with fluvial resonances, 'The Shannon Suite' is our lyrical exploration of our topographic heritage. We set my poem 'I am Sionann' (available to read here) to an original score and performed it live on harp and fiddle. During our recital, we also celebrated the 230th anniversary of the famous 'last gathering of the harpers' at the 1792 Belfast Harp Festival, which continues to inspire my writing (listen to my piece for RTE Radio 1's Sunday Miscellany during August here). It was at this historic event that Edward Bunting transcribed many well known airs, preserving much Irish music for posterity. Eileen and I played a mix of traditional airs that were performed by the 1792 harpers and passed on to Bunting to notate, including 'Carolan's Concerto', collected from Arthur O'Neill. We were thrilled with the audience response to our performance and our new suite - we got a standing ovation and many compliments after. You can enjoy more photos from the event and from many of the other memorable events of the festival at their gallery here. Congratulations to Chairperson, Geraldine McNulty, to Geraldine Cronin and to all the festival team on another super banquet of words and music and thank you again for bringing Eileen and I together for this highly enjoyable collaboration. During October, three more new poems of mine were published. Firstly my sonnet, 'Your Old Letters' features in Romance Options, the sparkling new anthology of love poems edited by Joe Woods and Leanne Quinn and published by Dedalus Press. More recently, during the past week, my poem 'I am Hawthorn' was featured on The Milk House, edited by Ryan Dennis. Lastly, my sonnet 'Anxiety of Influence' has just come out in Issue 7 of the ever-fresh Drawn to the Light, edited and published by the indefatigable Orla Fay and freely available to download here. Happy Halloween, happy reading and I hope you enjoy the poems!

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Circling the Square - paying tribute to the late Dennis O'Driscoll

What a memorable day we had yesterday, honouring Dennis O'Driscoll at 'Circling the Square', the inaugural Thurles Poetry Festival. It is 10 years since we lost this great poet and Thurles native and credit is due to local poet, Larry Doherty for his vision and tireless efforts to curate such a special day of readings and music with a staggering line up of participants.(Pictured below: Emily Cullen, Eleanor Hooker, John Noonan & Declan O'Driscoll)
Dennis O'Driscoll (1954-2012) was an Irish poet, essayist, critic and editor. Regarded as one of the best European poets of his time, Dennis left a legacy of nine poetry collections, three chapbooks and two books of essays and reviews. Among his awards were a Lannan Literary Award in 1999, the 2005 E.M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the 2006 O’Shaughnessy Award for Poetry from the Center for Irish Studies (Minnesota). A member of Aosdána, the Irish academy of artists, he worked for almost forty years in Ireland’s Revenue and Customs service. He died suddenly on Christmas Eve, 2012, aged 58. Lovingly referred to as “the Irish Larkin,” the majority of his poems were characterised by the use of economic language and the recurring motifs of mortality and the fragility of everyday life. Read his striking poem "Someone" here. His was truly a singular voice, full of 'forgiving humanity' and it was an honour to be part of this exciting new festival and to hear such an array of esteemed poets and musicians, including Eleanor Hooker, Michael Coady, Anne Haverty, Michael Durack, John Noonan, Ger Duffy, Breda Joyce and many more. We each shared 2 poems from Dennis's oeuvre which reminded us of his distinct, timeless vision. A special highlight for me was hearing the poet's brother, Declan O’Driscoll share anecdotes about Dennis and read his well-known poem about his hometown, simply entitled “Thurles”. If you're not already familiar with this poem, I urge you to seek it out for its subtle power, unsentimental tone and its fresh lines such as ‘…but I know where the colander is kept…’ which evoke those minute, idiosyncratic details of home. Indeed, why not immerse yourself in the world of Dennis O'Driscoll and treat yourself to his Collected Poems, published by Carcanet Press in 2017.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

UL Creative Writing Festival - a banquet of writers and word-music

It's Tuesday morning already and I’m still lingering in the lilt of language, in the spell of imagination cast by so many writers during the past, full weekend. It’s no exaggeration to say I’m trying to sustain the euphony of the UL Creative Writing Festival where we were treated to note-perfect readings by novelists, Kevin Barry, Lisa McInerney, Roddy Doyle, Kit de Waal, Sarah Moore Fitzgerald, Sheila Killian, Danielle McLaughlin, Louise Kennedy, Donal Ryan and Sebastian Barry – not to mention poets, Seán Hewitt, Kayssie K, Jane Clarke, Rachael Hegarty and Chiamaka Enyi-Amadi. I was honoured to be reading myself, along side Jane Clarke and Kayssie K on Saturday afternoon. Indeed, I wore a few hats: as poetry curator, introducing our guest poets, as a staff member of the teaching team on the MA in Creative Writing and as a reader and festival participant. Additional gems at the festival were the richly atmospheric, moving stories read by young authors from local secondary schools that collaborated with our MA students on the Creative Writers in the Community module, led by Prof. Eoin Devereux, and the official launch of the brand new issue of UL's own The Ogham Stone - a trove of poetry, prose and creative non-fiction. Don't hesitate to pick up your copy!
The camaraderie, love of written word and mutual support that flows between my Creative Writing colleagues and the MA students (and, dare I say, myself) danced luminously and infectiously around the Irish World Academy of Music; audiences sensed the magical atmosphere that exists on the MA in Creative Writing programme where great teaching goes hand-in-hand with true mentorship. The Festival - completely sold out for the weekend - was a roaring success with a closing event, on Sunday afternoon, which saw two maestros, Sebastian Barry and Donal Ryan, reading from their stunning works-in-progress (a first for the former, who usually shares only his published work with audiences) and introduced so warmly and memorably by another literary giant, gent and Festival Director, Joseph O'Connor. The queue for the book-signing table after was a mile long and many festival attendees retreated to the nearby campus 'Pavilion' restaurant just to stay in the orbit of word-music a little longer, to prolong the enchantment of the weekend. Sincere thanks to my brilliant, truly lovely colleagues and to the wonderful student volunteers for all their hard work, to the poets and writers who performed and spoke so generously and honestly about the writing life, sharing nuggets of wisdom we will remember, to Gráinne O'Brien of O'Mahony's Booksellers, and to everyone who contributed to this masterful Festival in any way, big or small. Here's to it all happening again in 2023! Below are a few photos captured over the course of the weekend, featuring 1) Kevin Barry and Lisa McInerney, 2) Rachael Hegarty, myself and Jane Clarke, 3) Donal Ryan, Kit de Waal, Roddy Doyle and Joseph O'Connor, 4) Rachael Hegarty, Seán Hewitt & Chiamaka Enyi-Amadi and lastly, 5) Jane Clarke, myself and Kayssie Kandiwa. You can also enjoy reading (or listening to) the vivid, witty and powerful story Kevin Barry read, "The Pub with No Beer", in April's edition of The New Yorker here)

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Reading at the Eco Showboat Pavilion, Dromineer tomorrow

The Eco Showboat will dock at Dromineer harbour, Co. Tipperary tomorrow (Wednesday, 18 May) as part of Tipperary Bealtaine Festival. The brainchild of artists Anne Cleary and Denis Connolly of the innovative School of Looking, the duo have been working on the transformation of a century-old heritage barge into a zero-carbon vessel suitable for Eco Showboat expeditions on our inland waterways. A floating art studio and science lab, the solar-powered Eco Showboat aims to connect communities in building a zero-carbon future. I'm delighted to be reading with Eleanor Hooker tomorrow at the Poetry Pavilion alongside the Eco Showboat. A packed programme of free events is promised with registration in advance essential. See the event page here for all details. Hope you can join us!
Here's a poem of mine, on the theme of ecological awareness, that was published last year in the Empty House: Poetry and Prose on the Climate Crisis anthology (edited by Alice Kinsella and Nessa O'Mahony, Doire Press, 2021). "Adam's Apple" was inspired by the contrast between our Western myth of origins, which positions us as masters lording it over the Earth, and those of some First Nations peoples, whose beliefs have always been in much closer harmony with our planet. And how striking that one of our most famous economists in history was baptized 'Adam' Smith!

Friday, April 22, 2022

April is Poetry Month - four very full weeks of events!

Welcome back to my blog. This month is gloriously full with literary activities and poetry events. Below is a list of recent events I participated in and upcoming readings during Poetry Month. Some are in-person events and some are live online and all are free. I hope you can join me! Literary Events - April 2022: Poetry Readings • Wednesday, 27 April: Limerick Writers’ Centre ‘April is Poetry Month’ reading at 7:00pm, Sexton’s Bar, 91 Henry St, Limerick – reading with Eoin Devereux & Michael Durack. • Poetry Day Ireland - Thursday, 28 April: Launch of The Limerick Broadsheet – ‘April is the Cruellest Month’ – curated by Eoin Devereux and featuring work by Donal Ryan, Denise Chaila, Emily Cullen, Kerrie O’Brien, Willzee, John Liddy, Martin Dyar, Jo Slade, Imelda Maguire, Kieran Beville and Eoin Devereux at 1:00pm, The Atrium, University Concert Hall Building, University of Limerick. • Poetry Day Ireland - Thursday, 28 April: Featured poet for Lime Square Poets at 8:00pm online. See event details here: • Saturday, 30 April: Inishboffin Arts Festival - times tbc
Event Facilitation / Public Interviews with Authors • Friday, 1 April: Interview with authors, Nuala O’Connor (Nora) and Raymond Burke (Joyce County) for the ‘Nora Barnacle and James Joyce – The Galway Story’ event (One Dublin One Book) at 6:30pm in St. Nicholas Collegiate Church, Galway • Saturday, 9 April: Introduction of, and interview with, poet Roger Robinson at 8:30pm in the Town Hall Theatre for Cúirt International Festival of Literature