Sunday, April 30, 2006


"Style is a function of theme
Style is not imposed on subject matter
But arises from it
Style is truth to thought."


Aoife shouts words but Kathleen rules
her world, and the brown leather robe

draped across the chair
tucked in beneath the table

contained within this locked box
is mine

June cries
coming through the door of the
occupational therapy room where

Aoife sits listening to angelus
bells peel havoc at the hill top.


Hear angelus energy share
consciousness with them and have the

sense to look for meaning where none
dare peek for fear of being

labelled mentally unkempt, as June
was before she died a derelict in a
loony bin

opined to be beyond all reach by the
boss head doctor of a city's top

psychiatric hospital where she lived
in nineteen ninety nine when professor

Aoife O'Brien gave injections from ten
to eleven

depending on
depending on...

If there is a cow in the field and
a machine out of order.


June is on-ward and in role play
draped upon the chair and chuckling
freely at the table.

The machine is out of order.

June continues

Within this warm room Mick is nowt
but four letters of evidence
of an afternoon's reading

Does June now flit with the big
fella's shade

       in books

deconstruct schoolchildren
from shadows in caves

and tower over oath bound men
to find a simple mountain grace


at life's end?


when Yeats ruled a world of words
his imagination rolled fairly from

her tongue pouring forth to write
prayer, fable and a nation's tomb.


Me me me me me more than he it was
back when June gobbed off

and got on with the business of
being la la. Nuttying it up for

medication and a cosmic life
of ticking boxes and flapping

wings across forms Aoife's boss
Kathleen the chief executive read

before triggering the only option
on offer for sister June.


A barmy woman whose one tribal self
became air worthy ether.

June knew Aoife's way was a leather
restraint belt, and the moniker they


for her daily jacket.

will be where the morning lit
mountain's phantasmagoria and shades

leisure long with the ghost of a man
who shot the one who took draughts
of demands to London.


Demons came and taunted her in the
telly room until her mind vaporisd

and she disappeared during the angelus
bell, silently faded and went instantly.

Will Kathleen tell?


She never spoke
once the initial disolution instantly

dissolved any questions lingering in her
bonce, just got stuck in a box after

her long dance with his reflection at the
grave, where a well of time returns wild
spring flowers.


An answer blown on ageless dumb
stone and these eyes fell upon you

Kathleen, who knew what went on when
my heart beat alive and I breathed

being driven through the breeze to an
ambush that night

when the windows got shot threw
and bullets blew open my skull.


In the immediate aftermath his
ghost appeared, quivered on a track

leading back through a bog to the past
of that night until

the phantom glow suddenly paled and
withdrew as its light flickered out at the
foot of mouth flower rock. Mick’s shade.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Munster Leinster Rugby Review

On Sunday last, in my capacity as a match steward checking tickets at a gate inside the inside the ground, I attended the Munster versus Leinster semi final of the Heineken Cup rugby match at Lansdowne road. This was the final rugby game ever to be played there before Lansdowne Road is demolished and redeveloped, and the match was an immediate sell out. The sporting fixture gods could not have engineered a more fitting finale for the last rugby game to be played there. Tickets on E bay reputedly changed hands for 1800 euro and the atmosphere was electric. By far the most exciting rugby match I have seen and one already being written into legend.

This job is one of the few benefits to come from living in Dublin’s social underbelly, as you can only get a start by word of mouth and the guys who do it are mainly all boozers who see it as an easy way of making 45 euro whilst getting to see matches others will pay silly money to watch.

There are two types of steward, voluntary and paid. The paid stewards are all old school ready witted Dubliners who work in what is effectively a closed shop, as to get a start, you have to know someone who’ll take you along and introduce you. A throwback to the pre-Celtic tiger era and one which will end for good after the last event, a music concert by the Eagles this summer. A come day go day era of men turning up on speck, often directly from the pub, who then form in a crowd like the old dockers pen, hoping to get picked for a job; and after being paid at the end of the match, make their way back to the boozer.

The voluntary stewards are all healthy looking sports types who attend to see the match for free, impeccably dressed and carrying packed lunches. You can tell the difference between the two very easily. The paid stewards are all red, ruddy complexions and bloodshot eyes compared to their athletically fresh and bushy tailed volunteer counterparts.

Yeats’s notion of Old Ireland being With O’Leary in the grave and the idea that the true Ireland is always somewhere in the past, is a continuous theme from my experience of the place and can be summed up in a phrase I heard when visiting an aged relative in Cork, who, when asked how life was treating him, replied flourishing and perishing, flourishing and perishing. So as one era or activity comes to its natural end, another is there, as ever, awaiting its turn and time as the future history to be mourned once the young fade and the force that drives their fuse loses its first flush of youth and the blossom withers.

But the force of youth was not fading on Sunday, as I watched and learnt the finer points of difference between Irelands premier Rugby rivals. Munster’s home ground is Thomond Park in Limerick, a fortress they have never been beaten at in this competition, which began in 1994. Their supporters clearly had the majority of tickets and they were the most fanatical bunch I have witnessed there and easy to see how intimidating they would be to a visiting team in Thomond Park. As luck would have it they were mostly in the East and South stands, bathed in continual sunshine, whilst the Leinster fans were in the West and North stands, in the shade. Lansdowne is all concrete and notoriously cold in the shade, particularly if like on Sunday, there’s a nippy breeze to blunt the warmth. And especially beneath the stands were the paid stewards man the entrances; but where many, as soon as the game begins, desert their posts to go watch the game.

There were people giving away Leinster and Munster flags outside and inside the ground and the stadium was a sea of red and blue. Red for Munster and Blue Leinster, which added a real sense of carnival and occassion. I, after deserting my position, found myself next to the most fanatical of the Munster fanatics. A gang of thirty or so supporters with boudrans and bedecked in full fancy dress regalia, headed by a man with an electric megaphone rousing the supporters and leading their song of Low Lie the fields of Athenry, much to the displeasure of the two stewards with me who continually shot him disapproving glances which had no effect whatsoever on him, or me; as I was carried along on the tide of sheer passion, a Munster fan for the afternoon.

The neutral supporter could not fail to be moved by their exuberance, energy and loudness, much more spirited than the Leinster lot who are cut from a slightly posher cloth. My mate sketched the difference between the two. Leinster players are usually drawn from the public schools of Ireland, like Blackrock College and other Dublin schools obsessed with rugby, and their style of play is skilful and fluid, like Brazilian soccer. However the Munster tradition is one of dockers and tough Limerick and Cork city boys or Munster farmers who are not afraid to get physical and this is how they negated Leinster and stopped them from playing their usual silky passing game.

Munster got a try in the first few minutes, setting out their stall from the off by getting stuck straight in and dominating the pitch by sheer force of physical will. And when we went pitchside for the last five minutes it was a truly memorable sight. Munster got a try in the dying seconds and after the game ended 30 6 the ballad singer Paddy Reilly came over the speaker singing Athenry and the whole stadium lit up and filled the afternoon air with communal song.

The next game is a friendly soccer match with Chile on May 25, and one which promises to be a corker. The new manager, Stan Staunton had his first one a couple of months ago with Sweden, and even though it was a friendly it was the most exciting match of either rugby or soccer I had seen there. Stan is an ex Ireland and Liverpool soccer player and legend. Prior to coming in as manager the team had no unity and looked decidedly uninspired, but they beat Sweden 3 0 and so he started well.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


The last two poets I witnessed at Poetry Ireland's Damar Hall basement space in Stephen's Green were Fergus Allen and Canada's Poet Laureate like Gary Geddes, a retired poetry professor.

Fergus Allen is an eighty five year old native of Waterford, who has been resident in England for the past fifty years and the poetry in his latest book,
  • Gaslight and Coke
  • , is a recalling and revisiting by him to the landscape of his Irish childhood.

    He was topping the bill several weeks ago, launching this latest collection from Dedalus Press, whose founder, Achill poet John F Deane, recently handed over its running to Pat Boran; poet, editor, publisher, broadcaster and affirmational proselytizer of poesy. Gaslight and Coke was introduced by Boran with the words "never explain, never apologise"; after which Allen took possession of the lectern and led us through six poems in a clipped and precise voice with impeccably correct modulations, softened by a barely perceptible Irish brouge.

    Allen's own short précis of his Ars Poetica sketched a self-portrait of necessary detachment, suggesting to us that some Romantic-Modernist hybrid of fuel-mixture was responsible for motoring the engine of his poetic identity; that a cross-breed Wordsworthean-Eliot like artisan is the mechanic at play in his linguistic workshop.

    This dichotic register was one of a poet-as-nature's-instrument in spontaneous overflow, whose reservoir of language oozes from unconscious depths through to surface and combine under the awareness and intellect of a verbal creator who configures his work at one intentional remove from the intended audience and who, in his own words, "just arranges the words on the page to affect your thoughts and feelings."

    Allen's expression of belief that his job is that of an emotionally removed, plastic-like conduit who is all technician, allowed the audience only partial access to and appreciation of the full accomplishment of his work when listening to him read; as Allen’s self consciousness of his role-as-poet imposed an energy of seperation between him and his audience.

    But one detects that behind the stance of detachment, this slightly po-faced surface of the poet-mask Allen wears is, in fact, an ironic device intended, in part, to dissolve the buffer of seriousness which can keep an audience at bay from a poet at readings. Ironically stating that his poems are "most impersonal" and "gloomy", and that he "wouldn’t be a proper poet if they weren’t gloomy", did little to disperse or displace the membrane of loftiness he alluded to, as his opening address created an over-reaching on his part which, I suspect, was due to being rusty live, as it was clear that his primary want was to connect on a human level.

    That said, the technical quality of the six poems he read were of a high order, displaying the deft, neat and sure footedness of an experienced poet fashioning moments and events from familial remembrances and history into a poetry whose language is marked by a verbal intracy and low key but unmistakable confidence sprouting from its stout metrical efficacy.

    "Newsmen’s flashes flickered...angels on the prowl...unfamiliar gravity...pale faces hung from upturned pupils," and most memorable of all "black is something abstract like an absence."

    The example Allen offers to the neophyte writer is analogous to Heaney offering us Yeats in his 1978 University of Surrey lecture, Yeats As An Example?" The Sligo Magus’s later period is invoked as that which "reminds you that revision and slog work are what you may have to undergo if you seek the satisfaction of finish."

    Work of Allen’s "finish" and intricacy is seldom the result of several easy drafts, and his "arranging" is the labour intensive product which comes when skilful word conjurers couple an initial linguistic yielding of the first poetical dig to a solid sense of the conductor composing a verbal score by continual refinement and contemplation until, by sheer repetition and practice over many years, the hard won skill emerges, mirrored in the work itself.

    Gary Geddes's read at Damar Hall last Thursday 13 April, and his public persona was markedly more at home and at ease with itself than Allen’s; no doubt due to his former career as a creative writing teacher with a continuous and regular reading schedule in pockets and boltholes of poetry throughout the globe. More old pro than older poet, but with an obvious and innate human warmth of a kind which an audience can sense from the off, and which immediately melts the barriers and misconceptions of the kind prevalent at Allen's reading, by closing whatever divide exists between the words "poet" and "person."

    A natural and unforced spirit I have witnessed in few poets and one which is indicative of a writer comfortable in their own skin as someone who betrays no outward sign of wishing to impress an audience by overtly advertising their poet-ness. The "shiny armour of Moi" is conspicuous by its absence. This is because they investigate, conquer, carve out and create inward realms from the territory of their imagination and successfully export the resulting fantasy to a wider external reality of conscious utterance, where onlookers apprehend and appreciate it’s validity and affirm it as art accurately reflecting and echoing existence in its most fundamental aspect.

    Poetry itself in the pure Aristotelean form of mimesis, making to understand why we humans stretch out a hand and attempt to draw rational patterns from the cosmos in a desire to celebrate the civilising potential of our human condition and proclaim belief in it.

    Pat Boran exudes this quality, as does Jim Bennet who has the most comprehensive poetry listings site on the internet,
  • Poetry Kit
  • , along with fellow Liverpudlian, Jimmy McGovern. These three are all writers whose personal backgrounds are conducive to staying grounded and maintaining a no nonsense approach to literature which treats the listener as a fellow human conspiritor in the melioristic effort of improving society's aesthetic well being through personal example.

    Geddes dispenses with all vestige of formality, opting instead for a conversationalist approach of drawing the audience into intimacy by confidently using the space and making it his own. Many poets at book launches and professional readings who do not have much live experience are understandably nervous and some conceal it better than others. However, the main consequence of a lack of live experience is to use the lectern as a safety shield, behind which one can fight to keep a state of outward calm, concentrating on the unknocking of knees and getting to the end of the set, instead of yielding to the dynamic of the moment.

    Geddes took possession of the lectern and, sensing the distance this created between him and his audience, instinctively moved in front of it to inject a feeling of instant connection; demonstrating that he was alive to the reality of the situation, his position in it and, crucially, the most direct and effective way of realising the full potential of that situation. He has seen beyond the props of podium and social fourth wall convention many poets are unable to operate without, and places reflexivity over rigidity, comfortably adopting an adaptable approach which means he will extemporise instead of disguising any lack of vision of the true self behind the cloak of a book.

    The more a poet reads or performs to others, the more public confidence they acquire, and all performers, be they poets, singers or actors, have to go through a live apprenticeship before they can achieve a degree of performance-readiness which cannot be faked and which sets the competent apart from the very best.

    Geddes has this in spades, seamlessly segueing from introduction to poem with effortless élan which never sounds rehearsed or stilted. He dares to reveal his humanity and his experience allows him the luxury of being unconcerned about the odd stumble or hiccup as he reads; book in hand to prompt him as he looks out off the page and into the audience, performing his work more from memory than script.

    Whereas Allen’s opening gambit was to announce himself from a rarefied Yeatsean elevation, like a priest at mass intoning a homily of his creed and demanding the tilted gaze of a detached audience, Geddes’s ploy was the self-deprecating position of a secular and direct eye-level address, which enervates empathy and solicits genuine interest form the audience.

    He began with the John Marquis quote about the launching of a new poetry collection being as significant as "dropping a feather in the grand Canyon and waiting to hear the echo", which, at a stroke, removed all expectation and pre-conception from the audience to let Geddes get on with reading his work; something he and the audience clearly enjoyed.

    The first poem was titled Johnny Bunn, the only student he ever inflicted corporal punishment on, and who became a firm friend over the course of time. Johnny Bunn appeared in his second, pastoral poem, giving us a window on and sense of the real life of a poet whose first impulse comes, not from the academy, but from the mundane and universal events of daily experience. All the poems of his I have read are in first person narrative, and he draws from and presents us with his own experiences, as well as donning the mask of numerous real and imagined figures from various historical points the sweep of his career has concerned itself with.

    But what marked Geddes out was the enlightening and entertaining way he managed to weave and link his poems and introductory anecdotes together, keeping the listener fixed on him by a process of accreditation which created a bond whose viscosity thickened as the night wore on, adhering poet and audience together in a shared communal experiencing of humanly accessible art.

    Wednesday, April 12, 2006


    Her face of flat black leather cap and spectacles
    Sally, a willowy Miami Uni poetess
    in V neck sweater, being
    .perfectly average
    - a tinge of show off Spanish -
    is verbally kicking Cuban Culture in the good ole U S of A.

    Next Irish up is Barry
    a flop top of wedgy coiffuer.

    My Alternative Life

    is a thump tub rant of masculine end rhyme,
    then he waxes
    For Abbey
    Dave Franklin
    makes an appearance on his set list
    bullseye quiver rhyming
    June with Moon.

    I extemporise a write through of his words
    snaffling them
    over the heads of old friends turning into relationships.
    His cessation makes way for Sweeney from Tipperary
    with long scratched back curly hair proclaiming

    he's so shocked coz she's selling rock

    a point he makes the central thrusting conceit
    of the warbling tune,
    injecting the odd earthy word before turning to
    CCTV doing real time stage wise

    although his words do not embrace
    the ubiquitous proliferation of the lensual explosion
    and he wraps up knocking off a love one
    which pricks to last beyond his total moments.

    David Noone takes the stage
    straight from a moody shadow Irish booze ad
    - all black hair and knee length serge coat -
    to share his
    a rant on Plath's poetics
    before spouting
    a coffee shop composition
    poured out in a mid Atlantic elasticated bass warble.

    Cigarettes and Coffee
    is the lengthy drawn out repetitive finale,
    his ramble lip synch swirling look
    drawn from a drunken cut price vein
    of the James O'Broin school

    his manner, savant like and devoid of embarrassment
    much like MC Benelux Phil
    preceding, with a few fag quit verses
    before Aisling's
    What's it all about
    veers words toward and away from slam and trad simultaeneously.

    I wrote this poem written at a poetry night about 16 months ago, pretty much off the bat as I was watching and listening to them. The italiscised words are lifted directly from the mouths of the poets I describe in the poem. I read an interview with Heaney in the Daily Telegraph and he concurred with Billy Collins and Amiri Baraka, that the stuff that comes out quickly and unlaboured is the work which tends to stay the test of time

    Sunday, April 09, 2006


    Imagine a beer spokes-model
    with an attraction-to-disaster IQ of 180
    has a really dedicated energy he expends
    on inventing a purpose for being
    his very own fief cheif, multi tasking
    as the gang master of a glamorous staff of
    peace-nicks manning the decks at
    suicide hotlines in central Bagdad.

    Say he works out the answer to
    middle East peace on the back of a

    is a sado-alcoholic who keeps a naggin
    of whiskey hidden in the toilet cylinder
    of the bunker where the red button rests

    and his radiantly soft, supple and youthful
    looking skin, glows perfectly flawless at
    the stroke of a powder brush, beautifully
    crafted to blend and match those top
    flaws with a sheer cover of corrective
    cosmetic camouflage.

    instead of being careful, he's care free
    with an effortlessly simple economic fitness
    regime, to keep family and national finances
    balanced behind the complexion of democracy

    moisturized with tinted concealer, remotely
    applied when directing insurgency busting
    exercises on the Irish highway into green zone

    like a play station gamer cleaning up with
    actively soft soaping outlooks that suck up
    grease by sleight of hand, in an easy,
    no nonsense neo-con swindle no one believes
    in but him

    Halliburton shareholders, soldiers of fortune
    corporate stock holders, private security
    companies who profit from war, and those who
    like their god angry, righteous, out to
    remove the menacing threat of terror that
    can make kids watching Mickey Mouse Club
    switch off through fear,

    stop rich kids on the road to decadence from
    getting personal valets for thirteenth
    birthdays because their parents are too scared
    of who the help might be

    quiet questions demanding answers for
    the thousands who die due to discredited
    documents, dismissed and forgotten by
    politicians who got it wrong from the word go

    and who
    three years later with no end in sight
    and a world losing all faith in their words
    still insist they did things because
    - just like John Edgar Hoover and Joe Ray
    McCarthy -
    they love America.

    Saturday, April 01, 2006


    The head of UK poetry publishing house Carcanet is Michael Schmidt, professor of poetry at Glasgow University and a man with a huge knowledge of poetry. He is the author of the excellent book
  • Lives of the Poets
  • , which is a tour de force biographical history charting all major English Language poets since Chaucer. He is a poet, critic and novelist, who is known more for his critical work than the other two, which is unsurprising to anyone who has read the Lives of the Poets book, which is the best sort of its kind I have come across, by far.

    Prior to his Glasgow position he was the head of the creative writing programme at Manchester Metropolitan University for many years, and his great business rival in the poetry wars is Neil Astley, who is the head of Bloodaxe Books, which is based in Newcastle in the NE of England, and between them they have the contemporary UK poetry market more or less stitched up. Bloodaxe published two huge selling anthologies Being Alive and Staying Alive which took a lot of critical bashing by acadcemic high brows who Astley calls the Poetry Police who complain that these high selling anthologies represent a general dumbing down of poetry. For some reason they seem to think that big sellers equate to low quality, but the obvious retort is that they are just jealous because the verse they champion as being the true inheritor of TS Eliot's more intellectual modernist poetry isn't as popular.

    Last year Astley delivered the annual Stanza Lecture at Aberdeen university with a robust attack on the poetry police, and although no names were mentioned it was clear that the main object of this mauling was Schmidt. Astley said that the poetry police are basically snobs and self appointed know alls who won't face up to the facts that their opinions are not as culturally important as they would like to think.

    This year it was Schmidts turn at the podium
  • Michael Schmidt's 2006 Stanza Lecture
  • . Magus Michael basically said people need to be taught how to "read" criticism and poetry the right sort of way. Among others, he stuck the boot in on Larkin for being an alleged dunce and conjured up him and AE Houseman as being a mid century double act enforcing the dead creed of romanticism upon an unsuspecting public, rather than allowing Schmidt's favoured form of modernism unfettered access to the reading world. His argument was essentially giving the medal of honour to intellect rather than emotion in the poetry war. But the glaring subtext was about Neil Astley not being his boyfriend.

    The piece below is a satirical evaluation of his lecture, and to give you the background so you don't lose your way I must explain a few things first. Michael is now in Scotland so there are a lot of references to this, and reference also to him being in Manchester. Also he was born in Mexico, which I also allude to.

    During the lecture Schmidt made reference to how he knows when he recognises poetry, adding to the AE Houseman notion that real poetry gives you goosebumps when shaving. He added a feeling like an invisible spear going through his stomach, his stomach and throat tightening and his loins stirring when in the prescence of real poetry of an erotic kind.

    Philip Larkin is from Coventry and used to be a librarian in Leicester.

    There is also lines of poetry from Larkin, Ted Hughes and Auden, all in bold, whilst direct quotes from Shmidt are in quotation markes.

    An Ollamh is an Irish word which dates back to the celtic bardic schools which evolved out of druidic practice and they had an unbroken run up till 17C, when Cromwell came and extinquished the way of the Gael. It means an Irish Professor of poetry.

    Ard-Filidh is another Irish word and means head poet. In pre-17C Ireland a poet was a filidh or fili in the plural.


    After intellectually ingesting, what one of the more comedic voices in my personae mask bag would articulate as, Mick Schmidt's gob slop, I have swilled his chatter around the critical bucket of my mind and distilled its essential relevance into what I believe to be a salient precis of his current critical doings.

    One which details the topography where an ongoing war over the very ownership of poesy is being fought between two unequal forces. One power is an elite band, stationed in, what can be termed, the Schmidt house or stable of song, and is made up of a small but highly trained unit of crack special force poetry professionals who are all cutting edge experts in the highly complex field of quantum linguistics. This creme de le creme crew of champion thinkers claim politics of rank play second fiddle to the eternal truth of verse they joined the fight to find and foster onto a public stage for the mutual benifit of all mankind.

    The field marshal-professor heading this outfit tells us that whether you hail from Oxbridge Ollamh stock or a bog outside Barnsley is irrelevant to your prospects of entering this corps, as what counts is the poetry and criticism you create during your tour of duty at the frontline of love.

    Opposing these are a larger force of language artists who Schmidt, head man and top bottle washer directing operations from his bunker in Glasgow poetry flame HQ, claims is made up, not of committed fighters who score the verbal truth of beauty, but mere "cheer leaders," and commercial mercenaries whose hack contribution to the world of letters is a shallow dot to dot poetry of meaningless soundbite, which only serves to brainwash the public into buying a low brow literature which undermines the very fabric of civilised society.

    These mass market jigaboos are said to be completely unsuited to minister the purer gospels of the western poetry cannon, and are made up of a mass of amatuer enthusiasts unable to read in the right manner, and headed by a man, men, woman or women who Schmidt himself does not name but believes responsible for the weakening of quality and debasing of power in the holy words crucial to his dinivatory practice, where the diaphonous veil to the otherworld is lifted using such methods as tummy and throat tightening, invisible stomach spearing, eye wetting and knob stiffening; all goosebump ceremonies which take place when shaving in the bog.

    The erudite bruiser of thought cutely covers all angles by anchoring to a base quote of Cornel West which bemoans how the academy has become more like a field hospital for some of the less hardy soldiers of thought who, upon witnessing the futility of mental carnage when in the trenches, soon fall sick and shell shocked, losing the will to fight and sacrifice themselves in the battles of art, and so retreat from the front line to spend their days as non combatants in calmer conceptual arenas of the educational grove.

    This, we are told is due to a "rampant anti-intellectualism in this country, the fear of critical sensibilities, democratic sensibilities, that is deeply ensconced within the parochialism and provincialism of the very people whom we often invoke."

    With eloquent artifice Professor Mick waffles to life a lofty modern screen by Audenesque logic and its powers, where the yellow eyed hawk of an eternal Yeatsean-like poetic is projected as his bird of prayer and reason planing the erudite thermals of an aesthetic atmosphere high above, what I imagine as, the unmolested meadows of a simpler, less rarefied, more earthbound thought-scape where, in Ard-Filidh Mick’s report, AE Houseman and, to a lesser degree, Larkin, eke out the proletariat of poesy role Schmidt has them perform in his fanatsy theory.

    Glasgow’s number 1 critical druid, in keeping with West’s notion of simultaneously slagging a lack of imagination and invoking creativity, cites and chides the High Windows author and one time Leicester librarian as, both witness for and prosecutor of, Mick's modernist cause; in a Larkinesque strong but foolish type, schizophrenic register.

    By simultaneously admonishing and praising Coventry's premier bard for not fully fitting into the Schmidt vision of what and how, clever arty types should write and think in order to keep the Mexican born General's poetry clock ticking its steady tock of confused truth, the audience glimpse the hidden written lesson whose brilliantly dichotic context reveals the core secret code that enables all those willing to learn, how to correctly read Mr Mickey's submerged meaning, in such a way that they too can become expert and prolonged chatters of absolute irrelavant maxims which say nothing at all, in a star bore way that will leave family, friends and colleagues gasping with envy at your pointlessness.

    The failed Oxford scholorship boy from Bromsgrove, Alfred Edward Houseman is Micks old duffer spoilsport with a misguided but intelligent mind who; befuddled in the straightjacket of a 19C hangover, mans the currently intact sandbanks holding back the tide of progressive thought; whilst Larkin is AE's young fogey sidekick and partner in rhyme, whose intellectual legacy is cast as a finger still wedged in the dyke, upon whose bank the corporate headquarters of the cheerleaders has been built.

    The bankrupt romantic leanings of Alf and Phil are offered by Schmidts as a counterpoint he exhibits as the evidence of an esoteric light mass far outweighed by the gravitas of a poetic whose tetrad of godfathers enforce the creeds of loopy Ezra, plastic Anglo Eliot, Chester Kallman's third class degree boyfriend Wystan Hugh Auden and Sligo’s most verbal magician of the modern era, silly Willy Yeats.

    The tenor of Mick's lecture suggests that the Larkinesque Frinton folk who stood and watched the frigid wind /tousling the clouds, could easily stand in as the hinted at great unlearned the ex Bard of Manchester thinks are in need of readerly re-education and reprogramming to fully appreciate the subtleties of top drawer modern poets and critics. This is because "reading is an acquired skill" and what is on the page can be interpreted in many different ways.

    The way I read it, the newly Glaswegian shape shifter paints a shadowy catchall archetype; a sort of literate moron whose natural habitat is no doubt the rich industrial shadows or a Mr Bleaney’s room whose flowered curtains/thin and frayed, open out onto a cut price crowd of cheap suits, red kitchen-ware...electric mixers, toasters...where only salesmen come; probably based in NE England and who work in the business of spieling slick sounding patter to the special needs readers Mick wants to re-tune and who are conditioned to buy simple because their untutored ears are deaf to his rarer and ultimately more rewarding note.

    This is no Hughsean landscape with a staring angel...gazing amazed at a work/that points at him amazed; but an Audenesque altar where, in the words of the man himself An unintelligible multitude....whose logic brought them....bored officials....watched from without and neither moved nor spoke....The mass and majesty of this world....could not hope for help and no help came...

    As magus Michael explains, there was a dumbing down of criticism in the latter part of the 20C, which is a dangerous thing because it stifles the modern thinking crucial for art to contribute to the civilising process and so, by inferance, help grease the mechanics of societal peace.

    And although his prognosis is that civilisation is on the mend in the internet age, the bulk of his lecture is a warning about how the above mentioned cheerleaders who are responsible for the non-prioritising of cleverness are still engaged in active cheer, flouncing about in the literary equivalent of miniskirts, hotpants and crop tops, tempting readers who don't know their own mind to pander to the shallow meaningless sides of their being.

    Cut price predatory movers shaking a throwaway sound and dancing humanity to a future of total poetry daftness bedecked with frivolous bits of literary twaddle that aids, abets and assists the tenebrous global force of economic and educational homogenisation, which panders to unquestioned prejudice and promotes the literary equivalent of MacDonalds, KFC and Oprah.

    Michael's main want is to see imaginative thinking increase and the quality of art recognition and appraisal to be raised, by fostering reason/judgement, over taste/emotion. The self appointed minister for culture and oink free Scotland fan says that this goal is achievable if people keep their mental knife-gates sharp and open, by honing the blade of inquiry with lots of reading and writing quality poetry and criticism, in such manner which allows their minds to culturally receive the new and gauge the old in a more aesthetically truthful way than at present.

    If we imagine poetry readers as telly viewers and Mick a dictator general of all channels, he would replace Wife Swap and Celebrity Pig Farm with round the clock Arena, the South Bank Show and commission lots of new programmes by those with critically impressive astute imaginative minds, who subscribe to his galagtic outlook. By deciphering the hidden codes and following his programme we can attempt to bump up the mean level of cultural awareness and so, I assume, make our own direct contribution towards world peace and global love.

    If only they would devote time to learning how to properly listen to him telling them how to make up their own minds, then they too could hear what he does and make informed choices based on a sensible, inclusive artistic policy tolerant of all other brain spaces, as long as their thinking does not interfere with Mick's job as a world visionary in charge of running civilisation.

    It has also struck me that beneath the surface of what is being said, the pages of a more interesting, psychological debate can be read. This is the second part of a bi-annual report consisting of two conflicting halves, and details the current state of play between two publishing houses; compiled by their self made commanders in chief who have waffled a way to planetary prominence and become; in their own minds and the minds of those housed in their respective stables, two top warriors doing battle for the misty laurel beret of a nation’s poetic ideology.

    A tug of war double act between the superpower duo of poetry, driven along on a commercial undertow by two first class lingoists, wordsmiths and verbal gymnasts duelling in the circus ring of poesy; whose spoken blurb arguments are extended essay length plugs both blatherers attempt to dress up as essential validations of their deepest poetic belief.