Saturday, June 23, 2007

Ancestor Worship now out!

My long-promised collection Ancestor Worship is now officially out. It is available from several outlets, but it would really be great if anyone who wanted to have it ordered from the publisher, Salmon Poetry. Please use the above link to order.

I appreciate everyone’s support.
The book is 72 pp. long — a large collection — and includes six poems in Irish.

Here is the back cover blurb, from James Liddy:

“Unusual routes become strategies. Mike Begnal is Irish-American, he writes in English and Irish, he can invent a hybridisation of style. Ancestor Worship is an extension of this, it can take on a new romancing and deciphering: ‘the warm blood / that flows through to this age, / dangerous and violent in veins...’ Likewise a journey or pilgrimage can be undertaken somewhere, from ‘olive-green felt couch’ to ‘olive sky’. The essential is no one has been quite there before, along the genealogy or amid the furniture.” — James Liddy

And a sample poem to whet the appetitie, which is included on Salmon’s site (see above link), the title poem:

Ancestor Worship

Not like the bones of parents
carried out in procession
from their dark vaginal tombs
among the rocks,
mummified skin stretched
and tanned in mockery of death

it’s not like the imagined
rituals of an old old age
before iron or bronze,
the metal of our mythology,
though the faces look the same
in the rain

but the warm blood that flows through to this age,
dangerous and violent in veins,
hanging heavy like burlap sheets
on a dewy day

the right hook of history,
the slow motion arc of the punch,
the strange figure
on a modern city street
who burrows into your eye
and says, “Who’re you?”

It’s like when Lennon laid
his New York album on you,
and appeared in pictures
in his new image—
sudden Irishman,
like LeRoi Jones’s move to Harlem,
broke with his white friends,
changed his name:

ancestor worship
is the only religion
truly compatible
with the fact
of evolution

12.00 Euro / Paperback / 130 x 204mm / 72 pages / ISBN 1 903392 54 3

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Translations in Calque

I have some translations in the brand new issue (number 2) of Calque, a journal of translation. My translations are from the Irish of Aodhagán Ó Rathaille, Proinsias Nuinseann, and Mícheál Óg Ó Longáin, all 18th/early 19th century Gaelic poets.

Copies can be ordered at this link.

Alternatively, they can also be ordered from: Calque, c/o Steve Dolph, 252 Hampton Dr., Unit B, Venice, CA, 90291, USA. $10.00 each (plus $2.50 shipping).

The editors can be contacted at

Thursday, June 07, 2007

“Blues for Tomorrow” in MungBeing

A poem of mine entitled “Blues for Tomorrow” appears online in the new edition of MungBeing. Appropriately, it is their “Future” issue. As well as my poem, there’s a lot of interesting stuff included here, so do check it out…

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

David Stone, Bridge Poems

David Stone’s new collection Bridge Poems has been published by Six Gallery Press, and is very much worth getting. I can’t really review it, because I’ve already written the preface for it. So instead I’ll give you that (and an excerpt from Stone himself, below).


David Stone is unique among poets. Parallels could be drawn, influences named — Baudelaire springs to mind, and perhaps I could say something tricky like, “Stone is an American Baudelaire, transposed from 19th century Paris to 21st century Baltimore.” But then I may just as well say he’s “a postmodern Poe,” or “a modern-day Surrealist.” None of it is sufficient. I will say that Stone draws from many traditions, poetic and otherwise, whether he resembles them or not. The French are important, but so are the pre-Socratic Greek philosophers, the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the history of jazz, Paul Celan, Osip Mandelstam, Hart Crane, etc. To whatever degree Stone may be “influenced” by this poet or that text, he is worthy of nearly any of them and The Bridge Poems is the proof. For my money (since we live in capitalist societies), Stone is a major American poet and he will surely be recognized as such in time.

Given the title of this book, Crane will loom large. Crane, who, as Stone writes here, “attained water,” and of whom Waldo Frank wrote in the 1933 edition of The Collected Poems, “His vision was the timeless One of all the seers, and it binds him to the great tradition; but because of the time that fleshed him and that he needed, to substance his vision, he could not employ traditional concretions.” And so it is for Stone. His seeming obscurity is not an affectation or a conscious wish to appear “avant-garde.” His highly-pitched language is the struggle to articulate the incomprehensible and the unacceptable. Stone’s work often reads crazily because the world certainly is crazy, and America especially. America is like souls in the underworld. And ghosts speak through poetry.

Michael S. Begnal

Here is a poem from the collection which is perhaps representative:

Jazz Biers

The Dead


in Flanders Field

& grope


& conehats.

The Jackal



of treasure



in deep

sea vents.

—David Stone