The Walking Unread

I’m not usually looking for something to read – my bedside table groans under the weight of many  books, and I’ve often my nose in several tomes at once (I’ve the right shaped nose for such feats). And I admit to being swayed by the hype from social media when there’s something new everyone’s talking about (hello Booker longlist), so the to-be-read pile is ever-growing. But one day last week I plucked from the heap of unreads an anthology I have a story in. Not a recent one, but one from last year which I hadn’t bothered to finish before. … Continue reading The Walking Unread

Concerning the Chopping of Onions

You might know the ‘G’ in my name covers Giddy, Gush and Gabble? No wonder – I’m trying to decide which part of yesterday’s memorable birthday was the best. Maybe all of it? Coffee and a chat with legendary American poet Billy Collins, then being showered with wonderful gifts when I got home, one of which was a canvas print of a photo from last year’s Hennessy Award. Even if you don’t like poetry, you’ve gotta be impressed that I had a Dublin pub named after me, if only for a weekend! My lovely family had heard me claiming I … Continue reading Concerning the Chopping of Onions

A Gloom of One’s Own

Inspiration is a funny old thing – one minute it is there slapping you in the face, insisting you write, write and then write some more, next it has disappeared into the ether without a trace and you are left wondering what on earth to write about. And whatever made you (me) think writing for publication was a good idea? The secret is of course, to carry on regardless, ignoring the helpless feeling of being uninspired, and just empty your head onto paper. Messy, I know, but the muse often has a way of creeping back to take a look … Continue reading A Gloom of One’s Own

Trumpets (Own, and the Blowing Of)

So here’s some cracking news for  what would otherwise be a miserable day (rain, and the first of my mother’s birthdays without her): ‘Soft Touch’ is now available to buy (well, to order before its proper publication date of February 1st). Ta da! Soft Touch is my book of 20 poems chosen by the UK Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy in her Laureate’s Choice series for 2019. I’m not hiding my light under a bushel here (although I might be found hiding under the table after the book is launched). Here are some of the endorsements it has garnered so far: … Continue reading Trumpets (Own, and the Blowing Of)

Not Quite Bananas

Just when my nerve starts to waver and I wonder what the hell I’m doing with my life, my muse knocks on the door and presents me with a cup of Earl Grey. Or he sends a WhatsApp message with an old photo to encourage me out of hiding from under the table (again). It doesn’t stop me wondering what it’s all about (oh boy, do I have a lot of poems about the meaning of life?) but it allows for satisfying recall of some of the thrills and spills of a life (so far) well lived. A life I’m … Continue reading Not Quite Bananas

Say It Again, Sam

Some writing is best heard rather than read.  That goes for poems, too. Especially mine. Some of them work out loud, others don’t. I’ve been fortunate this week to have had the opportunity to read my poetry to large enough audiences, first at The Word in Sligo Library (an open mic) and then in Galway at the launch of the Crannóg Magazine. Same poem. Different audiences. Same response (a puzzled silence before the polite applause). It’s one of those poems you need to look at on the page, perhaps savour a little. It’s yet another poem inspired by one of … Continue reading Say It Again, Sam

Losing The Windmills Of My Mind

I’ve waited for the dust to settle before writing the final instalment of my what-I-did-on-my-writing-course essay. I figured the gushing was a bit OTT and I needed to come back down to earth a bit. Or not. So. Tŷ Newydd (no, I still can’t pronounce it properly, despite being married to a Welshman and having lived in the country for a brief time during my formative years). Well, what else is left to say? I had a BRILLIANT time. The place is lovely, the actual building as well as the surroundings. The accommodation was exactly fit for purpose. The tutors … Continue reading Losing The Windmills Of My Mind

Dammit, I Couldn’t Marry a Tree

The time of my life is now drawing to a close. Well, not literally, I hope, just poetically speaking. I’m on the last day of a Masterclass with Carol Ann Duffy (the UK Poet Laureate) and Gillian Clarke (Welsh National Poet) at Tŷ Newydd, the National Writers’ Centre of Wales. I’ve never before been on a residential writing course, though I’ve experienced the good, the bad and the ugly in workshops, seminars and classes, the you-too-can-spend-a-fortune-and-become-in-a-day-a-best-selling-author/poet/playwright/wordsmith (delete as appropriate). This experience has been in a different league to anything I’ve ever done before. This has been intellectually challenging and stimulating, … Continue reading Dammit, I Couldn’t Marry a Tree

Welsh Rare Bits

Spoiler alert – I’m inclined to gush when I like something, so be prepared… I was going to love it or hate it, wasn’t I? No half measures – a week-long Masterclass with two poetry icons, Gillian Clarke and Carol Ann Duffy, in the beautiful Welsh countryside (and it hasn’t even rained properly yet). Ty Newydd, the former home of the late British PM David Lloyd George, is now the National Writing Centre of Wales. When I applied for a place on a residential course with the UK’s Poet Laureate (Carol Ann) and the Welsh National Poet (Gillian) back in … Continue reading Welsh Rare Bits

The Boy Stood On The Burning Deck

Last year I was lamenting the potential demise of Strokestown Poetry Festival – Ireland’s longest running poetry event.  Thankfully, enough people rattled the right cages for the funding to get re-instated, and the festival goes ahead as planned this year, starting on April 28th. Once again I am short listed in the Roscommon Poet’s Prize, and I’ll get to read my entry at the prizegiving ceremony in the lovely Strokestown House. It’s on at 10.30am on a (Bank Holiday) Monday, so if you can’t get there in person (I might struggle a bit myself), you can read the poem at … Continue reading The Boy Stood On The Burning Deck