Tag Archives: Kevin Higgins

At the G8 summit in May 2013 at Lough Erne in Fermanagh, Northern Ireland were, from left: United States President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Taoiseach Enda Kenny

Kevin writes:

Sunday evening’s Reeling In The Years [RTÉ One] included the visit in 2013 by the Obamas, which was a spin off of the G20 summit on Lough Erne.

Around this time, I was doing two Culture Ireland sponsored poetry readings in Washington DC and Huntington, West Virginia. The poem below was inspired by our train journey from Washington to Huntington, which took us through the northern Virginia and West Virginia via the Blue Ridge mountains. At the start of our journey I spotted an Obama ‘Hope’ t-shirt for sale at a knockdown price in a shop in the train station. The poem was inspired by that journey.

Amtrak: Washington DC to Huntington, West Virginia

At Union Station hope is a t-shirt on sale
at seventy per cent off. Yesterday,
all the bow-tied barristers gathered
in the Hilton Hotel.

At the end of the street
the man from JP Morgan told Congress
investors prefer trophy real estate:
Manhattan office blocks to houses
for the little people.

Out here, the tuxedo gives way
to the pick up truck. Red winter fields
dotted with cattle that will soon be
hamburgers; demolition yards
full of cars that were once
somebody’s dream.

Out here, the taxi drivers are all local
in tiny white towns, each of which
glowers on its mountain side
like a schoolmistress.

Out here, guys
who’d have been happy
to point you in the direction
of the hunting supplies store
if they hadn’t got
killed in whatever war.

Kevin Higgins

RollingNews

This morning.

Happy Poetry Day.

To you and yours.

Poet Kevin Higgins (top) marks the occasion in a special video made by Galway Public Libraries.

Meanwhile…

Kevin writes:

My poem in response to yesterday evening’s Reeling In The Years on RTÉ One, which covered 2012. I wrote this in the immediate aftermath of the death of Savita Halappanavar at our local hospital [University Hospital Galway], which you can see from our kitchen window.

The Euphemisms

(after Peter Reading)

A great and sure remedy
for unmarried ladies. A boat
somewhere so she can sort this out
and then get back to her life.
A Ryanair flight to Leeds-Bradford.
A pill the modern woman
can take with her coffee.
An ex-nurse above a fish and chip shop
who helps girls in trouble.
A day trip to a clinic
near Liverpool. Flushing it
down the lavatory. Something
the Irish government is in no rush
to legislate for. What the Bishop of Kerry
is definitely against.
Something no one wants.
The world’s second oldest profession.
A number in England her doctor
suggests she phone.
Something the Irish government
will deal with in a prompt
and appropriate manner.
The constitutional amendment of 1983.
The letters A, B, C. The letter X.
If we leave it long enough
all the letters in between.
Something you can’t have women
walking in off the street
and demanding.

Kevin Higgins

Reeling In The Years: 2012 (RTÉ)

Pic: RTÉ

 

Aer Lingus desk at departures in Dublin Airport, 2011

Kevin writes:

The end of last night’s episode of RTÉ One’s Reeling in the Years focused on the resumption of emigration, particularly of young people, from Ireland as the great recession continued in 2011. I wrote this poem back then when I overheard someone bemoan the fact that their hairdresser had moved to Canada…

Inconvenience: A History

When the housing market went further south
than the East Antarctic Ice Sheet,
my chiropodist climbed Croagh Patrick
to consider his property portfolio
and never came back down.
The toe nails on my left foot
are not expected to recover.

My hairdresser abandoned
me for the scalps of Alberta, Canada.
It’s been one bad hair month
after another four successive quarters,
which reminds me of the time
our landscaper, Seamus, got skinned
alive and driven around
in the passenger seat of a taxi
by a breakaway UVF faction.
The Rhododendrons were not
themselves after that.

Tragic, almost, as the night
the truck pulled up to take
our family tailor, Shmuel,
to the train and
Birkenau. Trapped in the nightmare
from which we’re all
trying to wriggle free, I went about my
business as usual
in desperate need of a decent suit.

Kevin Higgins

RollingNews

Solicitor Kevin Higgins (top left) and Peter Mulryan (top right) in the Dáil today

This afternoon in the Dáil.

The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Children, Disability, Equality and Integration discussed the Institutional Burials Bill with contributions from solicitor Kevin Higgins and Peter Mulryan, both of the Tuam Home Survivors Network.

From his opening statement, Mr Higgins said:

“… if this proposed bill was genuinely conceived as a measure to bring dignity to these children and a measure of closure to their families, it would probably would have been adopted on all sides and the need for pre-legislative scrutiny would not exist.

“To the members of this committee, I say: if you permit this measure to progress, you do so with your fingerprints all over it. And I believe you will come to regret it. This bill should be returned to whence it came. Nothing of worth, humanity or integrity, can be retrieved from it. I thank you, Mr Chairman.”

Later, in response to a question from Independent Senator Lynne Ruane, solicitor Kevin Higgins said:

“Dignity is one thing and it’s become an overused word throughout this process. The thing I know is that I’ve been involved in this for the past 7 years and, whereas the commission has acted independently, I know of not one single solitary, substantial thing done by any agency of the State, and certainly by the Department of Children, which has made any difference whatsoever.

Dignity and justice are inseparable. If you cannot give these children a bona fide death certificate… this Act which may decide, is essentially asking us in many ways: would we like roses around the mass grave or would we like bluebells? We don’t want either.

“We want these children, the death certificates of these children are a fantasy. There is not, senator, a single medical certificate existing for one of those children in Tuam. You cannot get a death certificate without a medical certificate. This is not new law, that pertained then.

“These children, 25 per cent, according to the death certificates, died from something as nebulous as dibility. We’re all familiar with deaths too premature, births of children. The medical attendant certified that a child of three and a half, who never showed any symptoms of illness, had actually died of prematurity. Dignity without justice, justice without dignity, we need these children to be treated with respect.

“This bill, it’s a little bit like the Commission of Investigation Act. People say it’s not fit for purpose, it’s clearly not fit for anything. How many of them have been run into the ground?…”

Later:

“…I think the existing law is quite adequate. There is nothing to prevent, in the terms of Tuam with which I am familiar and which of course is perhaps the most documented, I would say that it is possible to excavate; it is many cases, from the oleo-archaeology I have seen, to carry out post-mortems; it is possible to reach, in many cases, a determination as possible or probable cause of death. And I think not leaving us behind collectively, this is not a matter just for survivors, the bill which created Mother and Baby Homes was something as innocuous sounding as the Local Government Temporary Provisions Act 1923.

“Just for your own benefit, deputy, I can tell you that bill was finally repealed in the year 2000. That’s 21 years ago.”

“….I would just say I don’t think we need this bill. I think we need to follow the law. I believe we need to resource the coroner’s service and allow people to give evidence at the coroner’s service as to what transpired, those still living, as to what transpired within those homes, in order to allow a coroner make a determination.”

Later:

Peter Mulryan said:

I would like to know where my sister is at this moment. I’m years now looking for records of my sister. Every time I go to bed at night, I think about her. Why am I left this way? Is she dead or alive? I do not know. The information I got is so scant.

It is unbelievable they do this to a human being that was recorded as born as a healthy baby. And yet nine months later, she died. From what? Was it malnutrition? Neglect? Were they drowned? We don’t know?

“But I want to know, about my sibling, where she is now. I’m being denied all this information.

“Like to do that to an innocent baby. Now they’re trying to stop us to find out anything about where she is. And we’re denied and denied, it’s so inhumane to think that the present stated governments and what they are doing to us is beyond, beggars belief.

“I am so, so disheartened with it, that they’re still trying to make those babies suffer when they’re out there, soul-searching for their lives. To be brought into the world and to be incarcerated, and the same with my mother, what was done to her also. It’s horrendous. That’s it.”

Previously: ‘Tread Softly, For Your Tread On The Bones Of My Family’

Last night’s ‘Reeling in the Years’ on RTÉ One covered 2010, the year of the big freeze

First in a new 10-part weekly series.

Reeling In The Rhyme.

2010.

Austerity Mantra

Everything must be on the table.
Your ninety seven year old granny
is no longer cost effective, would
benefit greatly from being brought face to face
with a compassionate baseball bat.
The figures speak for themselves and will
be worse by morning. The paraplegic
in his insanely expensive wheelchair
will have to crawl as God intended.
Here are the figures that won’t stop
speaking for themselves, this is the table
everything must be on. Yesterday my name was
Temporary Fiscal Adjustment.

Tonight, the insect in the radio calls me
The Inevitable. When the economist
puts his hand up, take care not to cough.
Everything’s on the table and
the table’s tiny. I’d send you a pillow
to hold hard over the child’s face
‘til the kicking stops, but at current rates
there’ll be no pillow. I am the unthinkable
but you will think me. Pack her mouth
with tea towels, hold down firmly
your old mildewed raincoat,
‘til there’s no more breath.

Tomorrow I’ll be known as
Four Year Consolidation Package.
Lock the cat in the oven and bake
at two hundred degrees centigrade.
Tie your last plastic bag over
your own head. The figures speak for themselves
and there is no table.

Kevin Higgins

Austerity Mantra’ appeared in Kevin’s 2014 collection The Ghost In The Lobby (Salmon Poetry)

Reeling in the Years 2020 (RTÉ)

Poet Kevin Higgins and a portrait of himself by artist Chris Banahan

Kevin writes:

This poem (below) refers, at the end, to my lack, thus far of a vaccination date despite my condition

‘Liberals’ &’Death’

Two words that strut confident of
their own historical inevitability.
Everyone in time meets them,
though hopefully not both
ringing your door bell
the same day,
unless your name is
Nagasaki or Vietnam;

or you’re the first village
no-one’s ever heard of
successfully abolished
from thirty thousand feet
by a transgender person
pressing a button;

or you’re the first Somali in history
proudly turned into a pile of burning mince
by a drone designed by a woman of colour;

or you’re the wrong type of Australian
whose computer told us the names
of the obliterated
and so can only leave prison
in a fair-trade white cardboard box;

or you’re me, delighted
to expire unvaccinated rather
than spark a diplomatic kerfuffle
by sticking in my bicep
something as sinister sounding as Sputnik
without written permission from Brussels

who’ll surely deliver
a keynote speaker to my grave
to thank my corpse for its contribution,
and find a plausible way of saying:
I’m down here, getting acquainted with the snails
so they can be up there, polishing their idea of themselves.

Kevin Higgins

This evening.

At 6.30pm Irish time.

The Smurfit-Stone Corporation Endowed Professorship in Irish Studies at the University of Missouri-St. Louis presents the writings of Kevin Higgins  (above left) and Susan Millar DuMars.

Kevin writes

People here are MOST welcome to join the reading. It’s simple. Just click on the ‘Register me, Please!’ link below, and register. St. Louis is six hours behind Irish time. So the reading will start at 6.30pm and finish at 7.45pm (our time).

Register here.

UK Labour Party leader Kier Starmer (left) alongside former leader Jeremy Corbyn in the House of Commons

2152

(after Sophie Hannah)

It’s 2152 and Cumbria’s declared independence
after a campaign during which they blew
bits of Princess Eugenie all over
Lake Windermere. There’s a free market
in carcasses throttled by the latest mutant.
On Newsnight Kirsty Wark mutters from her crypt:
we may have run out of ambulances,
but at least we dodged the bullet that was Corbyn.

London’s dead have mostly been snapped up by a Russian oligarch
with a place overlooking Hyde Park
and a lifelong interest in taxidermy. Tonight he’s away to a party
where he hopes to be introduced to the late Eddie Izzard
who, despite being dead, still sits on Labour’s National Executive.

Mock The Week is seven skeletons rattling
in unison at something one of them belched
about Diane Abbott. The country’s now being led
by one of Andrew Neil’s more senior pubic lice. On the BBC
Suzanne Moore’s hair and the new strain of bacteria
they found on Tony Parsons agree:
at least it’s not Corbyn.

Brits from the six disease ridden bits
into which the Kingdom’s now splintered
have been barred from entering Bulgaria, Guatemala, Yemen…
But news of this is drowned by Ian Hislop’s skull chuckling
at something Andrew, Duke of York,
now reincarnated as a fungus, just said about Corbyn.

Jess Phillips hasn’t blown her trombone in
a hundred and thirty two years. And Starmer’s
deported so many Jews from the Labour Party*
he’s received a congratulatory telegram from IG Farben.
He shared it just now on Twitter as proof
he’s not Corbyn.

Kevin Higgins

* Kevin writes:Since he became leader of the British Labour Party less than a year ago, Keir Starmer has expelled more Jewish people from the party than all other previous Labour leader’s combined, many of them on charges of “anti-Semitism”

Getty

Kevin Higgins

Creative Writing – Induction Speech

It’s not all hanging around the college bar
pretending to be Ted and Sylvia;
or escaping to Italy with your lover,
like the Barrett Brownings;
or head-butting rivals in the green room
during what you’ll later call
your Norman Mailer phase;
or leaving your top hat behind you
in the brothel that week you thought
you were Baudelaire.

Most don’t soar
up the Times best seller list
on their way to being given
an award by Prince Edward.
Not everyone can be the next
Ocean Vuong. Or the
Ocean Vuong after that.
And critical acclaim after you’re dead
won’t buy you the tiniest
bag of Hula Hoops at Tesco’s.
You’ll likely have to diversify.

When you leave here you’ll have the ability
to lie more plausibly to detectives
and make up dossiers
about Liechtenstein’s secret
nuclear weapon’s programme.

Others of you will graduate to be entrepreneurs
who sell bags of badness, imported via Amsterdam
up other people’s orifices or stowed away
in their stomachs to emerge gloriously later,
but never use an unnecessary adjective.

At least one of you will likely become a hit woman
who always has the perfect closing line,
and be known to both victims and those
who sent you to their door as The Poet.

And a few will mature into waistcoats who get high
typing pungent updates about drunk women you spy
squatting in shop doorways
with binoculars you bought courtesy of your Writer’s
Bursary For The Partially Sighted.

Kevin Higgins