• Books:
  • Blood Horses,
  • Beneath The Ice,
  • Snakeskin Stilettos,
  • The Horse's Nest,
  • Miracle Fruit,
  • Selected Poems,
  • The Goose Tree

About Me

My photo
Poet, creative writing facilitator, editor. Experienced mentor for those working towards a first collection. My publishers are Lagan Press, Belfast and Liberties Press, Dublin, who published my Selected Poems in 2012, The Goose Tree in June 2014. Blood Horses was published in 2018 from Caesura Press and a new collection, Carnivorous is forthcoming from Doire Press Spring 2019

Monday, 30 December 2019

Looking back, looking forward

It has been quite a year – well all years are in their own way – but 2019 has brought a few new things into my life. Most significantly, the birth of my first grandchild, Daisy, to my daughter, Jannah. As predicted by friends who are grandparents, I wasn’t prepared for the impact this little one would have on my life. I was lucky enough to watch her being born and she immediately took up a huge space in my heart. It is a delight to watch her grow and see her personality begin to blossom. Of course, as I predicted for myself, I do now feel as if I have someone else to worry about and it brings the state of our world, politically and environmentally into very sharp relief.
In June, Doire Press published my latest collection, Carnivorous. Lisa and John from the Press have been incredibly supportive publishers, it has been a great pleasure working with them and I’m really happy with the book. I know you shouldn’t have favourite books, any more than you should have favourite children, but I’m proud of this collection and feel it is a complete thing and true to my voice.
In November I had the fantastic news that I was one of four artists to receive a Major Individual Artist Award from ACNI. This has been important to me in a variety of ways. It means I can cut down on freelance work and concentrate on writing and it also has been a real affirmation that the work of almost thirty years has some substance to it. So perhaps it is worthwhile continuing for a little while longer.
I continue to be grateful for the friends who have supported me along the way, both in writing and in life.
Every year brings its griefs too. The loss of two members of the long standing Shalom poetry group, Denis O’Sullivan and Tom Honey was a sad blow. I have known both men for a long time, meeting when I first facilitated the group way back in the 1990s and both consistently worked away at their poetry over all the years between, Both were strong, honest poets with great grace and skill and both were in love with words. Both were straight, true people and I miss them.
The loss of poet Ciaran Carson is also a grief. I didn’t know Ciaran well on a personal level, but like a lot of other writers, was greatly in awe of his work and his fierce intelligence. His death has caused me to re-examine my thinking on a number of subjects; memory, influence, confidence, changing times.  I have been reflecting a lot on the past.
But it is also the time of year to look forward. 2020 seems an almost impossible number, but here it comes. All l I can do is open myself to it with whatever it will bring, put pen to paper and continue on.

Monday, 15 April 2019


My new collection Carnivorous had its first outing at Cuirt where I was reading alongside John Kelly.

It is always a bit nerve wracking to read new work, so I was delighted at the positive reception for the poems and I'm now looking forward to taking the book on tour. I will be back in Galway, in the Library this time, on the 8th May, then on to Cork Library on the 9th May.
Armagh Library will be the host on the 14th May and the Vintage Room Dublin on the 16th. Coleraine University is the venue for the 22nd May and the Belfast Launch will take place on the 8th June s part of the Belfast Book Festival.

I'm also really pleased to have been invited to take part in the Bray Literary Festival on the 28th June.

It's great to have all these opportunities to read from the book. Thanks to Doire Press for all their support and organisation.

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

How one thing leads to another

Last year I got a message from Big Telly Theatre Company. They were about to start work on a new piece of theatre, Freak Show, and novelist Bernie McGill had told them about my poems in Miracle Fruit, where I had written about such characters as The Great Irish Giant and the co-joined twins, the Fabulous Hilton Sisters. I sent the poems to Zoe and Nikki from Big Telly and this exchange resulted in them using some of the poems in Freak Show and in commissioning some new work from me about the Portrush Giant.

Freak Show was a tremendous success, an amazing piece of physical theatre and I really enjoyed working with the company.

This year I've been commissioned again by them, this time to work on an exciting project, Sea Gods, Shipwrecks and Sidhe Folk, which will provide installations along the Causeway Coastal Route to entertain and engage tourists and reveal the history and stories of places along the way.

I love it when connections bear creative fruit. Bernie and I first met when we were both awarded an ACES award in its inaugural year and so the genesis of the work I'm doing now stretches back over the years.

Freak Show goes out on tour again in March 2019

Sunday, 10 February 2019


I'm delighted to reveal the cover of my new collection, Carnivorous, which will be launched this Spring from Doire Press

Thursday, 31 January 2019

Blood Horses

It has been a busy and exciting year with the development and launch of Blood Horses.

About this time last year a friend introduced me to the work of artist Paddy Lennon. I loved his paintings of horses and they chimed exactly with what I was working on, a series of poems about the Thoroughbred horse, its history and the three founding Arab stallions to whom all Thoroughbreds are genetically linked. The poems also looked at the long relationship that humans have had with horses. I contacted Paddy, we met up, got on well together and embarked on a collaboration that resulted in an exhibition and a beautiful limited edition book of poems and paintings.

So far the exhibition and poems have appeared at Aspects Festival in Bangor, the Downpatrick Racecourse and the beautiful Royal Dublin Society Library. They will be at the John Hewitt Summer School in August 2019 and plans are afoot for them to travel to other racecourses in Ireland and England.

It has been one of my favourite projects and the feedback on the book has been fantastic. If you would like more details go to Blood Horses

Thursday, 15 February 2018

A couple of new poems

Here is a link to two new poems published by the fantastic on-line magazine The HU.

Solitude was written during my stay in Cill Rialaig.


Saturday, 25 November 2017

Cill Rialaig

Ten days in the stunning surroundings of Cill Rialaig, thanks to the Irish Writers Centre and what an experience it was. The solitude was quite difficult to get used to at first, and the sense of many layers of time one on top of the other. It is an elemental place and I spent a good part of each day out walking, watching the changing light over the Skelligs and the sea, visitng the Iron Age fort and the standing stones or just staring out at the horizon. I became acquainted with the Cailleach, a number of pookas and managed to write quite a few poems. It was a chance to reflect on all kinds of things and catch up on reading as well. An ideal retreat at this point in my life, newly retired and loving it.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

A Different Time

It has been a long time since I posted anything on here. Life has been complicated at times over the last couple of years and this summer I finally made the decision to apply for early retirement from the day job. I just knew I could no longer keep going. I felt tired and anxious. I had compassion fatigue My writing had been sporadic at best.
I've been officially retired for one month now and have still to settle into a new rhythm. For all of my writing life I have fitted creativity around everything else that had to be done. Now I have lots more time to myself and my hope is that I will write more - but I'm not sure that it will happen. The expanse of hours that I have now feels a bit scary. Perhaps I won't be able to fill it with words.

I'm hoping to kick start some creativity with a 10 day residency at Cill Rialaig courtesy of the Irish Writers Centre. It will be an opportunity to have a 'retreat' in which to think about themes for work and to go inwards to see if I can find a renewed sense of myself.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Exciting project

I am very pleased to have been invited to be part of this project, and now that I am off work for a few weeks, I will be able to throw myself into it.
Project 366 is a poem-centric collaboration of artists and writers taking place daily throughout 2016. And why? Because poetry is a process, art is a process. Poetry and art happen because we do it, because we make the effort to make it. So the object of this project is not to create finished art objects on a daily basis; it’s to get work on the way every day. Project 366 is to encourage the everyday business of artmaking for those who work – however they work – with word and image. Some people will post only pictures, some people will post only poems or short prose pieces. Some people will alternate among the various forms of their practice. And some may evolve new practices over the course of the year.

There are no set topics or themes for the project but participants add a short draft work daily so that the possibility is always there for response and for a conversation in the work. The project will be blogged daily on the wonderbook and, from there, republished to other social media, for instance facebook.

Project participants have their own keys and make their own posts each day. English is the language-in-common of the project and translation of other-than-English works will likewise happen on a daily basis, so authors working from languages other than English will need to draft rough translations of their work each day too.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Time is a strange thing

When the children were young and I was younger than I am now, I was always busy and yet there was always time to write - late at night or in intense bits of 'time out' of the usual run of things. Now that in theory I have a lot more time and I am a lot less busy, it feels as if there is hardly any time to write. Yet I feel the pressure of time getting shorter, of the probability of there not being a lot of time left.
Maybe it is energy I'm missing - or a sense of purpose? Or perhaps I just spend too much of my time on Facebook.
Whatever - I'm looking forward to taking some unpaid leave over the summer and not having the pressures of work. Having more time . Hopefully doing some serious reading and some writing. Alongside having a few more lie-ins, pottering in the garden, doing a bit of travelling and generally enjoying myself of course. Hope there is time for all of it!