Meself and Leanne O Sullivan are the 2 West Cork representatives in the forthcoming special Young Irish Poets Issue of the highly regarded Poetry Magazine in Chicago, which has 30000 subscribers, an enormous readership for a poetry magazine, and about half that of the national newspaper of West Cork, The Southern Star (incorporating The Skibbereen Eagle).
I read alongside Leanne in Bantry Library recently at the West Cork Literary Festival. The library was packed with locals and visitors of all ages and walks of life and our poems, in their contrasting styles, went down very well. The event was a highlight of my poetry life so far. It was, so the librarian informed us, by far the best attended poetry reading in Bantry library in all the years of the West Cork Literary Festival. It’s good to get a reminder of that event from Poetry Magazine.
Congrats to everyone selected for inclusion in the issue, and to everyone involved in its production. There will be some great reading in it I hope. I’m looking forward to getting stuck into my copy when it arrives from Chicago to Bog Road.
My poem, written in Hiberno-English – the English spoken in much of rural Ireland – is called Muck Savage. It concerns three poly-intoxicated young hurlers having a vomiting competition out the back of the reggae tent at the Electric Picnic Music, Drugs and Randomers festival, near Stradbally in Not Cork, in 2009. A piece of alco-voyeurism in the picaresque mode. A satire on the much-abused Irish pastoral. An out-take from my last collection and a bit of a mickey-take to be honest. But good craic, I think. Check it out, sure.
Overall, there is a strong Munster flavour to the selection made by Pat Cotter of the Munster Literature Centre. Around half of the contributors have strong Munster associations, many of those with Cork, current host city of the Munster Literature Centre.
Although there won’t be much beyond passing journalistic interest from the general public, no doubt there will be much online debate among poets on the content of the issue. There always is when it comes to poetry selections which attempt to be generationally and/or nationally representative. They can’t be in any kind of scientific or generally agreeable way of course. There is simply no objective way to organise an exhibit of such an essentially subjective phenomenon as poetry. Everyone has their own way of doing it. Down the years there will be further attempts to provide a similar sampling, and eventually to anthologise, the new poets who are making the most vital work in and of contemporary Ireland. They’ll all be worth reading I’m sure. Anthologies and special issues are a pretty good way of non-poets getting into poetry. But they tend to wreck poets heads a bit. Poets have very tender heads.
Still, for my own tuppence worth, of poets not included in this particular Poetry Chicago selection, I’d like to mention as among my favourites in the born-after-1970* category Jessica Traynor, Adam Wyeth, Dylan Brennan, Daragh Breen, Colm Keegan, Leontia Flynn, Sinead Morrissey, Karl Parkinson, Kimberley Campanello, Angela Carr, Sarah Clancy, Kathy D’arcy, Nuala O Connor, Annamarie Crowe Serrano, James Cummins, Daithi Toms, Elaine Feeney, Cliona O Connell, Melissa Dieme, Dimitra Xidous, Abby Oliveira, Erin Fornoff, Kit Fryatt, Stephen Murray, Quincy Lehr, Eve Golden Woods, Ciaran O Rourke, and Christodoulos Makris, many of whom have published collections much-admired in West Cork, Cork and Not Cork in recent years.
*for apparently administrative reasons the selection was confined to those born after 1970.