Saturday, April 30, 2016

Oíche Bhealtaine / May-Day Eve

Hawthorn in bloom (via
I don’t think I’m especially insightful in noting that holidays are culturally constructed, that there is nothing inherently holy about one day as opposed to another.  Solstices and equinoxes do mark significant turning points in the cycle of the year, and are thus worth observing.  The four primary Celtic holidays, however, fall between the solstices and equinoxes, and tonight/tomorrow is one of them: Bealtaine.

In Gaelic and other Celtic cultures, Bealtaine is essentially the first day of summer, the brighter part of the year.  Though I’m not going to be driving my cattle (or even my cat) between any purifying bonfires, I choose to notice the day that’s in it.  Holidays can be nice, and maybe even more so when you decide for yourself which ones you like. Oíche Bhealtaine shona dhaoibh go léir.

A Scottish Bealtaine festival, a few years back (via

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Review in Poetry Ireland's Trumpet

My review of recent books by three Irish poets — Trevor Joyce, Christodoulos Makris, and Peter O’Neill — appears in the new issue (5) of Trumpet, Poetry Ireland’s critical review.  The publication is available in hard copy up until a new issue comes out, at which time it becomes downloadable as a PDF.

Poetry Ireland describes the magazine like this: “Reviews, opinions and essays on poetry and the arts in a bite sized literary pamphlet.”

Here are some snippets from my essay.  The whole piece runs to 1735 words, so these are just teasers:

Trevor Joyce’s booklet Rome’s Wreck is a translation of Edmund Spenser’s sonnet sequence Ruines of Rome (1591), which itself is a translation of Joachim du Bellay’s Les Antiquités de Rome (1558). . . .

Where Joyce’s primary formal restriction is his use of iambic tetrameter, Christodoulos Makris, in his second collection, The Architecture of Chance, employs all manner of controlling devices. . . .

In contrast to the ironic humour that Makris deploys, Peter O’Neill in his third collection, The Dark Pool, is nothing if not serious. . . .