Kevin Higgins’s Blair ode in Morning Star and Vanessa O’Loughlin’s book deal

Literary listings: Dublin Book Doctor; Dublin Young Writers; and Foras na Gaeilge’s Brussels boost


It’s not every poet who can claim to have had their work published in the Morning Star, the British left-wing daily, so berets off to Kevin Higgins for this satirical gem. It was written at the suggestion of writer and former Sinn Féin spokesman Danny Morrison after Higgins tweeted: “Tony Blair needs to just go away. I hear he has an article in today’s Observer. I’d rather make love to John Prescott than read it.”

The Ghost In The Lobby (Salmon, 2014) is Higgins’s fourth collection of poems. His poetry also features in Identity Parade – New British and Irish Poets (Ed. Roddy Lumsden, Bloodaxe, 2010) and The Hundred Years’ War: Modern War Poems (Ed. Neil Astley, Bloodaxe, 2014). He is unlikely, however, to feature in Tony Blair’s Christmas card list any time soon.

Blair’s advice

on hearing tell of his column in Sunday’s Observer

Easy to say,

you’d rather make loud love

to Lord Prescott, or have

your face smashed between

Sir Cyril Smith’s quivering cheeks

than read Tony Blair on how

the motorway to the mountaintop

he envisages lies

through the centre ground;

when you know neither

gentleman’s available, right

here right now, to take you.

We need to make voting Labour

as pleasurable

for call centre managers and

estate agents of a certain age

as lowering their roasting

menopausal testicles

into a nice cold bath.

To this end, we need a leader

with ideas thrilling as a dripping cistern,

a man (or woman) likely conceived during a Conservative Association dinner

somewhere in darkest Buckinghamshire;

who, while his or her fellow students

were thoughtlessly dancing the blues,

bravely danced the beige;

a person of exemplary character apart

from that one conviction for stealing

the brass handles off

their own father’s coffin.

We must offer hope

to those who aspire to shop

for gourmet sausage meat

at Waitrose, and not

waste time on people who perspire

as they rifle through packets

of past-their-use-by-date

picnic ham at Aldi.

Scout honoured

A Dublin-based crime series by Irish literary scout Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin, the current chair of Irish PEN, has been acquired by a London publisher.

Fox O’Loughlin, creator of the popular writers’ resource, will write the three-book series, starting with The Dresmaker, under the pen name Sam Blake for ther new Bonnier fiction imprint Twenty7 Books.

Her publisher Joel Richardson, said: “We’re so excited to be working with such a leading figure in the Irish literary community. The book is so evocative of both Dublin and London, and I’m sure the series will find many fans on both sides of the Irish Sea”.

The author said: “I’m thrilled that my agent Simon Trewin has found such a great home for Sam Blake and Garda Cathy Connolly. Bonnier’s Twenty7 is an exciting new imprint and there’s great synergy in developing a new series with a new publishing house. It’s wonderful for me as a writer that a team of Mark Smith and Joel Richardson’s calibre is so enthusiastic about The Dressmaker, I couldn’t be more delighted.”

Brussels boost for Foras na Gaeilge literary project

The cross-border Irish language body Foras na Gaeilge, has, in conjunction with European partners, secured €200,000 from the European Commission for a major co-operative literary project entitled Other Words under the Creative Europe Programme.

Other Words seeks to raise the profile of minority language literature both in the original and in translation. The project will create a network of creative placements for writers in minority and lesser used languages, promoting cultural co-operation in countries where these languages are spoken.

Foras na Gaeilge deputy chief executive Seán Ó Coinn said, “Reading and the provision of reading material are vital for minority languages to increase young people’s reading ability and to hearten and encourage their readership. The Other Words initiative is a great opportunity to get those who speak minority languages in Europe to work together and to provide a wider readership for our writers. As well as that, it will give some of our writers the opportunity to get to know and become familiar with writers working in another minority language.”

Partners involved in the project are in Spain, Slovenia, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Sweden. The Other Words website will launch in July.

Young writers’ summer school

The Dublin Young Authors summer school for talented teens (aged 14-17) with a passion for creative writing of any kind will be taking place in Dublin city centre in the Big Smoke Writing Factory (Wellington Quay, Temple Bar, Dublin 2) June 29th to July 3rd.

The programme was established by author and educator Dave Lordan in 2012, and is jointly designed and taught by him and YA author and editor Claire Hennessy. Guest teachers who are experts in their particular fields will also share their insights with participants.

DYA is Ireland’s only specialist teenage creative writing programme has worked with over 70 writers from Dublin and the surrounding counties, with many students returning to develop their work.

Let me through, I’m an author

As mentioned last week, as part of the International Literature Festival Dublin, the Dublin Book Doctor is offering book lovers a five-minute consultation with one of a host of well-known authors, who will listen to your tale of woe – an addiction, perhaps, to Nordic noir or a depressing diet of misery lit – and issue you with a signed literary prescription as a pick-me-up, all for just €5, with all proceeds going to the homeless charity, Alone, as everyone involved is giving of their time for free. Best to book in advance.

Saturday, May 23rd

Books Upstairs

2pm - 3pm | Henrietta McKervey

3pm - 4pm | John Banville

4pm - 5pm | David Shafer

5pm - 6pm | Dermot Bolger

Dubray Books, Grafton St

2pm - 3pm | Susan Jane White

3pm - 4pm | Ann Marie Hourihane

4pm - 5pm | Eoin McNamee

5pm - 6pm | Christine Dwyer Hickey

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