"The publication of my first poetry collection Notions has provoked, in the main, the following responses from my friends. Some say they had no idea that I wrote poetry at all and others, those who have known me for thirty years or more, are asking why it has taken me so long? And that’s not a question I can answer easily.
Back in the late eighties I was one of a bunch of undergraduate poets at Queen’s University in Belfast. I say ‘bunch’ because the world ‘group’ refers specifically to Heaney, Mahon and Longley who were, of course, the hardest imaginable act to follow. That said, the poets of my generation were published in all the journals and gathered together in the best anthologies. To the outsider, some of us might have appeared to be up and running."
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A very generous and considered review of John's book by the poet Caitríona O'Reilly
John has published his debut poetry collection at Dedalus Press.
"Constantly inventive and unerringly precise, the poems in John Kelly’s debut collection reveal an author at home with both the stand-alone lyric and the longer, apparently improvisational pieces that contribute so much to this book’s extraordinary brio and style.
The breadth of cultural reference is perhaps a given, but Kelly’s real achievement is to make sense of a sometimes teeming field of vision. From the natural world to the troubled north of his youth, through encounters with art – and its creators – to poems that chart the seismic changes that come with love, fatherhood and loss, Notions is a book full of humour and play, wonder and woundedness."
When you bow your head
to the soloing thrush,
lit like an old friend’s soul
in the bones of a silver birch.
— from ‘Winter’s Blessing’
“These are very remarkable and compelling poems.With strong narratives and events, vivid and surprising language, and a marvellous square-on exactness.”
— Bernard O’Donoghue
John was honoured to host Shane's 60th Birthday Tribute at the NCH. Performers included Bono, Nick Cave, Sinead O' Connor and Johnny Depp. Shane was also presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by President Michael D. Higgins.
"I'm home now. This is what I do."
John spoke to Breffni Cummiskey about music, radio and the return of the Train
John spoke to Donal O'Keefe about his plans for the train and how much he has missed it. Some comments too from some very well known listeners.
BIG NEWS! THE RETURN OF MYSTERY TRAIN
Listen back to the latest episodes of The Reading List here