Kevin Higgins


1967- ; b. London; moved back to Ireland from Coventry with his parents, aged seven; became youth-member of West Galway Labour Party, 1982 [aetat. 15]; moved to London in the late 1980s, working in the anti-poll tax movement; returned to Galway and organised Over the Edge literary events in Galway City with his wife Susan Millar DuMars; teaches creative writing at Galway TI; writer in residence at Merlin Park Hospital’ co-founded The Burning Bush with Michael S. Begnal; winner of the Cúirt Festival Poetry Grand Slam, 2003 and an Arts Council of Ireland literary bursary in 2005; his collections include The Boy with No Face (2005) and The Ghost in the Lobby (2014); he is marked critic of the neo-conservative politics and has criticised the ideological left.

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Poetry, The Boy With No Face (Galway: Salmon Poetry 2005); Time Gentlemen, Please (Galway: Salmon Poetry 2008); Frightening New Furniture (2010); The Ghost in the Lobby (Galway: Salmon Poetry 2014). Prose, Mentioning the Wars: Essays and Review 1995-2011, with a foreword by  Darrell Kavanagh (Salmon Poetry 2012), 217pp. [47 reviews & essays]. Miscellaneous, contrib. to Emergency Verse: Poetry in Defence of the Welfare State, ed. by Alan Morrison (2010).

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Kevin Higgins, Ostalgie

Ostalgie” - for Helena Sheehan: I remember Bertolt Brech and Red Westerns / in which the Indians were the good guys. // I remember drinking Vita Cola at the University of Leipzig / and Kindergarten kids visiting the factory. // I remember white Trabants with hacking exhaust pipes / and the songs we sang at the World Festival of Youth. // I remember Spreewald pickles / and no beggars ever along Karl-Marx-Allee. // I remember the eyes / of a Felix Dzerhinsky Regimental Guard / scanning a whole street between blinks. // I remember a place to live / and a hospital that didn’t snatch cents from sick men’s pockets. / I remember rock bands singing in German only; / the lyrics of Wolfgang Tilgner. // I remember no one / unemployed and holidays in Moscow / and Prague. // I remember desks full of children / who didn’t appear to mind / having to learn Russian. // I remember the man at the next table, listening in on our conversation, / but not as closely as you thought he was. // I remember corpses left on the wire at the Wall, / but only every so often.

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Blair’s advice on hearing tell of his column in Sunday’s Observer

Easy to say,
you’d rather make loud love
to Lord Prescott, or have
your face smashed between
Sir Cyril Smith’s quivering cheeks
than read Tony Blair on how
the motorway to the mountaintop
he envisages lies
through the centre ground;
when you know neither
gentleman’s available, right
here right now, to take you.
We need to make voting Labour
as pleasurable
for call centre managers and
estate agents of a certain age
as lowering their roasting
menopausal testicles
into a nice cold bath.
To this end, we need a leader
with ideas thrilling as a dripping cistern,
a man (or woman) likely conceived during a Conservative Association dinner
somewhere in darkest Buckinghamshire;
who, while his or her fellow students
were thoughtlessly dancing the blues,
bravely danced the beige;
a person of exemplary character apart
from that one conviction for stealing
the brass handles off
their own father’s coffin.
We must offer hope
to those who aspire to shop.

—In Morning Star (London); copied in The Irish Times (22 May 2015) - online; accessed 20.08.2017.

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Extracts from Talking about the Wars (2012)

The Irish Recession: “Since the implosion of the international banking system in September 2008 ushered in this era of great economic unhappiness, the atmosphere of everyday life in Ireland has changed for everybody to an extent that would be unimaginable just three years ago.”

The Iraq War: “The world, from New York to Madrid to Bali, is wracked by a conflict between a Texan buffoon ... and a batty Saudi aristocrat out to restore the seventh-century Islamic Caliphate.”

Left-wing dictatorship: “I had known about the deadly Stalinist combination of lies and mass murder since I was a fifteen year old recruit to Trostkysim ... I thought Left wing apologia for mass murder was something from terrible times past. I now began to ask myself whether there is something inherent in Left Wing thinking which, where it holds sway, makes lies and mass murder likely if not inevitable.”

On Oliver Cromwell: “[T]he worst atrocities of Irish history were committed by a man who was, as the Marxist would say, a progressive rather than a reactionary.”

[Quoted in review in Rereading Lives - online; accessed 21.08.2011.]

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Online satirist: Higgins is the satirist-in-residence of the Bogman#146;s Cannon [online].