Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Avant-garde Apologia

This piece was sparked into being by the reply of an Irish poet, Mary O'Donnell, responding to a long comment on avant-garde poetics, that I had published on a Facebook Poetry page, who wrote:  

This is probably worth writing an article about if you—who are you?—care about what you say. There’s no reason not to.


The article is already written, published, and available for all to read here.

Once a piece of spontaneous speculative experimental writing is written and in the purest meaning 'published', and after i have read the copy, tinkered with it, followed an instinctive editorial process I have always worked by, then arrived at the end of it; any residual desire to read the piece printed elsewhere, to send it out and see it approved of and published by another, evaporates.

I know many will find this perhaps a very perplexing attitude, someone with an experimental writing practice wholly online, that is not engaged in the business of submitting, accruing publishing credits, and constructing a public persona and literary reputation in the usual traditional and transparently orthodox way.

But this is due to a variety of factors. Not least the accident of birth, various personal experiences, and deliberate educational choices made in life. That combined add up to being spiritually blessed by the Tuatha De Danann people of the goddess art with a gift that brought me a uniquely bardic path, instinctive grasp and acquired understanding of what poetry is, where it comes from, and how it works in a person, body and mind, soul and spirit.

I do not worry about my poetic worth, lóg enech, and 'face price' that all Irish poets and bardic luvvies once measured one another's worldly reputations by. 

I have learned how to write and earn a rhyme on a wholly different and ancient literary path and route that leads to learning of and acquiring the keys and codes with which to unlock what others whose journeys in letters do not arrive at the same source of literary inspiration and attainment, perceive as an impenetrable mystery, and consider it a waste of time spending twenty years learning. But to oneself it is merely the Auraicept na n-Éces, Precepts of Poetry.

I am content to be following as coherently as I can in the footsteps of those that came before us. Who lived in letters for 1200 years before all trace of their aristocratic self-publishing manuscript tradition was virtually erased from the public consciousness. But their curriculum, tradition, and literary works are all there residing still in black and white apple pie order, in the original Gaelic and English translation, for anyone to discover, read, love, and learn by; secure in the knowledge they are on the most historically validated, tried and tested, genuine and authentic, living literary path trod by forty unbroken generations of Irish poets.

One crucial factor making me happy out being radically different to others, is arriving later to writing in life than most, after two decades wandering clueless, lost in the dark, working a continual series of short lived manual construction jobs on building sites and later in offices, before what the British Hungarian poet, George Szirtes, calls the secret levers of the universe were operated, and, as if by some otherworldly design, my writing vocation appeared.

Beginning this long route into letters digging, for real, on a shovel, with the old fella, since an early age.

But starting out in literary terms playing Malvolio in Twelfth Night on the school stage as a verbally gifted fourteen year old class clown and would be thespian.

During this earliest schoolboy process of rote memorization learning how to hear, listen, recite and understand what to most at that age is complex and off putting poncey and pretentious Shakespearean verse. But having drunk at a precociously early age a full bardic proof of the English language, the light of a very bright inner flame and life long love of competitive spoken word was lit. And although it came close to going out once or twice, has, touch wood, never left me as a source of succor and escape, especially during the long hard years when I was still yet to write anything down.

And in a typical tale I spent the first two decades of my dream life, reliant on only my youthful good looks and natural unschooled wit. Going nowhere after dropping out in the second year of sixth form to pursue a career in showbiz at the Baskin Robbins concession counter of the Piccadilly Plaza cinema on Lower Regent Street.

Due to a combination of youthful arrogance, delusion, hubris and fate, I was unable to find a way into realizing my earliest childish dream of becoming an actor making a mix of global celluloid blockbusters and art house classics, in between performing seminal roles on the stages of National Theatres across the Anglophone world.

I decided that life was too short to waste another year going the university route, that the easiest and quickest way to realize my dream was quit education and get a job serving ice cream, and wait for Steven Spielberg to order a cone of rocky road and spot the magic behind the costume of a young actory dreamer with a head full of poetry; then make me an offer and whisk me off to la la land to get working on the movies that would cement my early reputation as the next Kenneth Branagh.


 But I learned on the long and difficult sixteen year route ahead that waiting for others to spot and recognize what talent I thought i knew I possessed, meant that the only main stages I was performing on were up scaffolds installing suspended ceilings, and in a trench digging footings.

And so by the time the first piece of spontaneous writing appeared when I was sat at my lowest point in a law office on the Old Kent Road, January second 2001, toiling away depressed, my life a joke, living in a Wood Green bedsit on the 5-9, up at five am and back home at nine pm, an unqualified, underpaid, overworked para-legal desk-jockey reading and writing all day voluminous amounts of information of various kinds, and precising it down into apple pie briefs for London's wealthiest and most successful barristers; I was simply overjoyed that finally the birth into reality of my earliest dream of being a language artist, had begun.

As I sat there miserable at the start of the new millennium, for the first time after a year of wanting to but nothing happening, I began writing what I could see. Fag butts in an ash tray. And from documenting my misery, quickly my mind moved into mapping closest to thought in my own inner voice documenting a two page anecdote that popped out, writing at thought-speed, detached and happy, laughing inwardly and loving this brand new spiritual activity. 

And for the sixty minutes it took to complete, I was lost in my own imagination, joyous, focused, carried away by the new and strange but perfectly natural feeling of doing what I was born to.

And when I woke from the compositional dream and returned to normal consciousness, my depressing joke of a life seemed that tiny bit less miserable than before the writing popped out. And what had just occurred felt very special, very new, fragile, but a slight opening. Thus, after two decades, finally, showbiz had beckoned.

And instead of being an actor saying other people's lines, I could now make up my own, and perform the voices that filled my head on the page, present them and eventually myself perfectly. Remake the juddering stumbling bum brain once bright that had dimmed in light and had nearly gone out. Which was were I had ended up after two decades of utter confusion and not working out how to practically realise my dream of being a language artist.

A light that would be rekindled with joyous effort and much studious cerebral will; return and reignite the flames fanned upon the page by writing and losing oneself in the creative literary process, composing oneself happy, step by self-sustaining joyful step. Exactly, I discovered three years later on stumbling across his prose, as Heaney described his own practice.

A lifelong series of laying down spontaneous literary events, letters on a page, and journeys of spiritual departure and return.

I was just very relieved to have been blessed with this burning gift of imagination by Her now in heaven who gave me birth, guides these hands to move, and of whom now i write in praise. Relieved then, fourteen years before our mother died, that I would no longer have to rely for happiness and love solely on my looks and bare unschooled wit honed on building sites, digging.

Overjoyed that I had the beginnings of a vocation, that I could use the material of my years in silence and put the sorrow and joy to comedic and poetic use on the page, and keep my mind occupied instead of sliding into the second half of life just another working-class English person with an identity trapped in the chains of mental slavery, suffocated and silenced at birth by a thousand year old cultural class system. Its boot on the throat and at the very bottom of it.

The English class system that had its equivalent here in the all pervasive societal control of the Catholic Church. Populated by the cruel single damaged men that culturally and mentally abused, defiled, defined, controlled, oppressed and suppressed the human potential of virtually every single Irish citizen on the island during its worst period of sickening cultural deformation over the first eight post-Independence decades after the establishment of our Republic.

Just one of the scores of millions of working class English people without any connection to, or form of, an individually authentic literary voice with which to register one's presence and kick against the hundreds of millions of pricks in Anglophone culture that decide, judge, and measure every single success, failure and moment that I, they and we individually and collectively spend together on this earth, solely in material and monetary terms.

And so here we are, an accident of birth, alive at this time of electronic virtual reality that has changed how we read and write, and that is entirely responsible for the creation of this wholly online practice of experimental speculative discourse.

Arriving here by setting out convinced I was on the right course if I kept my head down, plodded on, ignored what the shiny shouting highly competitive mass of other ambitious luvvies were acting was the way to do it, and just stuck with the unique unimprovable original set-textual bardic filidh curriculum that produced the vast majority of Her poets, and which I studied to completion in English translation, from 2001-17.

A course of study and curriculum that has only been possible to centre a contemporary practice of spontaneous experimental speculative discourse in since the turn of the millennium. 

Because before that all the voluminous amount of set textual material that makes up what in the original was learned over twelve six-month Samhain to Beltaine semesters, was practically impossible to access unless you lived in Dublin and attended UCD, Trinity college, or the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, and had the ears of, and a willingness to mentor you, the very cliquey and insular Old Irish professors running the Celtic Studies departments.

My vision is the same as the Bellaghy bard's. Once the writing is done, the piece can appear in a million books or one printed copy locked in a drawer and unread by all but the author, but the words, the text, the poem remains the same.

This is the intellectual premise I have always had at the heart of it all. Writing is done solely to make the author happy, that is its goal, anything else is a bonus.

Thanks very much.

Kevin Desmond, paternal grandson of Macroom's Cornelius and Achill's Winifred Masterson, maternal grandson of Bahola's John and Mary English, the loving earthly son of Dublin and Bohla's Pauline Desmond nee Swords, toppa tha whirl, Ma!


Watching this live stream of the second half of the first round aka semi finals of the European Slam Competition, at which our eleventh annual all island slam champion 2017/18, Nuala Leonard, is competing with the national champions of twenty one other European countries, for one of the ten spots in the final on Friday. Mayo abú!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Gerry Potter People's Poet Laureate

Written in response to this Facebook post by Liverpool, North inner city, Vauxhall, Scotland Road poet, Gerry Potter, in which he describes himself as a memorial writer. 'I have always said, memories are the future'. 
 "There's one thing about Gerry that's very important. He has a strong ego but it's an ego that can assert itself without diminishing other people. And I think that's a rarity. It's a rarity in this city, and it's a rarity in the world."   
Roger Hill.
His direct straightforward unapologetically forthright poetic style and way of capturing phonetically in print the real voice has been an inspiration to meself over the years.

I began referring to this adopted Mancunian resident's Scouse voice as England's real poet laureate some years ago when commenting on the Guardian; because what he is doing and the poems he writes memorizes and recites in his one man theatre shows, are truly the voice of the real unashamedly loud proud and out essence of a uniquely inclusive warm kind English culture.

One that is too clever, too creative, too full on, too honest, too real, too peroppa Scouse working-class for your average aspirational would be English courtier page poet of the barely perceptible epiphany, to respond to in anything other than awed, and, all too often, sadly, envious silence.

His sincerely astonishing poetry is authentically amazing, and honestly the most powerfully visceral and memorable I have heard in a live setting in England.

Life-affirming, soul-enriching, and great, in the most positive cultural sense and meaning of this often unthinkingly and tritely deployed adjective.

As my old drama tutor at Edge Hill used to say, it'll turn your cardigan inside out.

And this expert life-long creative genius resides in a live poet with the most technically perfected turn on a sixpence ability I have heard in all my time as a student and listener of poetry voices, both in Dublin for the last thirteen years, and in England for the thirty-seven prior to that.

One that has spent its entire theatrical existence running on stage through the full accentual register of the English language Voice. 

Able to tackle, take on, imitate, and perfectly capture all verbal points of nuance across the two extremes of the English accentual class register. 

From the most nonthreatening and pawshest dahling lahvy poety poos ehn awfleh nace - to a terrifyingly rock 'aard in ye face ooh aaarrgh ye laaargh menace of a dead boss real North inner city Scotty Road Scouse.

And this Old Lancashire language expert and culturally underground legend brilliantly brings the heartbreak, sorrow, and laughter-sounding love song of Liverpool to life in a voice that "takes off like a jumbo jet set for heaven: 
Carrying it's roar on winged prayer, / Jesus is in there, so are Mary and Joseph, / a religious motif kicking like a mule / schooled by gravitas, failed by school. / Gravels like a death rattle / arrogantly assuming Resurrection, / and sometimes can't be aaarsed meet'n makers. /
It's protection against the worst laid / plans of movers and shakers. / Sounds honest, even when lying / 'onest. No denying the conviction it can / carry if it needs to escape. / It'll convince you statues can fly / while drinking ye drink / make ye think you're listening to ye best mate. //
Runs through sewers, floats on / updrafts of gossip and jangle /  it's passionate about Misses Millaney not geh'n a paper tha' day! / I love the way it bounces off walls / and ricochets like a hail of neon bullets / in a hall of mirrors // it's brothers, sisters, a family / of flat vowelers partying in sing-song / intonation.
Dances in hotpants, has nothing to prove / one thousand intonations under a groove, / with kick assonance attitude / a pop-cultured reference, rock 'n' roll, / heart and soul, and rude.
As is usually the way with one off and wholly original working class autodidacts' live and literary voices; few 'serious' page-bound poety-poos of the minor personal epiphany are ever gonna respond to it by volunteering to praise such a superlatively genuine poetic voice, talented and able to capture the essence of us all as this poetry in print.

One that paints the complex messy truths of human existence with the absolute originality of lyrical language that puts Potter up there with the very best in England. 

Indeed live, he is the best. No ifs no buts; just a fact. Or at least opinion of many who have fallen in love with this unique man's imagination, mind, mouth, heart and humanity.

Most Page poets of what Gerry labels, the bourgeois zeitgeist, even though when we see him recite live, and hear this superlative English talent and know that the language we are witnessing is more memorable than the contents of a dozen
bourgeois zeitgeist poets' collections from a hundred Forward Prize long-lists; ninety percent of what we talk about in poetry, and most of what makes it into the broadsheet literary pages, is from the old school courtier Caxtonian networking PoBiz model of the minor personal epiphany. Only ten percent of which contains anything close to the memorability of a Gerry Potter poem.

And because those poets who never dilute, modify, tone down or sell out their working-class identity on a point of principle are excluded from mainstream public conversation in a process of deliberate omission by the administrative pashas, potentates and royalist gatekeepers curating Official Verse Culture's contemporary narrative of what and who is happening in poetry; hence why the average language lover is left to respond when the topic of the best living poet in England crops up, Gerry who? 

An easy self-deception. Nobody else is writing of this poet because there are more artificially 'important', more corporately coddled and PR elevated state-approved and supported next generation this poet, yes generation that poet; and so it is no gen him, him no, her no, reject reject reject. And thus the complete excision of the poems of Gerry Potter from the best of in England lists.

The greatest gob of poetic truth and working-class beauty to have been birthed out of Liverpool speaking song since the days when Athlone native and former literary and political journalist, T.P. O'Connor, was representing in Westminster the constituents of the Scotland Road ward.

Who first secured his seat in Gerry Potter's home electoral constituency as a Home Rule League Party MP, in 1885. 

The first and only MP in history to have been voted in to an English seat on an explicit Irish Home Rule platform; and who served as the MP for Scottie Road until the day of his passing on the eighteenth of November nineteen twenty-nine.

At which time, with unbroken service of 49 years 215 days, he was the longest serving MP in Westminster.

The last Father of the House to die as a sitting MP until Gerald Kaufman in 2017.

And Potter, with a mind much like O'Conner's. Beneath whose bust, fixed on the column of a doorway entrance sandwiched between a Barclay's bank and Sainbury's at 72-8 Fleet Street, London, is a plaque inscribed with the following, that could as easily apply to Gerry Potter: "His pen could lay bare the bones of a book or the soul of a statesman in a few vivid lines."


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

oghamic baffab Fish Ay Bradán feasa

A Lancashire slam babru wow man's response to two of Salmon Poetry Editor Jessie Lendennie's three humanity, laughter, and literary love-comments published on Kevin-Desmond Swords' Ovid Yeats Facebook.

JL: 'Just deleted my second comment. It was mean. Delete delete... Could catch on! Feel free to delete this!'

OY: (I didn't see it. You appeared here when a pal popped in and, a ha, one thought, we will continue with our visual marathon and pick up where we'd left off listening to the brilliant language, midway thru series four of the British C4 comedy Peep Show

We watched a few episodes and i am unaware of what you published then deleted. And so the first paragraph below was written just now, and the rest of it is additions to a long comment published on the Guardian a week prior to this parenthetical address written without having read a mean comment that thus did not enter one's consciousness. Love is winning.)

The Guardian poem of the week the week after Salmon published Gary Whitehead's
'pleasant-voiced' 'subtlety and seriousness, and lightness of touch' in his poem, Uncle; was a Jill Furse Guardian poem of the week nearly five-hundred, that with three hundred comments caused only half the number of contributions and online talk your own poet GW's did the week before. 

Furse was a granddaughter of the poet Sir Henry Newbolt, wife to glass engraver/poet Laurence Whistler; and a poet who Carol our blog leader 'discovered only recently, dipping into Anne Powell’s excellent 1999 anthology, Shadows of War: British Women’s Poetry of the Second World War.'

I posted a tweet-length poem and a delightfully ditzy Leah replied: 'Super. I just got the Salmon anthology. Huge. Is there one by you in there? What year?'


I saw it was published and thought i'd do the Clare faery a favour (the previous week) 'n blurb Salmon's latest on the Anglophone world's most read weekly poetry blog, and mention her name as well, and say how great a poet she is. Just because i can. And of course because she is.

She has great taste in poets, and hopefully one day will take a well earned step back and invite me to become Dán Editor Salmon.

Then i can publish myself.

I did in 2007/8 send Lendennie ten or twelve love poems, but more as a crafty attachment to an introductory fan-letter email sent to thank her for a brilliant Salmon book launch and reading i attended in Dublin, that i added saying i wasn't submitting them but these were some poems i'd written in the few years i'd then been in ireland. She is the only publisher I ever sent anything to, tho technically i can deny it and say i haven't.

The next closest was an editor of a very small poetry publisher who came onto me at Britpo and after sending him some and not hearing back from him, told him privately in an email exchange he could officially cease considering my poems for publication and go fuk himself bcuz ah fawt he wer a divveh. 

This was sometime shortly before or after,  Randolph Healey (and Ian Davidson) published a British and Irish Poetry Jiscmail Ministry of Truth 'admin announcement': 'We are sorry to announce that Desmond Swords' membership of this list has been cancelled'; that banned me from Britpo Wed, 22 Oct 2008 21:27:47 for publishing an experimental speculative discourse on Tue, 21 Oct 2008 at 15:47:52.

This spontaneous satirically speculative discourse got misjudged as a grade twelve mocking on ollamh Bob Sheppard (reading in Liverpool with The Wolf Editor James Byrne) when it is merely obliquely revealing the identity of and naming in a contemporary English language equivalent of berla-filidh to the initiated experimental poetry practitioners and thanking one's very first creative-writing guru whose own professorial practice from where i learned it, is also the speculative discourse of an avant-garde poet from the linguistically innovative school of the British Poetry Revival, and conceptually battle-scarred Edge Hill veteran of Britain's civil 'poetry wars' between the Oxbreligious cheese and wine professional academic straights and Cavalier king and Crown literature directors from ACE, and those kewla bewla crazee 'other' autodidacts and experimental speculative prose and verse pwofeshnul republican round-heads that prefer to bring and sup from our own bottles and cans at live poetry recitals.

With the benefit of hindsight, and a previously absent self-awareness, one can understand how it may well have been that i was unconsciously or subconsciously submitting to her a carrot hoping she would bite, reel me in, start working with me on a launch, and the public 'there' i was (not so) secretly hoping for then, would arrive not even seven/eight years a student on one's made up twelve-fourteen year curriculum. A 'there' that would come with bells, whistles, and a fanfare of broadsheet reviews, years before the end of one's self-made-up bardically inspired writing studies program i'd chosen to undertake in my first year of writing, at home, in Ormskirk's Edge Hill University.

When i first came to Ireland straight after graduating there, i was a (often drunk) feature at Poetry Ireland book launches and reading-events. Everything was new and i was one of the few with a foot in both the grass roots Dublin live poetry scene, and an official Poetry Ireland / Éigse Éireann' scene based in the Unitarian Church.

Where poets from around the world would fall for the ambience and lure ourselves into believing as we delivered our ditties from a raised ornately carved priests' pulpit; that this was poetry and prayer in its most authentic location.

Not seeing what regular audience members do when the initial novelty of church readings have worn off. Viewing from behind the curtain and apprehending the everyday realities and otherworldly theatrics and perceptions that made for such a memorable few year phase in that early stage of one's post-graduate poetic evolution from a kno nowt focloc/nobhed to a fully operational bardic bore.

At the time i'd just created and had a few All Ireland Poetry Slam seasons and finals, with many of the early participants publishing debut collections with Salmon.

The American outsider now insider recognized and jumped right in and brought to notice our then best new live poets who'd completely circumnavigated the usual apprenticeship route to becoming a published poet in Ireland, by building their own live audiences through social media.

Lendennie's Salmon was the one mainstream irish poetry publisher ahead of the curve and fishing upstream closest to to Segais Well at the height of the Celtic Tiger.

At that point pre-2008 Crash, it was a metaphorical Edwardian era of rural Heaneyesque twilight that the other poetry presses were very much tweedily frozen and guilded in. Mired in the old pre-flipped and suddenly reversed Caxtonian publishing paradigm in which the author is submitted and rejected.

Trying their best to totally ignore by the power of silent spiritual Heaneyian will alone, and make go away, the social-media newbs' wave of live fek'n poetry riff-raff and the great untutored masses of all us working-class poetically rural urban voices unleashed by Facebook's user capabilities in 2008.

That had leveled the playing field and made obsolete overnight the old unwritten rule book because now one person can create, organize and advertise live poetry events, and publish their voices globally in ways previously unthinkable without a very large budget even just ten years ago.

As a born and bred Ormskirkian experiencing for the first time Dublin faeryland I became slightly up my own ass and smugly socially dressed in a shiny newly pretentious armor of (one's inner and usually hidden effeminate) 'moi' publicly reading poetry in Dublin every week over the first four years being here. 

Doing the live literary equivalent of an imaginary Beatles Hamburg phase in the capital of the republic of ideas and conceptual poetry, pre-Facebook, on the final intellectually underground scene of hard-partying creative ne'erdowells, all successes and poetic casualties, before the sudden arrival of our shiny new happy huggy luvly and far more inclusive Facebook scene where we raged at the oldies for effing everything in a freshly banjaxed Ireland. Broken by Bertie and Brian, tho at the time most in tir na og Dublin didn't everyone know and blithely behave as if the magic wave would swell and last forever and no waysistaz crash as it did?

And I'd see JL and the Salmon hounds at readings and buy as many books as I could afford, as an excuse to talk at her, and try to impress myself in her mind as someone at the bottom going places in Irish poetry. She'd kindly smile, say little, and politely listen to me wittering on, as the former far less consciously perceptive me, a big iambic Desmond full of Fitzgerald phantasmagoria, hubris and trochaic ego, not stopping to create an opportunity for any real conversation to naturally occur, and for her to join in and talk back. Clearly boring her, but not having yet then copped onto the fact that telepathy in Ireland isn't real and still subconsciously believing it is/was.

Of course, as Ireland's premier poetry publisher, she's no doubt well-versed and experienced plenty of this manic babbling weirdo behaviour in punters at poetry readings before. Blow-ins behaving as if we mistakenly believe we're in some pseudo-mystic fairy express lane-way to global publishing success. Men, the actory language luvvies among us, when a public reciter of our own werkz and figure on the weekly Dublin live poetry scene, 2004-8, especially, can be right up ourselves and often are. I kno i had a few years acquiring a pretentiousness of the newly graduated middle-aged English man living my dream of doing weekly live poetry in Dublin for four years straight at the very excessive and pretentious peak of the Celtic Tiger culture.

Tho not officially retired de jure from the weekly live Dublin poetry scene for the past eight years, de facto i am, bcuz one rarely recites in public now, and i manage to keep a live hand in by reciting to anyone who asks to hear a poem, and very occasionally by launching one out for the sheer craic and momentary magic of whatever situation one is in that creates a spontaneous poetry recital.

Thus that desperate luvvie need to be a centre of attention that oft appears in those live poetry machines of sheer going places fame, naturally displaced itself post-Crash into a less shallow and more personally productive literary production of the silly voices it is one's dream turned true to have found a way of expressing in reality here today fifty foot above the mad swirl in the Liberties of south city centre Dublin 8.

And of course now I realise what a self-obsessed mansplaining weirdo i'll have come across as in this one way boring monologue, infused as one was then with more intuitive vision than any real bardic knowledge. A focloc or macfurmid at bardic grade one or two, with a beaming wide-eyed grin and verbal diarrhea spontaneously ejecting in a north-west working-class English voice garbled cut-up snatches of perfectly formed silent sentences that existed alive conceptually in the mind but one's mouth had not the skill or training to formulate them into living speech.

Most believe that telepathy doesn't exist, but one was behaving as if it did, as if we were both in on the same thought inside my head; and me not copping on (for many years) that just because one understands and knows something inside one's own mind, doesn't mean other people will automatically know this by reading my mind, and understanding it too. Thus the peyure komedy of silent poesy is mistook for its outer inarticulate and garbled spoken form of prelapsian babbling tongues.

I attended and wrote to thank her for another great Salmon book launch, spontaneously decided to, and probably a large element of self-delusion as to my real motives for writing, really hoping the email would lead one to get published by her. And tho being too emotionally fragile for the self to be conscious of this, one's creative subconscious still found a way to cloak, perhaps, one's true desire in a literary self-protection and imaginative delusion and conceptual act of dream that was here from when one first cycled off the boat in July 2004. As i think i told her at one reading, when i'd been writing seven or so years, half way thru my studies, that Salmon was the one irish publisher i'd opt to flog my ditties.

I was writing to Gallery Press's David Wheatley a lot then also, in long rambling typo-ridden syntactically bungled spontaneously composed comments posted to his blog, that he pre-moderated and that would begin, 'don't publish this dave', and then launch into self-obsessive screeds of one's latest inward cauldron and calculus on the current state of perception in Irish poetry as per one individual's unique experimental speculative discourse process that Jessie had a part in with the one or two emails i sent her. Eventually becoming a Facebook friend and now a valued member of team OY.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Contemporarty Reflection on a Scene Seven Years After It Occured

I think in this day and age, anyone with a book to sell can just set up a facebook page and do it all ourselves. As Graves informs us in his first of the 1954/5 series of Cambridge Clarke lectures, The Crowning Privilege; 'what can our peers sanction us with if we are guilty of unpoetic conduct?'

Concluding, in politer lingo, Sweet F. All m8. Because, unlike other professions, there is no central governing bardic body, no guild of poets we gain admittance to by passing an entrance exam. Anyone can (and everyone does) call themself a poet by self-qualifying in a handful of clicks it takes to set up a global social-media page and start selling ourselves straight away as know-alls on the craft and art of poetry we make up as we go along.

Anyone can, and everyone does, get grafting write away. There are no set texts or fixed course of study and you qualify by saying, yeah, i am a poet. Except of course, now, there is the real filidh / poets' instruction and training programme i personally have reconnected with, all there in black and white english translation, that instructed 40 generations of rhymers, and that it is my role in life now i am trained and know what i am on about, to helpfully inform one's komrades in the Official Tuatha De Bogmanadon Klan revolution, all about it. Ah, such bliss.

I've no book to sell, just lots of poems in various stages of completion and abandonment.

And Tho i didn't understand it at the time as being such, a consequence of being born into and reared the child of immigrants in the English class system and culture; I always thought, from the very beginning, when i started my writing studies and drama BA in England and quickly fell into writing early (unpublished) poems, that the only sure fire way of making sure a toxically condescending ultra-Oxbreligious English voice didn't intentionally cripple me and stop me writing altogether - when i first started out a 34 year old ex-everything - with just one smart and sneery passive-aggressive crack - 'urgh, you, write poatreh?' - that i wud learn as best i cud, with what English translations we have, as close to how the bards of yore were taught on the full 12-14 year filidh curriculum.

Not only is it real, i thought -- tho it took five years full time study and writing to construct a skeletal grasp of the totality of tales and texts that make up this body of ancient Irish knowledge and song known as coimgne -- but it also meant i did not have to 'publish' anything for the 12-14 years i was a student reading, writing and taking in and on the texts and knowledge that led one thru the seven grades from focloc (beginner), macfirmind (son of composition), dos (no-one knows what this means), cano (whelp/cub), cli (ridgepole), anruth (great/noble stream) and the final, five to seven year stretch of study, from great/noble stream to poetry professor, and, ollamh

No pressure.

All i had to do was find a way to keep on reading, studying, reciting and writing. And now i have done it, i no longer care about being 'published' because i learned that good writing stands on its own two feet and doesn't need any marketing to get noticed and create an audience. All the hard graft pre-web generations had to do, not to mention rejection; our new online hipster bogcando generations, didn't.

Or rather, do, but in a different way. I had four years on the Guardian where i was poetry enemy number one, two, three, four, five, six, seven,  going thru hundreds of nom de plumes, and countless other sites that banned me because the jealous admin/poet didn't like my harmless writing, at all.

The one constant i found is human nature, and it confirmed and conformed to all the druidically simple and amazingly ingenious, natural bardic principles one learns in Amergins Cauldron of Poesy ars poetica text that so few of us, Dear Reader, are even aware exists.

And most who are, closing their ears and not wanting to know because, as Fred points out, they want it all now, the readership, the big prizes for one slim volume of work four years after starting to write on the MA at Trinity, handed to us on a golden plates, inner circle greatness. That can only come by the act and experience of writing, and doing your 20,000 hours, 30 hours a week. The full 12-14 year poetry / filiocht apprenticeship.

The first successful online oiwish gobmen and shouty lady poatz, just made a few right moves, got the right people to anoint em, and bingo, the next thing is a loada smug poatz all playing the same old editorial ass-kiss game online, as those that officially anointed em did, and do, in the paper page scene founded on a concept of 'there can be only an exclusive handful of us, award-winning poetry judges and mates.'

The first were our shared literary enemies, the O'Bigggins of the over-hyped O'Boglands' canon shooting blanks. Duffers believing themselves to be the mutts' nuts, the bluntest satirists in Awyerlendz, and Poetry Lords of the Diva De Bogmanadon Klan, ranting and shouting, demanding cynosure and twinkle, praise and understanding for their horrendously needy egos lording it over all of us.

I never bothered with all that. After i found Cauldron of Poesy in 2005, Amergin Glúingel's seminal ars poetica, first translated in 1978, by late Galwegian acadmeic, PL Henry - the authentic drudic poetic, in a 7C voice, 120 lines of the 172 attributed to Amergin - i knew i didn't have to. Because its contents, wise and authentically druidic, are worth more than any acceptance from every poetry editor on the planet combined.

Who cares what these editors that aren't even aware of what i know and love, think of what i write? I cudnt give a monkeys, and never have. Mayo stock. My paternal Grannie was born and reared in a one room stone bothy with her nine siblings, on the lower slopes of Sraheens bog on Achill. I cud be the new John F Deane. My uncle lives in Bun an Churraigh, same place John grew up. We share the same God. He has asked me to succeed him, to inherit his mantle, and do it for Mayo. I am not going to let JFD down, Fred. This is serious. We cannot larf.

And now i have finished the 14 years, i can put up a plaque and start taking people on on any published page in our shared contemporary global existence. Engage in any critical debates about poetry and dán, and never fail to learn something positive and, hopefully, keep myself happy doing so. I spent many years practising critical debates online, all over the internet, at every single site i cud find. Most of which, at some point, banned me, for nothing more than wanting to joyfully learn the bardic curriculum.

The Foetry Poundation famously closed itself down to comments after Foetry Hall of Shame creator and contemporary American poetry legend, Portland Community College librarian, and the man who exposed who was bunging who on a hitherto, as here, hidden behind the scenes judge-mates-bunging-judge-mates way of deciding whose poetry was the best Award Winning in the American noughites poetry prize-scene; Alan Cordle - along with partners in rhyme from the Foetry exposure days, Interdisciplinary Studies Advisor in the MFA Poetry of Lesley University, Cambridge, MA; Thomas Graves; along with 60s Rhodes Scholar and literary mystic taught by Leavis in Oxford, now octogenarian shamanic healer in SE Asia, Christopher Woodman -- & myself -  the sole non-American - living in a Kilmainham attic penthouse-bedsit, at the time, before i moved to the Iveagh flats; unconsciously and independently, were all drawn by fate/poetry and dán, to find ourselves in the inaugural Obama campaign year, druidically assembled in 2008/9 there, at the inner temple of the Foetry Poundation, home and soul of poetic modernism, on the comment section of Harriet Blog. And we exposed the Foetry Poundation for what it was.

Anyway, now, everybody, we can all start to talk about what is the real imbas forosnai that writes the best dán and poetry, instead of all the pompous spontaneous claptrap we can all invent when we get going as a fully (un)qualified rhymer without any real bardic training. .

I just want to learn by rehearsing in print, the real truth of the filiocht / poetry program. Not what Ezra Pound or The Best Contemporary Hipster Poet In Ireland According To His/Her Publising Cronies W***king One Another Off Shout Loudly IS YAWL, on our low-grade home-bog social-media shark-tanks where eff all happens except us all boasting how great we are via the mouths of our pals in doggerel barking mad-dog sh*** on the Bogland of Poesy.

As a consequence of my amateur unpublished fourteen years unencumbered by all the bullshit everyone else buys into, the Award Winning nonsense; i learned well how to speak across the board with anyone at all. Belinda McKeon i have not read, but she looks nice enough in her photie. I wonder if she is after a good and knowledgeable friend on the page. I can be her pal in letters. I am sure she is very nice, but i will read her and get back to you with my critical opinion. Thanks very much Fredriko ka ka. Ere, av a birra tha besht

Desmond Swords

Monday, August 31, 2015

All Ireland Slam Facebook response to Dublin rapper Inkredible's latest recording

Originally began as a comment on the All Ireland Poetry Slam Facebook, responding to Dublin rapper Inkredible, posting an urban rap recording to the page.

This is my favourite of the Dublin rapper Inkredible's chunes. A current high-viewed recording from the wholly underground Irish urban rap charts, and a genre of rhythmic poetry that i must admit, is not top of my list of personally most sought out or most loved literary lyrical and spoken forms or genres. 
This one tho, They Can't Handle Us, exhibits a flow that is linguistically impressive because it exhibits a sheer authentic lyrical brilliance, that, tho many will not find offensive, i suppose because i witnessed it first ten years ago when Inkredible was a teenager starting out, i admit to being able to purposely air the artistically positive in it.
Combo after combo kicks creative ass and lays down a high bar on the Irish urban rap genre and scene, with its own modes, mores, technical terms, feuds, rap battles and language, populated by rhymers spitting bars created by the gritty urban Irish experience.
Tho i knew next to nothing of the scene before researching it for this piece, there are plenty of Irish hip-hop practitioners and urban rappers out there. 

I have come across before in Dublin at poetry events the very talented Finglas rapper Temper-Mental MissElayneous, aka the poet Elayne Harrington, but only now whilst researching this piece, other Dublin rappers with handles such as Equalizer, Lethal Dialect, Nugget, Siyo; Limerick's (and one of Ireland's) current hottest young rappers (his first DIY youtube recording, at a bus stop, released eight months ago, has over 1 million views on just one account, and his one year old fb page 193,000 likes) Lynchy

There's Cork outfit, Rebel Faction, Sligo-London's Ahren-B; and another Sligo hip-hop trio, that I chanced across one weekend doing a gig in the vibrant music grass-roots music venue, the Sweeney Mongrel pub, on Dublin's Dame Street; This Side Up, and remember being very impressed by their positive lyrical flow. And I think the only Irish hip-hop outfit I have actually seen live

And  adding to that another of Ireland's hottest hip-hop rappers, that I had not heard of before researching the piece, Waterford's MC Pat Flynn, whose ten month old youtube audio recording, Get on Your Kneez, accounts for over a quarter of the four million views of the seventy youtube recordings on the ten month old Irish Rap Movement Youtube Channel, that has 20,000 subscribers.
All this is new to me, and there are no doubt plenty of urban Irish rappers I am not aware of that should also be in here. And this is only the white contingent.

I have witnessed plenty of talented Afro-Irish rappers and poets, including this South African rapper who was always at Write and Recite, JoJo, who unlike the urban Irish rappers, rapped in the name of Jesus Christ, with a beautifully simple and positive message of Love. This was his signature piece, African Queen, along with Does God Exist

And from this I discover Dublin rapper, Rejjie Snow, with two albums released, 37.4 K followers n Twitter, a million views on his two year old track, Lost in Empathy; and  half a million views on his latest two month old release, All Around the World

Tho the language in most of what I have linked to, with a couple of notable exceptions, is not my cuppa, it is only now researching this piece, that I have become aware of just how big and poised for global success Irish hip-hop and rap is. 

And tho we do not have to like or practice it as a compositional form, it is foolish, once we become aware of the buzz surrounding it, not to  acknowledge Irish urban rap and hip-hop as a globally popular form. In terms of the audience for, and interest in, Irish urban rap and hip-hop, it dwarfs that for the average mainstream Irish page and spoken word rhymers.


But i remember first coming across Inkredible's piece, They Can't Handle Us, and being impressed with only the creativity of rhyming, and clear passionate love of language, however satirically toxic, but the quality and inventiveness of the recording. 
A shoestring budget that looks classier than the outlay would suggest. With a great mix and use of musical sound and verbal irony - 'we're from the place where track-suits are the fashion' - that exhibits the person making it, is not a novice on the fruity loops but a seasoned veteran of this wholly nu contemporary poetic DIY urban Irish battle rap and hip-hop genre he has been plodding away at the cutting edge and forefront of since 2004/5.

I remember Mr Inkredible, as he was then known, first turning up to the weekly poetry open-mic in Brogans at the start of the Write and Recite (2004-8) WaR at the height of the Celtic Tiger bubble, a precociously talented teenager, with no paper, reciting from the 'dome' as i first heard Raven Aflakete put it. And i remember thinking this kid is gonna be either very good, or very shit. Just a huge and confident presence.

And he blew the room away. One of the most memorable nights i recall there. And then the busking with an artist who, because of their long-bearded appearance attracted the moniker of 'God' (aka mike), who had that unique gift of genuinely spontaneous flow, and the unacknowledged godfather of contemporary Dublin spoken word, Noel Sweeney, plying now his rhymes elsewhere; and the whole mad swirl. 

I was with you and mike the very first time any of us busked, or maybe second for you, and we all did our own thing opposite the statue of the sitting couple and bike-lock frames outside the then fish tackle shop, Rory's, in Temple bar, height of the Tiger.

And i was only doing it for the craic, an old geeza with the young bucks. and i got the first quid in the hat. Pissed meself laughing. The oldsta with me wafty lofty poems of faeries and the sidhe, gerrin the first dough in the hat. Yeah, that was the only time i bothered, but then Inkredible and 'God' really took off as a double act, and learned lessons few are lucky or creatively daring enough to ever take on, literally by busking spontaneous rhymes on the streets of bubbalin Dubalin town. Not many doing it then, i recall, just us nutbags.

Good old days, and Inkredible still in his twenties. And a wicked hooky beat to it, bouncy, peroppa woppa; and the very last thing the polite spoken word sets of bubbalin dubalin tewn wud invite to recite at the very tastefully and officially approved of do's custoded by the crazee fukas that say fuk a lot and peroppa woppa and deadly and love it and all that shallow shit we luurv baby.

'. with an I and a N and a C and a REDIBLE, yu'd betta woch up it's Mister Inkredible: 'original, traditional, indigenous, i'm original, clinically clinical, individual, no principles, invincible missile-pistol, i cripple little artificial spittle, i'm international, an actual land mammal cannibal with mandible, adaptable animal, my pallet does spit flammable, i'm untrackable, yeah you're trackable, we're not compatible, you're flow's collapsible, mine's impassable, like impossible obstacles on top of all you popsicles, i'm logically logical, philosophical chronicle, yeah..' .. very verbally inventive. imo.

But this one, yeah, tho the only bruv of five girls, i wudn't be mad on some of the terminology (very anti- it indeed), and unlike some of the more scankier inkredible stuff, it just about gets away with it, (imo). A cheeky brilliance, cocky yet comedic, wholly authentically genuine contemporary Dublin urban note struck; and, above all, proof in the pudding - thousands and thousands of people watching and liking it across the world. And which will bring - especially in the ultra-competitive genre Inkredible is a success in - a lot of negative energies from fellow ultra-competitive urban rappers sporting and competing with one another in this form.

That, as has been noted, is not everywuns cuppa poison. But as Amergin in the Cauldron of Poesy text, only first translated into English in 1979 (by late (2011) Galwegian academic P. L. Henry) - and used, along with many other texts, including core text (first published in English translation in 1917) Auraicept na n-Éces / Scholars Primer to instruct forty generations of literary filidh/poets of Ireland since the dawn of the written word - puts it during the druidic/bardic crossover, from a wholly oral reality, to the birth of post-Ogham page/stage reality, in the 7C Old Irish vernacular written language: one of the four human sorrows is 'jealousy', and one of the corresponding four human Joys of poetry is 'the joy of health untroubled in the abundance of goading one receives when they take up the prosperity of bardcraft.' 

Good luck, s/he god creation and the unknowable order of unconscious chune - bless our souls with song and our hearts with love. May we all live forever and never grow up, old, or lose the flow of what it is we're here for as poatz and Her earthly loving servants ov tha peroppa woppa wurda singing n spittin chewns from tha royal boozaliars ov bubbalin tune. slainte.

I posted this to Poetry Ireland's now extinct FB group page during the two week long artistic kerfuffle and conversational consultation process i initiated by directly questioning the one-message 'community extinction notice' that had been buried under a daily diet of scores of ditties and doggerel posted from all over the world.

A one-message only group notice of its deletion/shut down, that all but me seemed unaware was gonna occur, as it had been served without any real notice. And (i was the only one to point out) the 3000 members with less sharp poetic faculties harmlessly spamming our ditties and doggerel, would wake up and feel very intellectually cheated on the allotted day to find our 'community' no more.

Made extinct as the result of a unilateral decision made by an incoming team of unknown faceless arts bureaucrats and the custodian of the social-media page and web presence of an island-wide poetry body tasked with the important role of praising whatever in language is well made.

i put this one on as part of the chatter i was doing, joyfully creating and sporting in letters, extolling the virtues of gangsta rap as - love/hate it - Kredible's cultural compositional form of contemporary rhythmic lyrical poetry exhibiting a very creative use of language that fulfills any ancient authority's definition of the word. Horace especially.

It does proper do the heads in of many a posh south dub dreamer yearning to be Famous 2. good luck, love to the family. healing hugs and positive energies being beamed from the Leburtaze! Sloppy Bob.