Poetry International: A Look Back

Rotterdam - cultuur & stad1


Between January 2012 and January 2015 I was editor of the Irish section of the Poetry International website. Based in Rotterdam, and arising from the long-running festival of the same name, this website is an extraordinary resource.

The Irish domain has been dormant for the past year. But I understand it’s kicking off again in January under a new editor. It seems an opportune time, therefore, to look back at my own contribution. Listed below, then, are the poets I included during my tenure.

Each contributing country gets to update their domain three times a year, adding approximately twelve poets per annum. And looking back now I’m happy enough-ish with my selection, given this and various other constraints under which I had to operate.

I was careful to maintain gender parity during my tenure. The final list, however, reads Male: 14, Female: 10. The disparity was mainly due to the four-male-strong update I put together in late 2014.  I had a really cool four-woman update in the pipeline, which would have seen parity restored.  But my editorship ended before I could execute that plan.

Gender aside, I’m pleased with the list’s variety, that it extended the Irish domain -at least somewhat- into what might be classed as the experimental or modernist poetic traditions. I’m glad, too, that I had the opportunity to present poets writing in the Irish language. But I’m also reminded of constituencies under-served, of poets I longed to include but never quite got around to.

I’m reminded, too, of the professional, exacting central editors I worked with: Sarah Ream, Megen Molé and Mia You. Three extraordinary women.  My thanks to them and to the hardworking staff at Rotterdam HQ, especially Jan Willem for his patience with multifarious formatting and layouts. They are all true servants of the art from!

Kimberly Campanello

Brendan Cleary

Harry Clifton

James Cummins

Paula Cunningham

Peter Fallon

Miriam Gamble

Alan Gillis

Eleanor Hooker

Joseph Horgan

Trevor Joyce

Dave Lordan

Catherine Phil McCarthy

John McAuliffe

Máire Mhac an tSaoÍ

Alan Jude Moore

Bríd Ní Mhóráin

Conor O’Callaghan

Mary O’Donoghue

Simon Ó Faoláin

Derry O’Sullivan

Paul Perry

Áine Uí Fhoghlú

Justin Quinn

Maurice Scully

Peter Sirr

Eileen Sheehan

Macdara Woods



Stinging Fly Winter 2015 / 16

It was an honour to be guest poetry editor for The Stinging Fly’s Winter 2015 edition. The magazine, as always, looks absolutely superb and is full of quality writing:


My thanks to Declan Meade and especially to editor Tom Morris for giving me the opportunity and fro being so easy to work with. Here’s my little editorial:

There were well over a thousand poems submitted for this issue of The Stinging Fly.   Reading each and every piece entrusted to me, the vast majority of them more than once, proved to be bracingly educational, an experience that sharpened my sense of the Anglo-sphere’s  poetic landscape in all its elevations,  troughs and contours.  I was struck, above all, by the high standard of the submissions, by the craft and finesse with which poem after poem was executed. I came away with a sense that poets, both established and aspiring, are reading more widely and deeply than ever, a development attributable partly to the internet, partly no doubt to what might be described as workshop culture, and partly, of course, to magazines like The Stinging Fly.


It was surprising, therefore, how quickly the poems gathered here began to converse, to call out to one another over the heads, as it were, of the other submissions.  But the present selection marches under no particular banner of aesthetic contiguity or political allegiance.  Indeed the idea of such an assemblage marching at all seems somehow…well,  somehow too martial. Think of them not as a platoon but as a gang -ad hoc, rag-tag, slouching-  the kind that operates a tree-house rather than a street corner.


I called for work that resisted paraphrase; that strained against its own ‘translation’ into prose.  And it’s in such resistance that these poems, despite their variety, exhibit a distant but undeniable familial relationship. For embedded in each piece’s creative DNA is a strand of something troubling and intractable, a trait that finds expression in rhythm and torque, in a weird excess of image, in unbridled linguistic play.  Each, in its own way, is calibrated to frustrate restatement, to deny reduction toward workaday and ordinary language. And each, I believe, possesses something doggedly but quintessentially poetic.