Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Stony Thursday Book 2015

The Stony Thursday Book is seeking submissions from local, national and international poets for its next issue, to be published in October 2015.

The Stony Thursday Book was founded by Limerick poets John Liddy and Jim Burke in 1975 and is one of the longest-running literary journals in Ireland and celebrates its 40th Anniversary Edition in 2015.

This year's Editor of the Stony Thursday Poetry Book is Mary O’Donnell, poet, writer and member of Aosdana. About the Editor

How to Submit:
Each poet should send no more than six poems.
Submitted poems must be previously unpublished.
Submissions are being accepted by email and by post.
When submitting poems in hardcopy please write your name on each page. Please mark envelopes: The Stony Thursday Book 2015.
When submitting by email please reference TSTB 2015 in your subject line and attach all poems in a single file attachment (pdf or doc).

Send poems to: The Stony Thursday Book 2015, Arts Office, Limerick City and County Council, City Hall, Merchant’s Quay, Limerick or by email to:

Closing Date for Submissions: Friday 31st July 2015

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Fathers' Day Poem and Picture

This poem of mine was part of a series of Ox Mountains poems published in their Carthography anthology by Imagination and Place Press, Lawrence, Kansas, USA, edited by Kelly Barth in February, 2013. Gortakeeran is a mountain-side townland in the parish of Killoran/Coolaney, Co. Sligo.


we turned the peat sods for the last time
not knowing it was for the last time
exposed each soft underside
to grim Atlantic wind,
bleak sunshine, blind rain
stealing in from the west.

Those sods
never made it home
never warmed winter rooms;
ruthless mountain grasses
reclaimed them,
absorbed them back into bog.

Some Sundays he played
the good shepherd
took the week-tied dogs
padding by his bicycle
to the hill country
searched all of Spinc
for his few raddled sheep
found them far up near the horizon,
checked condition
foot-rot, worms, scour,
mortality markers.

He took no-one with him
but I can hear his voice loose and wild
calling the day-out dogs
to attention. Before nightfall he returned,
tied up the hounds again
sat by the fire, dreamed.

I see him now
shrunken, brown, preserved,
smiling his fixed smile
in the face of dire eternity.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

At The Edge Reading, Cavan

Three very different and exciting poets. Rebecca O’Connor, Richard Halperin and Angela Carr, will be reading with AT The Edge, Cavan on Tuesday 23 June at 6.30pm at the Johnston Library, followed by an Open Mic session.

“The pilot of AT The Edge, Cavan was a great success last year,” said Kate Ennals, the co-ordinator of the Cavan literary evening.  "This year we are having three AT The Edge events. The first is Tuesday 23 June, the second is Tuesday 25 August and the third is Tuesday 27 October. Make a note in your diaries.

Cavan woman, Rebecca O’Connor, published her first full collection We’ll Sing Blackbird in 2012. The Irish Times described it as ‘artful and wry'. Rebecca is editor of The Moth Magazine and The Caterpillar Magazine for children.

Richard W. Halperin lives in Paris.  His full collections are via Salmon: Anniversary (2010); Shy White Tiger (2013); Quiet in a Quiet House (listed for Autumn 2015). In 2014 four chapbooks appeared via Lapwing: Mr Sevridge Sketches and A Wet Day; Pink, Ochre, Yellow; The Centreless Astonishment of Things.

In her debut poetry collection, How to Lose Your Home & Save Your Life, Angela Carr mines the territory of an unexpected journey, exploring the unspoken realities, and precarious hope, of lives lived in the shadow of the Celtic Tiger’s demise.

Following the Readings, will be an ‘Open Mic’ session at which everybody is welcome. Please register with Kate on the night.

Photo is of Paddy Halligan reading at AT The Edge, Cavan, July last year.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Popshot - The Curious Issue

Popshot is an illustrated literary magazine that publishes short stories, flash fiction, and poetry from the literary new blood. The magazine is published bi-annually, in April and October and each issue is usually devoted to a theme.

The theme for the forthcoming fourteenth issue of Popshot, is "curious" so the issue will be The Curious Issue. It is now open for literary submissions, poetry and short stories.

If you would like the opportunity to have your short fiction or poetry published and illustrated in the next issue of the magazine, find out the full submissions guidelines at the submit page. The deadline is 20 July.

Please also consider getting hold of a copy of the magazine to gain a feel for the kind of work that they publish.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Happy Birthday W.B. Yeats

It's W.B. Yeats' birthday today and when I got in touch with him earlier to wish him a happy birthday he seemed a little grumpy. He told me to say that he was very disappointed that Irish poets had not taken his advice:

Irish poets, earn your trade,
Sing whatever is well made,
Scorn the sort now growing up
All out of shape from toe to top,

He said that in his opinion things have got much worse, all poetry now seems to be out of shape.

He also told me to remind people that the “terrible” is as important as the “beauty” in his poem Easter 1916.

He wants this poem read on his birthday because he’s proud of the shape, the rhythm, the rhyme scheme, the refrain, the contrary sentiments and the clever way he revisited the theme of tower.
It’s from his “Last Poems”, one of the last poems he wrote, possibly the very last one.

The Black Tower

Say that the men of the old black tower,
Though they but feed as the goatherd feeds,
Their money spent, their wine gone sour,
Lack nothing that a soldier needs,
That all are oath-bound men:
Those banners come not in.

There in the tomb stand the dead upright,
But winds come up from the shore:
They shake when the winds roar,
Old bones upon the mountain shake.

Those banners come to bribe or threaten,
Or whisper that a man’s a fool
Who, when his own right king’s forgotten,
Cares what king sets up his rule.
If he died long ago
Why do you dread us so?

There in the tomb drops the faint moonlight,
But wind comes up from the shore:
They shake when the winds roar,
Old bones upon the mountain shake.

The tower’s old cook that must climb and clamber
Catching small birds in the dew of the morn
When we hale men lie stretched in slumber
Swears that he hears the king’s great horn.
But he’s a lying hound:
Stand we on guard oath-bound!

There in the tomb the dark grows blacker,
But wind comes up from the shore:
They shake when the winds roar,
Old bones upon the mountain shake.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Poems in Local Newspapers

One of the most valuable historical sources is local newspapers. While researching the history of the 1912-1923 period in Sligo I read a lot of local newspapers, the hard copies in the early years, and more recently, on microfilm.

I paid little heed to the poetry which regularly appeared in those newspapers. Recently I have returned to the same newspapers without the pressure of a publisher's deadline and have begun to appreciate the volume and variety of such poetry.

I have set up a website to record, correlate, comment on poems published in Sligo Newspapers 1912-1923. I am especially interested in poems written by Sligo authors.

It is interesting to see how the poetry published will reflect the political upheavals of those years which saw the outbreak of World War 1, the change in attitude among the people, the 1916 Rising, the rise of Sinn Féin and the IRA and the War of Independence, the Treaty and the Civil War.

The war poetry published in 1915 is especially interesting and I have an article, War Poems in Sligo Newspapers, 1915, published in The Spark, North-West Local History and Arts Review, Issue 28, 2015. It especially deals with a poet from Manorhamilton, County Leitrim, Louisa Stockdale.

I also hope to have an article in this year's Corran Herald dealing with 1915 war poems from some Sligo poets.

It is a hobby rather than a task and will be done slowly as time and humour allows. I hope to keep in step with centenaries, 1915 is online and I am working on 1916.

Below: First stanza of a poem encouraging enlistment by South Sligo MP, John O'Dowd from Sligo Champion 4 September 1915.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Keystone Anthology

Janice Windle and Dónall Dempsey are co-founders of the loose collective they have called “The 1000 Monkeys”. The name refers to the saying that an infinite number of monkeys with keyboards, given an infinite span of time, will produce every work of literature ever written.

I met Janice and Dónall at Fermoy Poetry Festival two years ago and again at the Cork Poetry Festival earlier this year.

Over the past three years they have been organizing performance open mics with featured guests in Guilford and also publish an annual anthology. This year's anthology, The Keystone Anthology, is a collection of 121 poems by poets whose work Janice Windle and Dónall Dempsey have enjoyed at spoken word events and book promotions in 2014 – 5.

I'm delighted to have three poems, Lady's Anniversary, The Gun and My Turn, included in the anthology - and have my photo of the back cover!

There’s something for every taste in the anthology, the criterion for the editor’s choice being the poems’ accessibility and their value as oral, as well as written poetry. It includes poems by the eminent writer Bernard Kops, established and award-winning poets like Chrys Salt MBE, Wendy Klein, Patrick Osada, and Bethany Pope and successful performance poets like Steve Pottinger and Robert Garnham.

The anthology will be launched in Guildford on 8 June 2015. Unfortunately I won't be able to attend but I',m sure it will be a great occasion.

It can be ordered online using PayPal and copies will be dispatched after the launch. Price: £9.99 + postage.