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Don't Go There
May 2012


Randomer

Colm Keegan

ISBN: 978-1-912561-02-5

Page Count: 74

Publication Date: Thursday, February 22, 2018

Cover Artwork: Design: Ray Glasheen

Click to play movie Colm Keegan: on his poetry (filmed for the University College Dublin Library Special Collections) play

About this Book

Randomer, is a poetic tour de force.  The reality of life stripped back to its bare fundamentals.  Despite charting a life lived through austerity and the predations of political elites and bankers, Colm Keegan’s optimism – for his children, his family, and his community – never flags.  Even on the most difficult terrain he is a sure-footed and trustworthy guide.  While still honouring his roots in the Dublin vernacular, Keegan increases his range, more sophisticated and diverse in style, more mature in tone.  In the rubble and the detritus, in the waste and the ruin, Keegan finds nuggets of subtle and pervasive truth, all of it from lived experience.  A doll’s house, a simple meal, a trip to the library, all are imbued by Keegan’s signature ability to see the world anew, and, tellingly, to take it on its own terms.


“A pounding, propulsive collection that has a physical effect on the reader.  Sometimes sublime, often devastating. So many moments where you’ll have to stop, and then read and reread again, such is the intensity, the coiled power compressed into the lines. A beautiful, compassionate, intelligent exposition of the lives and times of people on the hard end of the wedge. An important, radiant collection of poetry. One that should be read by every citizen of this state.” 

Donal Ryan

“Delving into themes of mid-life, fatherhood, love, belonging and family, with solid observations and self-surrendering language, here is a poet now ready to watch and listen. Keegan is loyal to his trade, never hiding truth, or shirking responsibility. Randomer catapults Keegan into the anti-hero role of his own tales. The Dublin that created him, he bravely recreates, through lines that are gritty yet gorgeous. Keegan continues to write politically, honouring the list poem, watching Ireland with a satirical eye and sharp wit, while questioning the poet’s place in everything: the home, the city, even his place in poetry and its lure, for better or worse.  Randomer is a fascinating read. It finds edgy beauty in the banality of human struggle, in a world that’s off-kilter. These poems are gut-wrenchingly raw and beautiful.  You will return to this book again and again. Keegan is a romantic with nerve and bravery.  We find solace in his path.”  

Elaine Feeney


Author Biography

Colm Keegan is a writer and poet from Dublin, Ireland. Since 2005, he has been shortlisted four times for the Hennessy New Irish Writing Award, for both poetry and fiction and won the All Ireland Poetry Slam in 2010. His first book Don't Go There (also with Salmon) was released to critical acclaim in 2012.
In 2014 he was awarded a residency in the LexIcon, Ireland’s largest public library. He has developed numerous creative writing projects for schools and colleges across the country. He is a creative writing teacher and co-founder of the Inklinks Project, a creative writing initiative for young writers.
In 2011, he was nominated for the Dublin Fringe’s ‘Little Gem’ Award for the spoken-word play Three Men Talking About Things They Kinda Know About – which has toured Ireland and sold out in Bristol, London and Paris. His play For Saoirse was staged in the Axis Theatre in 2016. In January 2017 his short play, The Process, was staged in the Abbey Theatre as part of 24 Hour Plays. He also writes for television.
He was a co-founder and board member of Lingo, Ireland’s first Spoken Word festival.


Read a sample from this book

Springshine

The house compacted
then opening up so fast
like a popcorn kernel
or a stop motion flower
exploding with my laughter after
my four year old son’s first joke –
wit like a whip crack
snapping out from his mouth.

In the hall my daughter spins
into her dream of being
a gymnast, she flips back
bends and unfurls herself.
The room is stirred with her energy,
her aura moving through the air
like slow motion orbs of water.

Her older sister has curled up
on the couch, stares into her phone,
opens herself in pixels.
Shows her feelings as letters
sent to an invisible boy.
When the tick turns green on her screen
what comes in reply is like a bomb
going off in her endocrine system.
She walks to the kitchen.

Her mother is making spaghetti Bolognese,
no frills just the sauce from a jar,
some mince.
We like it simple.
The steam of it on the walls.
The drone of the extractor fan.
The small ceremony 
of cutlery thrown across the table.
The daughter helps and can’t help smiling.
Her mother doesn’t know why
but smiles as well.
This is the soft machine of our life.

Last night the house was warm without the heating on.
This morning sunlight woke us one by one
and the noise of a teen hurtling across
the green outside, gunning a scrambler,
accelerating, feeling the wind in his hair.

Inside the engine, small bursts of fire
while his tyres run over the grass.
In the dark beneath this all
new bulbs push hard against the clay.


Usurper

I saw you coming that night.
It was a long time coming this fight.
You thought you had power on your side,
but my hands had the momentum of pain.

The hole you bore into my chest
by poking and poking with your finger
fed a dynamo that spun so relentless,
with the speed of a hummingbird’s wings.

It felt good to stick my thumbs in your mouth.
It felt good to cut my knuckles on your teeth.
It felt good to let the blackness out,
you’d spent years pouring into me.

Now I no longer hear crying in the wind.
I no longer dread the screams of my mother.
I no longer feel trapped in my bedroom.
I made bastards of my sister and brother.



The Weight of Homelessness
(or How to Think like a Homeless Father)
 
Think of every material thing, as a tiny hook.
A way to keep your grip on life.
 
Think of the gifts you buy at Christmas time
to be unwrapped in the morning.
 
Think of your family sitting around, like in an old painting
of nomads sitting beside animal skins or scalps.
 
Think of that celebration, the counting of those spoils.
Your reward at the end of a long year.
The things you did to make it through the winter.
 
Think of the dollhouse you bought for your daughter
so huge, it loomed over all of the other presents.
 
Think of the neighbours knocking 
at your front door to gasp in awe.
Think of her little cousin’s pupils dilated with envy.
 
Picture the pleasure of putting that dollhouse together,
one of the last things you do before it all falls apart.
 
Now think of your daughter crying about the dollhouse
while you walk the streets, or sleep in your car.
Everything you own packed into a storage space
like tokens in a shrine.
 
Think of the furniture you sat together on,
your favourite knife and fork,
framed photographs of holidays and birthday parties.
 
And think of the Dollhouse sitting there, 
holding its own under all that weight.

Think of that pressure everyday.


All poems copyright © Colm Keegan 2018


Reviews

INTERVIEW: 'This country has been so unloved. People go on about 800 years of oppression, it's 800 years of rejection'

Poet Colm Keegan’s latest collection is an exploration of self and society, writes thejournal.ie

Sun 18th March 2018


COLM KEEGAN WRITES poetry because he feels he has to. Because he knows it’s what he’s supposed to do.

For Keegan, artistic expression and creativity run concurrently with normal life – with no separation between the everyday person and the artist.

Today, he is a well-known poet and creative writing teacher. He teaches in schools, prisons, community centres, addiction support groups all across the city and beyond.

He was the writer-in-residence at DLR Lexicon library in Dun Laoghaire and has been shortlisted for numerous awards.

To get to where he is now, Keegan quit his job in 2013 and struggled through a lot of years being broke, questioning what he was doing with his life.

Keegan’s personal struggle at this time was the same as the struggle felt by hundreds of thousands of Irish people as the country worked through the economic collapse and recession. The personal was the political.

In his role as an instructor, he works to help people realise their own ability and to find their means of artistic expression – whatever helps them deal with and respond to the world around them.

The immediate world around them is Ireland – but it’s a different Ireland for everyone.

It could be an Ireland of addiction, of struggles with poverty or mental health. A middle-class Ireland, a working-class Ireland – an Ireland of oppression or control.

“I go into schools now and I say to people, ‘you have a favourite version of yourself, and my job is to help you get that out.’,” Keegan tells TheJournal.ie.

“And it doesn’t matter if you don’t like poetry.

“I’m like, ‘you’re still going to admit things to me; you’re going to tell me the truth. Are you going to put your money where your mouth is and are you gonna be honest?’

“We dispense with all the masks and all the different ways that people can hide, and that’s what poetry is to me. And I say to them:

‘You’re like a fucking flower and your job is to grow’.


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