'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,
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’.