Friday 2 October 2020

In memory of Derek Mahon, 1941-2020


Today I am looking at the London rain and crying over the loss of Derek Mahon, who has died at the age of 78. 

Mahon meant as much to me as Heaney, if not more. He was a wry and delicate poet, a great stylist who could make a photograph in your mind or share a personal event and radiate it outwards to larger meanings. I have been reading him for decades and I cannot believe he is gone. So many of his poems are close to my heart. 

I would have a hard time choosing a single favourite poem by Mahon - so many come to mind, including 'Courtyards in Delft', 'A Disused Shed in Co. Wexford', 'The Chinese Restaurant in Portrush', 'Dog Days' - the list is long. 

One of my strongest contenders, however, is 'Kinsale' - a perfect short poem which captures a place, a mood, and optimism in the face of Ireland's difficult histories. 

Here is a video recording of 'Kinsale' released just a few weeks ago, read by Tony O'Donoghue and produced by Made to Measure Films Kinsale. I love this poem dearly and think of it often. 

I will always miss Derek Mahon. 

Photo: Derek Mahon in Moscow, 2010. Photo by Marina Masinova. Used under Creative Commons license CC BY-SA 4.0

Thursday 1 October 2020

National Poetry Day 2020: Vision


Today is National Poetry Day in the UK, and the theme for 2020 is 'Vision' or 'See It Like a Poet'. There are many wonderful resources and poems available on the National Poetry Day website, and a lot more out there generally on the internet (even more so than usual this year, of course...) 

Wandsworth Art has done a 'Wandsworth is poetry' feature to mark the occasion, and delightfully, I am included as a Battersea/Wandsworth poet, alongside excellent contemporary poets and the greats of the past such as Edward Thomas and Thomas Hardy. You can read it here: 

(Thank you so much to Hilaire, another poet who lives locally, for getting me on this list!) 

Black Bough Poetry's 'Deep Time Volume 1' issue, published in print during the summer, is now also online and includes my poem 'Open Ocean'. You can download it here. Buying the print issue is also highly recommended, particularly as the artwork is beautiful and more so in print. You can buy it here in the UK and also on Amazon in other countries. 

Muse Pie Press, who have published several of my short poems over the years in Shot Glass Journal, recently crowd-sourced a 'pandemic poem' from writers who they have previously published. We were asked to contribute a line responding to our feelings about the COVID-19 pandemic, which could then be woven into a long poem. You can now read the ambitious and startling result here. I could ask you to guess my line, but rather than do that, I'll tell you that it's 'Waking to light's anxiety - the distance of all things'.