Kevin Higgins

Kevin Higgins

Kevin Higgins is a Galway-based poet, essayist and reviewer, and satirist-in-residence at the alternative literature site The Bogman's Cannon, www.bogmanscannon.com.

The Political Thought of Former Trotskyist Now Known As Ideological State Apparatus No. 8,504
Sunday, 15 May 2022 10:16

The Political Thought of Former Trotskyist Now Known As Ideological State Apparatus No. 8,504

Published in Poetry

The Political Thought of Former Trotskyist Now Known As Ideological State Apparatus No. 8,504
after Spartacus Mills

by Kevin Higgins

Back when I was over earnest and small
I’d scoff that a postmodernist
is someone who thinks the sentence:
“Next time I go to America
I will get there by standing
on the tallest building in Paris
and flapping my arms, like wings.”
as valid as any other.

Now I’m at the top of the Eiffel Tower myself,
composing an eight part tweet
about how I just this morning realised
down is the new up,
getting smashed five nil by Rochdale midweek
the new victory,
being scraped off the pavement
by a manic regiment of stainless steel forks
the new self-realisation,
being found floating
at the bottom of the Thames Estuary
the new Mount Olympus.

The person who now inhabits
what remains of my body
is the lovechild I had with myself
sometime in the late nineties
when I was bored
and it was hard
and all taking so long.

Is
Wednesday, 19 January 2022 12:40

Is

Published in Poetry

Is

by Kevin Higgins

It depends what the meaning of “is” is,
which depends what the meaning of “isn’t” is,
which depends what you mean by “my hand”,
which depends what I mean by not “around her waist”.

It depends on the meaning of “know”,
which depends on the meaning of “don’t”,
which depends on the meaning of
“a house in Belgravia”,
which depends on the meaning of
“March the tenth”,
which depends on the meaning of
a “Pizza Express in Woking”.

It may also depend what the meaning of
“Prince Michel of Yugoslavia” is,
what the meaning of “Annabel”, “Maxine”, and “Amber” is,
what the meaning of “Jeffrey’s apartment for models” is,
what the meaning of Brian Ferry’s phone number is,
what the meaning of “people from the United Nations” is,
and what the precise meaning of “going on” is,
which may well depend, for all I know,
on what the meaning of “Linda Spankman masseur” is.

It definitely depends what is meant by “foot massage”,
which depends on what you mean by “down”,
what I mean by “there”,
and what we both understand
by “young Russian woman”.

And it all turns on the significance we attach
to the words: “nothing”, “happened”,
and “at most three times”.

The Neo-colonialist Dreams
Sunday, 29 August 2021 21:42

The Neo-colonialist Dreams

Published in Poetry

The Neo-colonialist Dreams

by Kevin Higgins

Of moving the horn of Africa
to the same time zone as Wisconsin.
Of teaching Somalis
how to properly appreciate cheese.
Of surgeons named Nathaniel or Chad
offering the women of Kandahar
the right to choose for themselves
a different face for every occasion.
The inalienable right to drive
in and out of multi-storey car parks designed
by the third best architect in Baltimore.
Shopping malls in which they’re free
to buy a different variety of coffee grinder
every time they swish through
those automatic doors.
The right to pina coladas
by a swimming pool
with what looks like
a dead child floating in it,
each time a different child.

 See here.

In The White Man’s Clinic
Wednesday, 25 March 2020 08:31

In The White Man’s Clinic

Published in Poetry

On the day the Irish government announced they are (for the duration of the crisis) incorporating all private hospitals into the public health system, Kevin Higgins offers this poem in memoriam of Ireland's two tier health system which will hopefully never come back. It was inspired by a private hospital, the Galway Clinic, which actually does have a self-playing grand piano in the foyer but is only open during office hours.

In The White Man’s Clinic

by Kevin Higgins

A grand piano plays itself
on a giant Chinese rug
in a foyer so vast I once went there
by mistake, hoping
to catch a long haul flight
to Melbourne via Abu Dhabi.

Instead found myself in a glass palace
where surgeons do things
no one thought possible
and which, in the end, weren’t;

in the process making sad intestines sing
like water damaged concert violins,
lungs hoot like ruined tubas
in a building designed to mature
into a hotel, when it fails as a hospital
for those who can afford to die
during office hours.

Anthologies of poetry as revolutionary documents: The Children of the Nation
Thursday, 13 February 2020 19:58

Anthologies of poetry as revolutionary documents: The Children of the Nation

Published in Poetry

Kevin Higgins lays into the Irish literary establishment, and praises The Children of the Nation: An Anthology of Working People’s Poetry from Contemporary Ireland, edited by Jenny Farrell

There has been much tweeting lately about inclusivity in Irish poetry publishing and reviewing, particularly in relation to women poets. I’m all in favour of giving platforms to poets who are not white heterosexual males.

Every year since its foundation in 2003, the Over The Edge readings I co-curate with Susan Millar DuMars have seen women writers in the majority. Most of the poets I review here are women. Elsewhere, there are a couple of legacy Irish literary institutions which still appear to live in the 1950s.

The main problem with the Irish poetry world in 2020 is no longer women poets not being published and reviewed; it is that the entirely State-funded, and largely unaccountable, Irish poetry establishment is dominated by posh liberals who suppress things they do not like. Your average member of the Irish poetry establishment today is an increasingly frightened Irish Times reader who paid water charges, secretly prefers Irish people (of all genders and colours ) dying of homelessness to the horrid thought of a Left government led by Sinn Féin, and lives mostly on the public purse.

Ireland is a country facing a grave social crisis. You would not know it from our main literary festivals which are extravaganzas of complacency at which people who read Kathy Sheridan’s columns, and take them seriously, wander around the place agreeing with each other.

In this context, The Children of the Nation: An Anthology of Working People’s Poetry from Contemporary Ireland, edited by Galway-based academic Jenny Farrell, is a revolutionary document. From the opening sentence of Jenny’s introduction, it is clear we are in a different world from those deluded literary festivals: “Just as societies today are rooted in classes, those who exploit and those who are exploited, so too there exist two cultures, divided along the same lines.” Though they would start foaming about the lips if you said it to them straight, the Irish poetry establishment is the literary wing of the exploiter class. It gives us the poetry the landlords and vulture funds want us to have.

The Children of The Nation, taking its title from the radical aspiration for equality in the 1916 Proclamation, contains work by many well known poets such as Gearóid MacLochlainn, Rita Ann Higgins, Celia de Fréine, Gabriel Rosenstock, and Rachel Coventry, but the way Jenny Farrell has put it together, this anthology fundamentally challenges Irish poetry’s official version of itself. There is a poem here about being stopped by the British army in Belfast in 1979, a poem about being a whistleblower, a poem about how eager the State is to push tranquillisers on the inconvenient, a heart tearing poem about a woman alcoholic dying in vividly described squalor, and much more.

Having set herself the task in her introduction of showcasing a contemporary “plebeian, democratic, socialist culture...of the dispossessed”, Jenny Farrell succeeds admirably.

The Children of the Nation: An Anthology of Working People’s Poetry from Contemporary Ireland, is available here. This article is republished from the Galway Advertiser.

The Minister for Poetry Has Decreed
Thursday, 22 December 2016 13:58

The Minister for Poetry Has Decreed

Published in Books

Poems by Kevin Higgins

£5.99 (plus £1.50 p&p) 48 pp ISBN 978 19074641889

The Minister for Poetry Has Decreed is political poetry of the highest order, telling truth to power and poking fun at it at the same time, artistically deploying a profoundly moral sense of justice and truth to expose lies, evasions, greed and sheer stupidity.


Kevin Higgins, like Bertolt Brecht, has a gift for exposing the hypocrisies and deceits which are inevitably generated by a political culture which ignores, denies or seeks to legitimise the legalised robbery that passes for capitalist economic arrangements. And like Brecht he does it in a wickedly simple, accessible, entertaining style.

“Ireland’s accomplished political poet and satirist”,
- Diarmaid Ferriter, The Irish Times


“I read this twice. Now, will make a coffee and read it again.”
- Gene Kerrigan, The Sunday Independent


“Likely the mostly widely read living poet in Ireland”,
- The Stinging Fly magazine.