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Posts from the ‘Ireland’ Category


#ReadIreland 2020 The Irish Writer and the World

  • Author:  Declan Kiberd
  • Title: The Irish Writer and the World (331 pg)
  • Published: 2005
  • Genre:  non-fiction
  • List of Challenges 2020
  • Monthly plan
  • #ReadingIrelandMonth20
  • #Begorrathon20


Ch 1 Introduction

Central theme – cultural forces which appear opposites often turn out to have common ground on which they can meet!
Goal – zone of free debate to allow an intelligent savouring of differences as well as similarities
Error – leaders ignore the ‘cultural domain and are led by mere politics.
James Joyce – perfect example….a writer who made himself European without ceasing to be Irish.


Ch 2 The fall of the Stage Irishman


Stage Irishman (19th C)
Caricature of an Irish stage drunk, clowning his way with stories between bars
He wears an Irish mask: exploiting the quaint Irish peasantry
for the amusement of a ‘superior’ foreign audience.
The stage Irishman was generally “garrulous, boastful,
…unreliable, hard-drinking, belligerent (though cowardly).

Anti-Stage Irishman
Caricature of an holier-than-thou Irishman
refusing any taint of the Stage Irishness.

Stage Gael
Caricature of the long suffering suffering peasantry of the west of Ireland
ignoring the awful poverty.
“Gaelic morons here with their bicycle clips and handball medals” (Flann O’Brien)

Stage Writer:
Stage Irishman is a thing of the past.
Ireland is in danger of replacing it with the Stage Writer:
…legendary drinking of Brendan Behan (died 41 yr)
Flann O’ Brien (died 54 yr) and Patrick Kavanagh (died 63 yr).

Irish Literary Modernism (20th C)
Seamus Heaney, Martin O’Cadhain and Sean O’ Riordain are
masters who brought Irish writing into the 20th C.
They gave their countrymen a true image of themselves.

19th C
Rejection on romantic Irish novelists (C. Wickham 1826-1882)
— dealing sympathetically with Irish life, manners, quaint customs
and the insuppressible humor of the peasantry.

20th C
Acceptance of new generation of writers
–“…which the people would be shown in all their naked hideousness” (Yeats)
That author was Flann O’ Brien (aka Brian O’Nolan). Novel An Béal Bocht
The Irish expression “to put on the poor mouth” is mildly pejorative.
Peasant farmers would exaggerate the direness of one’s situation
to evoke sympathy, charity of creditors and landlords or generosity of customers.


Ch 3  Storytelling: the Gaelic tradition

  1. “The best things come in small packages.”   (Anne Enright)
  2. The short story…
  3. has been the most popular literary form with readers.
  4. permits intense self-expression.
  5. author selects a single aspect of life to reveal his personality.
  6. is credible, written in private for the critical solitary reader.
  7. exploits minor triumphs, sadness  of the commonplace man.



  1. I was looking for insights into Irish writers and their works.
  2. I enjoyed the introduction, ch 1 about Irish stereotypes and
  3. ch 2 about Irish and short stories.
  4. Liked: ch 1-2-3 (15%)
  5. Disliked: ch 4-19
  6. The rest of the book was centered around
  7. nationalism, multiculturalism,
  8. do you write in Gaelic or in English….which is preferred?
  9. ..75th commemoration of the Easter Uprising,
  10. museums, colonialism, poets Synge vs Yeats etc.
  11. All are scholarly discussions worth reading
  12. ….but was not what I was looking for.
  13. #CherryPickWhatYouLike

#ReadIreland 2020 Irish Theatre

Set Design by Francis O’Connor  for  play “The Big House” (Abbey Theatre)




  1. There is so much to learn from Helen Lojek’s essays.
  2. I have selected a few ideas to share with you.
  3. I learned to think more about the title of a play.
  4. You would be surprised what the author had hidden in it!
  5. I learned to look carefully at the setting.
  6. Who knew you could compare a bar (pub) with purgatory!


The Gates of Gold by Frank McGuinnes

  1. Setting: the domestic interior
  2. Stage: divided in “living room” and bedroom (“dying room) – EMPHASIS ON THEMES
  3. Title: explore meaning ‘The Gate’ is the theatre the partners founded in Dublin.
  4. On a metaphysical level the title frames Gabriel’s looming death.
  5. Stage directions: Silence: there is a definite significance of silence and lack of action
  6. Silence and lack of motion can be just as powerful as dialogue and action
  7. Irony: characters… Conrad  is teaching Gabriel how to die
  8. …and Gabriel is teaching  his partner how to live!!
  9. Dialogue: overlapping it is a
  10. …challenge to read or follow but provides a reflective commentary.
  11. Major threat: inescapable biological reality of death
  12. Ireland: the Irish future has arrived with
  13. …neither priest nor colleen nor greenfield in sight.




The Weir by C. McPherson

  1. Setting: local bar
  2. Bar = sacred place or even purgatorial where people
  3. can tell the truth b/c no one will return here.
  4. People ease their loneliness by sharing their interior lives.
  5. Stage: aging photos on the wall, barflys are male, the fire is peat and
  6. …the preferred drink is Guinness.
  7. Titel: is a metaphor The Wier for damned up emotion/feelings
  8. that will spill out in their stories…
  9. “on one side it is quite calm on the other side water is being squeezed through.”
  10. Lots under the surface is coming out.
  11. Stage directions: Silence: TV and radio are present but not turned on.
  12. Patrons  would rather tell stories.
  13. Irony: Valerie….the ‘intruder’ is  leaving the city for rural Irish landscape
  14. ….while other characters are rushing to the city!
  15. Dialogue: no indication that is bar has a window so exterior space
  16. …is only what the characters describe.
  17. Major threat: never-seen-but-often-discussed toerists (modernity)
  18. Ireland: rural area…a place for lonely bachelors and nonworking bathrooms
  19. …where Valerie comes to heal.






#ReadIreland 2020 Samantha Power

  • Author:  Samantha Power
  • Title:  The Education of an Idealist: A Memoir
  • Published: 2019
  • Genre:  non-fiction
  • Challenge 2020
  • Monthly plan
  • #ReadingIrelandMonth20
  • #Begorrathon20


Finished: 08.01.2020
Genre: non-fiction
Rating: C


Part I
Ch 1- 6
Pretty basic childhood memories
SP (9 yr) was taken by her mother to America
after the breakdown of a marriage.

Ch 7- 12
I’m beginning to feel more engaged with the book than was initially the case. SP has digested the horrors of the Balkan conflict (war correspondent). She decided to enter law school to prepare her for a career in which she could influence the policymakers who might look away again from the atrocities of genocide.

Ch 13 – 18
SP does feel a profound disconnect between her personal good fortune and the rest of the world. She threads elements of her family story throughout the book.


Part 2:
Ch 19-40
The memoir finally begins to move ahead in a faster and more effective way.
I am very interested learning more about the insider’s account of foreign-policy-making.


Who is Samantha Power?
She is an Irish-American scholar  who won a  Pulitzer Prize for her book A Problem From HelI.
Ms Power has devoted much of her career to promoting the use of American power (Obama administration) to halt mass atrocities.
She served as United States Ambassador to the United Nations 2013-2017.

How did SP get interested in ‘genocide’?

Ms Power was witness to genocide during the Balkan Crisis.
She a war correspondent for Foreign Policy magazine. When she enrolled at Harvard Law School she took courses about Holocaust related subjects. SP wanted to learn when was military force justified? Note: I’m reading this book as Trump decides ‘to take out” General Soleimani of Iran! Justified?


Last thoughts:

  1. Samantha Power (activist-turned-diplomat)
  2. …leads the life as a diplomat involved in juggling the
  3. demands of her job and those of her two young children.
  4. Ms Power left me with the feeling that she told us
  5. just enough about herself to make this book a ‘memoir’.
  6. What  I missed was Ms Power’s thoughts about her road to
  7. confirmation for U.S. Ambassador to the UN that was
  8. strewn with landmines.
  9. She never mentions it!
  10. Her main goal was to inform the reader as objectively as possible
  11. about the good work the Obama administration
  12. …did during her tenure as
  13. political aide and later as US ambassador to the UN.
  14. Samantha Power hopes that we do more
  15. …about our engagement in the world
  16. …and strengthening our democracy.
  17. As memoir….?  It did not touch
  18. my heartstrings…
  19. …very ‘chilly’ look back on her life.
  20. #WorthwhileButNotExceptional



#Poetry Leontia Flynn (Irish poet)


  1. Finished: 17.08.2019
  2. Genre: poetry
  3. Rating: A
  4. 32 poems and I liked ..18 of them.
  5. 56 % = That is a GOOD SCORE!


  1. The Radio was published in 2017,
  2. was shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize and
  3. won the Irish Times Poetry Now Prize.


  1. PART 1 The Child, The Family (10 poems)
  2. The book gets off to a good start
    ….but most poetry collections puts some
    great poems at the beginning as a ‘hook’.
  3. There are some great images:
  4. Yellow Lullaby
    …description a mother rushing to a crying child:
    “…barreling not like some semi deranged trainee barista
    …friendly but confused.”
  5. Alzheimer’s Villanelle (Flynn’s father suffered from Alzheimer’s disease)
    description of the sickness…
    ” …imagine a train delayed, delayed, delayed
    that pulls up without a passenger or driver.”


  1. PART 2 …And the Outside World (19 poems)
  2. The first two poems are stunning:
    August 30th 2013 (…day of Seamus Heaney’s death)
  3. Field of Yellow Flowers…..for Gavin Turning 40 (….memories of a lover)
  4. Thenext  7 poems received  ‘good’ or ‘very good’ in my notes.
  5. Unfortunately after that…
  6. the collection seemed to lose its orginal strength
  7. …like a bike tire soundlessly leaking air.


  1. PART 3 Poems Conceived as Dialogues ( 3)
  2. Experimental….but not I was still not impressed.


  1. Conclusion:
  2. This is a collection of poems I would re-read.
  3. If you see this book in your library just stuff it between
  4. your other book hauls
  5. ….and let Leontia Flynn surprise you!
  6. #Bravo

#Poetry Ireland Professor of Poetry

The position of Ireland Professor of Poetry is an academic chair  jointly  administered by three Irish  universities. Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin (pronunciation: KWILL-en-non) has been chosen for this prestigious position for  three years (2016-2019). A new professor will be appointed soon.





  1. The poems of Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin (ENC)
  2. are rooted in the past and personal memory
  3. The past is lost but the poet  revives our historical memory.
  4. ENC had been described as the Vermeer of contemporary poetry.
  5. ….I’m very curious  to see what impact ENC will have on me.


Finished: 15.08.2019
Genre: poetry
Rating: A
#TBR list 2019


Title: The Boys of Bluehill   is the first tune she heard her sister play.
…a traditional Irish hornpipe.

Memory shapes creativity in the work of Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin.
She has an unsentimental mind yet writes with feeling.
She creates a world of compelling narratives that
challenge the reader

Her poems seem to escape to another realm.
If you invest time researching her poems
(figurative images, family background, Irish myths,
the allusions in the poems…
you will be richly rewarded!

Theme: musical core that is closely
connected to ENC’s sister Máire.
She was a musician and died more than 25 years ago.

Best poem: …is about Máire “The Skirt”…haunting
Light poems: about her first grandchild…”Dream Shine” and “Incipit Hodie”
Translated poem: poem based on a “The Lament for the Old Woman Beare”…that gives one the sense of a woman who vanishes as she gets older… “The Song of the Woman of Beare“.
Memory poem: going back to things you didn’t do then…and can’t do now…“I Used to Think
Emotional poem:Passing Palmers Green Station” – family memories, recounts a journey on the London Underground that brings back to the poet’s mind an earlier journey with her mother to visit “…her younger daughter among the dying”.


Last thoughts:

  1. Poems by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin
  2. are not easy to understand
  3. …if you don’t have the time
  4. …to appreciate her language skills.
  5. She is truly one of
  6. …the best Irish poets of her generation.



#Poetry Derek Mahon (Irish poet)


Reistance Days  — ( prose poem)  dedicated to John Minihan

  • It is good to know about the person to whom the poem is dedicated.
  • Perhaps it wll help me discover some hidden meaning or references.
  • John Minihan is an Irish photographer, born in Dublin in 1946.
  •  The photos are an attempt to document the lives of the ordinary people.
  • Over the years Minihan developed a close relationship with many writers and his
  • photographs of Samuel Beckett show a particular affinity between the two men.
  • William S. Burroughs once referred to Minihan as “a painless photographer”.


  1. I copied the poem in couplets
  2. ….but Derek Mahon wrote it as a prose poem.
  3. I found the prose-form difficult to read and because of its length
  4. …lost interest.
  5. End rhyme makes the poem so much more enjoyable!
  6. The poem is long
  7. …but not dark or heavy handed
  8. ….just try it!



  1. 1 poem by D. Mahon was more fun to read
  2. …than 3 Crime Fiction thrillers!
  3. #ReadMorePoetry



The sort of snail-mail that can take a week
but suits my method, pre-informatique,

I write this from the St. Louis, rm 14 —
or type it, rather, on the old machine,

a portable, that I take when I migrate
in ‘the run-up to Christmas. Here I sit

amidst the hubbub of the rue de Seine
while a winter fly snores at a window-pane.

Old existentialists, old beats, old punks,
sat here of old; some dedicated drunks

still sing in the marketplace, and out back
there’s an old guy who know Jack Kerouac.

Spring in December now, of course; no doubt
the daffs and daises are already out

and you lot, in the serene post-Christmas lull,
biking the back road between Hob and Schull.

(ref: Schull, West Cork, Ireland)

Here at the heure bleue in the Deux Magots
where as a student I couldn’t afford to go

a gauche and unregenerate anglophone
tongue-tied as ever in my foreign tongue,
stil getting the easiest constructions wrong,

I inhale the fashions of the sexy city,
its streets streaming with electricity,

its wings and roundabouts on the go as ever,
the fly-boats echoing on the floodlit river

when a switch locks and the long boulevard flares
with a thump and flow obscuring moon and stars

In flight from corporate Christendom, this year
I spent the frightful season in Tangier

with spaced-out ‘fiscal nomads’ and ex-pats
or bored by Bowles beneath the sheltering slats,

(ref: book The Sheltering Sky)

bucket and spade under high cloud and sail,
blue and windblown, a sort of vast Kinsale

(ref: Head of Kinsale, Ireland)


— a travel poster as we flutter down
changing at Casablanca in pouring rain

then ocean contours, minaret and soul,
a dribbling fountain, swirling palms, windsock,

a postcard; camels on the beach, black sheep
routinely scattering on the tiny strip,
the flowing script of Royal Air Maroc;

prescribed odours of cedarwood and kif
in the moist oasis of the Hotel du Rif,

swifts diving over the gardens and the port
of course, for even there the birds migrate;

heat-lightning flash photography in the strait,
eight lengths of a cold pool above a white

city at sea; keen cars of Christmas Day
with a lost tribe of Nigerian sans-papiers,

bright migrants from hot Sahara to cold EU
in the leafy English church Sam Beckett knew.

(ref: iconic photo of Beckett (1985) by John Minihan)


I’d uncles down that way in the war years,
a whole raft of Merchant Navy engineers,

northern barbarians on the Barbary Coast
in their white ducks, a far cry from Belfast —

old-movie time of transit visas, bad cheques,
the Dakar fiasco, ‘everyone comes to Rick’s’

ref: movie Casablanca

but the proud Berbers of the west resist
the soul-stealing gaze of the ‘western tourist’

to nurse the experience of a thousand years
beneath a crescent moon and evening stars

— al-‘Dhara, al- ‘Dharan, al-Qa’id and al-Ta’ir
peach-pink Arabian nights, the call to prayer
on Lavery’s dunes and balconies, austere

as antelope or ibex, a light as rare:
you with your Nikon would go crazy there.

A real barbarian, Wyndham Lewis in flight

(ref: 1882-1957, English writer, painter, critic)

from daily mail, tube station and wireless set,

found there the desert ‘blue’ tribes’ he liked best
in the days of the Rif rifles and Beau Geste,

far from fake sheikhery and the coast hotels
exploring qasba art in the lunar hills —

‘the best this side of China, I should say’.
Of course, most things are different since his day:

looking like Katie Tyrrell (1863-1921) and the old folks

(ref: Irish sailor and businesswoman. Born in Arklow in 1863, Ms Tyrrell blazed a trail as the first female ship’s captain. Her father had a shipping company that imported and exported goods between Ireland and Wales. From childhood, Kate could be found around the shipyard learning her father’s trade.

Kete Tyrrell index
in your on ‘sublimely gloomy’  Athy pix,

(ref: Athy is home of photographer Minihan)

as everywhere the filmable populations
have now been framed in shinier compositions,

the open prison of the corporate whole,
for even dissent has long been marketable —

even in the desert of legend and dark myth,
of drought and genocide, what Patti Smith
calls ‘the real earth of Rimbaud,’ no daisies there.

(ref: Patti Smith 1946)

Burroughts and Ginsberg – 9, rue Gít-le-Coeur —
who thought to undermine the monolith
were building new sandcastles in the air.

Back now on the rive gauche and the Pont des Arts
re-reading the works of Bonnefoy and Éluard,
(ref: Bonnefoy 1923-2016 French poet and art historian)
(ref: Éluard 1895-1952, French poet; founder of the surrealist movement)

a flâneur in the dense galaxies of text
yet somehow knowing what to link for next,

I resist Miller’s Quiet Days in Clichy
to browse among the picture books, cliché

(ref: Henry Miller 1891-1980, novella days as ex-pat in Paris)

and time exposure, the once bright machines,
the mirrored nudes like open nectarines,

high-definition fashion, Paris de Nuit,
copperplate silence, cranes at St. Denis,

the soap and tickets, the oblivious snow,
a gargoyle musing on the lights below,

soft-focus studio filter work, the glow
and heartening realism of Robert Doisneau
(ref: 1912-1994, French photographer B/W foto’s streets of Paris)

Les Halles, butcher


(industrial suburbs, the great aerial one
of the Renault plant beside de Bois de Boulogne

pensioners, tramps, young lovers in a park,
a kiss at rush-hour or a dance in the dark);

and on the history shelves the wartime books,
old coats and bicycles, old hat and specs

old sniper rifles, Gloria and Étoile
ripping up tarmac in the place St. Michel;

at the Gare du Nord a 24-hour clock,
clanking transports, faces wreathed in smoke

and the damned logo everywhere you look;
midnight editions, by Gironde or Loire

a distant grumble in the sky some where,
a shaky flashlight piercing night and cloud,
low voices murmuring like owls in a wood.

— Days of resistance, un peu soviétique,
plain Sartre and Beauvoir dancing cheek to cheek!


Now our resistance is to co-optation,
the ‘global project of world domination,

the generative darkness hid from sight
in an earth strung with deterministic light

no more than a ganglion of wires and flex,
crap advertising and commercial sex.

Still skeptical, statistically off-line France
resists the specious arguments most advance,

the digital movies and unnatural nosh,
to stick with real tomatoes, real brioche

and real stars like Adjani and Binoche
‘No art without the resistant of the medium’:




our own resistance to the murderous tedium
of business culture lays claim to the real
as product, no, but as its own ideal —

live seizures in the flux, fortuitous archetypes,
an art as fugitive as the life it snaps

tracing the magic of some primitive place
in the last retrenchment of the human face,

gossip and pigeons, close-ups by Kertész
the young Diana in her London crèche. **

(ref: Kertész 1894-1985, groundbreaking photographic composition)
(most famous photorgraph…”La Forchette” )

(** ref: Poem is dedicated to J. Minihan took the icon foto of Princess Di)

Us snappers-ups of photogenic details,
yourself a snapper of immortal souls,

resist commodity, the ersatz, the cold,
the schrecklichkeit of the post-modern world,

that the sun-writing of our resistance days
shine like Cape Clear glimpsed in a heat-haze

(ref: Irish name: Cape Cléire, lies south-west of County Cork in Ireland.)


After so much neglect, resolved anew,
creative anarchy I come back to you,

not the faux anarchy of media culture
but the real chaos of indifferent nature —

for instance, my own New Year resolution
is to study weather, clouds and their formation,

going straight to video with each new release
untroubled by the ignorant thought police.

I wish you good light or a light in a mist
safe from the critic and the invasive tourist,

a Munster twilight far from the venal roar
where waifs, and strays can beat paths to your door,

unseasonable creatures, ears against the sky,
and timorous things that wouldn’t hurt a fly,

conceptual silence, the best place to live —
Que faire d’une lampe, il pleut, le jour se lève’:

real daylight keeps on breaking, in other words
So, love to Hammond and the karate kids;

(ref:  Minihan and his family, In 1988, John met Hammond Journeaux, a “lovely” woman from New Zealand, at a dinner party in London, who “blessed” him with two sons – Emmet, now 23 and living in London, and 19-year-old Bosco.


down silent paths, in secret hiding places,
the locked out-house that no-one notices,

listening for footfalls by a quiet river
the sun will find us when the worst is over

when everyone is in love, our children laugh
at the gruff bloke snuffling in the epigraph

and in the window-frame a persistent fly
buzzes with furious life which will never die.


Derek Mahon:






#Poetry Ailbhe Darcy “Insistance”

  • Author: Ailbhe Darcy
  • Title: Insistance   18 poems  and  I liked  just 1 !!
  • Published: 2018
  • List of Challenges 2019
  • Monthly reading plan
  • #TBR  challenge update  
  • Read 22/43 books that I purchased in 2019!
  • NOTE:  all comments are my personal reactions to the poems
  • ….A. Darcy is an award winning poet and my thoughts should not
  • diminish the quality of her work.

Irish poets I would strongly recommend:


General impression:

I read one reviewer describe Darcy’s poems as ‘…a bit too clever’.
The reader’s ability to understand, interpret and appreciate poetry is different with each person, I agree with this. but….

What makes successful poem?
Accessibility is the extension of a poet to the reader and say
Come here, with me and lets share this experience of language.

What makes successful poem?
A poem written in plain language that can connect with the reader.

What irritates me the most?

I dislike  the quirky poets with visual tricks or dazzle readers with their vocabulary!
Too many poets are cryptic….they think the purpose of poetry is to be cryptic.
Poetry should be plain and simple…but that does not mean it cannot be complex.


My notes:

Conclusion: Hair
Oke…Darcy has a wide vocabulary (simulacra, chyme, fettled, to futz) but IMO does not a great poet make.


Conclusion: Umbrella
Yet another poem that leaves me unmoved…


Conclusion: The Car
Quirky….memory of family car and time in South Bend Indiana.


Conclusion: Postcards from Europe
Bombs, St. Martin, sword swallower…sigh
…this poem did not throw open my imagination
it nearly put me asleep.


Conclusion Mushrooms
Mish-mash of words and random thoughts that don’t make sense to me.
Mushrooms? Really?


Conclusion: Stink
I just lost interest….there is no great message…not emotional buzz
…no humor or creative metaphors.


Conclusion: Nice
Absolutely no emotional reaction
This poem about….cockroaches and robots, please!
I listened to the poet recite this poem…it didn’t improve
the reading experience.


Conclusion: Silver
…..more insects, silverfish. Not for me.


Conclusion: Jellyfish
I read the the article by K. Mathiesen which is the inspiration for Darcy’s poem (The Guardian, 21.08.2015). I could not find a coherent link to the article and the poem with the exception of the word jellyfish. I found the poem an unfathomable rant.


Conclusion: Angelus
Now I thought concept is known “devotional prayer for morning, noon and evening’. That should help me read this 3 part poem.
No. I could not make heads or tails of it.
It’s probably not Ailbhe Darcy’s fault…it has to be me.


Conclusion: Service not included
Try as iI do…I cannot link the 4x mentions of shopping centres and 3 x of hospitals.
I presume the speaker is the poet and imagine she’s referring to her mother-in-law
But only Darcy can confirm this.
…all the references to (mother-in-law??)
— your tears?
— your hands
— your own son
— Your hands
— your way there
— your palms
— your daughters
— your hands


Conclusion: Postcard of ‘Walls of Aran’
What a beautiful photograph….yet I was not able to link this with the long blast of words in Darcy’s poem. Her words made zero impact on me. On the other hand….this image is breathtaking! Getting bored with Ailbhe Darcy
….even if she is considered one of the best Irish poets in a generation! I feel obligated to get through her poems….if I bought the book I should read it.


Conclusion: My son is born
Poems about children example: ….by Katie Ford in her collection Blood Lyrics “Of a child early born” brought tears to my eyes but unfortunately Ailbhe Darcy cannot evoke the same emotion in me.


Conclusion: Election Day
What does this poem have to do with an election day?
Darcy has the ability to write a poem which has
NO relation to the title…that I can discover!


Conclusion: A guided tour of the house and its environs

Rambling on and on…. (excerpts)

This is where the floor slants you can roll a ball
This is where I killed the ants with cleaning chemicals
This tortuous shape represents a salamander squeeze
the distance and it grows it shrinks when we leave it alone
This is where you froze the mouse you’d half killed
This is where you’ll lie down again with me…

Here is the beef we ate for the iron
We have been invited to a wedding in Austin
Here is the deck the landlord built
Here is our herb garden
Here is my bicycle
You bought a waffle iron…

I do not see the poetic beauty in this poem.
I could even write something like this!


Conclusion: Ansel Adams’ Aspens
13 sentences with enjambment for  visual effect.
Repetition of a few phases…
” To tiny Ansel Adams…”

Focus on SKY:
the sky must seem a miracle
the sky bright and bottomless
the sky must seem a matter of fact
the bright black sky
the sky is what it is

Focus on TREE(s)
trees gnarled as the knees of elephants
renders each tree a bouquet of paper
each tree out there glows with itself

What does Ansel Adams want to do?
— toiling after the spirit, not just the body of America.
— the mind beneath he wants to grasp

This was a very nice poem about Ansel Adams photographs


Conclusion: Still
Did I like any of the poems?
I liked  ONLY ONE POEM    “Still”.
I read it and then listened to A. Darcy read the poem.
It was THE BEST poem in the book.



#Play The Weir

Playwright:  Conor McPherson (1971)
Title: The Weir (1997)
Theme: loneliness.   Setting: pub in isolated town western Ireland
Trivia: Won Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play 1997.
Trivia: Was voted one of the 100 most significant plays in 20th C
Genre: pastoral play. It gives the reader a slice of rural Irish life.




1. Explain the title. The Weir In what way is it suitable to the story?
a. OLD – The weir is a barrier whose function originally was a fence made of sticks or wattles built across streams or rivers that trap fish. It acts as a sieve.
b. NEW – The weir refers to a local dam built in 1951 to regulate water and generate power. c. The title is suitable as a symbol between the contrasts in the play: old vs modern; world of folklore vs contemporary life; between agricultural tradition vs 20th C modern development.

2. What is the predominant element in the story – plot, theme, character, setting?
Jack: garage owner, 50’s
Brendan: the owner of the pub 30’s (only listens, no story to tell)
Jim: garage assistant, 40’s
Finbar Mack: a local businessman late 40’s
Valerie: a Dublin woman 30.

3. Who is the single main character about whom the story centers?
Jack: is the main character. He undergoes the greatest change.
b. He is the talkative leader of the barflys, ‘old-school’ Irish,
c. devoted to the national beverage of Guinness.
d. Finbar: (foil for Jack) ‘get rich quick’ Irish real estate man, flashy, content to drink
e. the ‘last beer anyone would choose’ bottled Harp.
f. Valerie: incomer; city folk, drinks white wine; Brendan is flustered….Wine?
g. He finally finds a bottle he received as a gift.
h. When pouring her glass he fills it up as he would a pint.

4. How does the story get started?
The play opens on a stormy night in Brendan’s pub.
b. A rural Irish pub is located in an isolated town in County Leitrim.
c. Brendan, the owner of the pub, opens the bar, fills the till and checks the beer taps.
d. Jack and Jim (his regulars) are gathering for their daily pint.

5. Briefly describe the rising action of the story.
The action in the play is very subtle. The arrival of a stranger from Dublin city, a beautiful woman (Valerie). She has just rented an old house in the area.
The barflys want to impress her or perhaps scare her off (?) …with eerie stories about souls past, spirits present, ghosts and …half-haunted encounters. It is an authentic night drinking with locals who have the gift of blarney.

6. What is the high point, or climax, of the story?
a. 4: Valerie’s true story…(read the play and discover this for yourself!)

7. Discuss the falling action or close of the story.
After Valerie’s story the mood changes.
Jack’s talk with Brendan and Valerie is the last… is a confession.
McPherson bookends the play.
Brendan closes the bar.



  1. This was my first one-act play.
  2. It should be tightly compressed, short,
  3. …with playing time max forty-five minutes.
  4. A single setting (pub) should be a ‘pressure-cooker play’.
  5. The energy should build up, ready to blow off the pan’s cover.
  6. This play is ninety minutes long on stage.
  7. The play felt like it was quietly simmering on the back-burner.


a. Weak point….but not really!

  1. No real conflict. But I’ve learned that play writing is NOT all about conflict.
  2. The power of the play derives from the
  3. power of argument in the dialogue.
  4. The story  about transition….people realize that their
  5. beloved village, rural life is becoming the thing of the past.

b. Weak point…but not really!

  1. I was looking for the ‘lilt of Irish humor, the
  2. …capacity to make rapid and irresistible remarks.
  3. In this play I only chuckled twice:
  4. at the beginning (defect beer tap) and
  5. at the end (who are the Germans, really?)
  6. Perhaps McPherson choses to embed the humor in gestures
  7. …..intonation of the voice that is impossible to relate to while reading a play.

c. Weak point….really!

  1. The play contains 3 ghost stories barflys tell each other
  2. that were not scary.


Last thoughts:

  1. This play does not come to life on paper.
  2. It….MUST have actors to relate the emotions in the dialogue.
  3. I read the play twice before making a conclusion.
  4. I want to see if I missed something


  1. The only way to really enjoy the play is to see a stage performance.
  2. Playwright’s task is to create stories that generate emotional responses.
  3. The rhythm of the language is as important as the words themselves.
  4. Conor McPherson uses the smallness of a tiny Irish village
  5. …in the service of bigness.
  6. He illustrates the difference between fading rural life
  7. …and the encroaching urban lifestyle.

#Poetry Month Gerard Fanning (Irish)



  1. Who was Gerard Fanning?
  2. You probably NEVER heard of him!
  3. Neither had I…
  4. While researching  Black Rock Baths in
  5. The IrishTimes I read an article:
  6. “Poet and Rooney Prize winner Gerard Fanning dies”.
  7. Who was this man?
  8. As soon as I opened the article
  9. …Fanning’s gaze stared past me
  10. without recognition.
  11. I looked again.
  12. There was a puzzling
  13. …melancholy in his eyes.
  14. Where was the Irish lilt?
  15. I knew I had to read his poems.



  1. The title Water & Power is from
  2. …one of Fanning’s  favorite films
  3. Chinatown.
  4. The cover of the book is …
  5. muted fungus-green water
  6. with a tugboat and a few ships
  7. on the far horizon.
  8. How bland can you make a book?
  9.  I found the link b/t  cover and poem  Water & Power.
  10. Fanning dives into the Merrimack River (USA)
  11. ..makes a splash (cover)...with an unexpected result!
  12. Niall Naessens (Irish artist)
  13. has made better paintings than this! (see fotos at end of review)
  14. The popular idiom is
  15. “Don’t judge a book by its cover,”
  16. …warns us to be objective….
  17. the vast majority of readers use the cover of a book
  18. …as a deciding factor in the decision to buy/read the book!
  19. Despite the cover design
  20. I dove into the murky water.

Poem: Offering The Light

  1. The first poem was frustrating
  2. …so not a good start.
  3. The only clue I had was the word scoreboard.
  4. After 2 attempts I finally discovered the poem is about cricket!
  5. to offer the light = take batsmen off the pitch b/c of fading daylight
  6. night watchman = rookie batsman sent out to finish the game by fading light
  7. silly point = field position
  8. bye = extra scored runs
  9. If you don’t know these words the poem makes no sense!


Poem: A Carol For Clare

  1. This is a haunting poem for a woman named Clare.
  2. Fanning dedicated the book to her
  3. but who is Clare?
  4. There is not much information about Gerard Fanning available.
  5. 47 words, 5 stanzas, rhyme (ab-ab-ab-ab-ab)
  6. The poem gives the reader clues…suburbs of Dublin
  7. Philboro, Portobello, Railto, Pimlico and Marino.
  8. It feels like Fanning is describing a life moving from
  9. one place to another with his beloved Clare.
  10. “Lie with your ghost in Marino…
  11. Shepherd the fading decibel.”


Poem: The Railway Guard

  1. This is a description of a walk
  2. from Drogheda…past the church to Marsh Road.
  3. Two young lovers….pause to kiss in the
  4. (lyrical descriptions of flowers) white eel grass,
  5. sea holly and sea lavender.
  6. But the young girl turns whiter than all
  7. the flowers when she meets the narrator’s
  8. grandfather…the railway guard.
  9. What is so fascinating about the poem?
  10. This line:
  11. “…but Clare smiles and whispers….”
  12. There she is again …Fanning’s mystery woman!
  13. Now we know
  14. …Clare must be Gerard Fanning’s mother.


Poems:  that brush at mortality:

The Cancer Bureau

  1. Images of the patient’s puffed belly  being painted with a
  2. “Load Line or the Plimsol mark.”
  3. (level reached when a ship is properly load
  4. “She (nurse) says it will rise and fall in salt water.”

Wide of the Mark

  1. Image of a nurse coaxing a mirror down throat
  2. “Pointing like an idot savant
  3. To the very heart of things.”

The Wards

  1. Images of patient in intensive care
  2. “…after the final blizzard…(stroke)
  3. head lying amongst the strings of the tent.” (oxygen tent)


Playful poems:

  1. Fanning  brings balance in the collection with
  2. …some very amusing poems!
  3. The Watcher’s House – a swallow guards his nest…his Alhambra!
  4. Moving a Garden Shed – describes this Herculean feat!
  5. Looking up – I’m learniing to read poems…”world of fleece’ = clouds!


Best quotes:

  1. These are found in the
  2. impressive last poem Canower Sound (pg 49-55)
  3. 40  couplets…snapshots of Ireland’s west coastline
  4. mixed with the poet’s thoughts that criss-cross
  5. with memories of Venice, Florence,
  6. Tall men like De Valera and De Gaulle,
  7. Western actor Jack Elam and Swedish director Bergman
  8. A poem that reflects changing times and places.



  1. “Waves danced arm in arm
  2. like a couple of swells,”
  3. (stylish grand men of high social status)


  1. Our tide comes and goes
  2. murmuring in the shag and slime of stones.”



  1. The poems are meditative, playful
  2. and some are haunting riddles.
  3. My only regret is I cannot find any biographical
  4. …material about the poet that might enrich my readings.
  5. There are many references to Canada:
  6. Vancouver, Pr. Edward Island, Cape Spear New Foundland
  7. Okanagan, British Columbia.
  8. Fanning must have had a
  9. …close connection to the country
  10. …but I’m clueless what the link was.
  11. Poem: Ludwig, Ruth and I is an other  example.
  12. It took a lot of investigating but I learned that
  13. ..Fanning refers to
  14. Ludwig Wittgenstein.
  15. I still don’t know who Ruth is!
  16. #PoemsArePuzzles
  17. Strong pointFanning is a wordsmith!
  18. He dazzled me with his rich vocabulary
  19. Strong point: Fanning does not go “mythical”
  20. …as many poets do to impress.
  21. It was a pleasent change with no references
  22. to the gods on Mount Olympus  “N”em ( …see post Jericho Brown!)



  1. Here is the audible essence of Gerard Fanning’s poems.
  2. He mentioned this classic
  3. piece of music in the last poem
  4. Canower Sound


Last thoughts:

  1. Don’t be fooled by Fanning’s
  2. …melancholy “baby-blues”.
  3. His poems are so rewarding for readers who are
  4. willing to do some work.
  5. Some of the poems were hard to read because
  6. I had to look up so many of the words,
  7. so there was quite a bit of learning involved!
  8. That is coming from someone that reads all the time
  9. …but I do like a good challenge!
  10. New rule: I put the poetry book under
  11. my pillow + magnifying glass. (..I can never find my glasses in the dark!)
  12. Now I can re-read a few poems in the morning…
  13. while the cat is purring …my brain is still fresh.
  14. Poems have to settle in my mind.


Paintings by  Niall Naessens 

  1. Look at the color!
  2. Why not use these colors for Water & Power?


Brandon Bay, Ireland


Good Morning, Mr Turner



#Shortlist Kerry Group Irish Novel of 2019


Experiment  is a success!

  1. This is the first time I have committed to a shortlist
  2. …and finished it!
  3. I needed a kick-start to keep up my reading momentum
  4. …after 3 weeks #ReadingIreland19
  5. I find that seeing the image of the books on every review
  6. keeps me focused to write a few thoughts and move
  7. on to the next book as soon as possible.
  8. Yesterday I read the last book.
  9. Kerry Group Best Irish Novel 2019
  10. …announcement on 29 May 2019.
  11. Travelling In A Strange LandD. Park – READ #ReadingIrelandMonth19
  12. A Ladder To The SkyJohn Boyne – READ #ReadingIrelandMonth19
  13. The Cruelty MenEmer Martin – READ #ReadingIrelandMonth19
  14. Normal PeopleSally Rooney – READING #ReadingIrelandMonth19


Shortlisted books:  read 5/5


  1. Care worker Maud Drennan is assigned a  difficult client
  2. Cathal Flood…he is a hoarder.
  3. Maud finds herself knee-deep in hoarded junk and intrigue.
  4. What exactly happened to Flood’s wife years before?
  5. Why is Maud haunted by practically every saint
  6. …dishing out some fairly useless advice!



  1. It’s part Gothic murder mystery, part ghost story.
  2. Strong point: humor
  3. I loved the character of Renata (Maud’s partner in crime).
  4. Saints, Dynphna, Valentine  Rita, George, Monica, Raphael  are cleverly
  5. mixed into the narrative with their quirks and sanctity.
  6. Cats that lounge around Mr Flood’s home
  7. …are all named after  writers:
  8. Hemingway – rousing meow with half an ear
  9. Beckett – sightly bored, flicks question marks with his tail
  10. Dame Cartland – sociable Perian with matted rear-end
  11. Burroughs – dour, sneaky, hisses suspiciously in corners
  12. Strong point:  figurative language
  13. Kidd uses many references to maggots, toads trapdoor spiders
  14. cobwebs, earwigs to give the story an ultimate ‘jick-factor’
  15. The Gothic house we read…
  16. “the overgrown steps…ivy peels back from the doorframe sucker by sucker”
  17. Strong point:  similes….compares 2 different items
  18. the room “….like being inside a wedding cake…
  19. …froths of white and gold voile and sofas, plump crescents
  20. …of white leather.”
  21. Emotion:  This is the STRONGEST point of The Hoarder
  22. Kidd makes her characters people that you care about.
  23. Renata, landlady  who emerges each day as Maud walks by her door
  24. “…like a New Age Butterfly from her ground-floor cocoon”
  25. Renata is a life guide for Maud.
  26. She oozes charm in an eccentric way!


Last thoughts:

  1. If you are looking for an engaging, light read
  2. that is riotously funny...this is your book!
  3. I’m looking forward to reading more books
  4. by  Jess Kidd!