Poet Valentine Neary #rip


“…as the lank ferns congregating on verges

to make of my passing a tendril instant all their own,

draping me in meshes of green nerved light

– vestments for the journey, this parting now

of leaves wide on sensation, brimming with

a marvellous forever and sudden as sunlight on still lake water.”

‘Song for the Moment’, by Valentine Neary. Taken from his 2001 collection entitled ‘Easy Among Drumlins and other poems.’

Born in Rathfarnham, Co. Dublin, Valentine Neary abandoned ‘a life of idiot urgency for the hills, the grass and small skies of Monaghan’ where he passed from this life on the 7th April 2016. Condolences to his family and friends.

The Bright Stick Trapped


Patrick Kavanagh Memorial by artist John Coll, Grand Canal (north bank), Dublin, Image credit Julie Corcoran ©2015

On this, the anniversary of the Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh’s death (1904-1967), I thought I’d share a photograph I took a couple of weeks ago at one of the memorial pieces dedicated to his memory.

My Leaving Cert English teacher’s much loved Kavanagh quote; ‘The bright stick trapped’ from his poem, Canal Bank Walk, was an image, she explained, that conveyed the beauty in the mundane; the extraordinary in the ordinary.

Her enlightening words stuck in my mind, like the bright stick trapped in Kavanagh’s redemptive canal waters.

For that reason, ‘Canal Bank Walk’ has to be one of my favourite Kavanagh poems.

Canal Bank Walk

Leafy-with-love banks and the green waters of the canal

Pouring redemption for me, that I do

The will of God, wallow in the habitual, the banal,

Grow with nature again as before I grew.

The bright stick trapped, the breeze adding a third

Party to the couple kissing on an old seat,

And a bird gathering materials for the nest for the Word,

Eloquently new and abandoned to its delirious beat.

O unworn world enrapture me, enrapture me in a web

Of fabulous grass and eternal voices by a beech,

Feed the gaping need of my senses, give me ad lib

To pray unselfconsciously with overflowing speech,

For this soul needs to be honoured with a new dress woven

From green and blue things and arguments that cannot be proven. 

Black Leggings



Black Leggings

Compelled to tell this tale of woe

Take heed fellow aficionados

Of black leggings

95% viscose, ergo

(as a young lady foolishly assumed);

Seamless with no knickers.

Resist, desist, pull up your pantaloons

embrace your VPL, your BFF

‘cause on a sunny day

solid black ain’t so solid

when you view it from the back.

Sacrificial Overkill.

Old Croghan Man, currently on display National Museum of Ireland, Kildare Street.

Old Croghan Man, currently on display National Museum of Ireland, Kildare Street.

Sacrificial Overkill.

Tanned groom, remains,

Leveled under-world,

Belly full, while his people starved;

Failed kingship, a triple edged sword.

Garroted with a willow noose,

Biceps pierced with Hazel withies,

Slashed, stabbed, blunt forces bashes,

Life crossed over, bronzed brackish waters

Three ways to kill a king,

To be sure, to be sure, to be sure.

By Julie Corcoran.

Wot I learnt about creative writing.


Not all pieces will have a finish like this. (c) wikipaintings.org

I only did that to catch your attention, honest. I actually can spell wot correctly. Anyway, I’ve just finished a second creative writing course in my local library (thank you Peace III funding) with a wonderful group of people, led by the very talented writer, Deirdre Cartmill.

Wot I learnt, or should I say, what I learned was that creative writing, is, in essence, no different to plastering a wall (I also learned about the usefulness of metaphors, imagery and analogies to convey a message).

A stud wall frames the piece. Defines the area it is to cover.

The plaster boards are the body of the work. No matter how carefully you measure, you learn, there’s not a straight line in an old house. But you figure it out, eventually cutting and slotting beautiful words and sentences together. They sit snug on the frame, nailed in place. But you can see the joins where the boards meet up, so it doesn’t flow quite right yet. So you carefully tape the joins. Like a fifth draft, the finished piece is in sight, but not quite, there yet.

You need to plaster those joins, seamlessly smoothing the piece, working towards a final magnolia draft (personally I prefer a bit of Tuscan red or Paris blue).

Ta-dah! (I’m claiming that back off the Boots ad) the finished piece. There for the whole world to see, in theory. Ready for an audience of thumb-tacks, critics and obscure ikea shelf fixings.

Do you think if I put my name down for a DIY course, I’d end up with a poem?