Submit to Southword





New Irish Voices
Poetry chapbooks by
Roisin Kelly & Paul McMahon



Liberty Walks Naked
by Maram al-Masri, trans. Theo Dorgan



Chapbooks by Fool for Poetry
Competition Winners 2018

Not in Heaven by Molly Minturn
Bog Arabic by Bernadette McCarthy




Richesses: Francophone Songwriter Poets
Edited and translated by Aidan Hayes





Munster Literature Centre

Create your badge






Arts Council



Cork City Council



Foras na Gaeilge



Cork County Council








John Liddy in Southword Journal

Born Youghal, Co Cork (1954), grew up in Limerick, took a degree in the University of Wales, works as a teacher in Madrid. His poetry books include: Boundaries (1974); The Angling Cot (1991); Song of the Empty Cage (1997); Wine and Hope (1999); Cast-A-Net (2003); The Well: New and Selected Poems (2007); Gleanings from the Margins (2010); Some Light Reading & A Song (2012). His translations include: La Barca de la Arena (2010), a translation by Francisco Rivero in Spanish of The Angling Cot; Ivy Down (2010), a translation by John Liddy in English of Tosigo Ardento by José Maria Álvarez, and of Diamond Bird by Rocio Álvarez Albizuri (2012). In 2011 Cuentos Cortos en Inglés, a collection of stories for children in English and Spanish, was published. He is the founding editor along with Jim Burke of The Stony Thursday Book, one of Ireland’s longest running literary reviews along with Cyphers and organizes The Well/El Manantial, a weekend festival of poetry in Madrid with Matthew Loughney of The James Joyce Pub and The Embassy of Ireland.




The Arab Baths in Magrit





The Arab Baths in Magrit


Alá be praised but the Arabs knew

about water; how to source and channel

cleanse and cool; artwork reflected

in their own symmetrical tile.


Velázquez also twigged a thing or two.

His Water-Seller of Seville a parable

urging us to value the elixir,

the shining globules of the fable.


So when I eased my fifty year old body

into the Arctic cold bath I recalled

my initiation in Limerick’s Clare Glens,

the shock on impact when I plunged.


Then I waded into another inception,

a steadying influence, a tepid oasis,

before moving through a silken sheet

of liquid warmth to endorse


The fire in me as we walked home

along midnight’s cobbled street

to thrash in each other’s nets like fish

on the verge of an advancing desert.









Ran – the Japanese word for chaos and uprising,

orchid and water lily – was set down by Kurosawa

on board after board to show how it should be told.

He made the tale of war his own to pass on,

guided by Shakespeare and Ford,

just as Coppola watched the Seven Samurai

when filming Apocalypse Now.


Out of such mayhem great art is relayed

by masters who leave legacies for others to embellish

in the way Beckett learned from Joyce who studied

Ibsen, influenced the world’s thinking, as did

Einstein’s Relativity, Eliot’s The Wasteland,

Gandhi’s passivity, Luther King’s defiance

and Ali, a floating butterfly in the ring.


So too Cézanne who gave Picasso and Braque

ideas for Cubism before passing the cube to Juan Gris;

its shape restored by Le Corbusier to make art practical

with affordable housing for the Parisian poor.

From there we enter abstraction,

a layman’s mixum-gatherum of the illusory search

for the linear curves of time and motion.


Music strikes a similar note when we consider

the evolution of instruments, development of scales,

imitation of human emotion and nature’s sounds,

from Medieval to Renaissance, Baroque to Classical

to recent times; each a continuation of the progression

like Field’s 'Nocturne', Morrison’s Astral Weeks,

that Clancy ballad by Dylan, Cohen in Lissadell.


The same for Medicine, Science, Philosophy

as exemplified in our search for eudemonia

between heart and brain, the longest journey

ever taken by whatever means, fair or foul,

but we are fortunate to have the storyboards

to allow pure light stream through the jails,

make what we can of the inner ground.



©2013 John Liddy



Author Links


'In the Heart of Two Countries': Interview with Liddy at EuropeanIrish.com

Liddy reading at Limerick's White House (YouTube)

Revival Press page on Liddy

More by Liddy in Southword Journal







©2009 Southword Editions
Munster Literature Centre

Southword 6 Southword No 7 Southword No 8 Southword No 9 Southword No 10 Southword 11 southword 12 Southword No 14 Southword No 15