Gorse, Whin, Furze 2 – more shared love in Irish, Ulster Scots, Scots & English

My first blog on gorse ( see end of this post) gave rise to some lovely reactions.  I went looking for more gorse-related poetry in Irish and Róise Ní Bhaoill, writer, editor and folklorist, gave me such a generous response that her material will supply more than one blog. I am very grateful indeed.

I had referenced the ancient Irish poem commonly known as ‘The Blackbird of Belfast Lough’ so Róise draws our attention to some thoughts from a talk of 2012 by the late Aodán Mac Póilin, formerly Director of the Ultach Trust where he and Róise  were colleagues.

“I’d like to give you a taste of the culture of that thousand-year period. I’ll start with a tiny little 9th century poem set on the shores of Belfast Lough, which at that time was called Loch Lao.

Int én bec                fo-cheird faíd

ro léic feit                ós loch laíg

do rinn guip            lon do chraíb

glanbuidi:               charnbuidi Continue reading Gorse, Whin, Furze 2 – more shared love in Irish, Ulster Scots, Scots & English

Creative Writing in Lockdown – Writing About Place

I’ve been delighted to contribute the first of two blogs to the Creative COVID19 Blog Site of the Centre for the Study of Media and Culture in Small Nations at the University of South Wales.

This site pulls together research and information about a wide range of responses to the constrictions experienced in many fields of creativity: Theatre, Screen Industries, Public Service Broadcasting, Tourism and other areas.

And it hosts also the first Screen Industries Census for the Cardiff Capital region. I am a fan of counting things in the media sector because otherwise policy and practice develop in an ill-informed vaccuum.

I’ve written about Creative Writing in Lockdown – Writing about Place.

I am unable to get to the place I undertook to write about for a prose and poetry work for which I have received a SIAP Award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland this year. A book about the performance of culture in Wales has helped me get my head around how to keep my writing on track: Prof. Lisa Lewis’s ‘Performing Wales’.


Gorse, Whin, Furze – a shared love in Irish, Ulster Scots, Scots & English

Recently I had a poem about gorse on the Pendemic.ie site which describes itself as, ‘Not a literary magazine for ordinary times, but journaling the extraordinary.’ in these COVID-19 times. My poem describes the gorse that flowers copiously in Ireland in Spring.

I had many  responses on Twitter, sharing a love of gorse and of poetry inspired by it, old and new.  I’d like to bring some of them together here to share that pleasure further, as a simple record. This is a mere fraction of the gorse-related poetry one might find. Continue reading Gorse, Whin, Furze – a shared love in Irish, Ulster Scots, Scots & English

Poem for Nedim Türfent – PEN International on Poetry Day

Nedim Türfent, Kurdish-Turkish, journalist

Nedim Türfent is serving an eight-year-and-nine- month prison sentence on trumped-up terrorism charges following an unfair trial, during which scores of witnesses said they had been tortured into testifying against him. He spent almost two years in solitary confinement in harrowing detention conditions. Determined to keep writing, he started composing poetry while detained. (PEN International) Continue reading Poem for Nedim Türfent – PEN International on Poetry Day

Poem in PENDEMIC – A Gardener Imagines Death…


Is this what I will see:

against a haze of blue a yellow iris

− spear among green blades −

calling me upwards from my final stumble;

no time to name them, each one

and everything I’ve loved, but a yellow

that is all that yellow is

assuming me? Or

eyes behind a visor, summoning me

towards all that human is?


Pendemic.ie is a great platform for sharing work during the pandemic.

Online Festival promos NORTH STAR by N. Irish Women Writers

Once again the dynamic group of women writers, Women Aloud Northern Ireland have demonstrated their vitality and commitment by using the global lockdown to fuel a powerhouse of literary creativity.

The writers of WANI are publishing North Star – an Anthology of Literature by Northern Irish Women.

I’m delighted to have 2 poems in the book.

Not content with merely print, they are also staging an online literary festival, bringing their sparkling storytelling to audiences they would usually be entertaining through workshops, readings and other events, were it not for the worldwide restrictions on their movements.

The Facebook Live Weekend Festival takes place on Saturday and Sunday, April 25 and 26th, using the social media platform’s live facility to bring a diverse programme of fiction, prose and poetry to audiences in their homes with members reading live at 11am, 3pm and 8.30pm on both days. Continue reading Online Festival promos NORTH STAR by N. Irish Women Writers

Poem in Shamrocks and Shells

As my friend, Stephen McCormick was about to set off to walk the Camino to Santiago de Compostela a send-off  was arranged. I couldn’t get to it so I wrote a poem to wish him well. I’m so pleased that he has included it in his

Reflections on the Camino del Norte

‘Compostela’ means ‘field of stars’ and it made me think of a photograph that I looked at often during a period where I was feeling low. The camera’s eye was deep under the surface of a pond, looking up along the slender column of a water plant’s stalk, to the underside of the flower;  up through the water to a new and intriguing  sky. Continue reading Poem in Shamrocks and Shells