Month: August 2014

WestWords Perfect Pair 27.08.2014

Carl Sandburg is one of my favourite American writers.  Born in Illinois in 1878, he wrote poetry for two years before his first book of verse, In Reckless Ecstasy, was printed in 1904. A further two volumes followed, Incidentals in 1907 and The Plaint of a Rose in 1908. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his Complete Poems in 1950. Sandburg died in North Carolina in 1957. This is:

By Carl Sandburg

LET us sit by a hissing steam-radiator, a winter’s day, gray wind pattering frozen raindrops on the window,
And let us talk about milk wagon drivers and grocery delivery boys.

Let us keep our feet in wool slippers and mix hot punches—and talk about mail carriers and messenger boys slipping along the icy sidewalks.
Let us write of olden, golden days and hunters of the Holy Grail and men called “knights” riding horses in the rain, in the cold frozen rain for ladies they loved.

A roustabout hunched on a coal wagon goes by, icicles drip on his hat rim, sheets of ice wrapping the hunks of coal, the caravanserai a gray blur in slant of rain.

Let us nudge the steam radiator with our wool slippers and write poems of Lancelot, the hero, and Roland, the hero, and all the olden golden men who rode horses in the rain.


WestWords Perfect Pair 26.08.2014


English poet, short-story writer and novelist Rudyard Kipling was born in Mumbai in 1865. Kipling was one of the most popular writers of the early 20th Century. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907, and is chiefly remembered for his celebration of British Imperialism.  His best known work of fiction is The Jungle Book, published in 1894. He died in London in 1936. A fine poet, this is:

By Rudyard Kipling

At two o’clock in the morning, if you open your window and
You will hear the feet of the Wind that is going to call the sun.
And the trees in the shadow rustle, and the trees in the moonlight
And though it is deep, dark night, you feel that the night is

So do the cows in the field. They graze for an hour and lie down,
Dozing and chewing the cud; or a bird in the ivy wakes,
Chirrups one note and is still, and the restless Wind stares on,
Fidgeting far down the road, till, softly, the darkness breaks.

Back comes the Wind full strength with a blow like an angel’s
Gentle but waking the world, as he shouts: ‘The Sun! The
And the light floods over the fields and the birds begin to sing,
And the Wind dies down in the grass. It is day and his work
is done.

So when the world is asleep, and there seems no hope of her
Out of some long, bad dream that makes her mutter and moan,
Suddenly, all men arise to the noise of fetters breaking,
And every one smiles at his neighbor and tells him his soul is
his own!


Walking by WestWords

Listen to my new show!

Barefoot In The Head – A Man Called Adam 

Walking on Tiptoe by Ted Kooser & Glamur – amiina

Song Of The Open Road by Walt Whitman & Solsbury Hill – Peter Gabriel

Can’t Go Back Now – The Weepies

A Step Away From Them by Frank O’Hara & Virginia Avenue – Tom Waits

Walking Around by Pablo Neruda & Tower Of Song – Leonard Cohen

In Praise Of Walking by Thomas A. Clark & Allistrum’s March – The Gloaming

Amalia – Melody Gardot


Enjoy the show!


UK Customers – Download my book for 99p!

Don’t miss this great read!

Evie Gaughan

The Mysterious Bakery On Rue de Paris (7) - Copy  From tomorrow (Monday 25th August), you can download The Mysterious Bakery On Rue De Paris on Amazon UK for 99p!

The last few days of summer are always a bit gloomy, so I’m turning that frown upside down with a Kindle Countdown Deal 🙂  Forget the fact that the weather is getting decidedly chillier and the evenings shorter; think of all the wonderful things in store.  The kids are going back to school – hurray!  (I mean, aw, poor little mites) and mercifully that damned ice-cream van will no longer pollute our ear-drums with the clanging chime of ‘Popeye The Sailor Man’ as it drones around the housing estates.  The crisp and cosy season of Autumn lies ahead which means woodland walks shuffling through the fallen leaves, gathering blackberries for jam and getting stuck into a good book.

Cue the Kindle Countdown Deal!  Just for UK customers this time…

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The Bell Zygmunt by Jane Hirshfield

Just listened to a most wonderful interview on The Poetry Programme, RTE Radio 1 with Pat Boran and American poet Jane Hirshfield. It was recorded back in 2007, shortly after the launch of her poetry collection After. She read a number of poems from the book but this one brought on the tears.  Also known as the Royal Sigismund Bell, the largest of the five bells hanging in the Sigismund Tower of the Wawel Cathedral in the Polish city of Kraków.  The poem was written for her friend Carol Thigpen, wife of poet Czeslaw Milozs, who died two years before her husband in 2002.  An award winning poet you must find out more about her here

This is:

The Bell Zygmunt

By Jane Hirshfield

For fertility, a new bride is lifted to touch it with her left hand,
or possibly kiss it.
The sound close in, my friend told me later, is almost silent.

At ten kilometers even those who have never heard it know what it is.

If you stand near during thunder, she said,
you will hear a reply.

Six weeks and six days from the phone’s small ringing,
replying was over.

She who cooked lamb and loved wine and wild-mushroom pastas.
She who when I saw her last was silent as the great Zygmunt mostly is.
A ventilator’s clapper between her dry lips.

Because I could, I spoke. She laid her palm on my cheek to answer.
And soon again, to say it was time to leave.

I put my lips near the place a tube went into
the back of one hand.
The kiss–as if it knew what I did not yet–both full and formal.

As one would kiss the ring of a cardinal, or the rim
of that cold iron bell, whose speech can mean “Great joy,”
or–equally–“The city is burning. Come.”

Life Experience by WestWords – New show out now! Featuring Nazim Hikmet, Denise Levertov, Julia Kasdorf and more.

Today we’re talking LIFE EXPERIENCE! 

Keep Your Head Up – Ben Howard

Some Advice To Those Who Will Spend Time In Prison by Nazim Hikmet & Man Is The Baby – Anthony & The Johnsons

Never Give All The Heart by WB Yeats & On That Day – Asgeir

The Secret by Denise Levertov & Ask The Mountains – Vangelis/Nordenstam

Samurai Song by Robert Pinsky & Freedom – The Gloaming

How To Uproot A Tree by Jennifer K. Sweeney & Cello Concerto in E minor – Edward Elgar

What I Learned From My Mother by Julia Kasdorf & This Woman’s Work – Kate Bush

I Sleep Alone – Richard Hawley

WestWords Perfect Pair 14.08.2014

Irish language poet Martin O’Direain was born on the Aran Islands in 1910. He spoke Irish only, until his mid-teens then joined the postal service in Galway before transferring to Dublin in 1938, where he worked in the civil service until 1975. In 2010, An Post issued a single stamp to commemorate the birth centenary of Ó Direáin, featuring a portrait of the poet. His poems, most of which were inspired by life on Aran, were all written in Irish, but many have been translated into English, like this one:

By Martin O’Direain
(translated from the Irish by Patrick Crotty)

Stand your ground, soul:
Hold fast to everything that’s rooted,
And don’t react like some pubescent boy
When your friends let you down.

Often you’ve seen a redshank
Lonely on a wet rock;
If he won no spoil from the wave
That was no cause for complaint.

You brought from your dark kingdom
No lucky caul on your head
But protective beams were placed
Firmly round your cradle.

Withered beams they placed round you,
An iron tongs above you,
An item of your father’s clothes beside you
And a poker in the fire below.

Put your weight to your strong oar-beams
Against neap-tide and low water;
Preserve the spark of your vision –
Lose that and you’re finished.

(This poem also features in my sister Evie’s first novel The Cross Of Santiago – just saying 🙂

WestWords Perfect Pair 13.08.2014

Argentinian short-story writer, essayist, poet and translator Jorge Luis Borges was born in Buenos Aires in 1899. When he was fifteen, his family moved to Switzerland, where he studied in Geneva before travelling widely in Europe, including stays in Spain. On his return to Argentina in 1921, Borges began publishing his poems and essays in surrealist literary journals, his first collection Passion For Buenos Aires was published in 1923. In 1955 he was appointed director of the National Public Library and professor of Literature at the University of Buenos Aires. Borges was widely read, profoundly erudite and fluent in several languages, however he was relatively unknown in the English speaking world until he won the International Publishers Prize alongside Samuel Beckett in 1961.
Due to a hereditary condition Borges became blind in his late fifties and in such later works as In Praise Of Darkness 1969 and The Gold of the Tigers, 1972, he wrote of his lifelong descent into blindness and how it affected his perceptions of the world and himself as a writer. He died in Geneva in 1986. Here is:

By Jorge Luis Borges
(trans. From the Spanish by Hoyt Rogers)

Old age (the name that others give it)
Can be the time of our greatest bliss.
The animal has died or almost died.
The man and his spirit remain.
I live among vague, luminous shapes
That are not darkness yet.
Buenos Aires,
Whose edges disintegrated
Into the endless plain,
Has gone back to being the Recoleta, the Retiro,
The nondescript streets of the Once,
And the rickety old houses
We still call the South.
In my life there were always too many things.
Democritus of Abdera plucked out his eyes in order to think;
Time has been my Democritus.

This penumbra is slow and does not pain me;
It flows down a gentle slope,
Resembling eternity.
My friends have no faces,
Women are what they were so many years ago,
These corners could be other corners,
There are no letters on the pages of books.
All this should frighten me,
But it is a sweetness, a return.
Of the generations of texts on earth
I will have read only a few –
The ones that I keep reading in my memory,
Reading and transforming.
From South, East, West, and North
The paths converge that have led me
To my secret centre.
Those paths were echoes and footsteps,
Women, men, death-throes, resurrections,
Days and nights,
Dreams and half-wakeful dreams,
Every inmost moment of yesterday
And all the yesterdays of the world,
The Dane’s staunch sword and the Persian’s moon,
The acts of the dead,
Shared love, and words,
Emerson and snow, so many things.
Now I can forget them. I reach my centre
My algebra and my key,
My mirror.
Soon I will know who I am.



WesWords Perfect Pair 12.08.2014

American poet, essayist and journalist Walt Whitman, was born on Long Island in 1819.  Whitman worked as a journalist, a teacher, a government clerk, and–in addition to publishing his poetry–was a volunteer nurse during the American Civil War.  He was among the most influential poets of the American canon, often being referred to as the father of free verse.  A fine poet, his work breaks the boundaries of poetic form and is generally prose like.  His major work, Leaves Of Grass was first published in 1855 and was a collection of poetry which, he continued to edit and revise until his death in 1892.  It’s a mammoth collection which praises the human form and mind, nature and the individual’s role in it and contains epics such as Song of Myself and I Sing the Body Electric and this: 

(In Memory of actor Robin Williams, who read this poem in his 1989 movie Dead Poets Society.)

O Captain! My Captain!

By Walt Whitman

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
                         But O heart! heart! heart!
                            O the bleeding drops of red,
                               Where on the deck my Captain lies,
                                  Fallen cold and dead.
O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
                         Here Captain! dear father!
                            This arm beneath your head!
                               It is some dream that on the deck,
                                 You’ve fallen cold and dead.
My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
                         Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
                            But I with mournful tread,
                               Walk the deck my Captain lies,
                                  Fallen cold and dead.

WestWords Perfect Pair 11.08.2014


American poet and teacher, Thomas Lux was born in Massachusetts in 1946.  He is known for his humour and once commented in the Los Angeles Times, ‘I like to make the reader laugh—and then steal that laugh, right out of the throat. Because I think life is like that, tragedy right alongside humour.’ Some of his books of poetry include Child Made of Sand (Houghton Mifflin, 2012); God Particles (Houghton Mifflin, 2008); The Cradle Place (Houghton Mifflin, 2004) and The Street of Clocks (Houghton Mifflin, 2001). The humorous: 


By Thomas Lux

For some semitropical reason
When the rains fall
Relentlessly they fall

Into swimming pools, these otherwise
Bright and scary
Arachnids. They can swim
A little, but not for long

And they can’t climb the ladder out.
They usually drown – but
If you want their favor,
If you believe there is justice,
A reward for not loving

The death of ugly
And even dangerous (the eel, hog snake,
Rats) creatures, if

You believe these things, then
You would leave a lifebuoy
Or two in your swimming pool at night.

And in the morning
You would haul ashore
The huddled, hairy survivors

And escort them
Back to the bush, and know,
Be assured that at least these saved,
As individuals, would not turn up

Again someday
In your hat, drawer,
Or the tangled underworld

Of you socks, and that even –
When your belief in justice
Merges with your belief in dreams –
They may tell the others

In a sign language
Four times as subtle
And complicated as man’s

That you are good,
That you love them,
That you would save them again