Writing School


Coming home on the bus yesterday a poem filled my mind. That might be a dramatic way of putting it, but still…

The poem is called Hollowman and I wrote it in 1992. I was twenty-two and my writing was full of teenaged angst. In my teens I wrote about sex I wasn’t having and politics I didn’t understand. I started writing poetry when I was twenty-one and holding myself to a higher standard I thought if I used straightforward language it couldn’t be any good. I was part of a writers group, as a rule, when I read my work, the response was silence or a considered nodding of the head. The only, let’s call it verbal feedback, came when I joined a new group; I read out a new poem, a piece I was really proud of, and someone said, ‘That’s shit.’

A few years later living in London, I was going through all my poems, I had a couple of hundred, and decided it was time to find a publisher. I didn’t submit to magazines, I suppose I thought they would never accept my work. Instead I compiled 40 poems into a book which I called Buddy, Can You Spare Me and sent it off to Henry Rollins. I never heard anything back and a few months later I left London.

As I write I remembered before London, I submitted a manuscript to Gallery Books because they were the best poetry publisher in Ireland. I knew so little at the time that I had double spaced everything!


Screaming dream machines
Collide in ecstacy,
Dreams are there to dream
Dreams are there to realise.
The dance of the Hollowman
With a beauty trip
And an empty can.

In the sudden silent stillness
We see and feel the shake,
This attracts us
And repel us
And propels us
Into motion.

The Hollowman can dance
And his lips can move,
But his hands are empty.


My writing has changed now, and maybe within the next year I’ll have enough poems to start submitting to magazines.

As I said before, I can’t help thinking that if I ever become a famous writer the book will turn up and be widely overpraised or over criticised, depending on the critic.

Meanwhile, here’s the freebie, what I now think of as my student work.



New Poem

Children run wildI’ve decided it’s high time I started submitting to magazines, if only to find out how good or otherwise my work is. I call it poetry, but I’m not at all sure.

Anyway, I thought one last poetry post until I get published. So here it is, an untitled story of a bus journey.

Now to find a magazine…


Street Performance

An acrobat leaps
On Grafton Street
Sculpting the air

Sculpting memory

Kindling dreams.

Teach Yourself to Live (again)

Teach Yourself to Live cover

I’ve gathered what I consider to be the best of the verses I wrote over the last few years and put them in this handy little PDF for you to download for free from my blog. The piece below feels unfinished, but that’s life!!

I don’t know if you’ve experienced problems with reading the version of this book I put on Scribd, but everytime I try to access it I get a message saying it’s been removed. It is still there, so I don’t know what’s going on.

Anyway, I’ve added this version to this blog, so download away and feel free to share..

Her Last Embrace

The Old Master sat by
Her bedside, their children
All gathered around, watching
The colours that come to claim
The living for the dead.
As all around and all within
Urged him not to lose
Her last embrace.

Dissolving into light
She set the past on him,
As he addressed a nakedness
He’d never known before,
As all of her memories escaping
Urged him not to lose
Her last embrace.


Here’s the link: