John Kelly

Reading with Martin Hayes at I.NY event in Limerick

Reading with Tishani Doshi at Listowel. Niall MacMonagle chairing.

Listowel Writers' Week

When these two turn up at a reading ....

John invited by T.S. Eliot Foundation to read at Borris.

 with Paul Muldoon and Carl Bernstein

Seamus Heaney HomePlace

With Dan and Hugh Heaney, Loah, David Mitchell and Cathy Brown of the Heaney HomePlace.

NOTIONS - on the road

A busy and exciting time reading from NOTIONS. 

John reads new work at Sunday Miscellany 50 at Project Arts

John was honoured to be part of an extraordinary weekend of poetry and music to celebrate 50 years of Sunday Miscellany. He read a brand new poem and then Lisa O'Neill performed a brand new song in response to it. Both will be broadcast on RTE in the near future.


President Michael D. Higgins and Sabina were among those in attendance.

Pics from NOTIONS event at Poetry Ireland

John with poet Theo Dorgan who launched NOTIONS and the poet and publisher Pat Boran.

Signing a copy for the great playwright Marina Carr.

NOTIONS in best poetry of 2018 round-up in The Irish Times 'probably the best debut of the year' - John McAuliffe

John McAuliffe full article here


Ciaran Carson’s selected poems and translations, From There To Here (The Gallery Press) compresses a brilliant career into 200 pages. His exhilarating long-lined narrative poems, classics like The Irish for No, Belfast Confetti and Calvin Klein’s Obsession, are followed by tight, firecracker sonnets and an extract from the virtuoso long-lined sonnet sequence For All We Know. Such a range would be enough for any poet, but the last quarter of the book foregrounds poems of unsettling bareness, stripped of the idiomatic rhythms of which he was such a master. These haunted, haunting fragments glitter as much as anything else this shapeshifting genius has written.

In a(nother) year marked by controversies about the history of Irish women’s poetry, an edition of the Irish-American poet Lola Ridge, To the many: Collected Early Work (Little Island Press) was a revelation. In sketches of men and women, pen portraits of fellow artists and activists, she reads like a strong counterpart to Austin Clarke, with a transnational range, so that Jim Larkin and Kevin Barry feature alongside Kerensky and Emma Goldman. Poems such as The Tidings add a new, fresh note to the history of the Irish political poem: “My heart is like a lover foiled / by a broken stair. / They are fighting tonight in Sackville Street / And I am not there.”

It was a good year for individual collections too: there was outstanding work in TS Eliot-shortlisted books by Ailbhe Darcy (Insistence, Bloodaxe) and Nick Laird (Feel Free, Faber). American poet Danez Smith won the Forward Prize for their book Don’t Call Us Dead (Chatto, £9.90), whose neat sonnets and passionate exclamations made for forceful, likeable work. I loved Michelle O’Sullivan’s sustained, atmospheric This One High Field (The Gallery Press) and Leanne O’Sullivan’s beautifully imagined and well-made account of her husband’s recovery from illness, A Quarter of an Hour (Bloodaxe).

Salmon published Rita Ann-Higgins’s weather-making Our Killer City – Galway is the gift that keeps on giving; John Kelly’s Notions (Dedalus) was probably the best debut of the year, as well as the one longest in the works, noting in the acknowledgements that some of its poems first appeared in 1988.

Derek Mahon returned with Against the Clock (The Gallery Press), poems which charm with tough visions, freewheeling free thinking and down-to-earth wisdom about the ecological deep time which will see out poetry, the anthropocene, the wood pigeon, Cork’s immigration centre and Aeneas’s steersman Palinurus, other subjects of this big, bare-headedly buoyant book.

Honourable mention too to Michael Hofmann, that connoisseur of decay and aftermath, whose ingeniously entertaining One Lark, One Horse (Faber) ended a 20-year silence; and Alice Oswald, one of the UK’s most interesting poets, who published a small press response to the Odyssey, Nobody (21 Editions), whose seascapes and commitment to ephemeral beauty are as admirable and moving as Mahon’s.

NOTIONS makes the end of year list at The Irish Times. The choice of both Joseph O'Connor and Helen Cullen.

full article here 

Joseph O’Connor

Ciarán Carty’s The Republic of Elsewhere is a fascinating collection of interviews with writers. Anyone interested in literature would find it a pleasurable and revealing read. I loved Rob Doyle’s anthology, The Other Irish Tradition, for its vividness and range. Emilie Pine’s really remarkable Notes to Self opens new territory for Irish nonfiction writing, as, in a different way, does Arnold Thomas Fanning’s wonderful Mind on Fire. This year, I read all the novels and short stories of an English writer whose work I love, Elizabeth Taylor, who died in 1975. Her gasp-inducing Angel is dark and funny. I found Donal Ryan’s novel From a Low and Quiet Sea haunting and its voices utterly persuasive. Melatu Uche Okorie’s This Hostel Life marks the arrival of a powerful storyteller with news of what’s been going on in one of the hidden Irelands. In poetry, I found myself coming back to two collections: John Kelly’s Notions and Doireann Ní Ghríofa’s Lies.


Helen Cullen
Milkman by Anna Burns is undoubtedly my book of the year. It surprised me to hear reviewers cite it as difficult; for me the only challenge came with the oftentimes chilling cruelty of the protagonist’s fractured existence and enduring the gut-wrenching blows which her narrative delivered. The story of “the girl who walks and reads” is utterly compelling with stylish, confident, artistic execution. It really is a triumph and so deserving of the Man-Booker win and all the readers which that accolade should attract. Another major prizewinner that knocked my socks off this year was Less by Andrew Sean Greer: a bittersweet comedy of the literary world that I devoured in one blissful sitting. In non-fiction, Brett Anderson’s memoir Coal Black Morning recounting his life before Suede and the incredible Deborah Levy’s The Cost of Living offered inspirational insights that remained percolating in my mind long after reading. Finally, for poetry lovers, I can’t recommend John Kelly’s collection, Notions, enough.

Helen Cullen’s debut novel is The Lost Letters of William Woolf

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