Friday, October 26, 2012

a faint flicker in a sea of flashing lights

I got something of a surprise yesterday morning. I got a book in the post, an anthology of Irish haiku poems. The blurb on the back was very fulsome in its praise of the contents: ... the first ever national anthology of haiku poetry. It features work by 77 most accomplished haiku writers who have contributed to the development of haiku on the Emerald isle ...

Of course, blurbs are supposed to play the work up. You'd hardly expect them to say something like: this book contains some quite average poems by a bunch of fairly desperate poets who couldn't get published elsewhere and were the only people who would agree to let their work appear in this volume. Not the kind of PR that'll move many units. 

The contents page, however, supported the contentions of the blurb. There were some very famous names included. Michael Hartnett. Patrick Kavanagh. Seamus Heaney. I flicked through the bios toward the rear of the book. All were very serious poets, with collections under their belts, many of whom were editors of various journals. All but one. One poet had no collections. Nothing to recommend his inclusion in the volume other than the fact that he had once written some haiku and the editor felt they were worthy of being included in this volume.

That poet was me.

Back in the 1990s I wrote a lot of haiku, some of which were published in various online fora, others in some small 'chapbooks,' & one even in Poetry Ireland. But life intervened. Family commitments. Work. The discernment of vocation. I didn't stop writing poetry. I have even put a few on this blog over the years. But I wrote less. And I certainly didn't pursue publication.

Then a few months ago I got an email from a college friend who is active in Cork literary circles. He'd been contacted by someone putting together an anthology who was trying to trace a Cork poet with the same name as me who had written haiku. Was it by any chance me? I admitted the possibility. The editor made contact. Would I mind if some of my poems were used? I agreed, mildly flattered, but not really thinking too much of it. I was getting ready to move parishes & was being pulled in all directions. This seemed very much a faint flicker in a sea of flashing lights all competing for my attention.

So I pretty much forgot about it until the book was shoved through my letter box. And I have to admit I'm pretty chuffed. Very humbled to be in such exalted company - but basically very pleased about the whole thing.

So what are the poems like? Well, I have to take a few days off, so what I'll do before I go is pre-programme a few short posts which include some of them, maybe with some notes about the circumstances which led to their being written. In the meantime Deo gratias for this unexpected and unsought affirmation of the fact that I have some talent in this art form. Again, Deo gratias. Amen.


  1. Okay, this is actually one of the coolest things ever!

    Surprise, indeed! Kudos!

  2. Thanks Gina. I cannot but agree! Here's another detail of the story: after the post arrived & I had opened the package, I only gave the book a fairly cursory glance. Then I put it on the kitchen table & said to my wife: 'O look, they sent me a copy of that book' & went out. A few minutes later she came into my office, rather excited, & said: 'Did you know there were poems by Kavanagh & Heaney in this collection?' At which point I started paying a little more attention & pretty soon I was fairly excited myself! A nice surprise.

  3. Father, I'm intrigued; it's very modest of you not to provide a link, but is the anthology available to the general public - I can't find it on Amazon(UK)?

  4. You know, it never occurred to me to provide a link? the editor would be cross with me! I guess I'm not very good at this sort of thing - I need someone like you as an agent!

    The publisher is doghouse books at:

    and there's a link to the book here:

    If I read the webpage right, one can buy it directly from them. But as I said, I will be putting up my entries over the coming days ... but I'll add a link in the text of the post as well. Thanks for your input, Father!