Another Good Friday…

I hardly know where or how to begin. I feel waves of grief for the family and partner of Lyra McKee  and for all of us, after her murder. Here we are, twenty-one Good Fridays after our peace agreement and we wake to the news of another life lost. Lyra McKee,  was doing her job as a journalist and was shot dead by Republican terrorists in Derry. Some coward in the night stepped out of the shadows with a gun and shot. She is dead.

My generation inherited The Troubles, but we have failed to finish them, to deal with them so definitively that we can instead focus, fully and constructively, on creating a life-affirming future. The future will happen anyway; it will come as time comes, second by second.  So what now? How will we make it better?

I wrote  this poem for TURF, a dance theatre piece I made with ordinary people who lived through the Troubles and with the choreographer Eileen McClory, and the composer Keith Acheson for The Playhouse in Derry to mark 50 years since the Civil Rights Marches and since the start of The Troubles. It is a poem for us all, but it is also a Derry poem. Today, I have nothing else to offer.


The Anthem to End of Wars


Imagine this,

the present at point-blank range

its gift a target so un-missable,

it is reckless and generous.


I carry you on my back;

come with me to the river, love –

and there, above us, Starlings plume

across the evening blue.


This is how we will write the anthem to end wars;

a song for daylight in the morning

a song of stars in a night sky

swallows embroidering smart new clothes for the city.


Something in it

calls the winter’s wanderers home again

and so, the swans come back to us

as otherness;

bright, the light within them

glittering, solid, reliable, worldly.


I promise I will hold your head above the water, love

and trust it will take our weight with ease.


Imagine this,


the present at point-blank range

its gift a target so un-missable;

reckless and generous.




A Deeper Country – the CS Lewis Curation for Poetry JukeBox

Curation 6. OPEN CALL FOR POEMS – A Deeper Country, a curation for CS Lewis Square,
Poetry Jukebox – a Quotidian –Word on the Street Ltd Project
Supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland from National Lottery Funds
and by EastSide Partnership


Image: Simon Hutchinson courtesy of Belfast International Arts Festival 2017

It is as hard to explain how this sunlit land was different from the old Narnia as it would be to tell you how the fruits of that country taste. Perhaps you will get some idea of it if you think like this. You may have been in a room in which there was a window that looked out on a lovely bay of the sea or a green valley that wound away among mountains. And in the wall of that room opposite to the window there may have been a looking-glass. And as you turned away from the window you suddenly caught sight of that sea or that valley, all over again, in the looking glass. And the sea in the mirror, or the valley in the mirror, were in one sense just the same as the real ones: yet at the same time they were somehow different – deeper, more wonderful, more like places in a story: in a story you have never heard but very much want to know. The difference between the old Narnia and the new Narnia was like that. The new one was a deeper country: every rock and flower and blade of grass looked as if it meant more.”

from, The Chronicles of Narnia, by CS Lewis

A Deeper Country will be the sixth edition of curated content on Poetry JukeBox. It will launch at Jack’s Café at CS Lewis Square in February 2019. Poet Tade Ipadeola (Nigeria), joins as guest curator alongside poet Maria McManus (Artistic Director).
About the curators:

Tade Ipadeola is a Nigerian poet, essayist, translator and lawyer. He was born September 11 1970. He has published three major volumes of poetry. In September 2009 his poem, Songbird, won the Delphic Laurel in poetry and in October 2013, his volume of poetry, The Sahara Testaments, won the Nigeria Prize for literature. In February of 2017 he was appointed a judge of the Nigeria Prize for Literature.
Tade maintains a keen interest in the life and works of C.S Lewis, keeping a library of the complete published works of C.S Lewis and the Inklings.
He lives in Ibadan, Nigeria.

Maria McManus lives in Belfast. She is the author of Available Light (Arlen House, 2018), We are Bone (2013), The Cello Suites (2009) and Reading the Dog (2006) (Lagan Press), she has collaborated extensively with others to put literature into public spaces. She is artistic director and curator of Poetry Jukebox.

Submission criteria – Please read carefully!

– Each poet can send a maximum of one poem.
– Submission by Friday 14th December 2018. Please include A Deeper Country in the subject line and email to
– Please submit good quality sounds files in MP3/ M4a or WAV format. (Smart phone voice files or good quality dictaphones such as Zoom H1 are ideal recording devices.) See the guidance notes (below) about how to make a good enough recording.
– Please note submissions in other formats such as You Tube Videos/ Vimeo etc will be instantly disregarded.
– Where poems are submitted in a language other than English, you must also include a translation of the poem recorded in English – back to back in the same voice file.

Some guidance for making a good recording:
• Each poem should be no longer than 2 minutes max when read aloud, but one minute or one minute and thirty seconds works best in this format.
• Find a quiet space to do your recording. Listen for, and become aware of any background noise, such as traffic, clicks, pets, children etc, and do something to minimise the background noises – such as closing doors, closing the curtains, go to a different room etc
• Use a Smart phone such as an iPhone, Experia or similar
• Go to the Voice Memo app
• It is helpful to place your phone on top of a pile of books, 8-12 inches from your mouth. Putting it on top of a pile of books will keep the phone steady
• Read in a natural voice but pay attention to your diction.
• Read the TITLE (wait 2 beats), read the POEM – there’s no need to give your name – it will be on the jukebox if your poem is selected.
• Please be aware the jukebox is in a public space and children may be listening, so profanity will automatically rule out a poem’s use.

Publication Rights

Prior to publication the poet must give Quotidian – Word on the Street Limited & East Side Partnership the audio and recording rights to use the poem on the Poetry Jukebox, on the internet, at launches etc.
– EastSide Partnership require the option to use the poems as part of an indoor installation/exhibition about C.S. Lewis exhibition in the future.
– Poems previously published elsewhere are accepted, provided the author can assign the rights for the purposes of Poetry Jukebox to Quotidian – Word on the Street Ltd & EastSide Partnership.
– The poet should also grant the print rights, for use on the internet or at launches for example.
– A signed permission form will be required 4 weeks prior to publication on the Poetry Jukebox. Selected poets will be required to provide this promptly on notification of their selection otherwise we cannot include your poem.
– Quotidian – Word on the Street Ltd and EastSide Partnership will not be held liable if a poem assigning the rights of use by the poet, later emerges to have infringed on other publishers’ rights.
– Please include a short 50 word biographical note as an attachment with your email.
– This is a tiny not-for-profit organisation – we do not have the resources to give individual feedback, nor enter into correspondence.
– Quotidian -Word on the Street Ltd reserves the right to make decisions which support the project and the spirit of the project.
Payment: We are delighted that we can pay a small stipend of £35 for each selected poem.

About Poetry Jukebox & Quotidian –Word on the Street Limited

• Poetry Jukebox is a Quotidian –Word on the Street Ltd Project. Quotidian is a not-for-profit literary arts production company limited by guarantee, the remit of which is to enhance civic spaces by animating them in innovative ways, with literature. The Poetry Jukebox is an on-street sound installation that provides an innovative new platform for poetry. It is located in the grounds of The Crescent Arts Centre in Belfast. The project is led by Artistic Director and poet Maria McManus..

• Poetry Jukebox, which is the first of its kind in Ireland and it was launched as part of the Belfast International Arts Festival in October 2017. Poetry Jukebox was brought to Belfast by collaboration between Quotidian – Word on the Street Limited and Piana na uLici, Czech Republic. There is a maximum of twenty recordings per curation. For this curation, content is selected by invitation only.

• To learn more about Poetry Jukebox follow on Twitter @poetryjukebox or click on these links

The House That Stood for Happiness – a sound track

Sometimes you get the opportunity for great collaborations; a chance to experiment and see what other people do when they bring their work, to your work.

Artist Una Lee (Min Kimovic) and composer Simon Waters played with my poem sequence, The House That Stood for Happiness. Have a listen to this. Clink on the link below.

With Una Lee & Simon Waters

Poetry Day IRL 2018 – RTE Radio Interview



This piece features information about this year’s LabeLLit project involving more than 70 poets in Ireland, Wales, England, Spain, Portugal and Australia. You can catch up with it at @LabeLLit on Twitter or

This interview also includes an excerpt from  my new work commissioned by Poetry Ireland – The Coping Stone. The poem is set on the Fermanagh/ Cavan border, between Belcoo and Blacklion, or ‘the Blaic’ as we always called it.


Thanks to Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Lottery Good Causes and Poetry Ireland for their support

Holy Land – a poem by Nessa O’Mahoney

Amethyst Review

Holy Land

For my pilgrim mother

Faith might be easier
if it was simply a matter
of almond blossom,
of blood anemones
spotting the hill-side,
or the diamond blue
of lupins and violets
along the valley
still called Armageddon.

Prayer might come quicker
if the caves stayed unbuilt-upon,
if layer on layer of
begun by Byzantines,
destroyed by Persians,
rebuilt by Crusaders,
destroyed by Muslims,
of twentieth century wars
remained scattered dust
in the Samarian wilderness.

Abraham does his best,
yellow base-ball cap at a tilt
to beacon us on through traders
and treacherous steps,
where nothing is as
the guidebook describes it.

The tears come,
not on, unsurprisingly,
the Via Dolorosa
or the slow sepulchral crawl
past Calvary, the quick shove
through the tomb

but in a quiet place
of vaulted roof,
of white Jerusalem stone,
where a smiling,
West Cork Franciscan
guards the door,
where steps descend

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‘A Hierarchy of Halls’ by C. Murray


This is not a universe,
it is a garden. Trees,
a hierarchy of halls.
Halls, a universe to sing.
Follow wren’s sound
into the lowest corridors.
There, a huge gap, fox
is where blackbirds sing.
Stone-plateaued, daisy garlanded
Tree looms above it all.

Early summer occurs
in a calamity of falling
petals, birds, the
bright souls of birds.
A small dead bird
is at my feet,
tree looms
over this soul-ossuary
dignifying the small
body with her dark needles,
bird-map-lost –

A Hierarchy of Hallsis ©  C. Murray (Smithereens Press, 2018)

Thanks to Ken Keating of Smithereens Press for publishing A Hierarchy of Halls. Cover art by Salma Ahmad Caller.

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