Sex and Death at Merlin Park Hospital
Page Count: 98
Publication Date: Friday, June 14, 2019
Cover Artwork: © Simon Campbell | Dreamstime.com
About this Book
In Sex and Death at Merlin Park Hospital Kevin Higgins uses the blackest humour to throw some occasionally bizarre but mercilessly honest light on the vexed, and often absurd, subject of his chronic illness. In this, his fifth full collection of poetry, he also gives his readers, as they have come to expect, in poems steeped in the influence of Brecht, Swift, and Zbigniew Herbert, his views in undiluted form on everything from homelessness and identity politics to anal sex and comedians who used to be edgy during the 1990s. The book includes the satire on the marriage of Tony and Cherie Blair which led to his suspension from the British Labour Party in 2016. And in the final section, he presents us with a contemporary Dunciad which lacerates the poetry scene, both in Ireland and internationally, and takes out several journalists along the way.
“He is at home in the post-modern world, and moves with ease through his bewildering cast of characters and concerns... Higgins’s poetry engages with this world, making fun of it but with the full intention of making serious points... It is this ability to wring the ridiculous out of the sopping clothes of everyday life that makes Higgins’ work essential reading.”
“Just because Kevin Higgins’s politics are pants doesn’t mean he can’t write a good poem... I don’t share many of Kevin Higgins’ sentiments, but I like his wit.”
“Readers might get the feeling that Kevin Higgins will say anything.”
“Wry, trouble-making, poet.”
Kevin Higgins is co-organiser of Over The Edge literary events in Galway, Ireland. He teaches poetry workshops at Galway Arts Centre, Creative Writing at Galway Technical Institute, and is Creative Writing Director for the National University of Ireland – Galway Summer School. He is poetry critic of The Galway Advertiser. His poetry is discussed in The Cambridge Introduction to Modern Irish Poetry and features in the generation defining anthology Identity Parade – New British and Irish Poets (Ed. Roddy Lumsden, Bloodaxe, 2010) and in The Hundred Years’ War: modern war poems (Ed. Neil Astley, Bloodaxe, April 2014).
Kevin’s poetry has been translated into Greek, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, German, Serbian, Russian, & Portuguese. In 2014 Kevin’s poetry was the subject of a paper ‘The Case of Kevin Higgins, or, The Present State of Irish Poetic Satire’ presented by David Wheatley at a Symposium on Satire at the University of Aberdeen. He was Satirist-in-Residence at the Bogman’s Cannon (2015-16). 2016 – The Selected Satires of Kevin Higgins was published by NuaScéalta in 2016; a pamphlet of Kevin’s political poems The Minister For Poetry Has Decreed was published, also in 2016, by the Culture Matters imprint of the UK based Manifesto Press.
His poems have been praised by, among others, Tony Blair’s biographer John Rentoul, Observer columnist Nick Cohen, historian Ruth Dudley Edwards, and Sunday Independent columnist Gene Kerrigan; have been quoted in The Daily Telegraph, The Times (UK), The Independent, The Daily Mirror, Hot Press magazine and on Tonight With Vincent Browne; and read aloud by the film director Ken Loach at a political meeting in London. In 2016 The Stinging Fly magazine described Kevin as “likely the most read living poet in Ireland.” He has published five collections of poetry with Salmon, most recently Song of Songs 2.0: New & Selected Poems (2017).
Kevin has read his work at Arts Council and Culture Ireland supported poetry events in Kansas City, USA (2006), Los Angeles, USA (2007), London, UK (2007), New York, USA (2008), Athens, Greece (2008); St. Louis, USA (2008), Chicago, USA (2009), Denver, USA (2010), Washington D.C (2011), Huntington, West Virginia, USA (2011), Geelong, Australia (2011), Canberra, Australia (2011), St. Louis, USA (2013), Boston, Massachusetts, USA (2013) & Amherst, Massachusetts, USA (2013), & New Mexico, USA (2018). Sex and Death at Merlin Park Hospital is his fifth full collection of poems.