Skip to main content

Featured Poet: Martin Mooney

Eyewear is very glad to feature Martin Mooney (pictured) this Sunday, on the eve of his reading for the Oxfam Poetry Series in London on July 4.  I first met Mooney in Belfast, in 1987, introduced to him by Medbh McGuckian, and we struck up a friendship.  Corresponding trans-Atlantic by letter in the days before email, we put together an anthology of contemporary poets from the North, which was launched in March 1988, in Montreal during a conference on Irish writing.  Martin came over for the launch for a few weeks, staying with me.  It was an exciting time - Paul Durcan, Terry Eagleton, and Michael Longley were there, as well as Senator David Norris.  We were the cover story of a Montreal daily paper.  I was not yet 22, Martin was around 24 or 25. On one of the last days of his visit we drove across to the border to Burlington and met Paul Muldoon for Chinese food, after a reading he had done.


After that, we fell out of touch, and went our separate ways.  He went on to become an arts administrator, civil servant, creative writing teacher, and publican.  He also wrote short fiction, reviews, and for the theatre.  Life happened.  In 2009 I read his third collection, and was pleased to see he still had the touch that had so inspired me when I was a younger poet - Martin taught me much about Irish and British poetry, and argued for the value of Wordsworth.  My poetry since the late 80s has been strongly influenced by Irish poetry, especially that from the North.  Anyway, enough about me.  I am very glad he will be reading from his excellent fourth collection, The Resurrection of the Body at Killysuggen, for the series I run.


Mooney's poetry remains a touchstone for me - it is highly-intelligent, especially sensitive to politics and history (he has a fondness for Cold War images and communist references), weather (he likes snow), the local, and, adds to this a strong sense of craft, subtle music, and humour.  He's one of the best Irish poets writing under the age of 50.  Below find a few of my favourite poems from his latest book.



Moscow Road

In the cold light of spring it’s a photograph
from Picture Post: factories, gasometers.
Moscow Road is cutting a swathe

through wetlands towards a horizon of cranes
and windsocks, of cargo ships. There’s
been a light drift of snow and the Nissen

huts are sugared with it. Nothing moves,
until a turboprop comes in to land and scares
a single pearl-grey heron from the reed-beds.

It beats past Bauhaus offices, a refugee,
a ghost from the show trials, over our heads:
ration-books, industry, the war years.


Portrait of a young nobleman holding a lemur
for Janice

Conspirator, swordsman, amateur poet,
his pet on its silver chain has the skinniest arms
and widest eyes in the whole chateau.

Blind-looking, feral glamour stares and stares
at something you can’t see. Imagine
fur and weeping scullions, maps of the wars.

They don’t, as a rule, live long. What will he do
when its brittle bones are buried in the keep?
Who will he find to talk to? How will he sleep?

poems by Martin Mooney; reprinted from The Resurrection of the Body at Killysuggen; with permission of the author.
1 comment

Popular posts from this blog

DANGER, MAN

Like a crazed killer clown, whether we are thrilled, horrified, shocked, or angered (or all of these) by Donald Trump, we cannot claim to be rid of him just yet. He bestrides the world stage like a silverback gorilla (according to one British thug), or a bad analogy, but he is there, a figure, no longer of fun, but grave concern.

There has long been a history of misogynistic behaviour in American gangster culture - one thinks of the grapefruit in the face in The Public Enemy, or Sinatra throwing a woman out of his hotel room and later commenting he didn't realise there was a pool below to break her fall, or the polluted womb in Pacino'sScarface... and of course, some gangsta rap is also sexist.  American culture has a difficult way with handling the combined aspects of male power, and male privilege, that, especially in heteronormative capitalist enclaves, where money/pussy both become grabbable, reified objects and objectives (The Wolf of Wall Street for instance), an ugly fus…

AMERICA PSYCHO

According to the latest CBS, ABC, etc, polls, Clinton is still likely to beat Trump - by percentile odds of 66% to 33% and change. But the current popular vote is much closer, probably tied with the error of margin, around 44% each. Trump has to win more key battleground states to win, and may not - but he is ahead in Florida...

We will all know, in a week, whether we live in a world gone madder, or just relatively mad.

While it seems likely calmer heads will prevail, the recent Brexit win shows that polls can mislead, especially when one of the options is considered a bit embarrassing, rude or even racist - and Trump qualifies for these, at least.

If 42-45% of Americans admit they would vote for Trump, what does that say about the ones not so vocal? For surely, they must be there, as well. Some of the undecided will slide, and more likely they will slide to the wilder and more exciting fringe candidate. As may the libertarians.

Eyewear predicts that Trump will just about manage to win th…

SEXTON SHORTLIST!

Announcing the Shortlist for the 2016 Sexton PrizeSeptember 13, 2016 / By Kelly Davio
Eyewear Publishing is pleased to announce the shortlist for the 2016 Sexton Prize. The finalists are, in no particular order, as follows:


THE BARBAROUS CENTURY, Leah Umansky
HISTORY OF GONE, Lynn Schmeidler
SEVERE CLEAR, Maya Catherine Popa
GIMME THAT. DON’T SMITE ME, Steve Kronen
SCHEHERAZADE AND OTHER REDEPLOYMENTS, David McAleavey
AN AMERICAN PURGATORY, Rebecca Gayle Howell
SIT IN THE DARK WITH ME, Jesse Lee Kercheval

The shortlist was selected by Eyewear’s Director Todd Swift with Senior Editor Kelly Davio. Don Share of Poetry Magazine will select the winning manuscript, which will be released at the 2017 AWP conference in Washington, D.C. The winner will be announced in October. 
Congratulations to our finalists!