Publication Date: Friday, June 17, 2022
Cover Artwork: “Kevin Higgins portrait” by Christopher Banahan. Technique: fresco fragment. Size: 21 x 22 inches. Christopherbanahan.wordpress.com
About this Book
In these poems the personal and global darknesses are always lit by Kevin Higgins’s singular wit. There is lyricism, and acute vulnerability, here. But if you want reassuring, middle class epiphanies then you should immediately put this poetry collection down and run screaming from the bookshop. There is a hard-fought for subversive hope in several of these poems. And where that hope fails there is a maniacal laughter which is sometimes the only answer. Ecstatic is Kevin Higgins’s sixth full collection of poems.
Praise for Kevin Higgins’s previous poetry collection
Sex & Death at Merlin Park Hospital
“Nothing is ever seen the same way again if you truly engage with a Higgins poem.”
“Some great stuff here. It’s the Dave McSavage of poetry books. The Michel Houllebecq. Sergio Ramos (crossed with Ronaldo).”
“Expelled [from the British Labour Party] for having his poem printed in a socialist newspaper. Banning and persecution is something Irish writers have a lot of experience of. Kevin follows in the footsteps of O’Casey, Shaw, O’Brien, Joyce, Behan and so many others.”
KEVIN HIGGINS is co-organiser of Over The Edge literary events in Galway. He has published five previous full collections of poems: The Boy With No Face (2005), Time Gentlemen, Please (2008), Frightening New Furniture (2010), The Ghost In The Lobby (2014), & Sex and Death at Merlin Park Hospital (2019). His poems also feature in Identity Parade – New British and Irish Poets (Bloodaxe, 2010) and in The Hundred Years’ War: modern war poems (Ed Neil Astley, Bloodaxe May 2014). Kevin was satirist-in-residence with the alternative literature website The Bogman’s Cannon 2015-16. 2016 – The Selected Satires of Kevin Higgins was published by NuaScéalta in 2016. "The Minister For Poetry Has Decreed" was published by Culture Matters (UK) also in 2016. Song of Songs 2:0 – New & Selected Poems was published by Salmon in Spring 2017.
Kevin is a highly experienced workshop facilitator and several of his students have gone on to achieve publication success. He has facilitated poetry workshops at Galway Arts Centre and taught Creative Writing at Galway Technical Institute for the past fifteen years. Kevin is the Creative Writing Director for the NUI Galway International Summer School and also teaches on the NUIG BA Creative Writing Connect programme. His poems have been praised by, among others, Tony Blair’s biographer John Rentoul, Observer columnist Nick Cohen, writer and activist Eamonn McCann, historian Ruth Dudley Edwards, and Sunday Independent columnist Gene Kerrigan; and have been quoted in The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Times (London), Hot Press magazine, The Daily Mirror and on The Vincent Browne Show, and read aloud by Ken Loach at a political meeting in London.
He has published topical political poems in publications as various as The New European, The Morning Star, Dissent Magazine (USA), Village Magazine (Ireland), & Harry’s Place. The Stinging Fly magazine has described Kevin as “likely the most widely read living poet in Ireland”. One of Kevin’s poems features in A Galway Epiphany, the final instalment of Ken Bruen’s Jack Taylor series of novels which is just published.
His work has been broadcast on RTE Radio, Lyric FM, and BBC Radio 4. His book The Colour Yellow & The Number 19: Negative Thoughts That Helped One Man Mostly Retain His Sanity During 2020 was published in late by Nuascealta. His extended essay Thrills & Difficulties: Being A Marxist Poet In 21st Century Ireland was published in pamphlet form by Beir Bua Press in 2021. Ecstatic is Kevin’s sixth full poetry collection.
Read a sample from this book
Diary of an Absurdist
This is not the usual route I’d take
to the place I never go.
I spend the holidays I don’t have
listening to the albums
John Lennon would’ve made,
if he hadn’t been shot.
My head’s full of ways
back down mountains
I never intend to climb.
Anytime you want to talk
call me on the telephone
I just had disconnected.
I was once made violently ill
by a cheese-steak
I plan to one day eat.
I’m a big fan of the books
Paulo Coehlo didn’t live to write.
Come see me Christmas morning
for some eggnog and sauerkraut.
I’ll definitely be out.
after Cathy Song
I think when we die I go back to Coventry,
a version where it’s permanently 1973.
Where my cousin, Mary, is permanently five
and not yet our accountant.
We play cowboys and Indians
with small, plastic figurines who ride
tiny plastic horses. And the world is exactly
as it should be.
Where I’m permanently the miniature man
in the passenger seat of my Dad’s van
as we roar up the A45
to our weekly Thursday evening shop
at the One Stop on the verge of Birmingham.
Where I’m permanently playing
for the first time Sean South of Garryowen,
slightly out of sync with the others,
on my new button accordion
on the big stage at the Kerryman’s Club.
Where I’m permanently tumbling backwards
through the kitchen door’s glass
for the Sunday evening entertainment
of the entire family
and acquiring the one scar
that’s on the outside.
Where the old lady at the end of our street
is permanently putting
Vote Conservative in her front window
and I have no need to hate her.
The car factories down the road –
Rolls Royce, Chrysler, Jaguar –
are, in any case, permanently ruining
every other day for her
by walking “all out!”, on a show of hands.
The Secretary of State for Education
is permanently Margaret Hilda Thatcher, and despite
her technically being in charge of boys my size,
I’ve never heard of her.
Where I’m permanently learning my first few focal
in preparation for our return
to the place Mom and Dad call home.
I’m permanently correcting my tutor
for putting County Clare
in the wrong province of Connacht,
and at the age of barely six
am disgustingly pleased with myself.
Where everyone in our family
is still miraculously
talking to everyone else.
And the world is permanently
as it should be.
For Michael O’Leary
after Primo Levi
You are everywhere and, when it matters, nowhere
oh Lord of this cancelled flight.
All across a continent the bodies pile up
at Ryanair help desks while you are home
talking to your horses who are grateful
they, at least, will never have to travel
Ryanair. I don’t want you taken to the termination chamber
some here are building for you, or pulled apart before
a jeering crowd by the four of your own racehorses
with the most unresolved anger management issues.
May you live to be a thousand years old
and spend your remaining nine hundred and forty two
years sweating in a queue to speak to a red faced girl
at a Ryanair help desk. Let your every night be Sunday
and it always be December. May you be late
to the death bed and cremation
of your favourite uncle and his remains
be delivered to you
while you’re still here in this queue,
in a clear plastic bag with a hole in it,
for which you will, naturally, be charged.
And when you open your mouth
and a complainy word shoots out
may the Chilean secret police instantly appear
and tell you with their eyes,
and their drooling Alsatians’ eyes,
to cut that out or your slug tongue
will no longer be yours to wiggle.
And when your time here is done
may you be peeled, tied,
and spread-eagled across your own help desk
and two fat blokes from Chipping Ongar
be paid to sprinkle pollen
all over you, and then release
All Poems Copyright © Kevin Higgins 2022