My second poetry collection Hare’s Breath will be launched at Books Upstairs on Sunday 26th November 2023 at 2.30pm. I’m delighted to say that John Murphy, who is an extraordinary poet and writer, will introduce and launch the book for me. John, along with fellow Hibernian poets, Amanda Bell and Jane Robinson were good enough to write some very kind words for the back cover also.
My first collection After The Fall was published almost exactly six years ago, and I hope this collection builds on the themes and styles that emerged in that first book. I’ve had time to write plenty of poems and choose what I hope will be the best selection of my work during that period. Certain themes recur, of course; the passing of time, family, memory etc., but I hope also that poems reflect the world we live in too, its anxieties and concerns about the future. I think it’s a collection that looks back and forwards at the same time.
If you’re around Dublin on the 26th I would love to see you at the launch. If not, maybe you get a copy directly from Salmon Poetry or from your local bookshop.
Platform One Writers Event for Poetry Day Ireland 2023, organised by
Unacknowledged Legislators of the World
Tallaght Library: Poetry Day Ireland Platform One
Written by Eileen Casey
The Unacknowledged Legislators of the World aims to focus on the
tradition of poets such as William Blake/Shelley, (including more modern
These poets sent out distress cries, highlighting physical, political
and spiritual abuse of power. Poets who used their poems as a container
for distress cries (S.O.S.) which in turn became significant ‘messages in a
bottle’ washing up on shores they had the vision to imagine.
Platform One writers (Eileen Casey, Doreen Duffy, Brian Kirk, Michael
Whelan, Susan Condon, Vivienne Kearns, Orla Grant-Donoghue, Brigid Flynn, Joan
Power) will read their own original poems inspired by these much-respected
The event will take place on the main floor of Tallaght Library where
the audience will have an opportunity to voice their views on the power of
poetry to influence policy makers in a world beset by social and environmental
issues. Poems will be displayed throughout the library for the duration of
Poetry Day, 2023.
Every year around this time I compile a roundup of what I’ve done from a writing point of view during the old year. This year started out being all about the novel but ended up being grounded in poetry. This is also the first year in a long time when I haven’t published a single short story. I have written a few recently so hopefully that will change soon.
I’m still on the look out for a publisher for my Novel Fair 2022 winning novel Riverrun, and I intend to continue to work on that in 2023. But, as I say, the year has been all about poetry. My workshop group, The Hibernians, began to meet again in person in The Teacher’s Club in September and it’s been great to be able to engage face to face with friends and fellow poets again.
So, here’s a quick round up of how 2022 looked from a publication point of view.
My sonnet sequence Nightbrooding 3, 4 & 5 were featured in the World Poetry Tree anthology in January 2022.
My poem Sun was published in Crannóg Issue 56, Spring 2022.
My poem Workshop was published in The Stony Thursday Book, No 18 Winter Issue, edited by Annemarie Ní Churreáin in December 2022 (see cover image above).
In 2023 I hope to have news on my next poetry collection and also I’ll be chasing down a publisher for my novel Riverrun. I’ve started work on a new novel set in London in the 1980s, but it’s early days still on that. I want to write more short stories also next year with a view to publishing a collection of the best of them in the near future.
I read a lot of fiction and poetry this year too. The highlights in terms of fiction were Herzog by Saul Bellow, Lucia Berlin’s A Manual for Cleaning Women, Pale Fire by Nabokov, A Provincial Death by Eoghan Smith and The Deadwood Encore by Kathleen Murray. Kevin Power’s essay collection The Written World was very entertaining and informative, as was his Stinging Fly guest lecture delivered at the final Bray Literary Festival in September.
Poetry collections I read and admired included The Wrong Heroes by Eamon McGuinness, Depositions by Anton Floyd, The Last Spring of the World by Maureen Boyle and Phantom Gang by Ciarán O’Rourke.
I look forward to an exciting year of reading and writing and attending readings and launches in the real world, hopefully.
In the meantime I leave you with my poem The Last Days of Pompeii which was featured in Poetry Ireland Review, Issue 137, in the summer. Of all the poems I published this year it’s the one that I’m happiest with, in terms of ambition, range and tone. I hope you enjoy it!
Best wishes for a happy Christmas and a peaceful and fruitful new year!
This year the Bray Literary Festival runs from Thursday 29th September to Sunday 2nd October 2022. We have a huge list of great writers with over 18 events running over the weekend, including Booker Prize nominated Claire Keegan, Donal Ryan, Nuala O’Connor, Kevin Power and many more. You can download the very exciting programme here.
The poetry and flash competitions were extremely competitive this year and the shortlists have now been published. The winners will be announced at the special BLF Culture Night Event in Bray Town Hall on Friday 23rd September, which also features singer-song writers Catherine Ann Cullen and Imogen Gunner, and poets Supriya Kaur Dhaliwal and Emily Cooper.
Personally, I’m looking forward to hosting three events over the weekend. On Thursday 29th September, ‘Unlocking the Senses’ with poets Mary O’Donnell, Mark Granier and Ciarán O’Rourke. On Friday 30th September, ‘Northern Voices’ with poets Maureen Boyle, Stephanie Conn and Glen Wilson. Then on Saturday 1st October I’ll be hosting an event celebrating 40 years of UK publisher Dedalus Books where I’ll be talking to publisher Eric Lane alongside recent Irish Dedalus authors Eoghan Smith and Dara Kavanagh.
There are workshops available also with excellent tutors: Gerard Beirne, Rosamund Taylor, Colin Dardis, Maeve O’Sullivan, Éilís Ní Dhuibhne and Geraldine O’Kane.
This is, I believe, our best programme to date and I’m really looking forward to it. However, it will also be our last BLF. Tanya Farrelly, founder and Festival Director, explains the reasons for this decision in a recent piece for the Irish Times.
I hope to see you there this year for what will surely be a great celebration of all things literary!
I was honoured to be asked to launch Anton Floyd’s new poetry
collection ‘Depositions’ on World Refugee Day 20th June 2022. Anton
is a fine poet and good friend, and his new collection is an important and
impressive achievement, concerned as it is with the traumatic experience of
exile and displacement.
core of the collection consists of 120 tercets borrowing something from
the haiku/senryu format, a selection of which has been translated into 20
languages, many by people who have a direct experience of displacement. This
short form section seeks to articulate the experiences of asylum seekers at
each stage of the experience, the trauma, both in physical as well
as psychological terms. There are longer poems at the beginning and
end of the collection that meditate on war and the aftermaths of conflict. The
final section consists of a group of poems about the current tragic
situation in Ukraine.
songs also feature in the collection, Love in a Time of War and
Peace Will Come, the latter striking
a hopeful note at the end of the collection. The music for both songs was composed
by Bulgarian maestro, Alex Zografov.
wife Carole Anne and his son Aodhán, (both artists) designed Anton’s first
collection Falling into Place (Revival Press) and have now,
between them, designed the cover for Depositions. Carole
Anne made the painting and Aodhán the layout of the jacket.
Ukraine crisis has tragically given the collection an added
relevance. The founder of The Pharos Arts Foundation in Nicosia, Garo Keheyan,
(https://www.pharosartsfoundation.org) has agreed to a Cyprus launch
in October 2022 in collaboration with the Irish ambassador there. There’ll be a
launch in Limerick and one in Cork also. The launch in Dublin is supported by
UNHCR – Ireland. The agency will place Depositions on its list
of recommended books and all proceeds from sales will support the work of UNHCR
Every year around this time I compile a roundup of what I’ve done from a writing point of view during the old year. This year we’ve continued to try to learn to live with Covid 19 as best we can. Personally, I’ve been lucky up until now, but this Christmas Covid caught up with us and we couldn’t have the Christmas we planned. Fortunately, we are all vaccinated and boosted and we don’t appear to be suffering too much so far. However, being confined to the house, we miss the walks and interactions with nature that usually sustain us at this time of year. But we have each other and plenty of books and Netflix and food and drink so things could be a lot worse.
Having been granted a Professional Development Award
by the Arts Council at the end of 2020, this year was all about the new novel.
I had already done some work on Riverrun before I used my Arts Council Award
to enrol in the online Novel Writing Course with Faber Academy in London. The
course ran from January 2021 right up to September when I submitted my opening
15,000 words for assessment by my course tutor, novelist Peter Benson. Throughout
the year we covered many aspects of the novel and read and critiqued each other’s
work in what was an intense and intensive writing regime. The nine other
writers I worked with were really supportive. Their honesty and incisive
comments helped me come to grips with the fundamental issues of my novel. Peter’s
assessment came back in October, and I was more than pleased with how positive
he was about where I was going with the story.
In August I was granted a further Agility Award by the Arts Council to continue work on the novel and I kept working steadily throughout the autumn and winter. I entered Riverrun in the Novel Fair run by the Irish Writers Centre in September, more in hope than confidence, and I was delighted to get a phone call in early December to say I was a winner. I firmly believe that the Arts Council funding and the level of focussed engagement during the Faber Academy Course allowed me to apply myself to this novel in a way I never could before. I realise how lucky I am – having been commended twice before in this competition – to be given the opportunity to bring my work to the attention of agents and publishers in February at the Novel Fair.
Working on the novel so much meant that I didn’t write
as many stories or new poems as I normally would. But all the same, I published
three stories and twelve poems during the course of the year.
Here’s a quick rundown of everything writing-related that
happened for me in 2021
My story The Creaseless Society was
shortlisted for the Poetry on the Lake short story competition and was
published in the anthology Off Centre.
My poem The Invisible House was
runner up in the Trim Poetry Competition by judge Jean O’Brien.
In December my novel Riverrun was
chosen as a winner (along with 11 other writers ) of the Novel Fair 2022. We will be invited to pitch
our novels to agents and publishers at the Novel Fair on 11th and 12th February
I read even more than usual this year and can’t begin
to name all the books I’ve enjoyed, but here goes. In terms of novels I have to
mention White City by Kevin Power, The Wild Laughter by Caoilinn
Hughes, Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart and Bright Burning Things
by Lisa Harding. Short story collections I really enjoyed include Intimacies
by Lucy Caldwell, A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin and The
End of the World is a Cul De Sac by Louise Kennedy. I read a huge amount of
poetry and really loved Averno by Louise Gluck, The Readiness by
Alan Gillis, Bright Dead Things by Ada Limón, Invisible Sun by
Richard Skinner, Wasp on the Prayer Flag by Maeve O’Sullivan, The
Limit of Light by Grace Wilentz, The Examined Life by James Harpur, Of
Ochre and Ash by Eleanor Hooker, Glass Life by Ciarán O’Rourke, Liffey
Sequence by David Butler and Riptide by Amanda Bell.
There were some excellent anthologies this year also including
Days of Clear Light, a Festschrift for Jessie Lendennie, celebrating 40 years
of Salmon Poetry, Empty House an anthology on the climate crisis from
Doire Press and Local Wonders, a celebration of our immediate surroundings
from Dedalus Press. I was delighted to have poems in each of these.
Plans for 2022
My main aims this year revolve around finding a
publisher for my novel Riverrun at the Novel Fair in February. I’ve also
done some more work recently on my short story collection What Do You
Actually Want? and am keen to find a publisher during 2022. And I’ve been putting
the finishing touches to my second poetry collection, Palimpsest, which I
hope to submit to Salmon Poetry early in the new year.
I also have an idea for a new novel which I hope to
start on very soon and I also plan to continue to write more poems and stories
as the year unfolds.
This year has been very good for me I know. It goes
without saying I’m sure that in this post I’m only mentioning the successes and
publications. My 2021 diary is scarred with rejections and failure as every diary
has been since I started writing and sending work out.
I know we’ve all said it before, but hopefully next
year will see some sort of return to normality – live readings, events and book
In the meantime, stay healthy and well and best wishes
to all for a Happy New Year!
This year in October the Red Line Book Festival celebrates 10 years with a huge range of events, some in person, some virtual. You can view the full programme here.
I’m so happy to be hosting a real live event in the Civic Theatre (my first live event in a long time!) celebrating the short story with authors Deirdre Sullivan and Lucy Caldwell. We’ll hear short readings from both writers and then we’ll get down to the business of the short story, what it is and how it works. ‘The Beauty of Brevity’ takes place on Monday 11th October at 7pm and you can book your tickets here.
The festival is always a cracker and it will run up until 17th October. I intend to see as many events as I can during the week and there’s so much to choose from with events featuring the likes of Colm Tóibín, Kevin Power, Jane Robinson, Nell Regan, Lynn Buckle, Catherine Dunne, Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, Mary Dorcey, Moya Cannon, Victoria Kennefick, Jessica Traynor, Aoife Lyall, Amanda Bell, Eleanor Hooker, David Butler, Annemarie Ní Churreáin, Eimear Ryan, Anrew McMillan, Seán Hewitt and many many more.
I was delighted to be featured in Words Lightly Spoken, a podcast of poetry from Ireland, this week. I introduced and read my poem ‘Small Things’ which is dedicated to Catherine Corless and is published in the anthology, Days of Clear Light, celebrating 40 years of Salmon Poetry and its founder Jessie Lendennie.
You can access the podcast at the following links:
Thursday 29th April 2021 is Poetry Day Ireland and I’m delighted to be hosting an event on behalf of South Dublin Libraries. I’ll be reading alongside poets, Michael J. Whelan and Christine Broe and chatting about creativity and poetry in the current climate. Tickets are free but please book them in advance here: https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/poetry-day-ireland-south-dublin-libraries-local-voices-tickets-148784401149?aff=ebdsoporgprofile
Michael J. Whelan
Michael J. Whelan is a historian and soldier-poet living in Tallaght, South Dublin, Ireland. His debut collection Peacekeeper was published in 2016 and his second collection Rules of Engagement in 2019 both Doire Press. For more information:
Christine Broe has published two books of poetry Solas Sólás and Lifting Light. She is a member of Rathmines Writers Group. She won the Trócaire Poetry Prize in 2019 with her poem ‘The Kerchief’ and was nominated for the An Post Poem of the Year 2019 with the same poem. Her film, Bog Meditation, about her sculpture and poetry won an award in Hollywood independent film festival and is to be shown at Bali film festival later this year.
Brian Kirk is a poet and writer
from Dublin, Ireland. His first poetry collection After The Fall was published by Salmon Poetry in 2017. His poem
“Birthday” won the Listowel Writers’ Week Irish Poem of the Year at the An Post
Irish Book Awards 2018. He was awarded a bursary from the Arts Council of
Ireland in 2020 to write and film a sequence of formal poems on the Covid 19
pandemic. His short fiction chapbook It’s Not Me, It’s You won the
Southword Fiction Chapbook competition and was published in 2019 by Southword
Editions. He blogs at www.briankirkwriter.com.
Brian Kirk is a poet, short story writer, playwright and novelist from Dublin, Ireland. His work has appeared in the Sunday Tribune, Crannog, The Stony Thursday Book, Revival, Boyne Berries, Wordlegs and various anthologies.
Brian's first poetry collection, After The Fall, is published by Salmon Poetry.