Category Archives: reviews

Knausgaard: The Man Who Writes About Nothing

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Karl Ove Knausgaard’s “My Struggle” series has been described as a literary sensation by the Guardian and The New Yorker, and he has sold one copy for every ten people in his native Norway, where it achieved a cult following. And yet he writes about nothing. A lot. In detail. For six volumes. How come?

…..So he’s going for it. He’s doing that thing that many writers’ aim for, in some ways the Holy Grail: to capture reality in all its ordinariness and (if that’s the easy bit) to take the reader with them on the journey.   

Read more in my article about Karl Ove Knausgaard over at The Honest Ulsterman, alongside lots of other great features

 

 

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My New CD, Moine Dubh, Andrew Weatherall, The Fireflies and Me !

10455672_10153091179751253_8002552907654934558_n                                Most of the Moine Dubh Collective. Photo: John Barrett. Gary Bruce, Droog The Dog, Nina Walsh, Barry Woolenough, Dani Cali, Joe Duggan, Franck Alba, Jessica Cahill. Missing from Photo:Malcolm Stewart, Alain Maclean, Simone Cardinal Sim Clark, Jerome Tcherneyan.

It’s been a tough few months, with the loss of my brother knocking my life out of the water. But some exciting performances and collaborations have helped me keep on keeping on.

One great thing that’s happened is that I have managed to find myself part of Moine Dubh collective. Very exciting to be working with these ridiculously talented musicians, all curated by the legendary DJ Andrew Weatherall. Anyone who knows Andrew’s reputation won’t need my recommendation, but I have been blown away by his subtle, eclectic, instinctual mixes. It’s opened up a whole landscape of music to me. To be actually collaborating with him on a few tracks is an incredible honour, and he actually makes me sound very good ! You’ll be hearing more about this.

We did 2 gigs in June. One in The House of St Barnabas, Soho, and One in Antenna Studios, Crystal Palace. Both sold out very quickly. As well as Weatherall, St Barnabas also features sets curated by people like Jarvis Cocker and Giles Peterson.

Here’s the stream from the House of St Barnabas gig. My set with The Fireflies starts at 24 minutes, but you really need to listen to the whole gig. Folksy alchemy the whole way through. Both gigs were something special. Musicians, singers and poets coming together to create something very memorable. I really hope we get to do it again. Very proud to be part of it.
Here’s the in-house blogger’s review of the event , and his bit about me:

“When Moine Dubh’s poet-in-residence Joe Duggan joins them (The Fireflies) the hypnotic vibes get even more cinematic. His first poem recounts the tragic tale of Jose Matada, an African stowaway from Mozambique who fell to his death from a plane over Mortlake in 2012. His second crepuscular offering summons Leonard Cohen over music as evocative as anything Portishead have created.”

Moine Dubh have launched an exciting new subscription service – you can sign up here

And through all this great collaborating, I have a beautiful cd on sale, with the brilliant Fireflies. You can buy it here !

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It contains some regular favourites from my performances such as “Summer in Tuscany”, which I describe as a flash-forward-backwards-Belfast-student-drinking-poem, as well as the two poems that have went down really well in my performances with The Fireflies : “The Mighty Kong”, and “Look Up East Sheen / The Falling Man”. The Mighty Kong finally gives the ape a chance to tell his side of the story.
The Falling Man, about the stowaway Jose Matada who fell from the undercarriage of a plane to his death in the suburb of East Sheen, seems to really lend itself to the industrial claustrophobic drone the Fireflies bring to it, stuck in the undercarriage. It’s relevance suddenly shot up on the week of the Soho gig as two more men fell to their death in the same area after falling from planes coming into Heathrow.
Another poem that is completely changed by the Fireflies is “Moville” a poem from my 2008 book fizzbombs that I have never really performed before, but they somehow manage to take it out to the deep water off the Donegal coast where it’s located.
“Leonard Cohen Knows” was born out of a Broadcast Event in The Betsy Trotwood Pub a few years ago, and hadn’t been performed often. But once this collaboration came along it seemed to fit perfectly and even made it’s way onto the set list for The Moine Dubh gigs, with Franck Alba’s beautiful violin playing taking it somewhere else.
As well as Franck, It was great working with Nina Walsh in the studio on this, and watching her stir that brew. Dani Cali adds his smooth guitar and vocal slide to proceedings – in fact I’m not even sure what they’re doing half the time with those dials, but it definitely works…..

You can buy it on the link – ten pounds, all individually signed on the cover, only 100 in existence. It’ll be worth a fortune some day on ebay. Buy here.

Another bonus of this link up with Andrew Weatherall is discovering his many amazing mixes online and his radio programmes, including his Radio 6 mix of the year and such. His regular programme on NTS is something else and you can listen to archived shows here, many of which now feature Moine Dubh material. Andrew also mixed two more of my poems himself and I am extremely chuffed with them. Watch out for “The Woodleigh Research Facility” featuring Andrew and Nina, with me on a couple of tracks. No definite news of when they will be released, but watch this space….

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Warsan Shire

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“I can make the blood run back up my nose, ants rushing into a hole,”

Backwards

Warsan Shire

Warsan Shire is a very exciting poet, who I believe deserves a lot more attention. Very pleased to have written this article about her work in the relaunched Honest Ulsterman. Read more, and watch her perform here

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