Thursday, December 16, 2010

Writers Talk with Peadar O'Donoghue

It’s a real pleasure to introduce today’s Writers Talk interview subject, Peadar O’Donoghue.  When asked for a brief biography, Peadar wrote: “I’m an Irish poet photographer and editor of The Poetry Bus Magazine. I’ve been published in magazines including The SHOp, Revival, Village, The Dubliner, Magma, Poetry Ireland Review, The Stinging Fly, and online (!) in Ink Sweat And Tears.” 

I’d point out in addition that Mr O’Donoghue is the the proprietor of the always entertaining & often raucuous Totalfeckineejit blog where you can find his poetry, photographs & musings on the meaning of existence—or lack thereof.  This blog gave rise to the popular Poetry Bus series which has spurred creative work from a number of bloggers.  The series eventually took 3-D form in The Poetry Bus Magazine, an excellent publication, which you can purchase here.

Please be sure to check out three poems by Mr O’Donoghue on the Writers Talk blog.  & now: Here’s Peadar!

When did you first realize your identity as a writer?

I don’t think I have yet. I think I am constantly changing, evolving, getting older (obviously), thinking more, gaining knowledge, yet paradoxically understanding  less. I have no set idea of myself as a human being, let alone as a writer. Maybe I was one, maybe I could have been one, maybe I’m yet to be one, maybe I never will be, but I do know I’d quite like to keep tying to be one! I started late and am beginning to feel a sense of running out of time.

Describe the creative process involved in any one piece you’ve written—this could be book, a story, a poem, an essay, etc.
It’s always the same scenario and always at the keyboard. Pen ,or pencil, and paper (I used to have special pens and special notebooks) were once  all I could use, but now it’s exclusively the computer and I’ve got fairly speedy with one finger!  For me writing is the (temporary) resolution of an internal conflict.  I have something , Im not sure what it is, it’s not quite an anger, a hurt, an emotion, a loss, a hunger, an energy, but it  is buried deep inside and is the catalyst of everything I write. Whether it be a poem about love, or a drunken brawl, or the moon, it all comes from the same place. It starts as a mood, becomes feeling then that I have to write, most times drink is involved and music, (I find contemporary music a great inspiration) often it’s in the early hours of the morning, it’s slightly surreal and usually pleasurable no matter how horrible the poem may be. I don’t think I’ve ever written sober, not even answering these questions. I 100% don’t recommend it though. The poem will be written quickly, usually five, ten, up to twenty minutes at the most and I  rarely re-write.  I feel that the magic is in the rawness, a rough diamond, polished pieces are not my style.I’ve tried a few times and the whole thing falls apart. I’m not too hung up on form or style or punctuation or even spelling, within reason of course.  Some writers are alchemists, I’m just a miner, I keep digging mainly coal to keep the fires burning,but if the odd piece of gold turns up now and again then I’m happy!

Could you describe your relationship to the publishing process? (this can be publishing in any form, from traditional book publishing to blogging, etc)

I rarely submit poems and if I do it’s usually either to The SHOp a (County) Cork based magazine here in Ireland or to Revival in Limerick. The SHOp has been a huge help to me, an encouragement and an inspiration. It’s my favourite magazine.  I don’t really consider anything to be properly published unless it’s in a physical magazine or a book. I’m not a fan of ezines, there’s no romance about them, no magic, no tactile organic earthiness to them, they are cold and clinical.  Ask me again next week though, and I might say I love them!  But for now I think paper magazines have a personality that is often greater than the sum their parts, online mags no matter how good (and there are some splendid ones) are invariably the opposite.  Electronic books are now being foisted on us too as they will make more money. I say fuck money, give me a book that I can keep on the shelf with a book mark in, that can gather dust, that I can admire as an object with a beautiful cover, that I can flick to a certain page and back again instantly with the skin of my hand on a dead ( but replenishable) tree, that I can smell and touch and grow old with. I can even rip it up or burn it if I hate it!  If I got to the stage where someone wanted to publish a collection of my poetry but only as a download, I’d be delighted, but bitterly disappointed too.I know the numbers game but I’d rather ten people had my book on their shelves than a hundred downloads.

How has being a writer affected your relationships?

That’s a tough question.  Collette, my wife, is a good critic and supporter, she takes an interest without being too interested! If she likes something, she’ll let me know, but she wouldn’t pretend and she is really pleased when I get things published. Other people (relatives) have virtually no interest in my writing or my magazine. If anything it irks them. I don’t know why. I don’t tell anyone else that I write, it’s not something I like to be known really, I like to keep it quiet. I guess overall it has a negative effect.

How would you describe the community of writers you belong to—if any?  This may be a “real” or “virtual” (in more than one sense) community.

I don’t belong to a real group of writers but through the internet I have met other writers. I think the internet is a fantastic tool for this. The Poetry Bus (The Magazine as well as the weekly task) would be nothing without the internet. There is a real community out there that help and support and promote and congratulate/ commiserate with, each other. I’d like to think I’m part of that community. We all get on great, maybe because we never actually meet! I’m joking!

Blogging itself is addictive, exhausting , wasteful, wonderful, affirming, insecurity inducing, bragging and brash, I’m ambivalent about it, but the love far outweighs the hate! It’s a wonderful tool for the ‘poet’up in his lonely garret. There is a huge groundswell in the new online poetry world and spoken events here in Ireland, it has the potential to bcome a revolution. The establishment have the ball and won’t let us play. For years people have been trying to get a touch of the ball and join in. That’s only for a chosen few. So now we are saying ‘Feck it’ we’re getting our own ball and everybody can play.

What are your future goals in terms of writing?

I’d love to dig up a few more lumps of gold, maybe have a book of them. I’m not terribly ambitious I’d also love The Poetry Bus Magazine to survive (financially) and thrive (artistically)

Bonus Question: If your writing were a musical instrument, what would it be?

Without doubt, a second hand electric guitar!


  1. Thanks, John and Peadar, for the peek behind the Eejit. I congratulate you, Peadar, for the magazine's success and thank you for rallying us to become a community of writers and friends.

  2. Excellent interview! Thanks, John. Peader, please know that our lives are so much richer because of you. You may not realize this, but over the last year you and the others on the Poetry Bus have helped the poet I married twenty years ago find her voice again. For years, she wrote no more than two, maybe three things a year. Now she writes multiple poems a week! I have no words to explain what a gift that has been. At the very least, I owe you a pint...or two...or three. Keep writing, my friend...the nuggets will come.

  3. Lovely to see TFE from another angle. Well done.

  4. Thanks Mr Linthead, that's good to know, the whole point (and satisfaction) of the bus was to get poems that otherwise wouldn't exist.
    A pint would be nice!

  5. My best angle is from 3 miles away Foxo.

  6. I do enjoy these in-depth interviews with blog writers I know slightly but have never had the opportunity to sit down and follow seriously.

  7. I have to agree on the physicality of books, even though I'm getting to the point at my house where electronic ones may be the only solution to the no more room problem. Enjoyed the interview, the introduction to the writer and his approach, and the poems were the gravy that made the meal, if you'll pardon a rather mundane analogy.

  8. Hi Karen, Carolina, Rachel, Peadar, Alan & Hedgewitch: Thanks to you all for stopping by--so glad you enjoyed the interview! & Peadar, thanks for participating in Writers Talk--much appreciated!

  9. Brilliant. I like that everyone can play.

  10. Excellent interview with a true legend of our time. Personally, I don't really care if someone wants to publish me on paper, in an ezine, on tablets of stone, so long as they think I'm worth publishing.
    Being a very lazy sort of person, I can honestly say that without the Poetry Bus I would probably write very little, so many thanks to Peadar for that.

  11. Wonderful interview, John!

    Peadar, your metaphor of the ball, in the world of poetry is excellent!

    I'm absolutely with you on the question of having a tangible book in one's hands. I definitely agree that a few on the shelves of appreciative readers is more satistfying than a multitude of downloads.

    I'm also of the same mind when it comes to the rawness of a poem and will usually rattle things off without too much fuss - except if I'm working with rhyme and want it to be precise.

    I hope we all do get meet one day; imagine the uproarious time we'd all have!

    Lastly, if we have anything to do with it, the Poetry Bus Mag will live and thrive and conquer!


  12. Thankyou for posting your interview Peadar - I really enjoyed it - and thankyou also for the Poetry Bus. I agree with you totally about books and always think that a home without books is not properly furnished. Keep up the good work!

  13. Thanks Alan, John is doing a great job here.

  14. Thank you Hedgewitch, really glad you liked the gravy!

  15. Kat, we really should have a massive hooley sometime somewhere!. Thank you for your kind words.

  16. Pete, I am a leg end!I have two!
    Thanks though.

  17. Eej, I don't think (after reading thisinterview) that you have any idea how much of an inspiration you are to other bloggers who aspire to be writers (me included).
    When i think of the effort you personally put into keeping the old bus on the road and getting the magazine published I do really think you underestimate yourself.
    So take a mass of gold stars from me and use them to write me a poem for this week's bus.
    Have a wonderful Christmas - and I hope Santa fills your stocking with goodies.

  18. Hi Niamh, Peter, Kat, Heather & Weaver of Grass: Thanks so much all of you for stopping by & checking out Peadar's great interview!

    Peadar: Thanks so much for responding to all the comments. Having a very busy day here!

  19. Late again and I wanna say what everybody else said!
    Thanks John for such a thoughtful set of questions that elicited such thoughtful responses from Peadar.
    Yes to physical books (big time).
    I'm also fascinated by the writing process described; I could not do it after even just a sniff of the hard stuff.
    Really interesting read. And one day, one day, I dream of all the Bus Poets going to Rio or somewhere else party-like for one very crazy weekend. Yes, a big thanks for the Bus.

  20. Hi Titus: Glad you enjoyed the interview!

  21. You are so kind, thanks Weaver!Looking forward to this weeks bus full of stars with you driving!

  22. Thanks Titus, they are great questions from John.Real books rule!And maybe we should all get lottery tickets and see if we can win and arrange a hooley!

  23. Great interview; I especially liked the discussion of electronic vs. print publishing (and that description of the book on the shelf - loved, dusty, with a bookmark in it - is beautiful). Best of luck with your writing, Peadar.

  24. Thanks HKatz , glad you enjoyed it. The print vs electronic debate will go on!

  25. Thanks for the interview. Insightful questions and riveting answers from the legend that is Peadar!

  26. Hi Emerging Writer: & thanks for stopping by!

  27. "A second hand electric guitar"... terrific!

    The Writers Talk link is a great read. "Pictures and Postcards" ia, I think, the best poem of Peadar's I've ever read.

    The Poetry Bus mag is a great thing.

  28. Really glad you liked Pictures and postcards, it's one I like too!


Thanks for stopping by & sharing your thoughts. Please do note, however, that this blog no longer accepts anonymous comments. All comments are moderated. Thanks for your patience.