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October 2011

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How to Bake a Planet
September 2016

A Father's Day

Pete Mullineaux

ISBN: 978-1-903392-87-4

Page Count: 80

Publication Date: Sunday, June 01, 2008

Cover Artwork: Pete Mullineaux

About this Book

"Keen-eyed and lyrical, this superbly crafted exploration of the male identity is both rich and touching in its honesty and vulnerability. We see the poet reflect on what it means to be a partner, a father and a man who has lost a father. Emotional and tender but also humorous, witty and philosophical, this is a brave collection from a wonderful poetic mind. No hat, no horse, no Marlboro and yet -- behold the man."

Gerard Hanberry

Pete Mullineaux has taken the long way round before compiling this debut full collection arranged around themes relating to fathers and fatherhood in particular, as well as male identity in general. While the focus is primarily on the male, several outspoken female voices are present. The writing overall experiments with a variety of forms and reflects a quirky but challenging personal-politics, laced with a rich irony and humour.

Author Biography

Pete Mullineaux grew up in Bristol, UK. His poem "Harvest Festival", published, aged 13, in Macmillan's anthology Poetry & Song, was subsequently recorded for schools by Harrap on the album Man & His Senses. Living in London in the 'alternative' late 1970s and early '80s - he worked in a left wing printing press and played in a punk rock band The Resisters - recording an album in 1979 on Munich's Trikont records. When the band split he went solo as singer-songwriter Pete Zero, with gigs ranging from two Glastonbury Festivals, CND protests at Greenham Common and Brockwell Park to sharing the stage with such diverse luminaries as the early Pogues and Salman Rushdie. His protest song "Disposable Tissues" in support of CND won the 1986 City of London Poetry/Song contest and he also published a collection of songs under the same title. Adapting to the emerging new comedy and performance poetry scenes he played host for alternative cabaret group New Variety in the Old White Horse in Brixton as well as performing with the London based Apples & Snakes - appearing in their first publication Raw & Biting Cabaret Poetry. (1985) His one man show - The Performer's Fear of the Gong - was described by What's On Magazine as "A must!" Around this time he also achieved a first class honours in drama from Middlesex University, wrote for the Paul Merton fronted Comedy Wavelength (Channel 4) and a first stage play Wallflowers was produced on the London fringe.

Read a sample from this book

Playing Boats

for Cassie

Running for the river
she barely breaks her stride
to pluck a yellow dandelion;
while I take time to choose
a broad, tapering leaf -
not too green.

And here we come!
her in front, approaching the first fall.
Down ... under; then up she bobs -
snagging on a rock
while I career on into calmer waters.

But now she's wriggling, and free!
Rotating, gathering momentum
until we're finally neck and neck -
father and daughter, sailing up the Nile, the Amazon.

A whirlpool -
now I'm in difficulties
taking in water, while she shoots clear.
We watch, cheek to cheek
until her yellow head disappears
beneath overhanging trees ...

Am I sad my boat sank? She asks.

The rules are simple: if both get stuck
we throw stones to dislodge ourselves
or run ahead, removing obstacles.
But what if one fails to make the start:
will our game not then be over?

Come on, she coaxes, chiding
my dark cloud, swiping another flower
holding it under my chin.

This time I seek a fresher,
more robust leaf.
Best of three, I say -
let's see that dandelion spin!


Interview:  Pete Mullineaux interviewed by Denise McNamara for the City Lives column of The Galway City Tribune, Friday 19th October 2012

"Educator Pete is driven by creativity" - Denise McNamara meets writer and teacher, Pete Mullineaux

Pete Mullineaux is a man on a mission. That mission is to inspire as much creativity and imagination and across as many different forms as there are out there.

If ever there was a man to exude creativity, it is the amiable Bristol man.

A Jack of all trades in the arts world, he is a published poet, songwriter, musician, dramatist, actor, comedian, educationalist and lately, just for relax- ation, a fiddle player.

This week he turns his attention to two favourite themes that crop up often in his writing: fairness and equality.

As part of the Baboró children’s arts festival, Pete is holding workshops with national school children which encour- age them to write poetry which will tip the balance towards a more just and equal society.

Held in association with Poetry Ireland and Trócaire, this poetry encounter is designed to get kids to think creatively about the world and their place in it.

“There’s so much information out there. We know there are 250 million child labourers in the world for example, we know there are 25,000 who die every day from hunger. But our leaders seem to lack the imagination to do anything about it,” he insists.

“These kids are coming up with weird and wacky ideas to tip the scales but they’re no weirder or wackier than have been tried by governments which are not working. Imagination can change the world. Our imagination is the greatest gift we have.”

The workshops instill confidence in young people to express themselves and help them get over an innate fear of being wrong which can dampen cre- ativity, he believes.

“It’s about knowing the importance of having a voice. We have a voice to articulate the imagination, we can sing, write, draw – but a lot of people don’t have a voice. This is about instilling the confidence in themselves that what they feel and what they think matters."

Free workshops are also being held in the Galway City Museum for families on Saturday to allow parents to compose poetry with their kids, creating a rich memory for posterity.

Much of Pete's working life involves teaching, al to of it teaching poetry to school kids of alleges through his association with Poetry Ireland, which runs the Writers in Schools Scheme, one of the longest running arts-in-education programmes in the country, which is funded by the Arts Council.

He leads a regular creative writing course in Oughterard as well as other creative writing courses with older people throughout the city. He teaches act- ing classes in the Galway Arts Centre and works with the Galway Youth Theatre, training the young actors in the art of devising plays.

Outside of teaching, there is his own writing. He has published three collec- tions of poetry, the last one in 2011 entitled Session, which is inspired by his love affair with the fiddle and the regular music sessions.

One of his favourite ways to relax is to get lost in the fiddle with the Dusty Banjos, a community session for beginners and improvers held weekly at the Western Hotel in Prospect Hill.

Pete’s previous poetry collection was A Father’s Day, featuring stories about dads and dedicated to his own father, “an extraordinarily caring and kind and self-sacrificing person”. That came out in 2008. The first was called Zen Traffic Lights, which was published in 2005.

The very first poem he had published was when he was just 13.

His class was asked to write a poem inspired by the annual harvest festival and the poem, Harvest Festival, was featured in the school magazine. McMillan Publishers then wrote to him asking if they could include it in an anthology featuring such luminaries as Keats, Yeats and Shakespeare, called Poetry & Song.

It was his mother who nurtured that side of his talent. “She was always act- ing in school plays and embarrassing me. She always played the principal boy – Aladdin, Jack or Dick. I remem- ber from a very, very young age she was reading and telling us stories, mak- ing up poems. She gave me a sense of love of the language and words and story.”

But it was music rather than poetry that took over his life when he moved to London in the late 70s.

He played in a punk band called The Resisters before going solo as Pete Zero performing in two Glastonbury Festivals, once sharing the stage with the Pogues. Protest singers such as Bob Dylan and Woodie Gutherie were his biggest inspirations.

His top hit was Disposable Tissues, which the BBC chose as their crazy song of the week.

Making a living on the comedy and performance poetry circuit proved a bit difficult. He decided to instead study drama as a mature student in Middlesex University and went on to teach drama

It was in London while working for a campaigning group for the elderly that he met his wife-to-be, Moya Roddy from Dublin, who was also a writer.

When the couple’s only child Cass had turned two, they decided to move to Roscahill in Connemara where they had friends.

“I got fed up pushing her around parks in London when I could be pushing her around the countryside. We came in 1991 and have never left.”

Unsurprisingly his daughter, now 22, is big into the arts but has chosen to study law and German. Moya continues to write and has published a novel, short stories as well as plays for theatre and the radio.

The couple have frequently collaborated and in 2010 they wrote the radio play, Butterfly Wings, which aired on RTÉ.

To wind down he plays the guitar and now the fiddle, which he believes is excellent training for him.
“Learning the fiddle reminds me what it’s like to be on the receiving end. I do a lot of courses with active retirement groups and many of them are afraid of writing, they might have had a bad experience with it. Learning the fiddle is so difficult. It helps me to keep in touch with how scary learning can be,” he explains.

“The fiddle is where I go into another place. You can only play it when you get into the zone. I like to play in the bathroom. I went to a Martin Hayes workshop and he said he loves my poetry – I have poems about the fiddle. He too likes to play in the bathroom,” he grins.

As well as the teaching, he runs the poetry “slam” at the Galway Arts Centre and MCs a “Grand Slam” poetry final at the Cúirt literary festival in the city in April.

He also hosts a Cúirt slam at the Electric Picnic festival mind field area in Stradbally every year. Pete is currently working on a sci-fi children’s book aimed at the 12 or 13 age group.
“This is my first novel and it’s a new venture. I do so many school visits, it would be great to have my own book to share with them. I really want to enjoy writing it.”

Review by Kevin Higgins, The Galway Advertiser

"Pete Mullineaux's collection, A Father's Day, has been a long time in the making. His first published poem appeared in a Macmillan anthology when he was 13 years old. He has since been a member of a punk band, a singer-songwriter, and MC of the Cuirt Poetry Grand slam. Mullineaux is a profoundly sensitive poet, something for which I don't think he gets the credit he deserves.

His poem Tonight's The Night is the tender and humorous telling of how once "1975 (I think)" brought his dad to a Neil Young concert: "he wore his suit (Dad, that is -/Neil Young wore a tie-dye shirt.)" It was one of those might-have-been mistakes, which worked out great in the end. Mullineaux surmises that after the concert the "band went back to the hotel/and talked about the old guy in the third from back row/who had smiled all through the concert/and wondered what he was taking..."

Many of the poems investigate his relationship with his father and his role now as a father himself. His Father's Day Reprise contains some lines that are so grimly funny, I'm genuinely jealous I didn't think of them first. While wandering among the Father's Day cards in Easons he's overcome with a fear that he will "take a wrong turn/and end up like Dante/in a nightmare parallel world/where the cards read: "Hard luck you failed/Miserable birthday/Christmas condolences/Commiserations on your wedding." Great stuff!'

Review by Fred Johnston - Western Writers Centre

"Simple, luminous images...Mullineaux's voice carries lilts of John Cooper-Clarke. There are poems here to make one smile, frown, think; the comedian often gives way to a serious poet indeed. A very fine book, then, and beautifully produced.'

A Letter from Pat McMahon, Head of Galway/Mayo Library Service...

"Dear Peter,

I went to the launch of your book in the City Museum on the first Saturday of June, high summer. My daughter was with me. I think you are one of the best poets in Galway - imaginative, innovative, intelligent and poetic.  For all the world you remind me of the three Liverpool poets in that Penguin Mersey Sound book - Brian Patten and the others. That was one of the first books of poetry I ever bought - and it had such energy.
Well, as I say, I went along to the City Museum for the launch - and everything was right - a fine poet and a beautiful book. The potential of the occasion was huge.
When it was over, I walked up Quay Street and then Shop Street. The streets were alive - people everywhere - and one could sense the mood - people interacting etc. etc.
And I asked my daughter: Why weren't all of these people at the launch? Why were not even a fraction of them at the launch?  And I thought all of these people were missing out by not being at the launch - I think they were seriously missing out.
And I said to my daughter: the launch should have been here on Shop Street. Pete and Jessie should have been up here with the books and a table and a microphone.
I think the world badly needs books and reading and poetry. You know, down at the Museum that day, I nearly knew everyone in the room. I see these people at these events all the time. For you Pete and for Jesse and for the beautiful book, the room should have been packed.
I think we have got to do better. And I am including myself here, and the library service.
Pat McMahon

Review: The Midwest Book Review, October 2009

Life is a constant array of emotions, and author Pete Mullineaux hopes to capture that with A Father's Day... Drawing from many sources and many aspects of life, he presents vivid verse that will take the reader on a roller coaster of emotions. A Father's Day is a very recommended pick for poetry fans. 


Even the red roped barriers impress.

Safe in the Louvre café
I comfort myself with a french pastry.

Next time: half a chance,
just one awesome frame ...

beneath which it all comes back:
Wednesdays; art class, double-period,

teacher leaning over one shoulder;
saying nothing,

(a cough perhaps)

moving on.

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