Smashing the Mirror – William Wall’s Foreword to The Word In Flames, by Dave Lordan

“Ireland suffers from a surfeit of embedded intellectuals. Approximately the equivalent of the embedded journalist reporting from the ‘front line’ during the Iraq war, they report that all is well with the regime and that the class war is proceeding exactly as planned; they suggest adjustments—a little more empathy here, a little less there, fewer people on trolleys in hospitals (but still trolleys), better policing of protests (but still the police), remember the dead of both sides, and so on. Their well-placed articles and interviews pass as the true voice of the critic. These are the intellectuals that Gramsci calls the ‘organisers of culture’. On the other hand, Gramsci tells us, all classes, including the working class produce their own ‘organic intellectuals’, though working class intellectuals are rarely recognised as such. Every once in a while, though, such an organic intellectual pushes through, by sheer strength of will and intellectual capability, the dense network of disciplinary and punitive systems that are designed to control the working class. Such a person is rare in Ireland, because public life works to hedge around and make precarious the voice of the outsider who has not been to the right school or played the right games. Dave Lordan is one such voice….

 

Read the rest of the foreword over at The Stinging Fly

Read all about The Word In Flames – Essays in Literature & Revolt here

Watch the Book Trailer Here

Visit Dave Lordan’s new website here.

The Word in Flames – Essays on Literature & Revolt – New E-book from Dave Lordan + book trailer

Paypal address: dlordan@hotmail.com. Suggested Donation 10 euro.

My e-book of essays on art, literature, social change & multimedia creation THE WORD IN FLAMES is ready to go.

The suggested donation is a tenner, paid through my paypal account, the address of which is dlordan@hotmail.com.

Copies of the e-book can be read on any device such as a smartphone, tablet, iPad, PC, Mac, Laptop, Desktop etc. You don’t need a paypal account to pay through paypal – any debit or credit card will do.

Smaller & larger donations than a tenner also welcome.

All proceeds will go straight to me, the writer of the book! & will go towards buying me more writing time, & upgrading my audio & video equipment. Since taking up videography in early 2016 I have voluntarily made over 100 videos for grassroots artists, community groups, & social movements. If you think what I do has any value, please do consider making a solidarity donation in exchange for the book.

But first, here’s what some deep-thinking activist heads have to say about The Word in Flames:

“The Word in Flames” confirms Dave Lordan’s stature as the most original, incendiary and impassioned voice writing in Ireland today. The combined lyricism and potency of his writing confronts the reader, forcing us, as all great writers do, to see the things we are unwilling or forbidden to know.

Dr. Sinéad Kennedy Department of English, Maynooth University & Secretary, Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment (pc)

Irish writing has not seen prose as brilliant as this since the Enlightenment. With the clarity of Orwell and an indignation reminiscent of Swift, Dave Lordan identifies the tensions and responsibilities that crystallise within great art, whenever artists are brave enough to allow them to do so. 

Dr Deaglán Ó Donghaile. Author of Blasted Literature: Victorian Political Fiction and the Shock of Modernism. Senior Lecturer in English Literature Liverpool John Moores University

If you like polemic to be scalding, defiant, revolutionary and erotic, then you’ll relish this book. By turn erudite, poetic, auto-biographical and scholarly (often all of these at once), this is an important anthology of essays by Ireland’s only literary prophet. Beware, it will make you a disciple.

Conor Kostick, Author of Revolution in Ireland (Cork University Press,) 2009

“Every once in a while an organic intellectual pushes through, by sheer strength of will and intellectual capability, the dense network of disciplinary and punitive systems that are designed to control the working class. Such a person is rare in Ireland, because public life works to hedge around and make precarious the voice of the outsider who has not been to the right school or played the right games. Dave Lordan is one such voice.”

William Wall, Author of This is The Country.

Donate to Dave Lordan’s Community Funding Appeal at paypal address dlordan@hotmail.com, & receive a copy of e-book The Word In Flames.

Screen Shot 2016-11-23 at 19.36.37.png

The Curious Case of the Corpo Employee Who Worked Himself to Death

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Henrietta House

Herbert Simms – Social Activist Architect Extraordinaire

We all wondered why the section of skirting board gripped firmly in her left hand had a smattering of rusty nails hammered into its vintage far end. During a Heritage Week Walking Tour 2016, Dr. Ellen Rowley, architectural and cultural historian, took an original Herbert Simms skirting board, circa late 1940s Ballyfermot Housing Estate, out of her haversack and began smish-smashing people over the head with it. Metaphorically speaking, of course. You see, the rusty nails at the end draw blood and searing enlightenment almost instantaneously when shillelaghed over someone’s head, thereby, precipitating a quicker response and epiphany to her architectural questions than otherwise would have been forthcoming organically. Time is of the essence on modernist walking tours. Best. Heritage. Week. Walking. Tour. Ever.

‘Hands up who’s from Cabra, Crumlin, Ballyfermot, Henrietta House or Chancery House?’ she’d asked. An eager battery of paws shot up.
‘Where are you from?’
‘Ballyfermot.’
‘Who designed and built your house?’
‘Don’t know.’
‘Who designed and built your house?’
‘Don’t know.’

The rusty-nailed skirting board came out and over my head and across my face repeatedly until I screamed, ‘Herbert Simms! Herbert Simms!’ in a mouth-foaming fit of spewing sputum.

‘Correctamundo,’ she intoned from behind Samuel L. Jackson Pulp Fiction sunglasses.
Herbert Simms is the most important architect Ireland has ever seen. Or is likely to ever see. It’s hard to disagree with such a hypothesis once privy to the brute facts. For a start, he was born foreign – and he architected and built my house –and the house I was brought up in – probably yours too on average if you’re a Dub. Shut the door – he’s now designing your window.

Herbert Simms was Housing Architect to Dublin Corporation from 1932 until 1948. Born in London and from a very modest background he studied architecture at Liverpool University with the aid of a scholarship earned as a result of his service in the imperialist First World War. He designed and built approximately 17,000 new dwellings in Dublin during that time. i.e. loads. His works encompassed striking flat blocks in the city centre (Henrietta House, Chancery House, Marrowbone Lane Flats) to herculean housing schemes of Byronic two-storey cottages (houses) in Crumlin, Cabra and Ballyfermot. They called this type of Corpo house, a cottage, back then for some unknown romantic reason to die for.

This was at a time of mass state construction and provision of social housing. After the recent introduction of draconian new mortgage lending guidelines and consequently the chances of any working-class person being able to afford a home ever again going up in flames for generations to come, Herbert’s oeuvre astounds and deranges the senses to the point of sentimentality. i.e. it’s hard not to cry (or sooth yourself numb with water syringed directly from the river Lethe in mourning for the loss of a not-too-distant sort of prelapsarian Arcadia of astonishing housing plenitude we’ll never see the likes of again).

If you grew up in Cabra, Crumlin or Ballyfermot who’ve probably heard people say many, many times over that although the areas may have had their problems in the past, at least the houses were very well built. Solid. Of substance. And this is where Dr Ellen Rowley confirmed this widely-held belief by bringing her rusty-nailed skirting board out as proof of the pudding by way of anecdote. Unlike every Irish architect that came after him, Herbert, was a stickler for decent building standards. A determined fussiness. Like what Nye Bevan in England was doing when he wasn’t busy creating the consummately-unimaginable-in-Ireland NHS. Most of Herbert’s buildings are still standing to this day.

On one occasion when his superiors tried to obviate the requirement for skirting boards in a housing scheme of his, Herbert went bananas to such an extent that he threatened to chop off his left ear and post it to Archbishop McQuaid in protest. Metaphorically speaking, of course. However, he may have won the battle of the skirting board but he eventually lost his long war of attrition with the archbishop of Dublin, Charles McQuaid, that had highly significant sexual consequences for the people of Dublin as a whole in the years to come (see below).

So there was a strong flavour of a Van Gogh about his temperament which is quite apposite since his buildings display a huge Dutch influence by contemporaneous modernist apartment blocks by de Klerk in Amsterdam and J.P. Oud in Rotterdam. In evidence of this, he took part in a space-cake fuelled study trip to Amsterdam and Rotterdam in 1925 with his Dublin Corporation colleagues which proved quite illuminating. Therefore, the first mod in Dublin wasn’t Paul Cleary from Ringsend band, The Blades, it was Herbert Simms, a sort of re-contextualised Paul Weller of Irish architects and as sharply dressed as the peacock suit facades of his city centre apartment blocks. Vincent Van Gogh’s work wasn’t appreciated, either, until after he passed away by shooting his brains out with a revolver and splattering them over his four living rooms walls. In a similar fashion, the way in which Herbert kissed the moon was all ravelled up with Archbishop McQuaid, Michael O’Brien (Dublin Corporation Town Planning Officer), housing schemes ‘n’ wheezes, population control, pills, thrills and bellyaches.

During the 1930s, 1940s and beyond Irish Catholic “thinking” was that high rise flats were bad and two storey cottages (houses) were good like in George Orwell’s two-legs-good-four-legs-bad novel, Animal Farm, except slightly more sinister. The “rationale” underpinning this was that people have more opportunity for sexual profligacy and indecency in city centre apartment blocks than in far-out, deracinated housing estates in which all public spaces are strictly controlled. And that’s how McQuaid and O’Brien killed Herbert; their obsession with sex.

Each detail of any proposed social housing scheme in Dublin had to go first and foremost for approval to McQuaid and O’Brien who at the time were great friends in faith. They regularly polished each other’s rosary beads and drank each other’s holy water. The archbishop wanted to control people living in these new areas so they’d be match-fit for his multifarious religious purposes. This meant that he obsessed about the location of any proposed church or religious-run school in relation to the dwellings. He had to personally rubber-stamp every architectural plan and design which at a time of frantic state house building meant Herbert was frazzled and worked to the edge of all physical and mental endurance fighting against and sadly encompassing some of their ever-changing diktats into his plans. Basically, the archbishop wanted to strictly limit any public spaces on which people might congregate to those that were under the direct auspices of his church. Anything else was communism and he would physically destroy any such ideologically poor plans presented to him with his very own bespoke length of rusty-nailed skirting board.

‘What do you mean a library? This is an outrage, a Trotskyist plot! What we need is another church, Herbert. One with a longer transept and a commensurate curving apse. Rendered in Portland stone methinks. Can’t you see that, boy?’

Which meant very poorly socially-serviced housing but very closely regulated and ruled. To within an inch of people’s lives. Which is Dr Rowley’s theory and current thinking on this subject as far as I can ascertain.

Another possible reason for the above heavy-handed control and Stasi nit-picking interference with state housing plans and designs, I posit, was so that the church could set up paedophile rings within communities facilitated by respectable primary and secondary school teachers, doctors and the Gardaí. As documented by the Ryan Report, The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, this systematic raping and sexual abuse of Irish children by the Catholic Church persisted for generations thereafter.

chancery-house
Chancery House.

Anyway, all this extra work and hassle by the church led our social activist architect and hero, Herbert Simms, to tragically commit suicide by jumping onto the railway tracks at Dun Laoghaire in 1948. The suicide note found on his person advised that overwork was threatening his sanity. But perhaps he had a premonition that frescoed the church’s future “plans and uses” for his Brutalist artworks in sinister sfumato. Or perhaps the archbishop told him out straight, he was a forthright man who always told it like it was, according to the history books.

All that remains is for me to cherry this piece like all articles I’ve read about Herbert Simms, with the following quote. Warning: There will be tears.

“A tribute by Ernest F.N. Taylor, the city surveyor, was published in the Irish Builder: ‘Behind a quiet and unassuming manner there lurked a forceful personality; and Mr Simms could uphold his point of view with a vigour that sometimes surprised those who did not know him well. By sheer hard work and conscientious devotion to duty, he has made a personal contribution towards the solution of Dublin’s housing problem, probably unequalled by anyone in our time…It is not given to many of us to achieve so much in the space of a short lifetime for the benefit of our fellow men.’”

Things to do now: Look out a window of any of Herbert’s 17,000 dwellings at end of day and you’ll be able to see an iridescent reinterpretation of Van Gogh’s Starry Night smiling before you. Then please do press play and listen to The Jam: “In the city there’s a thousand things I wanna say to you.”

starry-night

Camillus John was bored and braised in Dublin. He has been published in The Stinging Fly, RTÉ Ten and Headstuff.org. Recently he killed the Prime Minister of Ireland in fiction in the Welsh literary magazine, The Lonely Crowd, with a piece entitled, The Assassination of Enda Kenny (After Hilary Mantel). He would also like to mention that Pat’s won the FAI cup in 2014 for the first time in 53 miserable years of not winning it.

Daze & Confuse – A response to 66 Days by Oisín Ó Fágáin

11109176_10153151686697415_8741092732246824171_n
Apparently Bobby Sands was an individualist performance artist; one who disarmed the Provos via self-mutilation and who used his body as an art piece, a blank canvass on which people could project whatever they wanted. Somehow or other, this caused the peace process, because Irish people’s inherent blood lust was quenched by sacrificing a young man to mythology.

This is, unpacked, what 66 Days has to say to us about the H-Block hunger strikes.
It is a very ideologically sophisticated film. It has been praised as ‘fair’ and ‘balanced’ and it probably is, if balance is based off the consensus emerging from those who don’t care, or who don’t want to think about things like context, torture, extrajudicial murder, colonialism, poverty, discrimination, or the women of the period who organised the entire movement around the H-Blocks.

The film’s ideological centre, the decontextualising black hole that sucks everything into it, is Fintan O’Toole. He opens and closes the film and his message is how this film is to be perceived; it is his message that is what this film means, and all the other parts of the film are structured, edited and directed around his analysis. He comes across as fluent, charming, reasonable, moderate, which of course he is. But if you remember O’Toole’s slew of articles around that period, his life’s defining work, which you’re not supposed to, the whole mirage breaks into what it is: a mere partisan viewpoint, and a manipulation based on what is excluded.

The messaging he proposes, the non-context that frames the non-existent debate had by this film, is several words spoken by Terrence MacSwiny, Cork mayor, who went on hunger strike in 1920. He said that the legitimacy of struggle comes not from the suffering you inflict, but the suffering you suffer (and, even then, MacSwiney is lightly, and repeatedly, dissed by O’Toole). The only other options the film gives us for historical context is 1916, and some Irish bards who went on hunger strike back in the day, as though bards from a millennium ago had even a tangential impact on the republican struggle in the 1980’s.

What is not given as context is the material conditions of the Northern Irish. This renders these people as extremists from a distant, alien society, rather than people who were reacting to their circumstances.

There is, undoubtedly, some sympathy for Sands here, but it is a trap to draw you in. It is so individualised that identification with him becomes meaningless, and nearly entirely unrelated to the republican struggle. Because what you are supposed to relate to is Sands’ body, the idea of his body. The body, and its meaning in suffering.
So what is this suffering ideology that the film promotes set up against? What is it supposed to work on, and against? Well, the answer to that is very easy: Provo violence. You can’t miss it. They keep saying it. Everyone keeps saying it. If you believed this film you’d think nothing else ever happened in Northern Ireland, and that no one else, in this decontextualised and unhistoricised land, has any blood on their hands. It frames everything.

The Provo’s body count is mentioned three times. The violence of the British state, the UVF, the British military, goes unmentioned. The torture inflicted by the British state is also unmentioned. The wider movement around the H-block is unmentioned. The civilian shootings are, by and large, unmentioned. The targeted assassination of key republican organisers around the time, who organised peacefully and against violence, is unmentioned. Civil liberties get 30 seconds. And by the end of this onslaught of misinformation and selective framing, the film packs in a little sucker-punch: Bobby Sands paved the way for the peace process.
I, for one, did not see that coming.

History in this documentary is a tool used to enshrine the present and control the future and Bobby Sands has to become an empty signifier of peace and sacrifice, because, God forbid, he represented the Northern Irish working class who wanted to be Irish, a dogs-body of the IRA, a spokesperson for a communal dedication to a shared struggle, a tactically-astute mid-level leader, and God forbid he was the most visible expression of all those young men’s bodies, those unspoken-of bodies, not mentioned in the film, who were tortured by a messy, rogue state machine for merely living on the wrong street and having the wrong surname.

If someone did want to make a documentary on the body, a genuine documentary on the body, not one that uses the body as a depoliticising and individualising tool, one could look to those Northern Irish bodies that the British military honed and modernised their torture techniques on. That communal, intergenerational body that stretches to the victims of Abu Ghraib who were tortured using techniques the British military trialed in Northern Ireland, techniques they so generously shared with their American counterparts.
We’re still waiting on that documentary on the body, and we’re still waiting on a documentary of Bobby Sands, but, unfortunately, as has been made clear by this documentary, this will not happen until the archives of our history have to be made free.

There is something very repugnant about it costing hundreds of thousands of euros to access the history we ourselves created, footage of us suffering and being shot and teargassed, and then having it sold back to us at prices we cannot afford. This price tag means that this period, and any prior one, will always be mediated by a greater body whose idea of balance is to make a pacifying instrument of our living history.
At least, in regards to public access to archives, that is something the BBC has gotten right over the last 50 years.

Oisín Ó Fágáin is the author of Hostages

The Flying Column #24 – A Dirty War

mcguinness-gun

A BBC Spotlight investigation has again raised questions about the scale of British infiltration in the IRA.

With characters such as “Larry the Chef” and “Stakeknife” it has all the makings of a conspiracy dreamed up by an over-doped paranoiac in an attic somewhere, except that it’s real.

The new allegations come from an unnamed source, “Martin” who claims to have been a long-term British agent within the IRA and Sinn Fein. He turned after the beginning of the Peace Process. This unrepentant traitor claims moral authority citing the prevention of “another outbreak of violence” as his primary motivation. Because the best way to stop violence is to collaborate with one of the most murderous and destructive regimes on the planet. How much is Special Branch paying these days, “Martin?”

gerryadams

One allegation is that Gerry Adams “sanctioned” the assassination in 2005 of Dennis Donaldson, who was also a British agent. Adams has – of course – denied the allegations, as he has denied every allegation ever – I wouldn’t be surprised if he came out tomorrow and said, “Gerry Adams does not, and has never existed. He is a fictional character. I repeat, he does not exist.”

Donaldson had been recruited by RUC Special Branch in the 1980s and was one of their highest placed agents within the IRA and Sinn Fein – an “agent of influence.” In 2003 it was also alleged that the agent known as Stakeknife was Freddie Scappaticci – former head of the IRA’s internal security (!!) unit. Donaldson was shot. Freddie was not. (Freddie Scappaticci denies being an agent. He also denies being the invention of Mario Puzo.)

There were, by an apparently conservative estimate, as many as “800 informers at any one time” in Northern Ireland (in all groups). That’s a helluva lot of agents for a land with a population under 2 million. According to estimates by CAIN, IRA membership peaked at around 1,500 in the mid-70s. What proportion of the declining membership through the 80s and 90s were informers or agents?

m-and-g

A Dirty Peace

The peace-process is based upon foundations that are proving more and more to be bogus. The “men of peace” tried to flush too much bloody laundry down the toilet and now it’s gushing back out and flooding the house on the hill.

The larger question is to what extent the British state was “running both sides.” What involvement in or prior knowledge of IRA and Real IRA atrocities – for example, the Omagh Bombing – did intelligence agencies have? How many agents in the pay of the British State were involved in murder, torture, brutality or organised crime? How many agents are currently active in Northern Ireland? Could there be more high profile agents to be revealed in SF or the IRA? Whatever the answers, the growing evidence of widespread collusion and infiltration is proving the regime at Stormont to be a fraud – repeating sweet-sounding, flimsy myths about reconciliation and moving forward, all the while festering in a mass grave of collusion and cover-up. It would make you wonder how these paramilitary reconciliation sessions function! A former British agent hugs a former British agent and everything’s ok now? A session on comparing and contrasting MI5 handlers? Or perhaps they play a game called Which Atrocity? Guess which bombing or shooting was orchestrated by the Brits.

marty

Dispatcherama

The national equivalent of Spotlight, BBC’s Panorama, decided to make an investigative piece on the Labour Party organisation Momentum. Channel 4’s Dispatches – also allegedly an investigative exposé program – ran an almost identical show the same night. Dispatcherama focused on finding out information through covert, investigative cleverness, which they could have found out by just asking someone…..anyone….the man down the pub even. Painting the absurd left grouping the Alliance for Workers Liberty (AWL) as some sort of secret society that means to take over the Labour Party, the “exposé” descended into screaming McCarthyism. The idea that a raggle-taggle handful of leftists would be able to “seize control” of Labour is laughable. The greatest revelation was that people who describe themselves as left-wing tend to have left-wing ideas. Scoop!

zinov-letter

The same day, the national press went into melt-down with allegations that Momentum now planned to indoctrinate children through their new vehicle “Momentum Kids.” Contrary to the Jonestown Massacre allusions, what Momentum actually did was set up a crèche. This would alleviate pressure on parents (particularly women) who want to attend the ‘World Transformed’ conference, and provide a safe and fun space for kids over the weekend. Downright deviant!

As the Labour Party Conference comes to my city of residence this weekend, I plan – being a commie plotter – to attend some events and see how crazy these Momentum people really are. Watch this space.

Requiem for an Ice Cap

On a lighter note, funeral arrangements are being prepared for the Arctic, which, after a long battle with carbon dioxide, has died. Warm tributes have been flooding in for the much loved region. Danny from Roscommon said, “I mean, the Arctic was always there, I remember it on TV as a child. It’s been like, a real part of my life I suppose.” Sad to see it go, the BBC plan to make a special episode of “Strictly come Dancing – On Ice!” According to sources close to the Arctic, intensive care facilities were too expensive, so world leaders agreed to “just let it die” and were hoping it would “get on with it.”

icedance

Arctic Sea Ice extent (geographically) is at its second lowest on record – though its volume may also have declined by a substantial figure meaning there could potentially be less ice overall than the 2012 record low. But of course there’s nothing to worry about folks! Sammy Wilson was talking about climate change this week and Sammy knows his stuff. According to him, we’ll be grand.

 

 

Connor Kelly

On being a copy-cat survivor of suicide, by Dave Lordan

image

 

ON BEING A COPYCAT SURVIVOR OF SUICIDE

(World Suicide Prevention Day is this weekend. I am a survivor of a teenage suicide attempt – while on ERASMUS student exchange in Greece in 1994. Below is the text of a radio essay I wrote for RTE Arena reflecting on my experience two decades later. PS lots of people are asking my permission to share – if you think its worth sharing for any reason please do. )

Twenty -one years ago, at the age of 19, I attempted suicide for the first and last time. It wasn’t a cry for help. I’m alive because the East German student I was sharing a room with in a tower block in the Greek city of Salonica returned unexpectedly, an hour into an assumed 4 or 5 hour absence, having forgotten his tennis racket. A tennis racket saved my life. That’s what you call luck, or destiny. I was unconscious and remained so in hospital for a couple of days. I woke full of wires and drips in a ward for the dying, full of old people having their final snoozes and dreams.

Why did I want to die? Because I was weak, and I had learned, many times over, that, in our society, the weak are trampled upon, abandoned, cast out. Isn’t that the lesson the society we live in teaches us, above all else?

I remember the contemptuous indifference of most of the medical staff, but also the kindness and concern of one young trainee doctor. She held my hand and smiled searchingly down into my eyes and made me promise I would never try anything like that again. That simple bonding human contact, amidst all the machinic indifference, was enough to make me want to live again, a little bit. The promise she made me was there was more to life than hatred of self and others, than destruction by and of self and others, that, indeed, there was something holy, called human love, to be gained by living. This was, in the end, a powerful enough counter-attraction to the enormous, essentially blissful relief I had felt in the days leading up to my suicide, after having unburdened myself of the desire to live. “nothing whatever is by love debarred” writes Patrick Kavanagh in his poem The Hospital, and it was there, in that hospital, where I first felt that, whatever had happened, I would not be debarred from love.

Maybe there were many more out there like this fabulous young Doctor, I thought. What a hero she was. All the same, it’s a pity we have to go to such extremes to receive the compassion of the strangers, when it’s often all that’s needed to keep us going.

Back in West Cork I went to the Doctor and was told the good news and the bad news. The good news was I could be put on the list for a psychiatrist. The bad news was it would take 18 months to get to the top of the list. I could have as many pills as were necessary of course. But pills weren’t really working for me – I already knew that. I don’t blame the Doctor for the sadistic cruelty of forcing suicidally depressed people without substantial private means to wait absurd lengths of time for treatment. That’s the fault of a system which allocates resources according to means rather than need. Suicide affects all classes, but it’s only for the poor that ever get told by the state ‘sorry, but your life is too expensive to maintain’.

I wasn’t the only one of my friends to suffer from depression and other forms of mental illness. Except for the equally afflicted, most others avoided me. Sometimes, as Orwell warned, health is sickness, and sickness is health. Thankfully, where I lived, the afflicted were plentiful. Their sympathy, empathy, companionship and good craic kept me going and keeps me going still.

In 20 years I have had plenty of ups and downs, made enough mistakes for ten lifetimes. But I have also experienced friendship, love, and, above all, inspiration. I recall that young Greek doctor again, who breathed some of her own strong life into my weak one. Since then I’ve had the flame of a great life breathed into me by so many people who chose to fight back and won against the institutions and people that tried and threatened to make their life, our life, not worth living. I’m inspired to live by the proud survivors of institutional abuse. I’m inspired to live by those who struggle against illnesses of the body, mind, and soul, and win, or go down fighting. I’m inspired to live by courageous political activists who stay on the streets despite all attempts to demonise and divide them. I’m inspired to live by great artists who refuse to be commodified and sucked up into celebrity culture. I’m inspired to live, and to love, by the downtrodden, who keep going despite everything, because something glorious has been promised to them if they do.

These are the winners I study. These are the survivors I copy. These days I want to live, because maybe the good and the just will win out in the end. I too want to be a copy-cat survivor, not a copy-cat self-annihalator. I want to be around when the long night ends and the sun finally rises on us all.

DAVE LORDAN

dlordan@hotmail.com

0870921117

Dail vote on NEW DEAL FOR THE ARTS today

Amendments proposed by AAA/People Before Profit to Fianna Fail’s wishy washy motion on the arts are to be voted on in Dail Eireann today at 12.45. The amendments, proposed yesterday by Richard Boyd Barret, amount to a revolution in the way arts and artists are treated in Ireland, opening a way to a creative society in which the arts are open to the participation and enjoyment of all. If Fianna Fail vote for the amendments, they will be passed. Contact your local Fianna Fail TD IMMEDIATELY to pressurise them into supporting the amendments, the text of which are below the video.

 

 

 

People Before Profit Amendments to Fianna Fail Arts motion.

“increasing state funding of the Arts to the European average of 0.6% of GDP; and adding an additional €75 million in funding to the Arts in Budget 2017”

“removing the ‘availability for work’ requirement for registered artists on Jobseekers Allowance to allow artists to do unpaid work”

“ensuring all children have greater access to culture and art as a right, both within and outside education”

“establishing a new fund targeted at promoting access to arts in participation in disadvantaged areas for adults and children”

“opening up existing facilities such as schools and colleges for after-school artistic activities for children and teenagers and opening up NAMA buildings for use by local arts organisations”

“the establishing of a ‘new deal’ jobs programme to deliver at least 5000 new jobs in the public sector for artists, offering an opportunity for artists to contribute their skills and creativity to society in areas such as education, special needs, disability, mental health and disadvantaged communities and for the elderly.”

Richard Boyd Barrett, Brid Smith, Gino Kenny

Do you want to Teach Creative Writing? 

TEACHING CREATIVE WRITING – training for teachers and community educators at The Big Smoke Writing Factory


http://bigsmokewritingfactory.com/course/teaching-creative-writing/ to book.

A practical, intensive course in how and why to teach creative writing in a variety of contexts, including schools and community organisations, to adults and children of all ages, to writers in different genres and career stages.
Lesson planning, short-course curriculum design and project planning will be covered in detail, and the course will focus closely on how to get the creative best from each individual student.
Demonstrations of how to integrate the limitless creative possibilities of multimedia devices and applications (e.g Soundcloud, IMOVIE, Voice FX, GarageBand etc) for use in the creative writing classroom – a crucial set of teaching skills in todays rapidly evolving digital creativity environment – also included.
Learn how to find your niche and seek employment in the growing but complex creative writing teaching profession.
Led by Dave Lordan, with leading YA author Claire Hennessy, and Jess Traynor, Literary Manager of The Abbey Theatre, as guest teachers.
Renowned author, performer, and educator Dave Lordan developed his teacher-training practice at Mater Dei Institute of Education, DCU, where he was nominated for the 2013 President’s Award. He is the leading expert in teaching creative writing for community education in Ireland, having partnered on creative writing education projects with RTÉ, DCU, Children’s Books Ireland, Dublin City Libraries, JCSP Libraries, the ICA, Youthreach, among many many others.
Claire Hennessy has published eleven books for young adults and has sixteen years’ experience delivering creative writing sessions in schools and libraries across the country. As well as regularly teaching at the Big Smoke Writing Factory, a creative writing school in Dublin she co-founded in 2009, she has provided workshops for the Irish Writers’ Centre, the Centre for Talented Youth in DCU, Listowel Writers’ Week, the Children’s Book Festival, the Mountains to Sea festival, and many other literary/arts festivals around the country. In 2015-16 she was artist-in-residence at the Church of Ireland College of Education in association with Children’s Books Ireland.
Jessica Traynor is Literary Manager of the Abbey Theatre, and works with emerging and established playwrights to develop plays for the Abbey and Peacock stages. An award-winning poet, she was recently commissioned by Ireland 2016 and the Irish Writers Centre to be part of A Poet’s Rising, broadcast on RTE. She has taught creative writing courses at Big Smoke Writing Factory, the Irish Writers Centre, Fighting Words, and at various Irish literary festivals around Ireland.

http://bigsmokewritingfactory.com/course/teaching-creative-writing/ to book

Fee 250 Euro, Saturday mornings 10.30 to 1.30 on the following dates:
Sat 24 Sept

Sat 8 Oct

Sat 22 Oct

Sat 12 Nov

Sat 26 Nov

Sat 10 Dec

All participants will receive a certificate of completion from The Big Smoke Writing Factory, Ireland’s innovative creative writing school for all ages and backgrounds.

The course is for teachers, community workers, youth workers, practicing writers and similar interested in learning how to integrate creative writing teaching into their general work practices, or how to run an introductory creative writing course for adults or children. Although the only qualification required is a desire to teach creative writing, some teaching/youth/community work experience an advantage. Applicants without teaching or facilitation experience should be mindful that teaching of any kind is a difficult profession requiring advanced organisational and people

Pornography is just a laugh, isn’t it?

strangelove

As a poet, I thought to myself, as a writer and as a socialist, why would I write about internet pornography? Why would I want to wander into the outraged suburbs of the Daily Mail? Why now, in my fifties, would I wish to throw a clichéd pair of arms up in the air at my bewilderment with the modern world? As someone barely literate in the digital realm why talk about what I don’t really know about? And maybe I should have listened to those questions and written about something else but I haven’t because I wanted to write about internet pornography as someone who is all of those above but also, quite simply, as someone who is a man.
For a man is what pornography is always seeking out. Now I have to admit that I’m from the pre-internet age. If a dirty magazine turned up in our Catholic school in Birmingham it was illicit goods of the highest value. We knew pornography was out there somewhere and we knew there were pornographic cinemas but in essence these were all mysterious lands only others seemed to have visited. Now, we are all only too aware of what a regime of repressed sexuality leads to, we are only too aware here in this State of the country it builds. I’m not in any way lamenting the don’t-mention-sex-and-it-will-go-away culture I grew up in. I’m not in favour of the sex obsessed condemnation of the religion I grew up in. Every step away from the nuns and the priests is a step towards freedom in my opinion. But internet pornography? I don’t know. Is it really such a laugh, after all?

My own experience of it is tied in with us not having a television which is a pre-broadband attempt to manage our own domestic environment. Sounds kind of quaint now, doesn’t it? Anyway, without any TV channels but still wishing to watch football from time to time someone put me on to a website where I could watch every game under the sun. The wonders of it. Now because this is sport and because it is presumed I am therefore male the advertising algorithms begin targeting me as I watch. I didn’t realise this for a long while in fact, that while I watched the match there were all these other pages queuing up behind. Gambling sites and insider tips on how to become a millionaire or watch all the movies ever made for free. And porn. Now I’m a man in his fifties and I have a lot of life experience behind me since the days of a mythical porn magazine in the classroom above.

 

Still, there it all is and I’m a little bit shocked and a little bit taken aback and I didn’t order it and for a while I’m just wondering how the fuck it got there. Which is one of the points I wanted to get across because capitalism works hard at finding its consumers and in the case of porn and you being a man it looks like it will find you whether you look for it or not. So anyway, there’s the porn and there’s me the male, the target audience. Only trouble is I do like football and I do have a bet in the bookies but what I’m looking at now leads me to quickly realise that internet porn is as far removed from being erotic as, well, the average football match or visit to the bookies. The comedian I heard saying I don’t use internet porn because I don’t want to see people looking sad having sex has more than a uncomfortable ring of truth to it. It’s grim. It’s presented in a series of thumbnails and I presume you click on whatever takes your fancy. To be honest it leaves me feeling just that little bit depressed. It bothers me. So with writing this article in mind I found that just through sports sites, without once actually searching for a porn site, that porn of varying levels would find its way in to the open market place of my PC. Most of it the usual exaggerated images of porn that any of us might have but others with worryingly young looking females or straplines saying things like, mother or desperate or forced. Yeh, forced. Is that not disturbing? Is that not desperately worrying? To be honest? It’s like a sewer. It’s really not much of a laugh at all. But what it is most of all is the apex of capitalism. In the market everything has its price, everything, every angle, every orifice, every hole. And just who are these women and these men? Are they happy, well-paid workers from wealthy countries? Or is porn eating up the poor and the desperate? As industries go is there another one that is more exploitative?

I have to admit that my journalistic fervour didn’t last too long in investigating this. It truly is just that little bit too desperate, too dark and too sinister. I did find out that it is there on YouTube too and I did find that far from bringing an eroticism in to my life that I hadn’t been seeking that it left me feeling a little bit depressed. But if I jump ahead, if I jump from the world of the mythical dirty magazine floating around a Catholic boy’s school to the-everything-there-at-your -fingertips in the privacy of your own hand held device, what kind of jump have I made. I’m not a psychological expert in this by any means but if it brought a darkness to my fairly well worn mind what does it bring to the minds of those only just getting to know the world. And, hey, I’m fairly happy to concede that I might be wrong. Maybe porn is harmless. Maybe it is fun. Like I’ve said I’m not wishing a return to my shrouded days for today’s young minds. But as a man, as a socialist, as writer, I can’t help feeling that porn is both typical capitalism and a form of assault. I don’t think the right and The Daily Mail and the Church and all of those sexual hypocrites should be the only ones allowed to express concern about this. And I think at the very least that those of us on the left should talk about the subject. I don’t think, for instance, that we should confuse freedom with exploitation or accept that sexual freedom for our society should come at the cost of sexual exploitation of poorer ones. Pornography. Just a laugh? I don’t think so. I really don’t.

Joe Horgan

UP the rebels! – a sampler of the new irish poetry, to celebrate the people’s anniversary of the rising

Tangled in Tangled FX

Click here for the PDF of

UP THE REBELS

featuring

Liz Quirke Kevin Higgins Susan Millar Dumars Sarah Clancy Elaine Feeney Neil McCarthy Stephen Murray Abby Oliveira Graham Allen William Wall Jessamine O Connor Quincy Lehr Trevor Joyce  Michael J. Whelan Karl Parkinson Joe Horgan Kimberley Campanello Daniel Wade Erin Fornoff Jessica Traynor Owen Gallagher Christy Gaffney Jessamine O Connor Cormac Lally Connie Roberts Adam Wyeth Rachel Coventry

edited by Dave Lordan

published as a free gift by The Bogmans Cannon to celebrate the people’s anniversary of the Easter 1916 Rising.