Monday 17 October 2011


Participants in Limerick City's Cuisle International Poetry Festival stop at a spot near Fanore on their way through the Burren to Linnane's Pub, New Quay, for a plate of oysters and a pint of Guinness (or whatever you're havin' yourself).

Above: John Davies of Brighton who later in the evening (15 October 2011) won the annual Poetry Grand Slam.

Poets negotiating the grykes between rock pavements, L to R: Lee Harwood (UK), Iztok Osojnik (Slovenia), John Davies (UK), Thomas Zandegiacomo (Germany), Clare Best (UK).

The Group, L to R: Tom Lewis (Driver), Valerie Laws, Lee Harwood, Clare Best, Iztok Osojnik, Thomas Zandegiacomo, Yours Truly, John Davies, Tom Quinn (Driver).

Waiting for lunch in Linnane's with New Quay pier in the left background. My wife, Margaret Farrelly, who took the other photographs, is at the end of the left side of the table, raising a modest glass of Guinness.
Afterwards, the sun came out and the problem was to get everybody back from the idyllic setting in time for the evening events: the launching of Catalan poet Joan Margarit's latest collection, Strangely Happy, translated by Anna Crowe (I cannot recommend it highly enough), and a powerful reading by Margarit with Dublin poet Paula Meehan. 
This difficult task of keeping to the schedule was accomplished through the ancient art of gathering and herding poets into mechanically propelled vehicles.

Saturday 8 October 2011



This is the future, my wife says. 
We are already there, and it’s the same 
as the present. Your future, here, she says. 
And I’m talking to a robot on the phone. 
The robot is giving me countless options, 
none of which answer to my needs. 
Wonderful, says the robot 
when I give him my telephone number. 
And Great, says the robot 
when I give him my account number. 
I have a wonderful telephone number 
and a great account number, 
but I can find nothing to meet my needs 
on the telephone, and into my account 
(which is really the robot’s account) 
goes money, my money, to pay for nothing. 
I’m paying a robot for doing nothing. 
This call is free of charge, says the mind-reading robot. 
Yes but I’m paying for it, I shout, 
out of my wonderful account 
into my great telephone bill. 
Wonderful, says the robot. 
And my wife says, This is the future. 
I’m sorry, I don’t understand, says the robot. 
Please say Yes or No. 
Or you can say Repeat or Menu. 
You can say Yes, No, Repeat or Menu, 
Or you can say Agent if you’d like to talk 
to someone real, who is just as robotic. 
I scream Agent! and am cut off, 
and my wife says, This is the future. 
We are already there and it’s the same 
as the present. Your future, here, she says.
And I’m talking to a robot on the phone, 
and he is giving me no options 
in the guise of countless alternatives. 
We appreciate your patience. Please hold. 
Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. Please hold. 
Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. Please hold. 
Eine fucking Kleine Nachtmusik. 
And the robot transfers me to himself. 
Your call is important to us, he says. 
And my translator says, This means 
your call is not important to them. 
And my wife says, This is the future. 
And my translator says, Please hold 
means that, for all your accomplishments, 
the only way you can now meet your needs 
is by looting. Wonderful, says the robot 

Please hold. Please grow old. Please grow cold. 
Please do what you’re told. Grow old. Grow cold. 
This is the future. Please hold. 

© Ciaran O'Driscoll

Note: Originally published in Southword literary magazine (Cork), 'Please Hold' was selected as one of the Highly Commended poems in the Forward Book of Poetry 2009, and was published this month in Poems of the Decade: an anthology of the Forward books of poetry 2002-2011.