A poem for Ireland on RTE

The shortlist for A Poem for Ireland has been revealed, interesting and as predicted poets to be found. The website has a list of the poems along with a little, Leaving Cert type analysis with audio and videos with brilliant archived materials with poet’s bio. This is a great initiative, it might just reinvigorate some people into reading poetry again but it definitely shows off the amazing genius of poets that we have in Ireland. Whatever slant you take it from, you will get something from it.


On Television, RTÉ Television’s flagship arts show The Works (Fridays, 8.30, RTÉ One) will feature mini-documentaries on two of the poems each week. And each week, you’ll be able to listen to ordinary people from offices and workplaces across Ireland reacting to each of the 10 poems on RTÉ Radio One’s The John Murray Show (weekdays, 9a.m., RTÉ Radio One)

The website says the public have 6 weeks to decide on their fave, they don’t give a date but I’ve worked that out to be around the first week of March.

I am going to be looking at each poem briefly along with some other bloggers and we will pick our favourite.

Rick O’ Shea, presenter of new poetry show is not into Seamas Heaney

Yes, you have read it correctly. Rick O’ Shea, who I am not overly into as a broadcaster is to present a new poetry show on RTE Radio 1 on 24th January. He seems to be into his reading. He read 100 books in a year, which is impressive and I am jealous but he doesn’t really read poetry or know much about it. He admits this himself.


He didn’t interview for the job, RTE approached him and he claims he is interested in arts programming in general.

I am sure there were competent presenters who also love and know poetry well available in Ireland. “In fact, the commission specification, which was on the RTÉ website, stated that the show was to be “presenter-led, preferably by a well-known and/or well-regarded figure from the world of poetry and/or literature. He/she should have an in-depth knowledge of Irish poetry and an established ability to further the debate on poetry via the national airwaves.” The budget for the 30 half-hour shows is €76,440.”

I will probably watch it anyway as there seems to be some well known and up and coming poets on the show but it reminds me of the show when Pat Kenny was interviewing Pete Doherty. #embarrassing

Let’s hope Rick O’ Shea starts reading his poetry. He has a week.

Sixteen Literary Magazine looking for writing!

Sixteen Literary Magazine is a free online magazine that aims to use the 1916 centenary to help emerging and professional writers craft new work based on the 1916 Easter Rising. We are deeply interested in how Ireland has changed in the last 100 years since and want to explore how the events of that week in 1916 have shaped us as a nation today or if they did at all.


Neither of the editors of Sixteen are historians. We are interested in good writing and we’re not adverse to a bit of visual art.

On the 16th of every month leading up to the 16 months before April 2016, we will publish an issue of our magazine online with the best pieces of work we receive. Each month, we will give a prompt relating to the Easter Rising. It might be an event, a character, a building or a piece of art. We will offer some ideas to whet your creative juices and then it’s up to you.

All submissions should follow our guidelines and we only accept work through our web form. Editors have the final decision on the final piece. Your piece of writing may need editorial help and support and we reserve all rights to make these changes to ensure the standard is good for our magazine.

Please, go to www.sixteen.ie to view the magazine, submission guidelines and possible prompts and themes. You may be inspired by the themes or not! Your response can be loose or tight!






Carlow Co-operative on The Write Show, KCLR FM and Carlow Arts Festival 2014

The Write Show will be performed live from Carlow Central Library, and broadcast on KCLR on Monday June 9th at 6pm. Tickets are free.

After releasing its first anthology in 2013, What Champagne Was Like, The Carlow Writers’ Co-operative have turned their attention to writing for broadcast.


Working for six months with one of Ireland leading radio writer-producers, John McKenna (whose credits while at RTE include numerous contributions to Sunday Miscellany and his award-winning documentary series on Leonard Cohen), this ambitious collective have assembled an eclectic programme of material for performance in front of a live audience (you) for broadcast by KCLR a few days later.

Contributors include Phelim Kavanagh, Bev Carbery, Rozz Lewis, Simon Lewis, Pauric Brennan, Derek Coyle, Maressa Sheehan, Clifton Redmond, Jonathan O’Brien, Brigid Johnson, Betty Ryan O’Gorman.

Expect drama, storytelling, music and poetry from a beguiling and hugely talented group, the occasional stumbled line, and some performances of chaotic humour and engrossing pertinence.

This initiative is funded by Carlow Arts Office in partnership with Carlow County Library Service, KCLR and Carlow Arts Festival.

Walt Whitman, poetry and the new iPad advertisement

I don’t know how I haven’t caught this till now! A poetic, beautiful, moving and artistic advertisement from Apple speaking about the merits of poetry, life and creation.
I love the excerpt they have used from Dead’s Poet Society, the film but original credit to the the Walt Whitman poem “O me O life”. It makes me quiver just listening to these lines. There is so much potential in us that is more than the ins and outs of a life just being lived in. The last lines “What will your verse be?” is an invitation to all.
A great article on the advertisement is here http://business.time.com/2014/01/13/apples-latest-ad-is-probably-going-to-give-you-chills/
and the Poetry Foundation who originally drew my attention back again to the poem and the film. Robin Williams was hired to redo this speech from the film and it fits so well. Here is a link to an audio of the poem and a discussion on the Poetry Foundation’s website. If you haven’t checked it out, you really have to though I’m assuming you have! They give a beautiful analysis of poems, poets and appropriate themes.

Remembering September 1913-Kilkenny Arts Festival with W.J. McCormack &Dennis Donoghue

Remembering September 1913-Kilkenny Arts Festival with W.J. McCormack &Dennis Donoghue

I got the chance to nip into this talk at the Arts Festival the other night. This talk was held in the most fabulous of venues, the Parade Tower in Kilkenny Castle.

Cormac Kinsella, the curator of the festival introduced the two renowned literary historians and Yeats obsessives. It was a lively evening with each taking the stage and going into minute detail of the poem September 1913 below.

What need you, being come to sense,
But fumble in a greasy till
And add the halfpence to the pence
And prayer to shivering prayer, until
You have dried the marrow from the bone?
For men were born to pray and save:
Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone,
It’s with O’Leary in the grave.

Yet they were of a different kind,
The names that stilled your childish play,
They have gone about the world like wind,
But little time had they to pray
For whom the hangman’s rope was spun,
And what, God help us, could they save?
Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone,
It’s with O’Leary in the grave.

Was it for this the wild geese spread
The grey wing upon every tide;
For this that all that blood was shed,
For this Edward Fitzgerald died,
And Robert Emmet and Wolfe Tone,
All that delirium of the brave?
Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone,
It’s with O’Leary in the grave.

Yet could we turn the years again,
And call those exiles as they were
In all their loneliness and pain,
You’d cry, ‘Some woman’s yellow hair
Has maddened every mother’s son’:
They weighed so lightly what they gave.
But let them be, they’re dead and gone,
They’re with O’Leary in the grave.

They argued very respectfully on the use of certain pronouns in the poem but admitted they were very good friends despite their literary differences. The two men were really great characters and they spoke about the misconceptions that people have about the poem. They spoke about Yeat’s disdain for a middle-class Ireland and how he upset many people  by writing this poem by saying the Catholics did not care about anything but making money.

I would have liked a bit more discussion about this poem’s relevance as the post-celtic theme of literature is crying out for this sort of analysis and seeing as we had these experts, it would have been interesting to delve into that.

Instead, I will have make do with a recording of the moving poem. Here it is!

Hennessy literary award 2013 results


John O’ Donnell wins Best Emerging Fiction for his strangely sweet and disturbing short story, Shelley. I remember reading this and being thoughtful about it afterwards. Dermott Healy, uber renowned poet and novelist, was inducted into the Hennessy Hall of fame. I wonder will the stories and poems from the last year will be compiled anywhere?

Poetry Now award:dlr&Irish Times shortlist

Five poetry collections announced for the Dun Laoghaire Book Festival. I just love the covers of poetry books! Yes, I know its superficial and its what’s inside that counts but they do entice you to pick them up!

The five finalists are John Montague, Moss Cannon, Bernard O Donoghue, Mascara Woods and Michael Longley.
I wouldn’t fancy being the judges! Best of luck to all five, who are already outstanding.
Dun Laoghaire mountains to sea book festival, which runs from 4-9th September.
Get those tickets booked. No, really, go now!
Kevin Barry is reading with Maeve
Higgins, interesting? Is Kevin trying out being a comedian?