People Worth Promoting: Colin Dardis

People Worth Promoting 1I’ve taken this idea from Jan Carson (another one to watch), but what I’d like to do is use this little space on the internet to promote awesome people who, I think, deserve recognition (or more recognition). And who better to start with than a man very much at the heart of the Belfast Arts Scene: Colin Dardis?

In my own head, I consider Colin to be ‘Poetry NI incarnate‘ – a term he will no doubt appreciate (I hope?).

I first met Colin when I, as an inexperienced young thing, entered myself into a poetry slam he was organizing. After pestering him with banal questions about how it all worked, he still let me take the mic. which, secretly, I think was quite brave of him. I was very clueless, and nervous, and boy did it show. But Colin (pretending not to notice) was very nice to treat me like a real performer.

Many months after that, he agreed to be my guinea pig, letting me interview him in a trial run for what would become my radio show about the local arts scene. It was even Colin who introduced me to, setting me on my self-publishing journey.

Always with his fingers in many pies, Colin really inspires me to get involved with cool projects. If you haven’t already heard of him, please go check him (/his poems) out.

My Life in Books

Juvenilia CoverI got into reading quite well on in my youth, while at university, but books had an impact on me long before that. First, there was The Bible, which affected my life in a lot of unquantifiable ways simply by my parents believing in its teachings. But other than that, there were the books I had inside me (yeah, I know, how cliché does that sound?).

The thing is, I have been writing books for as long as I can remember (which, admittedly, is not that long, but that’s a whole different story. Maybe I’ll write about it one day…)

Back in Primary School, I was obsessed with animals. I mean, I still kinda am, but not to the degree with which a child can be. I have various snippets of memories in which I collected up any magazine with photos of pets in I could find, cutting them out as best I could and then gluing them to blank pieces of paper that I hoped would one day become My Big Book of Animals. Don’t ask me where it all ended up, I have no idea, but the point is that from a young age I had the desire to keep the things that mattered to me most in print.

While in High School I made a list of things I wanted to do with my life, but it ended up mostly being a list of books I wanted to write. I wrote a lot of poetry in those awkward teenage years, and I remember typing it up, printing and stapling copies that I gave to my best (/only) friend and my English teacher, at the time. (Apparently my friend still has her copy. She has so far ignored my requests to burn it.)

My own personal copies of those early poems no longer exist (thank God!), but a few from my later teens, and a stack from my university days still live on. I read over them, back when I was doing my literary audit, and I felt the urge to do something with them. They were too personal and not really at a high enough quality to submit anywhere, but leaving them to gather metaphorical dust on my computer didn’t seem right. I wanted closure on the events they were inspired by. I wanted to put them in a book, I realized.

Thus, Juvenilia (aka The Dark Time) was made. If Still Dreaming is my first book (which it is), then Juvenilia is like book zero. I may never make an official page for it on this site, or even mention it again (then again, I might), but it exists in the world and that felt necessary. The blurb says this: Poems from an unhappy youth. Pain committed to paper. A catalogue and containment of The Dark Time. I think that sums it up quite well. It represents a chunk of my life that I can’t get back (and don’t want back!), but one I had to live through.

Why did I call it Juvenilia if I wrote it mostly after I was a legal adult? Because, legality aside, I was still a juvenile. I hadn’t grown up, in large part due to still carrying all that emotional crap around with me.

Why did I release it under my birth name? Well, that should be obvious from the answer above. I hadn’t become the person I am now. That’s why I’m not launching this book and making a big deal out of it, because it doesn’t feel like I wrote it. Not quite me, but a previous incarnation of me.

I don’t know if any of this will make sense to anyone else, but the book isn’t for anyone else. I don’t care if anyone else ever reads it (except my partner). It simply is what it is.

I hurt, I poured the pain into words, I moved on, and now the words I penned once upon a time are moving on, too.

Related Article: How I mourned my sister through the books she left behind

Light (Poem for National Poetry Day 2015)

Light, I realized, is the display of love

The outward sign, of inner devotion

You are the reason I know this

Its absence, I know now

Is a sure sign, of no hope in a relationship

I saw, when I met you

A light in your eyes

And knew that everything

That had gone before

Was a pale imitation

I can now spot impostors of love

From a mile away

And it’s the lack of light, in their eyes

That betrays them

Poetry, Poetry, and More Poetry

Poem on Canvas For some reason, and not that I’m complaining, my life has had rather a lot more poetry in it than usual. I’ve recently finished reading two poetry books (By the Roadside, by S. J. McConnell; and Lords of the Hill, by Amos Greig) and am about to start a third (The Night is Darkening Around Me, by Emily Brontë).

In addition to that, I’m off out to the Belfast Heat of the All Ireland Poetry Slam later tonight (not competing myself, this time). And on Monday, I’m planning to attend a local recital of poetry as part of the FSNI Competition series of events (but, again, going just to listen. Not competing in this, this year).

One thing I am competing in, however, is the Third Annual Bangor Poetry Competition. As such, I’ll have an illustrated art canvas with my poem on it (pictured), on display and available to buy at the Blackberry Path Art Studios. The launch event for this (which I will, of course, also be attending) is on Thursday, September 10th. To anyone in the local area, it looks set to be a great evening. Wine, poetry, art, and live music, all for free! More info here.

P.S. Did you see the poem I posted on this blog, just last week?

No Guarantees (Poem)

On this, the second anniversary of the death of Seamus Heaney, I thought I’d share a poem I’d written, inspired by one he’d written. This is called No Guarantees, Inspired by Elegy for the Stillborn Child.


Some things we take for granted

Like having a long, healthy life

Some things we assume, we’ll naturally receive

When the allotted time scrolls around

Like jobs, relationships, kids

Some things we consider

Even more guaranteed than that

Like birth, death, and taxes

Or the fact that death will always follow birth

But sometimes even facts fail us.

The Sea Anthology

The Sea Book CoverA poem of mine has just been published in an anthology, titled The Sea (pictured). The book is published by Rebel Poetry, has over fifty contributors, sports some lovely full color photographs, and has all proceeds going to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).

Although the official launch was last week at Ardgillan Castle, I’m told there are to be two more: one at the headquarters for Dublin Port Company (the book’s official sponsor), and one in Cork. I’m hoping to make it down to one of these, but I won’t know which until official dates are confirmed. Updates are going up on the official Facebook page every other day or so, so you can keep an eye there for more info.

ISBN: 978-1-910179-46-8

Buy Online here

The Sea on Goodreads