In the new Source, 90 (Summer 2017), I review two excellent new books of photography Sandy Row, by Bill Kirk, and Before by Victor Sloan — both look back at Northern Ireland in the 1970s and 1980s and do so, in retrospect, with profound and empathetic insight.
John Duncan’s Bonfires was published in 2008 by Photoworks and Belfast Exposed. It is one of the most piercing and intelligent visual accounts of the iconography of loyalism in Northern Ireland. A pdf of the text of my essay in John’s book can be read via the link here: Bonfires.
Issue 15 of Lighthouse includes my poem ‘After the Opera I was a Criminal’. You can order a copy of Lighthouse from the Gatehouse Press website here.
In the new Honest Ulsterman I write on Brexit, the landscape and the future of farming. Behind Brexit is an economic ideology which wishes to promote the free market — farming without subsidies, left to the supposed regulation of supply and demand. The dangers to farming, the environment and food prices are very real. Read the full piece here.
‘Letters to Iceland’: a panel featuring Rosita Boland, Selina Guinness & Colin Graham, at NonfictionNow in Reykjavik, June 2017.
In 1937, W.H. Auden and Louis MacNeice, published their co-authored Letters from Iceland, “the most unorthodox travel book ever written” (Daily Mail). Less an account of their actual journey undertaken the previous year, than a mock-heroic model of collaborative practice, Auden describes it as a “collage”—“a form that’s large enough to swim in.” Playful in spirit and parodic in intention, these verse epistles, absurd tourist notes and personal correspondence combine to produce a book that refracts the poets’ anxieties about the imminent collapse of Europe.
Taking Letters from Iceland as a starting point, our panel was a series of six letters, handwritten and posted, in various ways, in advance of the conference, contemplating friendship, collaboration, travel, writing and photography.
The new issue of Abridged includes one of my poems, along with much excellent photography and poetry. The poem is below. The issue is online here. And you can request a free copy (just paying p&p).
The Irish Humanities Alliance asked me to write about George Orwell’s 1984 and the recent, renewed interest in it as a fable which might tell us something about the rise of neofascism and ‘populism’. You can my blog essay here.