Sunday, August 26, 2018

Reply to the Trenches

Dear Anon. Thank you very much for this kind calm considered reply to the article titled Bó land Heaven and the Bardic Blindspot.

I understand your pain. I too for many years as a younger person, felt the exact same way. Until luckily, a door was self-opened and the path was presented by one's Self leading step by step into what I had always wanted to be doing but felt someone from my working-class English background was too thick, too uncivilized and too common to ever be allowed to do.

And now of course I understand what the superlatively human poet Seamus Heaney meant in his essays where he tells the reader in a warm kind playful but deadly serious and eternally present voice, in an intimate one on one manner; that the writer must find our own agency within.

Create our own critical literary operating system. What New York feminist critic, scholar and poet, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, describes in the final italicized words of an essay on poetry and gender, 'Overthrow': "poetics (that) gives (the writer) a permission to continue."

The writer creating as Boland did, their own self-sustaining path into spiritual sovereignty. Because the point and purpose of (writing) poetry is about spiritually ennobling oneself from within our own imagination. And although in the modern superficial whirl it can seem to be bestowed from outside ourselves, by the awarding of nomenclature, titles, and exterior baubles that gift a brief sugar high of personal pleasure; the real stuff of personal spiritual and literary sovereignty comes from within our own minds and imaginations.

Although sometimes poetry and writing can seem like a team sport, it is, when all is said and done, when we are all gone, a solitary individual pursuit and imaginative game played with self. The future reader, for those that have any, cares not a jot who our literary friends and enemies were, and if they do, they want only comedy not the earnestness of quotidian pobiz politicking. As they are interested only in the eternal present of the living written word.

And nobody can write that for us, only the individual mind and imagination can create its own poetics and permission to continue on their own path without having to ask others if they are allowed to follow their own instinct. One that reaches eventually the heights of uncommon sovereign eloquence; not through the applause and acclaim of literary friends but through hard work and concentrating on doing the business end of poetry; not the secondary and what can often become the diversionary social-side of PoBiz.

Hard work is better than bright wit. As we learn from the Gaelic to English translations of Wisdom Sayings of the 8C Hiberno-Saxon King, Aldfrith of Northumbria. Who was born and reared in Ulster, his father Oswiu of Northumbria in exile in Ireland, and his mother a princess, Fín, a daughter of the 7C Irish High King, Colmán Rímid, of the Cenél nEógain sept, whose power-base was Inishowen in Donegal, and their capital, Ailech.

Described by Alcuin, Bede, and Stephen of Ripon, as a wise man of great literary learning.

And this inner spiritual nobility one attains solely from their own hard work, hammering the books, writing the letters; until, drop by joyful drop the tortuously difficult fleeting ideas become easier to locate, apprehend, inspect and delineate in letters closest to the contours of the original thought which birthed whatever it is one ends up speaking on the page.

We must create our own critical literary apparatus, measurements and system; as we cannot rely on others to tell us what is happening in the realm of language. That is the take-away I got from reading nearly every single word the Bellaghy bard published. Certainly his prose.

That I discovered and fell in love with first; and which led me to the poetry I had not read much of until chancing across Finders Keepers one afternoon in the Edge Hill University library during the second half of the second third year semester of my Writing Studies and Drama BA. Prior to that I'd virtually no familiarity with his voice. I had heard the name Seamus Heaney alright, being known to me, but that was about it.

And once I picked up his book of critical essays, looking for a guru, three years into the writing at university, I knew immediately that this was it, the real thing. And in that moment within several sentences, I found and fell in love with the literary voice of my and millions of others most beloved human poet of the finest bardic order whose own poetic voice serves as the superlative example and model to aim for, for any starting out on their twelve to twenty year apprenticeship in Irish letters.

And his prose voice was my soul guide from that moment on. The kindly sage, "a gentlemanly country man", as the Tipperary bardic poet and unacknowledged godfather of Dublin spoken word and slam, Noel Sweeney, describes the Bellaghy bard in his poem, PNO6, recounting a passing moment when he and the chief poet of Ireland passed through a door at the Poetry Now festival in Dun Laoghaire.

And in that moment Sweeney, like (I think) Betjeman said of silently sheltering from rain in a doorway with Kavanagh, he felt in that fleeting moment some intimate revelatory wordless exchange of the human soul had occurred as the intelligence of the Monaghan poet shone through the brief shower. And my own silent moments with the voice I trusted most occurring without ever exchanging a word in person; because the Mossbawn mage always told us one on one on the page in his most eloquent and kind critically human literary voice; what ye gotta do as a poet.


 As the great Northside Dublin, Finglas poet, Paula Meehan, told me, and a couple of hundred others in a public address at the Bank of Ireland Arts Centre before it closed down, during her introduction to a poetry reading by the Southside sister Dublin poet, Eavan Boland, a year after I had arrived in the city of my late mother, Pauline Desmond, nee Swords, in a similar sounding voice my late Cabra mother spoke with, that had an identical cadence and conviction of spirit; how she began exactly the same as both of us, feeling excluded from poetry and writing it. She considered herself too working-class, too common, and from a community where books were something to read and not to be written.

My mother was an avid reader, with a working-class North city Dublin accent, background, and that identical fearless warm-hearted straight-talking kindly verbal manner as Meehan; who told a poetic parable of how she imagined the literary world to be a citadel only the socially elite with cut glass voices could enter and practice the art of letters in.

Her dream was to be a writer, a poet, but because of her background she had it in her mind that because she was excluded she could only enter the literary citadel by subterfuge. And so she plucked up the courage and approached it, and went around it looking for some side or back entrance, but the walls contained no aperture or opening.

Such was her desire to breech the literary citadel and become a writer, she girded herself and scaled up its walls, climbing right to the top, hoping there was perhaps a way in over down through the roof, like Lugh leaping the walls of Tara after being turned away by the gatekeeper, coming in from the sky.

But, no, the citadel had no exterior entrance. And clambering down she thought, perhaps there is a way under, a tunnel; surely there must be a way into the literary citadel for someone so talented and determined as our Finglas ban-fili.

But, again, there was no way in. Finally, resigned to her fate, accepting her North Dublin Finglas working-class background was excluded, she turned to leave her dream behind and face life in a factory, shop, or office; when she had the idea; that, maybe, perhaps, could she be so bold and daring as to try the most obvious route and go in through the front?

Her heart beating, expecting at any moment for there to appear an officious jobsworth in regulation Dublin peaked security hat with a dull bronze badge in the middle of it, wearing a dark siege jacket rumpled, shapeless and indistinct; who would tell her to clear off, her sort could not come in to this top class joint for the high born aristocrats.

But no one came or stopped her approach; and when she reached the door, tentatively she knocked but got no answer, and so she pushed the door and as if by magic, it opened, much to her surprise. And even more to her amazement, there was nobody at all there to prevent her from entering the literary citadel that she was convinced she was barred from at birth. The only exclusion was created by her own phantasmagoria and working class paranoia.

And I can remember Meehan telling that tale in crystal clarity years later. I am drawn back to the crowded lobby and can see myself stood there as if it is now, looking across a sea of heads and hearing the authentic voice of Meehan speak, with the tall Boland standing in silence by her side.

And I hear the wise voice of this national North Side Dublin treasure as clearly as I hear my own mother's telling me as a small boy her aged relatives' tales of her family's great grandparents being evicted onto a boreen at the side of a Mayo cottage in Bohola, with nothing but the rags they were stood up in, her eyes blazing as she told me and my four sisters this; her entire body filled with some ancient spiritual possession, and transmitting it. Some profound lesson of what felt like recent familial reality that had happened only hours earlier.

That seemed odd and out of place to me as a young boy in Lancashire. A deep well of passionate Irishness passing down the single most important point of truth and historical memory I now understand exactly the import of as a very privileged literary lore keeper led to the citadel wholly by a maternal spirit of our faery woman of Ireland always ever present and guiding every letter with me as the gift from an eternally loving people of our mother goddess Art.

Who is now in heaven and hallowed be Her name. That we her children cherish for giving by her love these living letters and words of Her's that praise this island O Ireland we inherit its joy and sorrow that flourishes and will not perish but held in heads possessed with Her wholly spirit.

And I understand why you claim the Bardic Tradition was a bastion of misogyny and exclusion, you are perfectly right. By today's standards women were excluded from the literary equation. But unless we go back in time and ascertain what these long silent voices had to say when living, we can only speculate and guess.

The Tradition may have been male but the art, knowledge, precepts and principles of their literary tradition are ancient, timeless and gender neutral. All one need do with the critical and instructional texts that teach it, is change he to s/he and that is literally it.

Once this is done the workings, the learning of it can be had by all. Because once you actually do study, read, write through the lessons, and after sixteen years in English translation, come to cerebrally possess the entirety of the bardic tradition, Coimgne, all the voluminous textual pieces fallen finally into place like a box lid clicked shut; then you experientially have learned all that is taught on the curriculum at the bardic college, and you possess eólas.

Acquired by having spent the required amount of time fishing, caught and eaten your eó fis, Salmon of Knowledge, bradán feasa from Nechtan's Well of Segais, ringed by nine hazel trees.

They feast on the Nuts of Knowledge, each one containing a total download of the full Coimgne, and which Amergin Glúingel tells the student poet about in Irish poetry's Ars Poetica text translated first from 7&10C Old Irish rosc and prose, only in 1978 by PL Henry, and a year later by Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies Celtic Studies Professor, Liam Breatnach.

And this version by the world's foremost independent expert scholar on the topic of Ogham, Erynn Rowan Laurie: "...they cast themselves in great quantities like a ram’s fleece upon the ridges of the Boyne, moving against the stream swifter than racehorses driven in the middle-month on the magnificent day every seven years."

"The nine hazels of Crimall the sage
drop their fruits yonder under the well:
they stand by the power of magic spells
under a darksome mist of wizardry."

(Edward Gwynn, Metrical Dindshenchas, 1913)

Caught in Yeatsean "waters of emotion and passion, in which all purified souls are entangled".

And you come to understand of this ancient North British and Irish poetry tradition; "it's a club that is steeped in history, of spine-tingling glory, and at times, truly heart-breaking tragedy"; but ye keep the faith, kidda, bcuz it's the same as when you are part of Liverpool Football Club; You'll Never Walk Alone. 

Dispatch from the Trenches

Dear Friends and Allies of the Poetry Community

I feel compelled to write that I find the recently published article Bó land Heaven and the Bardic Blindspot, a fatuous and shallow text of almost unequalled condescension and pretentiousness.

I think that the linked-to piece of nauseating male privilege is yet another reminder from the Patriarchy of just how culturally fragile a state we the people of the goddess Art are in, and just what barriers and hurdles are out there yet to be overcome.

Because this article reiterates to us just how detrimental, elitist, socially harmful, irrelevant and toxically detesable the Bardic Tradition was and remains in the minds of a majority of culturally tolerant, sensitive and inclusive allies and friends of contemporary 21C Poetry.

Merely reminding the guardians and allies of contemporary poetry how the patriarchal bardic anti-culture has no place whatsoever in a forward looking modern world aspiring to full inclusion into the arts and creatively meaningful equality for all regardless of socio-economic background, educational status, religion, ethnicity, gender, or experience in the realm of poetry.

Poetry is something that belongs to all, not just to cultural elites detached from the ordinary citizen and administering their diktats from on high to the little people.

Everything these pseudo-poets of the Medieval patriarchal bardic tradition were, we the people of Ireland and our allies across the world stand proudly and loudly against. The Bardic Tradition is immaterial, pointless, insignificant, and in most ordinary people's opinion, completely unpoetic and very problematic.

Thankfully this is now a long dead and gone Ireland that we the allies and guardians of contemporary poetry urge all to not revisit the texts of because this Men only vehicle of oppressive literature is a reminder of our shared collective cultural wounds.

A culturally painful, emotionally distressing, obnoxiously offensive reminder of our former exclusion, and wholly irrelevant and uninspiring to all today, particularly the right thinking caring kind tolerant and inclusive artistic person striving to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.

We the allies and guardians of contemporary poetry have exactly zero interest in this unbalanced and one-sided male tradition. And rightly so.

Any that do claim we should revisit this problematic history that is best forgotten and ignored, or argue that it has any place in contemporary poetry, then these uncaring ignorant voices have no business claiming to speak on behalf or in any way represent the future of poetry.

And if they do, how, when, and wherever it appears their bardic advocacy and mansplaining will be countered and their arguments proven inherently and offensively unsound, inaccurate, erroneous, wholly mistaken and utterly unworkable by the allies and guardians toiling away at the cutting experimental edge in the brave new art of come all ye 21C Poetry.

These divisive and damaging claims that the bardic tradition should be widely read and taught to future Thought Leaders, should be confronted and dismantled in the public square with more rational and calm logical argument and the more admirable, reliable, exceptional and excellently expert ideas of those guardians and allies of literature tasked with making what we serve an inclusive positive cultural force for all who aspire to perform, write and publish their poetry, regardless of socio-economic background, ethnicity, gender, ability, experience, religion, etc.

We the Guardians and Allies of Poetry exist and operate today in the age of democratic people power brought to us by the global communications revolution, which Ireland is central to as the home of tech giants and global corporations recognizing the inclusivity and tolerance of modern Ireland as a place to do business.

And now, unlike in the thankfully long gone days of an Ireland filled with patriarchal bardic bores most are glad have disappeared; one previously excluded lone minority voice that would have remained silent in those dark dank days of the socially stultifying and injurious bardic hierarchy, can now broadcast itself to the world without having to seek the approval or permission of elitist misogynist enforcers of patriarchal literary privilege, and measure its true cultural value instantly in the number of positive reactions to it in like, love and smile icons.

This revolutionary brand new way of determining what is of lasting literary value, being able to accurately gauge the authentic interest a text accrues in the moment of its first utterance and publication, demonstrates how harmful, insignificant, and unrepresentative of the ordinary people the rightly unread writings of the anti-literary bards and socially oppressive pseudo filidh poets really were and are.

For example, as a scientific exercise in deciding that the bardic history of Ireland is vastly overrated and inconsequential to all right thinking peoples in the modern era; some allies and guardians of poetry tweeted out the text of a strict straight dan direach verse poem addressed to Edward III by one of the most cited examples from this painfully upsetting and oppressive patriarchal bardic culture, Gofraidh Fionn Ó Dálaigh.

Side by side we tweeted out a poem by Wanda Woomahm, an Activist Poet from Chicago, and fearless all-communities rights advocate using the power of poetry to highlight injustice and demand equality for a slew of underrepresented and excluded causes and communities the tireless work of Wanda Woomahm is conveying agency and giving voice to.

The results were conclusive. Not one positive reaction for the dead white male of patriarchal privilege, only a question from a talented ally: 'What's this crap?' - whilst for Wanda's heartbreaking piece there were tens off smiles, wows, likes, loves and plenty of "OMG!"s and "amazing"s and "this made me cry"s from the modern audience moved to tears by this heartfelt soulful evocation communicating what it means to be an excluded member of an underrepresented marginalized community today in the United States.

Thus proving the contention that the poetry world is a far better place for its friends and allies if the texts of the Bardic Tradition were just erased altogether and replaced with a more inclusive kinder warmer nicer far more caring and profoundly more meaningful brand of poetry we its tolerant wise inclusive allies and guardians promote, praise and publish.


Wednesday, August 22, 2018

How Poetry Never Went Away

I am no booster of the modest and unassuming person that I think performed the preeminent role in bringing about the critical shift in US poetry from dead white male Ivy league academics to the "multicultural inclusiveness” being celebrated in the recent Atlantic piece by Portland based Southern Oregon, Rogue Valley journalist and poet, Jesse Lichtenstein: "How Poetry Came to Matter Again" - and many times have satirically mocked them.

Indeed, I have a list of numerous American critics, editors, luvvies and literary poets I want to apologize to when the opportunities arise, who I have satirically mocked in an excessively unpleasant way over the years when one was a very gobby and at times literary loutish student of the ancient bardic arts happily doing here in Dublin the sixteen years it took me to complete in English translation what in the original Gaelic was the twelve year bardic and literary Filí poet curriculum. 

But reading the Atlantic article it struck me that nowhere in Lichtenstein's opinion-thesis charting and explaining the how, what, when, where, and why of the rise of Millennidentitarian poets from a fringe to a mainstream consciousness; does the name appear of the one person whose editorial advocacy, I would argue, has been central to, and most responsible for changing the critical and cultural focus of contemporary US poetry away from a continual celebration of a handful of monotone middle-class male academic poets, and onto what were previously the marginalized and unrepresented communities and demographics of poets that were until very recently wholly outside the tent of Official Verse Culture in the US.

Don Share, Editor of Poetry, the oldest, richest, and most critically regarded monthly in the world dedicated to the publication of verse, who for six years was the Senior Editor and theoretical second in command to the former Editor of Poetry (2003-13), Christian Wiman.

Share began his tenure as chooser in chief at Poetry in 2013, after taking over from his former boss, whose narrow poetic tastes and publishing decisions during his decade in charge of setting the tone of US poetry, were unadventurously ultra-conservative. Wiman's choices ran to publishing month in month out the usual merry-go-round of white Ivy League male insiders of Official Verse Culture, with the odd token female, black and ethnic minority academic poet thrown in.

Share however within a short space of time had totally overhauled and changed the house publication of the Poetry Foundation, ditched the dead white male Ivy League academics, and turned it into a contemporary poetry publication that is the polar opposite of what it was under Wiman; publishing many new voices from the previously silently excluded demographics of the poets mentioned in Lichtenstein's piece.


The Atlantic article is, I would argue, the most recent iteration of a very cyclical 'Poetry is the New Rock 'N' Roll' meme. One that gets written and published in a prominent Establishment journal every few years; and, in this instance, contains the names of young ambitious hip hep and wholly American poety poos doing their thang on the other side of the Atlantic.

The poets advertised in these pieces are usually also friends and/or colleagues of the crafty composer of the prose vehicle pushing a narrative that there is a movement of literary originals and outsiders afoot, and something radically new in the realm of poetic language is occurring. The creation of a collective poetic buzz, current and wave emerging into mainstream consciousness.

Most of these speculative vaticinations, inevitably, rather than prophetically delineating the true tides and contemporary currents that end up washing the name-checked newbs into the critically elite and spiritually balanced ollavic golden circle; posterity, more often than not, proves they were but little more than puff pieces and logrolling by the authorial auspices of their fellow ambitious colleagues, strategically marketing them to a wider mainstream audience.

However with the indiscriminate-opinion masquerading as analytics model of previous decades now redundant, Lichtenstein's claims are situated on firmer critical ground, and are communicated in a more persuasive and plausible form of literary analysis than before. In the fact that he identifies the measurable role YouTube and social-media have played in the emergence of the diverse bunch he is praising.

The one core difference between now and pre-Facebook slammers, Twitter bards, and Instapoets, is the fact that a majority of those mentioned in this piece have bypassed what is increasingly a redundant monolithic literary-gatekeeper model of poetry publishing; because to get their poetry published, heard and read the emergent poets in the age of social media are increasingly creating their own audiences on the strength of their live recorded performances and writings alone.

Cutting out the previously all powerful snobby cerberean taste-makers and pompously imperious middlemen of the legacy media publishing process, by speaking directly to the Reader online, without the need of submission to, acknowledgment from, or validation of the editorial potentates and curatorial pashas of Official Verse Culture.

So the jury is currently out on how accurate the Oregon poet's piece of speculative prose will turn out to have been in the years to come. But it is refreshing to read of what by now after more than a decade of debate is what appears to be the fully emerged new model of poetry and publishing that has changed the very concept and meaning of what constitutes being 'published', and opened up the art form to anyone with a phone camera, keypad and internet connection.

One that has silenced the literary experts predicting from the doom and gloom department of legacy media; that during the mid-Noughties were decrying the pesky internet poets and wailing like Medieval scribes at the arrival of the printing press; claiming the sky was falling in with the opening up of literacy to the masses and arguing only a tiny elite of trained custodians of the real literary Gospel, i.e., themselves, could possibly write anything down and publish it. On velum, bound in leather and brass.

Depending on what language Tradition creates your bardic perception and world-view, and how long you have served at the front line as a souljah in the Poetry Wars, a relatively recent/ancient and far more intellectually dense and pretentiously elitist variation of this periodic 'poetry is the new rock 'n' roll' trope, spluttered onto the digital page in 2009 from the keyboard of a Harvard bardic bluffer that doesn't know their arse from their Auraicept na n-Éces, the academic critic and transitioning literary artist formerly known as Stephen Burt.

Now Stephanie Burt, they have most recently been cited in reports from the front line of the Culture Wars due to their craven and utterly insincere 'apology' for what they claimed was a momentary lapse in editorial 'standards' (presuming they had any to begin with) when publishing several weeks ago in The Nation a wholly harmless persona poem by North Dakota, Fargo poet, Anders Carlson-Wee.

In the imagined voice of a homeless disabled HIV positive street begger; that from the vernacular spelling of the language was assumed to be by those infuriated beyond all reason with the letters in it; a literary high crime and what would be, if the extremists had their way, a felony of cultural appropriation.

The wholly unreal voice of a fantasy American that does not exist outside of the Reader's mind; as the Poetry Police prosecuted it; by the vernacular spelling alone was a profoundly hateful literary thought-crime of the most ableist, disrespectful, illist, insulting, libelous, offensively problematic, and quintessentially racist sort.

That a lot of equally insincere social-media trolls got professionally offended about on behalf of a slew of communities they do not belong to; and cowed by a mob of hate-filled joyless morons Burt cast out Carlson-Wee from the bus, grovelled for forgiveness, and, with their Nation co-editor, solemnly renounced their decision to publish the harmless persona poem by Carlson-Wee, as a temporary aesthetic aberration.

And, without even naming him in his apology to the vigilantes, Stephanie dumped the North Dakota poet's reputation into the crapper.

Revealing, in one of the most culturally craven and editorially ignoble events in US poetry so far this summer; exactly what the ancient speckled art of praise and blame means to them, and what the true critical regard and quality of poetic eyes and literary integrity they were in possession of three weeks ago. None whatsoever.

A decade before the Orwellian un-personing and sacrificial eradication of Anders Carlson-Wee's nascent professional self-identity by an institutionally all powerful mercenary critic-editor and their dishonorable fauxpologizing to appease an imbecilic mob of virtue signalling fascists for the newly invented social-media 'hate' crime of not being pre-cognitively attentive enough to the fake emotional sensitivities of people arrogating themselves membership of numberless communities they do not belong to for the sole purpose of pretending to be mortally outraged on behalf of them; Burt published a pseudo-intellectual piece of blurbastic propaganda in the Boston Globe: "The New Thing (2009)".

In which the foreteller formerly known as Stephen, prophesied that the voices of a few unremarkable dead-white all male academics and Ivy League-like pals of his were at the forefront of an elite wave of spiritually superlative and culturally ultra-relevant incredibly contemporary mono-tenured poety poos practicing beyond the cutting edge and articulating ahead of time what the future of American poetry was likely to become when it established itself as: "The New Thing."

Anyone remember that?


I am very happy to be wrong, but what I would love to know - and as a wager am willing to bet the result will be zero - is how many disabled homeless African-American street-beggars with HIV voiced to the editors how terribly upsetting they found this Carlson-Wee persona poem to be on encountering it?

When I first read about this I wrote a couple of pieces in response, publishing one on Carlson-Wee's Facebook before taking it down several days later, and now I see it looks like he has deactivated his account.

This after the poor poet himself appeared emotionally browbeaten by the malignant zealotry created by the angry and illiterate emojinal social-media bigots and hypocrites that collectively coerced an artist into writing and publishing an apology that read like the odd and fearful literary equivalent of a hostage video in which the kidnapped prisoner is clearly saying whatever they are told to or feel they must in order to stave off further attack from the irrational and demented maniacs.

Apologizing for an entirely non-existent language crime his entirely imaginary voice in persona did not cause in the empty selfish heads and shallow hollow hearts where swing on string the bricks of these anonymous and callously cold-blooded radically anti-intellectual dumbbell executioners of some ultra-nihilistic cultural revolution birthed from human jealousy, depression, misery, misanthropy, and a virulent highly destructive atavistic tribalism.

Hunting in packs for heretics, apostates, and non-believers in their pie in the sky religion founded on the principles of hatred, anti-intellectual bias, censorship, mob intimidation, sweeping injustice, and a fanatically blind intolerance of everything and everyone that doesn't align with and share their insanely dangerous and unhinged, wholly incorrect perceptions of reality as an either or zero sum game and binary choice between 'us' and 'them'.

And part of me wonders, if this is not a Conceptual art stunt, where's the apology to Carlson-Wee?

Surely he deserves one, after being thrown to the wolves of the world wide web by the editors who exposed only that they were concerned about what total strangers on social media think and feel, and not at all concerned about the feelings of the person who wrote a poem they chose to publish, before labeling it problematic, and the imagination of its author all but ableist, and racist.

Blaming the invited passenger for the clown-car crash they the designated drivers caused. They claim, whilst under the influence of some debilitating cultural intoxicant that removed their critical faculties, like Hillary Clinton blaming an underling for not telling her she was breaking the law. For the crime of writing a text in the voice of an entirely non-existent wholly fictional persona.

The aural performance and source of which, as all literary creation, and as all writings are; is birthed, lives, exists, and is heard, performed and read solely at the bio-electrical synaptic level in the colorless, genderless spiritual imagination of the readers' and writers' silent aural minds.

If s/he the genderless aural mind of Carlson-Wee had merely added an extra speech mark and two letters 're', to make the 'you', 'you're', we are supposed to believe that this would be acceptable and no offense would have been occasioned in the phony-fragile minds of the utterly insincere and humorless pseudo-intellectual social-media bardic trolls masquerading as literary Filí poets that speak only from the blame side of the poet's tongue, with nothing from the positive praise side about anything except when praising their own virtuous thoughts?

Who learned to (not) write on the craft of the Tuatha De Danann people of the goddess Art, by studying on the many identical (rip off) American MFA (Toilet Paper) Poetry curricular.

Not by grounding their practice in the Precepts of Poetry from the countless texts on the unimprovable original voluminous twelve-year set-textual literary Filí poet curriculum.

The original Gaelic and English translations of which are easily accessible online, and you can get it all in apple pie order in your first language, after sixteen years joyously arduous cerebral slog.

As we learn, the difference between the ordinary unlearned oral bard ('Facebook troll') and literary Filí poet, from the ancient 8C poetico-legal text, Sequel to Críth Gabhlach, "Sequel to Branched Purchase":

"Bard d(an)o: cin dliged fogluime is indtleacht fadeisin."

"A bard, then: without the prerogative of learning, but intellect alone."

When bardic intellects "without the prerogative of learning", are devoid of curiosity for the Filí curriculum, ignorant of Auraicept na n-Éces, the "Precepts of Poetry", they wander directionless without the discipline imposed by this felicitously fixed literary course.

And without knowledge of the basics; amorphous, orderless, the perpetual beginner grade oblaire remains an "apple" at the bottom of Her poetry tree: fuirseoir gan dán, "a buffoon without skill".

That will not transition through three bardic sub-grades: oblaire, taman, drisac, and without even knowledge of the two-leaved fochloc, "their art as slender as a sprig of brooklime" facing upward to diligently climb five more literary grades of poetic wisdom, then reach a "noble stream" of Anruth, "at the heart and in the middle of their disciples who are learning from them."

Said to be named for four reasons: "the splendor of their teaching, for the numerousness of their interpretations, for the eloquence of their speech, for the extent of their knowledge. Indeed they are found in each division of learning, whether poetry or Latin learning, or historical learning, the only thing being that they have not reached the summit."


Lessons of the seventh year a poet ought to know: the "servile/unfree" dóer-bard meters, brosnacha suad ("kindling/faggots of the wise"); the two divisions of it, dechnad mór, sned & trebrad "swift" & "plaiting".

In year eight fiscomarca filed (“wisdom-tokens of the poet"); dúili berla ("living language"); clethchor choem (“fair palisade").

Reicne roscadach ("rhapsodic poems"); with laíde (another metrical form); number six is teinm laída ("chewing of the pith/illumination of your song"); (7) is imbas forosnai ("great wisdom that enlightens"), and (8) díchetal do chennaib na tuaithe ("incantation from your tribal head").

The penultimate requirement is the topographical dinshenchus ("lore of place-names"), one hundred and seventy-six remaining onomastic poems; plus "all the principal tales in Ireland in order to relate them to the kings, lords, and gentlemen. For the filí poet is not yet perfected."

Year nine ... I could go on; but you get the picture, four more years to attain an ollavic ear, mind and tongue to hear think and air in praise and blame the voice in perfect balance that has reached the lofty height of "glorious profit", speaking the poet's spiritual song purely praising all Creation. Anamain.

The Ollamh, Poetry Professor: "A great sage then, s/he does not apologize for their ignorance of anything in the four divisions of learnedness" (Latin, Law, History, Poetry), and one "who is not found to be perplexed in the mass of their craft."

When "a bard, then: without the prerogative of learning, but intellect alone", never steps in through the door of otherworldly learning their aural results are quite plain to read. Blame-filled hate speech from untrained minds of the professionally offended masses masquerading as the warm kind praising prose of professionally trained literary lovers.

As an American poetry friend told me when we communicated about this: "It's all about maintaining a reputation in the face of the p.c. hordes. I don't think it's possible for Burt or Wee to say what they really feel. It's pure fear which is operating."

Mouth-Flower Rock

"Style is a function of theme
   Not imposed on subject matter
     But arising from it  
    Style is truth to thought"

                        Julian Barnes


Julian. Some say he was the big man
who thought outside the box
a giant in the cannon

 an anonymous author nobody read
  who remained unknown and unrecognised

and could not get arrested if he was
cart-wheeling naked on the high street.

He was a country bloke. A big fellow

great for field work and labouring. His
 family's blue eyed Jewel - destined for

 greatness. Be handy for a bit more than
sweeping up and swilling down the yard.

 D’yer get it?

Couldn’t put a foot wrong. A farm boy
   and youngest who grew up tall

shovelled muck from sty to dung
heap, dug ditches; a bit of building


            he was a man who thought about
all sorts, not just pig swill or chickens

  and having a lend of his neighbour's
sheepdog. He was a crackerjack who

            out-thought the lot

   tossed out ideas on spuds, swedes,
  beetroot, dairy produce, small rural

industry, stocks, bonds, and treasury

     domestic think-tanks

and strategies that rid the workplace
 of prejudice, promote tolerance,

inclusion, diversity, fairness,
     and transparency in local transport

and territorial issues; the national health
 contingency for a state of emergency

and the most practical way of
 mucking out effluent from piggeries

    stables and chicken coops.


Several pub's number one
 writer-in-residence, who, in no time

at all, could whip up a master-plan
of attack on the back of a fag packet

or beer mat - when he wasn't devoting
his energy to farm work, or thinking

of what style might arise from
the subject matter of his next essay.


Many don't care for the doings
 of his life, or read his works

 couldn’t give a toss if his style was
imposed or arose.


    was an intellectual giant
who’d direct operations from a lounge bar

or hay-barn HQ. Wield a shovel for six
 hours solid; and run the economy with

invisible ink. Could write wonderfully
 well, grow a muzzy - any dodge going.

He could keep an army on its toes
 if he bothered getting out of bed,

and he knew how to keep a dream
 hidden when love was terminal.

He fought in the trench of Art
and plotted to overthrow the status quo

cycled the countryside picnicking
keeping fit, necking a few scoops

as he moved about bossing the troops
 whipping up the craic

and firing off one-liners.

He had a great gas
 taking it to the max, tittering

giggling at being a legend,
 and taking the piss out of titular rich ones

who thought they were doing themselves
 a favour by not leaving Her be and feckin
off out of it.


His doings foxed everyone but
 Kathleen up until that night. He was

always straight with her. Had to be
  because she's a right one who

 always knew the score. Still does.
She's unreal. None of 'em conned



in Barnesly Bloomsbury and Brum,
he knew lovers, fighters,

fanatics, violent shit-houses, loons,
frightened bullies, spivs, liars, cowards,

  and good people with a desire for
 freedom. In Dublin he roused peace-
nicks who looted

hearts, minds, mythology and shops
 on his whim; but only when desperation

kicked in for the things he never
 had as a kid.         

More than all this though, Barnsey,
 he was a style expert who spun 

tales by jumping straight in.



"Aoife mouths words but it’s all
Kathleen’s world, and the brown

leather robe draped across the chair
tucked beneath the table

contained within this locked box
is mine"

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

nurse Aoife O'Brien sits listening 

to angelus bells peel havoc at the hill


deport to the reader's mind
let them see beyond
stereotype freaks from a secure

ward and out-patient casting
agency of unknown background

artistes on a promise a day for the full
bore shoot of pretending to be Tom

Robert or Marlon's heir. And through
those who share your consciousness

connect them to angelus energy.

Have the sense to look for meaning
where few dare peek for fear

of being branded mentally unkempt, 

like Niamh was before she died 
a derelict in the loony bin

opined to be beyond all reach 

by the boss head doctor of a crumbling

psychiatric hospital, where she lived
in nineteen ninety nine

when nurse O'Brien dished up pills
and injections from ten to eleven

depending on
depending on…                         


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

Niamh is on-ward and in role play 

as a not-yet dead nut-nut strapped in

the naughty chair and babbling freely
at the table.

                 ..the machine is out of order.

Niamh continues 

              "Within the four walls of this crypt
            I conjure the tall author, architect

         of state and soldier of memory who
        lives on ...


Does Niamh now flit with the tall
fellow's shade

        .... in books
deconstruct schoolchildren
 from shadows in caves

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

  written ...

at life’s end?

       .....when Yeats ruled a world of
      words his imagination shook fairly

     from her tongue pouring forth to
    make prayer and fable a nation's


Me me me me me more than he it was
             back when Niamh 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 deciding the only option on
   offer for Niamh were a few large

energy jolts to her brain.


A one woman universe who returns
her tribe to disperse underground
and travel through air as ether.

Niamh knew Aoife's way was 

the leather restraining belt 
and the moniker they used


her daily jacket.

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

  leisure with the ghost of a man
 who topped a fella who took draughts
of demands to London.



ECT demons came haunting Niamh
in the TV room, until

the liquid cosh tipped her mind 

into overdose and she disappeared 
during the angelus bell

silently faded and was instantly
whisked to VIP at the post-life bash
in paradise.

    Will Kathleen tell?


Niamh never spoke
once the initial dissolution instantly

dissolved any questions lingering 

in her bonce, just got stuck underground 
in a box after Kathleen called her 

to dance her reflection in the grave 
where a well of time will return 
in wild spring flowers.

"An answer blown on ageless dumb
stone tells of what love fell there

for you Kathleen, who saw what went
on when my heart beat alive and I

breathed being driven through the
breeze to an ambush that night

when the windows blew in and a
bullet got shot through my skull."  



Anonymous dreamer

did not scatter

as the other protagonists withdrew
- who moves now in shadow -
and told Niamh

Kate's phantom triggered Mick's
quick return to her. And in the

immediate aftermath a faint ghost
trail appeared to flicker on the track

glowing, they say, for the short time 

it took for his spirit to pass over. 


The light dimmed as it drew in beneath 
the foot of Mouth-flower rock, then paled

out and disappeared. The big fellow's
shade dissolved into Kathleen Ireland's earth.


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

                        Julian Barnes

Dispatch From The Poetry War

I overheard in the canteen at my local Poetry College on Aungier Street in Dublin city center south this morning, a table of year five bardic students talking about this very thing of "how mispronouncing names is a slight that can cut deep."

The trainee literary poets undertaking the studies of the Cano ('cub/whelp') grade, from overhearing them, I deduced had been told by their tutor, an Anruth ('noble stream') student in the tenth year of their twelve year studies, Amhlaoibh Ó Deasmhumhna; to read and discuss this very subject.

Of how consistently not getting the names of people, places and things right, is a sign of cultural imperialism and indicates how the dominant culture and its people do not value them. And can lead to exactly what we have today, specifically in the teaching of the basic principles of poetry, and in the wider culture generally.

I am assuming that they must have been asked to read the article in preparation for their twice weekly class on Bretha Nemed Toísech, "The first Bretha nemed ('Judgments concerning privileged persons')".

An 8C poetico-legal text defining and outlining in the highly arcane heavily alliterative and obfuscating Old Irish metrical rosc language; the rights, roles, honor prices, responsibilities, obligations and privileges of the various clerical, secular and bardic grades of Ireland's early literary people and poets.

I say that their tutor must have instructed them to read this article on cultural sensitivity, because as I sat down with my apple and water, and the latest collection of an award-winning book of literary criticism I am reading by a North Dakota academic, Eew Noslarc Sredna, on the Primacy of the Ideas of Pound in the Poetry of Charles Reznikoff, with ten minutes to idle before my own Emotional Wellness Class of Shout Therapy, in which we all unburden ourselves by yelling out at the tutor all the many slights and hurts we have accrued over the previous week; I heard a very passionate year five Cano student on the adjacent table, who one of the other students referred to by the name of Duibhghiolla, reading out this passage from the article:

"The tale of a Portland, Ore.-area student with a traditional Chinese name who had her name garbled by a vice principal during an honors ceremony. Set to present the student with an award, the principal laughed at his mistake, drawing chuckles from the audience.

To avoid embarrassment, the student slumped in her seat, refusing to rise to receive the prestigious award. She later skipped her graduation.

The mispronunciation wasn't an isolated event. Having endured years of slights, she felt the need to become invisible long before the principal's laughter marked the tipping point.

The woman, who went on to become an educator, changed her first name to 'Anita.'"


Another student they were calling Luighseach then spoke a diatribe of such offensiveness to me personally, that I reported her to the Head of Security Services of the Poetry College, Stíofáinín McBlert, who promptly issued an on the spot fixed-fine penalty notice for "inappropriate speech contravening the Community Standards problematic speech code", and a mandatory notice to attend a cultural awareness program.

Though contentious, in the spirit of mature adult debate I am reprinting here what I overheard, as an example of what can happen when someone, unthinkingly perhaps, oppresses others with cultural superiority because s/he has not taken the time to learn and understand the most basic stuff in the culture of others.

And as a cautionary example to the lower bardic orders toiling away in the mills of the American (MFA) Poetry Community seeking the linguistic light of truth one finds there in these eminent and noble Knowledge Factories teaching, training and turning out generation after generation after generation of poets in this ancient and illustrious MFA Poetry Tradition that curates the heart and reveals the soul of US mouth-music.



I, Siomha Ó Dálaigh, do not accept liability for any negative and distressful impact the below words create on the appropriately advised Reader. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, Duibhghiolla, and not necessarily to the author’s employer, organization, committee or other group or individual.


"This anecdote could be wholly fictional as there is no footnote to who this 'Anita' person is. We do not know if it is real.

Yet it is put in there and given quite a prominent place in this really lame argument that mispronouncing names is summat that should be up there with last year's craze of pulling down statues.

Which, by the way, whatever happened to that? Where's the outrage over statues this year?

I mean, it was of hugely pressing importance last year, out the blue, like an atavistic wave that rose up out of nowhere into the American psyche, and then ended as soon as it began after a lot of angry people smashed stuff up and blamed their doing so on anything and anyone but themselves.

How do we know that 'Anita' wasn't some utter nightmare and diva who spun this tale and gave a wholly self-serving unbalanced and inaccurate version of events to an equally over-sensitive highly theatrical ambitious Facebook friend dreaming the current American dream of destruction and smashing stuff up?

Filled with delusional transitory obsessions and dangerously partisan utterly childish emotion their ego is determined to peddle as factual evidentiary conviction for the beliefs of a delusional twenty five year old Wise Elder feeding on a radioactively negative social-media agenda of taking America out out out.

In what this pap-culture hack and all their equally stupid ruthless luvvie literary friends in the echo-chamber of Facebook have arrogantly emoted is the right way forward because they all agree wholeheartedly and competitively more more more so, that America is no more. America is a foreign country and needs overthrowing by the kids. America is rubbish, the US is a shithole, half those in it need taking outside and left to perish.

A cull is needed. Organized online by emotional projection artists feeding off the BS of each other and always higher and higher the level of total idiocy in the hyperbolic language these jokers claim to be using to spread love and peace, unity and hope, change and equality.

Even though they perhaps may be 100% mistakenly certain all their ideas of smashing everything up is a positive cultural direction, when really they are behaving in a merely infantile manner and want to move the US in entirely dumb directions they imagine in their social-media bubble and ouroboros of full unhinged intellectually cannibalistic group-think; is not culturally backwards but, like, er, like, did ye see that guy, man, checkin 'imself out in the wall, like, checkin 'imself out in the wall, man, like, did ye see that guy, like, like, like, checkin 'imself out in the wall, man. Like, like, like. And not a word on what the adult in the piece, what the Principle has to say on 'Anita''s theatrics.

I mean, is there video of this event where she was so offended about the mispronouncing of her name she flounced out?

Who is 'Anita'?

And the principle who allegedly made a joke of their mispronouncing the name? It is lazy unbalanced reporting by not having their voice air their own version of what happened. They could well say, for example, that 'Anita' was a nightmare student who he spoke to precisely once and he was baffled with her behavior, and learned later she had been suffering from some psychological condition and was on meds, totally bonkers and under the doctor, that big pharma had sunk their claws into the family and all of 'em were on ten different meds a day for made up phony psychological conditions that are a testament to the power of big pharma, capitalism, and cultural and social dysfunction in America today.

Perhaps he could make a few calls, get back to the journalist. Break the news that those that taught her, complained she was a problematic student with a raft of anger and identity issues and views that were were grounded in a deep anger about imperialism, that she blamed the US for all the world's ills and harbored unrealistic expectations of what society owed her; but she had been allowed to develop and propagate them because of the current culture wars.

Though the principle perhaps would not voice this opinion in public. Where language is patrolled and policed by the intolerant not at all liberal left's version of the Saudi and Iranian Morality Police, always alert to any transgression of a strictly enforced code.

Be it on the streets of Portland, or in an extremely problematic poem in the voice of a fictional persona speaking in vernacular spelling that proves problematic and unacceptable speech to the self-appointed Art, Behavioral, Cultural, Literary, Moral, Political, Social, Poetry & Thought Police of the United States of America.

Fully qualified expert American MFA (Toilet Paper) Poetry professionals, pro-actively patrolling the (English) American language; detecting literary crimes, applying pressure, lobbying editors, tweeting instances of concern, conducting campaigns, and battling the many domestic enemies and hate preachers seeking to spread the evil creeds of ableism, anti-feminism, anti-LGBTism, bigotry, disrespect, hatred, intolerance, misogyny, racism, and intellectually illegal and emotionally upsetting linguistic sectarianism of any kind that contravenes the Language Police Community Standards.

Hunting in packs for heretics, apostates, and non-believers in their pie in the sky Poetry Religion founded on the principles of hatred, anti-intellectual bias, censorship, mob intimidation, sweeping injustice, and a fanatically blind intolerance of everything and everyone that doesn't align with and share their insanely dangerous and unhinged, wholly incorrect perceptions of reality as an either/or zero sum game and binary choice between 'us' or 'them'.

Hyper-sensitive and zero-tolerant to any 'problematic' pronunciations, spellings and arrangements of letters that may cause alarm, concern, emotional distress, fear, intellectual injury, and personal discomfort whilst on the online public commons.

Speaking only from the blame side of the poet's tongue, with nothing from the positive praise side about anything except when praising their own virtuous thoughts.

Seeking only to safeguard the American Language homeland from Linguistic Nazification; at the front line, guarding against the creation, promotion, and publishing of any transgressive textual creations and poetically problematic compositions that are published without an accompanying public warning and editorial apology for any offensive and morally unacceptable illist, ableist, racist Thought that went into composing the form of spellings in the most annoying, obnoxious, horrid, repulsive, odious and vile Facebook comments, Tweets, Instagram posts and persona poems."


I made the very courageous decision to publish this disgusting hate speech after becoming inspired by the very brave academic, critic, and unproblematic transitioning language artist formerly known as Stephen Burt.

On reading their profoundly courageous and moving Apologia on the pages of The Nation several weeks ago, when they fearlessly stepped up to the plate and addressed the world on behalf of those committed, concerned, and most caring bards in the American (MFA) Poetry Community, on the subject of the pervasive and problematic cultural awareness issues they themself had unwittingly been a part of.

Until realizing on more focused critical and cultural analysis and contemplative reflection that the text of a recent poem they published in The Nation, was in fact problematic.

And the regrettable decision they and their co-editor made was wholly the fault of the North Dakota, Fargo poet in whose head it was created, and who was thankfully unpersoned in the Apologia by the caring sensitive Harvard academic making this noble decision for the betterment of civil US relations, and as a model example of Leadership in the area of Free Thought.

The problematic poet in question has rightly deactivated his social media and is currently reflecting on the hurt and distress the entirely fictional voice that was created and exists in a wholly cerebral realm, caused and created in the minds of the superlatively civilized and highly educated rank and file members of the Professional Poetry & Language Police, who were mortally offended on behalf of a community of imaginary disabled American street beggars with HIV that use the spelling 'you' to communicate 'you're'.

It was heartening to read so many in the American MFA Poetry Community stand up and lend their voices to support a voiceless marginalized community, and air their outrage and disgust about this first sign of literary Fascism. That must be hounded out of existence as soon as it appears, in order to keep the poetry world and its many diverse communities safe from harm. Showing immense knowledge, wisdom, kindness, warmness, and a thoroughly detailed understanding about the entire concept of poetry being a vehicle for effecting cultural change, unity, global peace, and the universal love of humanity by all right thinking peoples.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Bó land Heaven and the Bardic Blindspot

The last blog I wrote was in March, on the inspirational Dublin poet, Eavan Boland, the Melvin and Bill Lane Professor - Director of the Creative Writing Program at Stanford University. 

I found myself inspired to write another piece that this poet of the everyday female experience was nominally the impulse creating its birth. In response to a response to a post on social-media, which quoted a sentence of a linked to recent short interview with her, that was published in the Irish Examiner: 'Poetry has always changed with the changing world': Eavan Boland keen for poetry to move with digital age.'

"But I’m afraid that society issues permissions to people to be a poet" oh gurl you speak truth. Love this woman!"
I may well have wrongly interpreted this quote, based on the reaction to it, but certainly the author quoting it seemed to think that Boland's point is that women are still somehow facing similar challenges to the ones she faced starting out in what was a totally different Ireland:
 "I did raise certain issues and the conversation changed but I'm afraid that society issues permissions to people to be a poet. 

"What you worry about is that someone of great value, a woman, a person of colour, or someone disabled might think 'I couldn't do that or I don’t feel I have the permission to do that'. What you really want to do is to begin to try and change those permissions."
 And whilst it is very true, to quote the translation of a line from an ancient Irish law text, that: "tendaid breo tengaidh tuilbretha: the flame of the tongue kindles hasty judgments", the below text did end up documenting what I wanted, regardless of the accuracy of the initial impulse and assessment of what Boland meant or not in the above quote.

I thought that she was inferring that women are still at a cultural disadvantage in the world of contemporary poetry and writing. Which I do not at all think they are.

I repeat myself from the previous blog post for the first four paragraphs, after which the writing was worked into what it is now over the course of a day and a half. Returning and editing and expanding the text published as a live comment, and getting into a readable, if somewhat structurally dense format, the information I have held in my head for many years; but until recently, because it is such a sprawling and voluminous topic, found challenging to wrap spontaneously up and write into a coherent form. 


The patriarchal theocracy Eavan Boland grew up in might have been the issuer of permission slips to be a poet in Ireland during de Valera's time and beyond, but not anymore.

There is now more than poetic and gender equality and parity across the board. For example, women, from the director to the editorial assistant, make up six-sevenths, or nearly 90% of the state-appointed and employed staff at the Official Verse Culture body of the republic, Poetry Ireland.

And this figure does not include Boland herself, who began with, as she stated, the "Irish nation as an existing construct in Irish poetry (that) was not available to" her when she started writing in the oppressively grim, dull, miserably bitter patriarchal theocracy of de Valera's Ireland.

But who is now sitting atop of the Irish Republic's poetry tree as its Official Verse Culture chooser in chief and Editor of Poetry Ireland's Poetry Ireland Review, directly deciding the state-sanctioned poems for inclusion into Official Ireland's flagship domestic and international poetry journal of global record and note.

A culturally inspiring and positive state of being when we consider that it is only in the last three decades that Irish society has from the often dark and barbarous past of recent tragic histories of oppression, cover up, scandal, and silencing by all the various implements of Church, organs of State, and the Ulster Troubles - emerged into a long overdue light of seismic social and economic change, spiritual growth, mass shifts of cultural consciousness, and now; full poetic and gender parity of opportunity across the board in the literary arts.

The only blind spot in all this fabulousness of total female administrative dominance of Official Verse Culture in Ireland, that "is committed to achieving excellence in the reading, writing and performance of poetry throughout the island of Ireland", and "securing a future for Irish poetry that is as celebrated as its past"; is that so few have much, if any, interest or knowledge of the past literary bardic and Filí poet Tradition.

One that existed for ten times longer than the contemporary post revolutionary Yeatsean model of modern Irish poetry.

Founded on the unequalled superlative Irish excellence of teaching the Auraicept na n-Éces, Precepts of Poetry, on a voluminous set-textual curriculum; that in the original Gaelic was delivered over twelve Samhain (Halloween) to Beltane (Mayday) semesters, and consists of a dizzying number of learning requirements.

That taught trained and turned out Irish and North British poets from the birth of vernacular writing in the 5-7C, to the swift and sudden collapse of literary Gaelic civilization in the 17C in Ireland and in the 18C in Scotland. This (1722) Dissertation by Thomas O'Sullevane contains (towards the end) one of the only surviving first hand witness accounts of the day to day doings of a (Scottish) bardic school in operation. 

A long arduous, intellectually challenging and creatively joyful course of modular-like continual assessment; the classroom lessons of which happened in the form of a traditional question and answer catechistic style of rote memorized oral instruction, that was standard in the bardic schools and Poetry Colleges.

The only quibble I would have with this worthy and noble Official Verse Culture mission of ensuring modern bardic excellence is being promoted because the administrative mandarins want it to be "as celebrated as its past"; is that the past bardic tradition is nowhere to be seen being celebrated by the poets and principle cheerleaders of Irish poetry in the online age. But, in my view, has also to be celebrated and taught to the next generations, because if it is not there will be no one left to know exactly what it is.

The learning requirements of the three bardic sub-grades, of ollaire ("apple"), taman ("headless trunk"), drisac ("thornbard"); and from the second to twelfth year, the learning requirements of the seven literary filí poet grades.

Fochloc ("so called because their art is as slender as a (two leaved) sprig of brooklime, "fochlocain"); macfirmid ("son/child of composition"); dos (four leaved) "bush/shrub"); cano ("whelp"); clí ("pillar/ridgepole"); anruth ("noble stream"); and the final apical grade of Ollamh (poetry "professor").

With a very clear distinction made between the literary Filí poet who completed it in the minimum of twelve years it took when done thru the medium of its original language, Gaelic, (or the sixteen years it takes the 21C student when done in English translation)-; and the oral bards of live poetry and their fellow equivalent contemporary conductors of bardic letters on the modern mixed book and online page/s that do not permit themselves to learn the art and science of Irish letters on this set-textual course that forty generations of Irish and North British poets were taught and trained in the 'speckled art' of poetry on.

So called because their metrical compositions consisted of a mix of praise and satire. The etymological source of the word for poet, as the student learns in the Glossary of 1400 Irish words, and Ireland's first dictionary, compiled by 10C Munster cleric and petty royal king Cormac mac Cuilennáin: "Filí, from Fi, toxic in satire, and Li, splendor in praise; and it is various the poet speaks."

The contemporaries of which do not have a fixed set-textual path because the course of poet-training in the age of Facebook, Twitter and Instapoets can be anything from having completed a forty thousand euro a year's professional networking course at an Oxbreligious MFA (Toilet Paper) Poetry Centre, to attending a few expensive classes at the Poetry Brothel, Big Iambic Powtsleb Factory, the Happy Clappy Smiley Nicey Institute of Bardic Bog Standards; or any of the numerous other novelty modern poet-training methods that the self-taught bardic prophets of contemporary poetry market peddle promote sell and teach in their individually self-created and ubiquitous Makey Uppy Model of the Everything Is Poetry school; where any study and teaching of the real poetry programme and historic literary curriculum is conspicuous by its absence.

As we learn from a line in the ancient 8C status text on the various grades of poets, Sequel to Críth Gablach, "Sequel to Branched Purchase", translated by Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies Celtic Studies professor, Liam Breatnach, in The Poetic Grades in Early Irish Law (1987, p98.):

"Bard d(an)o: cin dliged fogluime is indtleacht fadeisin."

"A bard, then: without the prerogative of learning, but intellect alone."

And in the same text, according to the online Electronic Dictionary of the Irish Language (eDIL): "a mbeith gan tothchusa / their being without qualifications", they are "dependent on intuition rather than training."

And as we are told by Professor Fergus Kelly of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, in his 1988 book, A Guide To Early Irish Law, that "gives a general account of legal practice in the seventh and eighth centuries with discussion of social background and later brehon' families": "the essential difference between the fili and the bard is the latter’s lack of professional training" on the recognized literary curriculum that taught forty continual generations of Gaelic Irish and North British poets.

And as the student learns from Provost of Trinity College, Dublin from 1927 to 1937, Edward Gwynn's posthumously published 1942 article on Bretha Nemed Déidenach, "The Last Bretha Nemed (‘Judgments of privileged persons’)" in Ériu xiii titled; "An Old-Irish Tract on the Privileges and Responsibilities of Poets":

Gé ni dleghar dona bardaibh eolus i ffedhaibh ina i ndeachuibh dlegar doibh a cubhaid techta do urmuisi, do aithne fria cluais aignedh.

"Though the bards are not required to have a knowledge of letters and syllables [or versefeet], they must be able to distinguish and recognise correct consonance by ear and by thought."

Bretha Nemed Déidenach is one of the two principal surviving remnants of the celebrated Old Irish Bretha Nemed law school, believed to have been written in the early eighth century in Munster. The sole surviving copy is part of Trinity College, Dublin MS 1317 H.2.15B, and was transcribed by Dubhaltach Mac Fhirbhisigh; one of the final traditionally trained Gaelic scholars from a scholarly northern Connacht family; a translator, historian and genealogist who died in 1671.

And whose most well known book was published in 2004, more than three-hundred years after it had been written: Leabhar na nGenealach, The Great Book of Irish Genealogies.

"A bard, then: without the prerogative of learning, but intellect alone", is not a literary poet "fobith na frithgnat / because they do not study", the eDIL also tells us in one of the many citations of ancient texts for the page-filled word "bard".

Citing this second part of the above line ("because they do not study") as being in the second volume of Swiss linguist and Celticist Rudolf Thurneysen's great four volume masterwork on Irish metrics, translated from 10th and 11th century Middle Irish into German from the mass of metrical material in the Book of Ballymote.

Mittelirische Verslehren II ("Middle Irish Versification II"), also known as Córus bard cona bairdni ("The hierarchy of bards with its bardic composition/craft - bairdne"), the precised contents of which are in the table of learning requirements prefacing George Calder's seminal 1917 English translation of the four primary critical bardic books contained in the Medieval Irish and North British student poet's primary critical text, aka, Handbook of the Learned, Auraicept na n-Éces.

Thurneysen aided in his endeavor by fellow 20th and 19C Celticist without whom the Yeatsean greatness of modern Irish verse would not have happened, Whitely Stokes.

That covers everything in the science of Irish verse from the meters specific to each of the sixteen grades of bards in the two classifications of Sóer ("Free") Bard, and Dóer ("Servile") Bard, to the learning requirements, meters and fees charged by each individual grade of literary Filí poet for their compositions.


When bardic intellects "without the prerogative of learning" the trade on the twelve/sixteen year curriculum, are devoid of curiosity for the Filí curriculum, ignorant of Auraicept na n-Éces, the Precepts of Poetry, they can and often will wander directionless without a formal discipline imposed by this felicitously fixed literary course.

And without knowledge of the basics; amorphous, orderless, at a perpetual beginner's level, the tenth-grade ollaire remains an "apple" at the bottom of Her island's courtly poetry tree.

As we learn from one of the glosses in Uraicecht na Ríar ('Primer of Stipulations'), the Old Irish law tract on the status of poets, describing the ollaire as: fuirseoir gan dán - "a buffoon without skill"; whose specific metre was buaingnech, from the root word for "drinking cup", and a satirical composition due a payment of nothing at all.

One that has not transitioned through the twenty-tale learning requirements of the three bardic sub-grades: ollaire, taman, drisac, and without even knowledge of the two-leaved fochloc, "their art as slender as a sprig of brooklime" facing upward to diligently climb five more literary grades of poetic wisdom, before reaching the "noble stream" of the penultimate literary grade of Anruth: "at the heart and in the middle of their disciples who are learning from them."

Said to be named for four reasons; that we learn from the scholar of Irish linguistics and uncle of Dalkey novelist, Maeve; in D.A. Binchy's translation of a 16C copy of a 7C legal tract Edward Lhuyd acquired from Ó Gnímh (Agnew, a bard belonging to the O'Neill of Clannaboy), published in Volume II (of VII) Corpus Iuris Hibernici, Early Irish Law, informing the Reader that the Anruth is known for: "the splendor of their teaching, for the numerousness of their interpretations, for the eloquence of their speech, for the extent of their knowledge. Indeed they are found in each division of learning, whether poetry or Latin learning, or historical learning, the only thing being that they have not reached the summit."

Boland herself is on record as stating she was put off this very male Gaelic poetry tradition that has no female role models in it, and has no life-long interest in it, and I assume no real knowledge of it, because she was repelled from the Irish bardic tradition because there are no women poets in it, and more importantly, perhaps, by all the patronising patriarchal pseudo-poets in the Dublin pubs when she was a young person.

These poets, as most are today, were wholly ignorant of the textual nuts and bolts of the bardic tradition, having not read many if even any of the texts themselves; but, as poets today do, pretended they were experts on it to those without any experience or knowledge.

And so, I am speculating, perhaps what turned one of Ireland's most significant female poets off all this ancient learning is that she mistakenly associated the poets in the pubs' complete ignorance of it, hidden behind their patronizing boasts and claims about being experts in and from the bardic tradition -; with what the actual reality of the Tradition's set-textual curriculum would be like and is.

Like a young person put off becoming a doctor if they met in the pub a collective of conmen who were really a team of toilet attendants, telling them they are all brain surgeons, and although the gullible newb believes them, their instinct feeling something isn't right, they decide, "urrgh, I am not gonna study medicine because it is all men and the subject matter must turn out everyone to be just like these w*nkers".

That is how Boland would have felt, I am speculating. The previous generation of misogynist patriarchal poets in the pub of theocratic Ireland couldn't easily access the texts and translations of the curriculum unless they were part of a tiny network of Old Irish academics at Trinity and UCD who did have access to the originals and translations.

And today it is the same, as the majority of poets across the world and in Ireland know little and seem to care less about the historic reality of this curriculum, and how it can serve as an example of attaining excellence in the field of letters without needing the permission of anyone at all but ourself to undertake it. And only an internet connection and computer to do so.

And apart from the traditional poets in the pub and bluffing bards of our online whirl claiming this tradition as their own, like someone with only ten words of Irish and more front than Youghal harbour can fool the tourists into believing they are native speakers, sadly the arts administrators of Official Verse Culture, whose role it is to put bums on seats, take their cue from them.

Realistically it was impossible to even dream of undertaking this course and learning the Tuatha De Danann trade of the people of the goddess Art on the unimprovable original curriculum, until 2001; when the individual texts that make up this voluminous set-textual curriculum began becoming easily accessible online for anyone with an internet connection to access, read, and learn their trade with, on this superlative unequalled course and educational journey of the mind.

And after sixteen years repetitive cerebral ingestion, scholarly study and write-thru, the student will come to hold in their head and heart all of it; with each piece of the jigsaw fallen fully into its correct place and the entire curriculum complete, with all I's dotted and T's crossed: "That is a poet whose qualifications are complete and genuine, who is not found to be perplexed in the mass of their craft." (Uraicecht na Ríar: The poetic grades in early Irish law, translation Liam Breatnach, 1987.)

And so the course of this learning the art and science of Irish letters is also a journey of the intellect, imagination, and spiritually gender-neutral individual student's mind s/he, beginning at the bottom satirical bardic subgrade, fit only for mockery, an ollaire ("apple"), that is glossed in one of the poetico-legal texts as an "apish scorner" engaged in "the bastard sport of the juggler's apple"; and the learning requirements of which were the memorization of three tales.

Then memorizing the seven compositions that were the learning requirement of the second bardic subgrade, the taman ("headless trunk"), glossed in the Uraicecht na Ríar, "Primer of Stipulations", as: "trunk" "stock" (of a tree), that "assaults everyone with their recitations", "do not make the apportioning of the truth", "oppress the chiefs of the court", and "spew their brute mouthfuls".

"Do-fairce nath nemtius, do-fuasluice laid laogha, ni toipgither tresa tamun - "a nath (poem in the meter by Anruth grade) brings about privilege, a laíd (poem meter specific to the Dos ("bush") grade of poet) releases calves; the compositions of a taman do not levy anything."

And from spewing their brute mouthfuls and oppressing the chiefs of court, s/he the mind of the student poet moves on to memorizing another ten texts that were the learning requirement of the final bardic subgrade, drisac ("thornbard"); so called because their recitations "stick in the face of all".

After which they moved into the second year of the course undertaking the learning requirement of the first literary grade, fochloc.

So this ancient learning is a moving in the mind from the start point of being an unlearned buffoonish apple spitting only satirical slop, to becoming after many years slog a warm inclusive ollav speaking in song their anamain praise of the people of the goddess Art.

Sixteen years of scholarly methodical study, keeping faith in the fact that the ancient curriculum is the most historically authentic set-textual poet-training method one can cleave to and trust in a world of contemporary poetry, and everything eventually comes right and the graduate can get to work doing what s/he loves.

Praising in speech and talking in letters about "securing a future for Irish poetry that is as celebrated as its past"; by ensuring everyone has access to the facts of the bardic tradition; and advocating for the island-wide dissemination of our island's unimprovable original route to the golden ollavic circle of excellence in eloquence, and the elegance in printed performance which hard won can come by hard work to every other person in the world born with the gift of poetry.

As we learn from the mouth attributed to the bard of the Milesians, Amergin Glúingel, in the title-less Irish Ars Poetica text in the Book of Ballymote that Tradition accords his name. Not needing a title because it was introduced to the student poet at the beginning of their studies and it was so well known as the founding ars poetica text of the Tradition, it didn't need a title.

And was only first translated to and published in English in 1979 by PL Henry, as Cauldron of Poesy; due to the three cauldrons described therein; one of which, Coire Ermae, which Henry translates as the Cauldron of Motion, is the one which dictates whether or not a person is born with the gift for poetry; one in every two people being born with it.

The relevant part in the prose section of the bardic Ars Poetica translated first into English only in 1979, tells its original Reader the Irish and North British poetry student; that the cauldron of Ermae is "born face downward in every second person, i.e., in the ignorant". Those that are born without an innate gift for language and poetry because the mechanism to effect it is switched off. Which is the perfect number really, when you are trying to inspire people asking do I have 'it', the talent, and one in two is a very generous number and sounds about right. Fifty percent of everyone born with the innate ability to become a world class poet.

So if you exercise the gift enough, if you have the willpower, you can become an Ollamh at the end of the set textual training and the superlative grade poetry professor if you exercise and train the gift properly. Like Roy Keane, not a particularly outstanding soccer player as a small boy, but his will, his spirit, made him one of the most decorated soccer legends in the world.

Often cited by numerous players as the world's best midfielder; not so much for his natural ability, but for his brain being able to spontaneously read, adapt and outwit opposing players, that coupled with his diminutive though fearless physical presence, dominated games, set their tempo, and conducted the winning side on the field of play.

A winner with a champion's experience and mentality, his leadership skills on the pitch were globally renowned. Ireland's greatest ever player. How many Keanos were born with more natural talent, who were bigger, were blessed with a better natural physical ability, but who didn't have the wit, drive and will and who never played a professional game in their lives?

And so we can learn how any one in two people born with the gift that permits themself to read and learn the texts, can reach for, work to achieve, and having done so, enter the Heaneyesque golden circle of ollavic understanding by the power of their words alone; as the Ballaghy bard did, without needing to send in a submission or seek the acknowledgement, praise, permission, promotion, publication, or validation of a single solitary human being in the world other than oneself, yourself, the person with the gift giving ourselves permission to reach the mountaintop with whatever literate historical reality there is which we discover and use to get there.

The most sensible one for the modern bard, in my opinion, is the unimprovable original twelve year curriculum in English translation, that will set you up for life. And it is such a long apprenticeship, the would be literary poet has plenty of time to learn and discover if it is right or not for them. If s/he the individual is suited to this course of study, and if they are going to end up in the occupation of spiritual praise poetry the end of the journey leads one to practicing as a mind that cherishes and praises the memory of this island O Ireland of fiction and beauty, here in our heads, tongue and hearts always kind and inclusive, warm, tolerant and welcoming those less well off who can't do it, singing our memorial angelic mouth-music.


Ermae appears again in the four-section Cauldron of Poesy text, consisting of thirty lines of prose gloss and seventy of rosc, as the subject of the two short lines of etymological gloss on the final word of the third section of the text, consisting of thirty-six lines of 7C rosc.

The full line: "Arcain coire ermoi"

Henry has rendered ermoi as 'sings', and the line itself as 'the cauldron of motion sings'.

Whereas current Old Irish Ollamh Érenn, Liam Breatnach, who translated an expanded version of it a year later, including the commentaries that weren't translated by Henry, publishing it in Ériu 32 (1981): 45–93, has rendered its literal translation: "I acclaim the Cauldron of Érmae".

As noted, earlier in the prose section Henry translates coire ermae in the literal term of Cauldron of Motion.

Breatnach translates the etymological gloss:

"What is the érmae? Not difficult; an artistic 'noble turning' or an artistic 'after-turning', or an 'artistic course', i.e., it confers knowledge and status and honour after being converted."

We can imagine this as the nobility and spiritual dignity and honour the act of writing an inspired poem or text confers on the praise poet of the higher grades. And concords with one of the four bardically human Joys the second prose section enumerates (1): the joy of the binding poetic principle.

Which Breatnach translates as: "the joy at the prerogatives of poetry after studying it well.."

Whilst Henry translates it as: "joy over the law of poetry after diligently applying it.."

The sense of quiet joyful inner peace and contentment one experiences after finishing a piece of well-written poetry or prose.

The other three bardic joys are (2) sex, (3) what Erynn Rowan Laurie translates as: the "joy of fitting poetic frenzy".

Which is the joy experienced when in the white hot compositional center drawing letters from the inner Well of Segais and imagination and fashioning them closest to thought, bringing to life a piece of brilliant writing that gets peoples fingers clicking and their mouths a whoopin' 'n' a hollering at the various heats of the twelfth annual All Ireland Slam, Spoken Word & Live Poetry Championships this fall. (See Facebook Page for details).

And a very apt one of the four bardic joys and most relevant in the modern age of social-media with its prevalence of unkind and hateful speech (4): "the Joy of health untroubled in the abundance of goading one receives who takes up the prosperity of bardcraft".

The joy of being able to study write and publish in the modern era not caring what others think, say or do to your face or behind your back to blackguard, exclude, sabotage, and shut you out in the hope of seeing you fail, fall, be unhappy, stop writing and publishing altogether and give them a laugh doing so. Laughing in the faces of the rival bardic haters and trolls' green-eyed emotions frothing in the eight classifications of base-born unfree doer-bards of the lowest oral order.

The authentic model, all there in black and white, all ye gotta do is reach out online, spin the word 'bard' through a search engine, read how this oral guild evolved out from the druids at the birth of vernacular Irish letters in the Ogham alphabet, and from there learn how the bard became the literary Filí trained on an exhaustively comprehensive set-textual programme.

No permission needed, only a desire to learn it, free to access what texts in their original and English translation are published online, stick at it and attain whatever grade you end up at.

There is another Old Irish poetico-legal tract, Uraicecht Becc / "The Small Primer'", composed in the heavily alliterative rosc style that is the first form of poetry written in Ireland, and which details in the greatest breadth the various honor-prices, obligations, privileges, rights and responsibilities of the many grades and ranks of clerical, commoner and privileged persons in ancient Irish society. Founded on the principles of an immediate four-generation family unit of the Derbfine, banded together into tribe, clan, and the smallest political geographical unit of the tuatha.

According to Fergus Kelly's Guide to Early Irish Law, one hundred and fifty of which, each with three-thousand members, made up a quilted island-wide patchwork of ever-shifting tribal loyalties and allegiances, in a pastoral culture of seasonal rhythmic existence, cattle-raiding and continual petty warfare between various tribes living a thousand years out of sync with the European mainland due to the legions of Rome not reaching and colonizing the island.

And we learn that the poetry student who was successful in their vocation and graduated at the top grade is described in Uraicecht Becc as: "An ollam i.e. greatly s/he protects i.e. great is what their rod of security protects (while travelling) across tuaths ... Or an ollam i.e. a great cave i.e. a cave which under a cliff: as that is impossible to attack likewise it is impossible to ‘attack’ the ollam on account of them having the four peaks of knowledge of poetry."

Echoed in the entry for the word in clerical Munster royal and poet Cormac mac Cuilennáin's 10C Glossary: "Olldam i.e. great their retinue, the twenty- four. Otherwise ollam i.e. a cliff-cave i.e. as it is difficult to attack a cave which is underneath a cliff or to approach a cave which is underneath a cliff thus it is difficult to ‘attack’ the craft and learning of the poet."

As the Primer of Stipulations states you too become with nobody's permission but your own: "A great sage then, s/he does not apolgize for their ignorance of anything in the four divisions of learnedness" (traditionally History, Latin, Gaelic Lore/Law & Poetry).

An ancient course of superlative Irish and North British poetry learning open to all who are born with the gift of language and possess the wit, will, desire and touch of the maternal faery magic that causes us to dream the impossible, and by the power of love alone make manifest what once was the living cultural nobility of literary learning bestowed from this earthly human light of otherworldly excellence singing from the warm kind side of the mind cherishing in the memorial mouth-music our ever loving spiritual mother muse all Her.