We are very pleased to welcome Kevin Higgins as an honorary member of the Poetry Cooperative. Apart from continually adding to his extensive volume of work, Kevin runs poetry workshops and open live mics in Galway. Those who know him will tell you that he is always encouraging emerging talent.
KEVIN HIGGINS is co-organiser of Over The Edge literary events in Galway. He has published five previous full collections of poems: The Boy With No Face (2005), Time Gentlemen, Please (2008), Frightening New Furniture (2010), The Ghost In The Lobby (2014), & Sex and Death at Merlin Park Hospital (2019). His poems also feature in Identity Parade – New British and Irish Poets (Bloodaxe, 2010) and in The Hundred Years’ War: modern war poems (Ed Neil Astley, Bloodaxe May 2014). Kevin was satirist-in-residence with the alternative literature website The Bogman’s Cannon 2015-16. 2016 – The Selected Satires of Kevin Higgins was published by NuaScéalta in 2016. The Minister For Poetry Has Decreed was published by Culture Matters (UK) also in 2016. Song of Songs 2:0 – New & Selected Poems was published by Salmon in Spring 2017. Kevin is a highly experienced workshop facilitator and several of his students have gone on to achieve publication success. He has facilitated poetry workshops at Galway Arts Centre and taught Creative Writing at Galway Technical Institute for the past fifteen years. Kevin is the Creative Writing Director for the NUI Galway International Summer School and also teaches on the NUIG BA Creative Writing Connect programme. His poems have been praised by, among others, Tony Blair’s biographer John Rentoul, Observer columnist Nick Cohen, writer and activist Eamonn McCann, historian Ruth Dudley Edwards, and Sunday Independent columnist Gene Kerrigan; and have been quoted in The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Times (London), Hot Press magazine, Phoenix magazine, The Daily Mirror and on The Vincent Browne Show, and read aloud by Ken Loach at a political meeting in London. He has published topical political poems in publications as various as The New European, The Morning Star, Dissent Magazine (USA), Village Magazine (Ireland), & Harry’s Place. The Stinging Fly magazine has described Kevin as “likely the most widely read living poet in Ireland”. Kevin’s poetry has been translated into Greek, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Albanian, French, Russian, & Portuguese. One of Kevin’s poems features in A Galway Epiphany, the final instalment of Ken Bruen’s Jack Taylor series of novels which is just published. His work has been broadcast on RTE Radio, Lyric FM, and BBC Radio 4. His book The Colour Yellow & The Number 19: Negative Thoughts That Helped One Man Mostly Retain His Sanity During 2020 was published in late 2020 by Nuascealta. His extended essay Thrills & Difficulties: Being A Marxist Poet In 21st Century Ireland was published in pamphlet form by Beir Bua Press last year. In December 2021 Kevin was both expelled from the British Labour Party, of which he was an overseas member, for publishing his poem ‘Tribute Acts’ in Socialist Appeal magazine and, on the very same day, awarded ‘Poet of The Year’ at the Labour Heroes Awards event at Conway Hall, London. Ecstatic, Kevin’s sixth full poetry collection, was published in June 2022 by Salmon.
I spoke to Kevin not only to get advice for members who are yet to see their poems in print but also to discuss his drive to write political poetry.
Thank you, Kevin, for making the time to speak to us!
After Cathy Song
I think when we die I go back to Coventry, a version where it’s permanently 1973. Where my cousin, Mary, is permanently five and not yet our accountant. We play cowboys and Indians with small, plastic figurines who ride tiny plastic horses. And the world is exactly as it should be. Where I’m permanently the miniature man in the passenger seat of my Dad’s van as we roar up the A45 to our weekly Thursday evening shop at the One Stop on the verge of Birmingham. Where I’m permanently playing for the first time Sean South of Garryowen, slightly out of sync with the others, on my new button accordion on the big stage at the Kerryman’s Club. Where I’m permanently tumbling backwards through the kitchen door’s glass for the Sunday evening entertainment of the entire family and acquiring the one scar that’s on the outside. Where the old lady at the end of our street is permanently putting Vote Conservative in her front window and I have no need to hate her. The car factories down the road – Rolls Royce, Chrysler, Jaguar – are, in any case, permanently ruining every other day for her by walking “all out!”, on a show of hands. The Secretary of State for Education is permanently Margaret Hilda Thatcher, and despite her technically being in charge of boys my size, I’ve never heard of her. Where I’m permanently learning my first few focal in preparation for our return to the place Mom and Dad call home. I’m permanently correcting my tutor for putting County Clare in the wrong province of Connacht, and at the age of barely six am disgustingly pleased with myself. Where everyone in our family is still miraculously talking to everyone else. And the world is permanently as it should be.
She had, she thought, a thousand things to say
after Edmond Jabé
Of the Trinity school of journalese she was a product. And when they were told to people bought her; put her on their marble finish kitchen counters and dreamed of world war three and four and liked her monotone clack so much they plopped another two Euro coin in the relevant slot so they could hear once more everyone she disagreed with or whose fabulous hair she was jealous of be called Chinese spies. And all the other little journalesers rushed in to squeak their weasel agreement apart from the predictable elements who were, naturally, just more Chinese spies. As people like her tend to she got what she wanted lots of people saying her name though not all of them pronounced it right and some of them were barely people. And, eventually, both world wars three and four. And there were no more marble kitchen tops. No more two Euro coins. Nor slots to plop them in. And, from her, no more squeaks. Best of all there were no more four wheel drives or children to drive to sporting events in them. We all died happily ever after apart from the Chinese spies and their acolytes who died most unhappily. But there's no pleasing some people.