The Rag Tree Speaks

My first poetry collection was published by the Doire Press at the end of September 2017, with kind support from the ACNI.  Described by Carolyn Jess-Cooke, author of Boom! (Seren)  ( )as ‘an unforgettable and caco-phonous debut’ it is available from the Doire Press website at

The book comprises a range of my writing gathered over the last few years, starting from when I was trying to resurface from the intensity of parenting small children ‘weeping on the sticky sofa’, to an establishing of a more assured philosophical engagement with the world.  On the way I take in a range of mythologies, and question the effects of class and religion in Northern Ireland where I still live (hopefully without too much hackneyed Troubles mongering), and contend with grief, love, and a little bit of anthropology (not to mention amateur archaeology).  My writing follows two different processes, one which is a felt, emotional response to a situation, and the other which arises from hours of research and intellectual engagement with the subject matter, a process of contextualisation and distillation. Of course each process informs the other.  What I was searching for, and continue to do so, is what Cy Twombly would describe as ‘the thingness of the thing’  (  ) ,  the capturing of an essense, ‘un-anthropomorphised’ as I write in Totem, which arises from a wholy humanist stance in the world. I feel my position as someone without religion allows an access to the whole world of story, myth and imagination on an entirely equal playing field, one is as true or untrue as the other, and all stories are a reflection only of how utterly astonishing the natural world is – the natural world including our own psychological complexities too. Humans are circadian, not only in our bodily rhythms, but in emotional rhythms too – in nature we find the parallels and the answers – life, death, rebirth over and over again, we go into the deep dark woods/the underworld over and over again, and nothing is learned unless that process is fully entered into, and what is learned is that it will happen again, and that language and art should be used to understand that path and not to cast further shadows.