Launch of ‘Portrait of an Atheist Monk at Prayer’ by Oran Ryan

The Poetry Circle present in association with Revival Press a poetry reading and book launch by Oran Ryan

The book will be launched by poet Kevin Higgins.

Portrait of an Atheist Monk at Prayer, Oran Ryan’s first collection, reflects on the nature of existence in a world of conflicting ideologies and belief systems, an age seeking certainty in a post truth state, an era of rising new empires and changing values and faiths, an era of absolutist thinking that hides a deep uncertainty about once seemingly timeless values. It’s also about sex, drugs, rock ‘n roll, and robots.

“With poems that draw their inspiration from space travel, music, art, pop culture, science and philosophy, this book is the perfect read for anyone with an interest in questions of belief and unbelief…This is writing that will play on your mind and your emotions long after you have turned the last page” Eileen Sheehan

“Like a Fly Agaric gospel from outer space, these poems are a hallucinogenic Book of Revelations.” John W. Sexton

“In poems of sometimes cosmic irony, comedy and tragedy dance together in a way that is often sublime.” Kevin Higgins

“The questing gnostic voice, rising from the tumult of discordant collision at the interface of popular culture and organised religion, speaks to both seeker and saved.” Eamon Carr see also Horslips

Oran Ryan is a writer living in Ireland. He has written novels: The Death of Finn (Seven Towers, 2006) Ten Short Novels by Arthur Kruger (Seven Towers 2007), and One Inch Punch (Seven Towers, 2012). He has written plays: Don Quixote has Been Promoted (2009, Ranelagh Arts Festival) for the stage and radio: Preliminary Design for a Universe Circling Spacecraft (KRPN, San Francisco, California 2010). He has written and published short stories, poetry and literary critical articles.

Kevin Higgins, whose best-selling first collection, The Boy With No Face published by Salmon Poetry, was short-listed for the 2006 Strong Award for Best First Collection by an Irish poet. Kevin’s second collection of poems, Time Gentlemen, Please was published in 2008 by Salmon Poetry and his poetry is discussed in The Cambridge Introduction to Modern Irish Poetry. His third collection Frightening New Furniture was published in 2010 by Salmon and his work also appears in the generation defining anthology Identity Parade – New British and Irish Poets (Ed. Roddy Lumsden, Bloodaxe, 2010). A collection of Kevin’s essays and book reviews, Mentioning The War, was published in 2012 by Salmon Poetry. His next collection of poetry, The Ghost in The Lobby, was published in 2014, by Salmon. Press.

Location: Nelly’s Cafe, 46 Nicholas Street, Limeric

Contact: Telephone+353 87 2996409 


More Info Price(s)

Troubador Poetry Prize – 1 week to go


With just one week to closing date, I’m sending details of our annual Troubadour Poetry Prize to poets/teachers/workshop leaders & members/publishers/magazine editors etc, and hope you might forward – full details below – to anyone you know who might be interested in entering.

Every submission helps support our fortnightly reading series at The Troubadour in London which has now been running for 18 years (& which receives no public funding). We rely increasingly on our annual prize & we offer a terrific 1st prize of £5000 (plus another £2000 plus in smaller prizes).

There’ll be a great celebratory event at the Troubadour on 30th November with all winners invited to read their winning poems, alongside readings from this year’s judges, Jean Sprackland & John McAuliffe.

We’d be really grateful for any help in spreading the word…

Many thanks!

Best wishes, Anne-Marie

Anne-Marie Fyfe (Organiser)
coffee-house poetry at the troubadour,

… life, literature and the pursuit of happiness… in the famous Troubadour cellar-club:
London’s liveliest & best-loved poetry landmark since the ‘fifties…

£5,000 Troubadour International Poetry Prize 2015

Sponsored by Cegin Productions

judged by jean sprackland & john mcauliffe with both judges reading all poems

prizes: 1st £5,000, 2nd £1,000, 3rd £500
plus 20 prizes of £25 each
plus a spring 2016 coffee-house-poetry season-ticket
plus a prize-winners’ coffee-house poetry reading
with jean sprackland & john mcauliffe
on mon 30th nov 2015
for all prize-winning poets

submissions, via e-mail or post, by mon 19th oct 2015


John McAuliffe (b. Listowel, Co. Kerry, 1973) has published four books with The Gallery Press: A Better Life (2002), Next Door (2007), Of All Places (PBS Recommendation, 2011) and The Way In (2015). He lives in Manchester where he teaches at the University of Manchester’s Centre for New Writing and writes a monthly poetry column for the Irish Times.

Jean Sprackland (b. 1962) is author of four collections of poetry, Tattoos for Mothers Day (Spike, 1997), Hard Water (Cape, 2003), Tilt (Cape, 2007) & Sleeping Keys (Random House, 2013), & Strands: A Year of Discoveries on the Beach (Cape, 2012), a book of essays about landscape and nature. Originally from Burton upon Trent, she studied English & Philosophy at the University of Kent & is a Trustee of the Poetry Archive.

both judges will read all poems submitted


General: Entry implies acceptance of all rules; failure to comply with all rules results in disqualification; submissions accepted from individuals of any nationality, from any country, aged over 18 years; no poet may win more than one prize; judges’ decision is final; no correspondence will be entered into.

Poems: Poems must be in English, must each be no longer than 45 lines, must fit on one side of one A4 or US-Letter-size page, must show title & poem only, must not show poet’s name or any other identifying marks on submitted poems (whether submitted by post or as e-mail attachment), must be the original work of the entrant (no translations) & must not have been previously broadcast or published (in print or online); prize-winning poems may be published (in print or online) by Troubadour International Poetry Prize, & may not be published elsewhere for one year after Monday 19th Oct 2015 without permission; no limit on number of poems submitted; no limit on number of separate submissions any individual may make; poems may be submitted by post or e-mail (see submission details below) but poems already submitted by e-mail should not then also be submitted by post; no text alterations accepted after submission.

Fees: All entries must be accompanied by submission fees of £5/€6/$8 per poem (Sterling/Euro/US-Dollars only); entries only included when payment received via EITHER

  • PayPal: see PayPal (see ‘prizes‘ page on, PayPal account not required, no additional details required, please note your PayPal Receipt No.) OR
  • Cheque/Money-Order: payable to Coffee-House Poetry
  • NB: include PayPal name or cheque signatory name in e-mail or postal submission details, only if different from Poet’s Name.

By Post: No entry form required; two copies required of each poem submitted; please include the following details on a separate page – Poet’s Name & Address, Phone No, E-Mail Address (if available), List of Titles, No. of Poems, Total Fees, & EITHER PayPal Receipt No. OR cheque/money-order/postal-payment enclosed; no paper-clips or staples, no Special Delivery, Recorded Delivery or Registered Post; entries are not returned.

By E-mail: No entry form required; poems must be e-mailed to as attachments (.doc, .docx, .pdf, .rtf only); please include the following details in your e-mail message – Poet’s Name & Address, Phone No, List of Titles, No. of Poems, Total Fees, & EITHER PayPal Receipt No. OR send cheque/money-order/postal-payment by post, no paper-clips or staples, no Special Delivery, Recorded Delivery or Registered Post. (Do not submit via website contact page; do not submit by e-mail to; submit by e-mail to ONLY.)

Deadline: All postal entries, and any cheque/money-order/postal-payments for e-mail entries, to arrive at Troubadour International Poetry Prize, Coffee-House Poetry, PO Box 16210, LONDON W4 1ZP postmarked on or before Mon 19th Oct 2015. Prize-winners only will be contacted individually by Mon 23rd Nov 2015. Prize-giving will take place on Mon 30th Nov 2015 at Coffee-House Poetry at the Troubadour in Earls Court, London.

Acknowledgement/Results: E-mail entries acknowledged within 14 days of receipt of both entry & payment; postal entrants may include stamped, addressed postcard or envelope marked Acknowledgement &/or stamped, addressed envelope marked Results; results will be posted on website (& mailed to all postal entrants who included a Results envelope) after announcement on Mon 30th Nov 2015; no correspondence will be entered into.

Anne-Marie Fyfe (Organiser), coffee-house poetry at the troubadour
life, literature and the pursuit of happiness, in the famous Troubadour cellar-club: London’s liveliest & best-loved poetry venue…
readings, mondays 8-10 pm, tickets £7, season tickets 20% off, classes, sundays 12-3.30 pm, £28, at 263-267 Old Brompton Rd LONDON SW5, (no mail to this address, see correspondence PO Box address below), nr. junct. Earls Court & Old Brompton Rds, nearest Tube: Earls Court (District & Piccadilly Lines), to advance-book readings, season tickets or classes (classes are advance-booking only), pay via PayPal on website or send cheque payable to Coffee-House Poetry to PO Box below, for info, season ticket & mailing list, or write to Anne-Marie Fyfe, Coffee-House Poetry, PO Box 16210, LONDON, W4 1ZP

Remembering Sarah Sunflower Lundberg

I just came across this blog. Its excellent.

My Site

The inimitable Sarah Lundberg The inimitable Sarah Lundberg

I first met Sarah Lundberg in Bowes Pub in Fleet Street in Dublin where her ‘Seven Towers’ company had been in Open Mic session for some weeks. There would be many changes of venue  in subsequent years but her monthly ‘Last Wednesday’ would always be a fixture, presided over by Sarah and skillfully MC’d by Declan McLoughlin. It was here that many younger, and not a few of us older, poets and writers got a chance to float some new pieces and see how they sounded. And everyone was assured of a fair hearing. No heckling (although occasional shouts of praise were permitted!) and no going on and on and on, taking up more that the 7-10 minutes, a practice that afflicts so many of our city’s open mics. There was law and order and plenty of socialising, an aspect of the open mic that was never neglected by Sarah. She well understood that a writer’s…

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Meet Ebenezer Scrooge 2014: sacking people is “great fun”

Pride's Purge

(not satire – it’s the UK today)

Over a hundred and seventy years after Dickens published a Christmas Carol, meet Ebenezer Scrooge 2014:

moulton the new scrooge

You can read all about how Moulton sacked his staff and couldn’t even be bothered to tell them here:

UKIP supporter and fat city cat Jon Moulton sacks 2,727 of his staff on Xmas Day

But Moulton is not just a fabulously wealthy fat city cat who doesn’t give a sh*t about British workers. He’s a prominent UKIP supporter too. And a good example of just how nasty some of the people behind UKIP are.

Here are some quotes:

Moulton on making people redundant: “You can never fire anyone too soon

Moulton’s description of the people he has fired: “cutting away unnecessaries

Moulton on why there should be even more austerity: “It’s the moral thing to do and it’s the right thing to do.

Moulton on why…

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Fucking Chickentown

The story begins with the collapse of the banking system in Ireland in 2008 due largely to corruption and over investment and lack of fiscal restraint of the building market. Instead of allowing the commercial Banking system, to collapse, the Irish Government sought monies from the European Central Bank to stabilize the economy. To date the debt is 180 billion, whereas 130 billion has been borrowed. The debt is over a hundred per cent of gross domestic product with Ireland’s overall debt exposure of around 800 billion. The debt is also over one hundred and twenty per cent of gross national product. Gross national product is estimated at around three per cent, which is good, but the debt ratio is crippling. This is a debt which will continue for generations. We are mired in debt and economically, and as a consequence, politically dependent on our creditors.

Previous Governments, seen as corrupt and hopelessly in thrall to establishment bankers, a new centre right coalition were voted in on a bill of reform and proceeded to great fanfare to straighten out the appalling state of the nations finances. Social spending was cut by two billion, taxes increased by one and a half billion, as well as emptying the nations coffers. This had the consequence of decreasing our potential for expenditure – our money for daily spending dropped. people began re-negotiating loans, cancelling credit cards, going on fewer holidays consolidating debts, not buying new cars, houses, electrical items. Unemployment increased, businesses closed, and as credit became increasingly difficult to acquire, new businesses starting up became fewer and further between.

That is, its not all bad. As credit is expensive, as inflation is moderately high, as there still remains a good economic growth of over three per cent, a weak economy in other words with a highly skilled economy with a ‘first world’ education mostly out of work, the stage is set for the arrival of huge multinational corporations on tax breaks – service industries, shopping malls, chemical suppliers, research and development technologies allying themselves to cash strapped universities, technology hubs – all with little or no union representation, low wages, short contracts, with little or no permanent relationship with the surrounding communities they arrive in. Larger corporations are more immune to the highs and lows of local economies. They can control local pricing, dictate terms, and move out quickly if they dont get the terms they want. Thus some jobs replace the ones lost.

At the same time taxation rises for the individual and the homeowner. Water tax, property tax, wage cuts, reduction or removal of medical and social benefits, – all these serve to further population’s state of dependency – economic or otherwise. A rapidly shrinking job market and a social benefit system that has become both parsimonious in its benefits and labyrinthine in its complexity. Its extraordinarily easy to pay a parking fine or the deeply immoral television licence. Its almost Kafkaesque to try to apply for a medical card or unemployment benefit.

The Senate is moved to be abolished. The minister for justice controls the army and the police. Gangland violence is on the rise. Law and order is constantly discussed in the media. More police are hired and trained and put on the street, despite the economy being in deep trouble. There is a marked increase in stop and search procedures.  Fines are imposed for the most trivial transgressions.

The number of murders increases, as does the abuse of alcohol and drugs. The family is under considerable strain. Emigration increases. Things are, well, bad. There seems to be an absence of hope and order, an order the government seeks to re impose with an increasingly, dare I say it, fascistic stance. And all this because we bailed out the commercial banks. Welcome to fucking chicken town.

John Cooper Clarke’s brilliant performance piece “Evidently Chicken Town”

Poet in Profile–Unabridged Interview with Oran Ryan by Ruairi Conneely

I’ve been tasked at times at NewsFour with writing about poetry and the Dublin Literary scene, insofar as I’m in frequent contact with it. However, the circumstances that lead me to interview Oran were simple and typical for a journalist: the assignment was dropped on me with only a day or two to research and produce the whole piece, from soup to nuts, and deliver it to deadline with pictures and all.

Oran and I are very good friends and I’m always eager to help him promote himself and share his thoughtfulness with the world at large. I think those with the talent to do so have something like a duty to be a voice for their readers’ inner lives. That’s why I write fiction when I can (aside from the journalist day job) and that’s why I think a lot of people are compelled to write fiction and research.They’re articulating not just for themselves but for their kindred spirits, who maybe a little less sure of their words or images. This is a big part of the much-mooted “shamanistic” function of Art, to my mind.

So, long story boring, I knew Oran would be a good subject, I was racing the clock, and I knew he had (has!) a poetry collection in the works.

What follows is the full original text I submitted to the NewsFour offices, which saw print in abridged form, in the June/July 2013 issue.

NewsFour, by the way, is the community newspaper for Dublin 4, covering Donnybrook, Sandymount, Irishtown, Ringsend, Ballsbridge and adjacent areas. We publish an issue every two months or so, of about 40 pages, free of charge, available around the Dublin 4 area and free of depressing garbage. or find us on Facebook

Ruairi Conneely

There you go.


Poet’s Place: Oran Ryan

By Ruairi Conneely

It’s a pleasure to welcome you all to the freshly revived NewsFour Poetry Place! I’m Ruairi Conneely, a staff journalist here at your beloved community paper and, in my spare time, something of a jack-of-all-trades writer. Before journalism, I worked in the world of small press publishing, for an agency that specialised in poetry collections. I write poetry and short fiction and the curious among you can find me most months at the monthly Last Wednesday Open Mic where I frequently perform my work.

For my debut Poet’s Place column, I’ve elected to start with an unusual choice of subject. Oran Ryan is predominantly known as a novelist: his third novel ‘One Inch Punch’ was published to much fanfare in October 2012 and was mentioned in the Seanad by Senator David Norris for its hands-on treatment of the topic of bullying. However, Oran is also an extensively published and experienced poet. His work has been published in periodicals like Can Can, Poetry Ireland, the Iota Poetry Quarterly, the International Library of Poetry Journal and Anarchist Angel, to name just a few. He has a collection forthcoming from Seven Towers entitled ‘Portrait of An Atheist Monk At Prayer’. Accompanying his profile as an author, Oran trails behind him an interesting and complex personal biography: he was an ordained monk of the Capuchin Order for much of the 1980s before succumbing to his natural scepticism. He then entered into the study of Philosophy, then Psychology, psychoanalysis and the study of Language. Now he lives near the Docklands, in East Wall, with his wife Sarah and many dogs and cats. But where does poetry enter all this, I wondered?

Oran: “Well, I started to read poetry at a very young age and it was because my father would read poems to us. He was a big fan of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and he would read to me and my sisters the entirety of “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, which was extraordinary. I would have been about 6 or 7 years old. Imagining what that poem describes was hallucinatory, overwhelming at that age. There was hardly a time after that when I wasn’t reading poetry.”

Where did the productive aspect begin for you? At what point did you begin to write your own?

“I started writing seriously – and getting published – in my teens and early twenties, and it was weird. I thought of myself predominantly as a religious person, not at all as an artist, but I always wrote some poetry. I had the impulse for my youth. After religion, I focussed on psychoanalysis and language and envisioned a career writing on these subject. So non-fiction, I suppose. Scholarly, academic texts.”

Let’s talk about style. Where do you take your cues for the voice and form of a poem?

“I don’t take linguistic cues from poetry itself but from everyday speech and use of language. People hide as much as they display in their everyday words and they often reveal their very deepest feelings unwittingly.”

So you don’t start with a style in mind?

“No, I start with a subject or image that has jumped out at me, and the style and voice, even the length of the poem, is determined from that starting point. I’m not opposed to formalism: sometimes I start with the most precise metre possible but Metre is a tool. Important to know but… well, I always have the Princeton Encyclopaedia of Poetics handy. It’s a terrific reference work for formal matters but don’t let it rule your life.”

Is there an overlap between your poetry and your novels?

“Of course. Poets are writers – the bridge between poetry and prose is very short. The idea for my last novel started with a poetic phrase: ‘You’re out of time, Mr Prime, your tiny life’s a thin blue line.’ Mr Prime became Raymond Prime, who became Gordon Brock, the protagonist of what became ‘One Inch Punch’.”

To wrap up, tell us about your forthcoming collection. It’s been a long time coming.

“The collection is called ‘Portrait of An Atheist Monk at Prayer’ and it’s the gathering of many years work, some previously published, some not. I resisted the idea I should do a collection for many years because I didn’t feel it would really be complete. I felt I had more to learn. But recently, last year this started, I had the idea for a poem that became a series focusing in a character called Joe the Astronaut. Joe is a wounded hero for the new age we live in. He’s been to Space, he’s seen Infinity directly and it’s crushed his mind with its vastness. So now, returned to Earth, he writes about his experiences in the third person. He writes about his failures, his dreams, lost and former loves. He is the Atheist Monk of the title. He has seen but he cannot believe.”

Oran Ryan’s novels are available through Seven Towers at He blogs at

The Many Lives of the Melancholy Dane

I love meeting people,where, the moment you meet them, there is an instant connection, a shared sense of humour and a real warmth.

I met a writer from the USA and we immediately connected. Our conversation ranged over many topics, but one in particular stayed with me and lingered in my mind because, well, its one of those insoluble things about writing, and not just about writing, but about communication. What happens when we are telling a story?

I met a writer from the USA and we immediately connected.
Our conversation ranged over many topics, but one in particular stayed with me and lingered in my mind because, well, its one of those insoluble things about writing, and not just about writing, but about communication. What happens when we are telling a story?

At this point the conversation took off and we became enmeshed in this seemingly impossible subject. We progressed from the idea of, say, a fairy story to something like Hamlet. Is there a true version of Hamlet? Which interpretation of the dilemma of the Melancholy Dane is the right one? The one that Shakespeare thought of and wrote down? I imagined him finishing a good workable draft of the play and taking it down to his troupe and saying something akin to “Right lads, I have a new play. Its going to be an
absolute cracker. But I need your full participation here.’ Well, maybe not, on second thoughts.

  Its easy to mangle a masterpiece. To handle a complex piece of delicate machinery requires intelligence, grace, insight, patience and a determination that we call character. In some ways requires genius to interpret genius, which is why there are many poor versions of Hamlet. So again I ask – was the first version of Hamlet produced by Shakespeare closest to the right one? Was it Brannagh’s version? Olivier’s? For every ‘version’ of the play, a new angle of the infinitely complex musings of the  Melancholy Dane is revealed. It is a world unto itself. There are the words that are written down. There is the intention of the author. Then there is the interpretations of the actors, the set designers, the directors and the group of actors in the particular historical context of that particular production. Then there is the individual interpretation and appreciations of the audience taking in what is going on.

So we have the many lives of Hamlet. We have a Hamlet living on multiple levels, living multiple lives in the minds of so many people across time and so many planes of existence. Hamlet in hyperspace. Hamlet in our heads. Hamlet in every copy of Shakespeare ever produced. The unread Hamlet. The original Hamlet. The cloned Hamlet.

We have James Joyce proving by algebra that Hamlet’s grandson is Shakespeare’s grandfather and that he himself is the ghost of his own father in the Scylla and Charybdis section of Ulysses. Who are we to argue? This the age of science fiction. Things are being cloned as we speak.

Personally I think there is no original Hamlet. The idea of a simple story giving a direct message is something of a misguided idea. Even the simplest fairy story carry a freight of multiple highly complex meanings, and this is why they have lasted for so very long.
Complexity might not be comfortable. Buts its here, probably to stay.