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Three Men Talking About Things That They Kinda Know About – Limited Edition 10th Anniversary

For anyone new to my website, I just wanted to holler about the recent publication of our award-nominated spoken word play, Three Men Talking About Things They Kinda Know About. A decade ago we staged this show at the Dublin Fringe and subsequently toured it around Europe to huge critical acclaim. It was one of the most fulfilling and important artistic experiences of my life, and you can read more about the genesis and creation of the show here.

As for the book itself, we put incredible thought and care into creating something that was a unique work of art in-and-of-itself, with a cover produced on a letterpress printing press, on high quality handmade paper, which gives it a really unique look and feel. Inside the pages we have lots of gold too, with new forewords from myself and the other authors, archival photos, and essays from our Director, Sarah Brennan, as well as Irish Times journalist Gemma Tipton.

This unique 10th anniversary limited edition book is for sale right now directly from this website, so please consider supporting independent artists by picking up a copy today!

Poetry Performance at Pepper Cannister Church

My good friend Stephen James Smith kicked off his UK & Ireland tour last night in the Pepper Cannister church here in Dublin, and he was gracious enough to give me a support slot. We had a quick chat before I performed my Sine Metu poem, followed by my final piece from Three Men Talking About Things They Kinda Know About. It was a gorgeous evening of music and poetry, with a really special vibe. If you can catch the show on its current tour I highly recommend it.

7 Deadly Facts (poem)

"7 Deadly Facts” - Colm Mac Athlaoich (Apr 29th 2011)

Around the time my first son was born I wanted to write something to mark his arrival. I was doing a lot of festival gigs at the time and I found that humorous poems always garnered a better reaction in those large crowd settings. So, I played around with the idea of something silly and funny, that was masquerading as a parent imparting knowledge. In addition, I wanted to amplify that realisation every kid has that their parents don’t necessarily know what they’re talking about.So I took that to the extreme and built out a list of ludicrous “facts” that made me laugh. I then started whittling them down to my favourites and I ended up with seven that worked best. My mind immediately jumped to traditional parenting ideas of old like the 7 deadly sins, and I had a perfect title – 7 deadly facts. This made me smile, knowing that there was also a bit of wordplay with the term “deadly”, a Dublin slang term for great or cool. And thus, the poem below clicked into place and was finished. It’s never been shared in print before, because it undoubtedly works better as a performance piece, but it still makes me smile. I hope it does the same for you. 

7 Deadly Facts

When I was a kid
the Internet was in black & white
it ran on diesel
and had to be wound up every night 
before you went to bed 
FACT

When I was a kid
the island of Ireland
was made of completely detachable parts
and had an engine on it just north of Donegal
and for three weeks every summer 
the country would chug down to somewhere
off the coast of France
on its holidays
FACT

When I was a kid
in Waterford it was actually made of crystal which made plumbing particularly disgusting FACT

When I was a kid
if you won the World Cup in soccer you got to keep the other country for 4 years until the next World Cup thus coining the term "Getting a Brazilian" FACT

When I was a kid
we used to dress up as tax inspectors at Halloween and fleece our stupid neighbours FACT 

When I was a kid
the most popular television programme
was an Irish language slapstick show
Na Trí Stooges
starring Larry, Curly
agus Modh Coinníollach FACT

When I was a kid
the most popular drink in Ireland was a million pints of whiskey deep fried with a short documentary about Phil Lynott projected through the middle of it on the rocks FACT

"7 Deadly Facts" - Paddy Lynch (April 29 2011)

Sine Metu: Fear a little less, live a little more (poem)

Back in 2016 I was commissioned by the friendly folks at Jameson Whiskey to write a piece of  performance poetry centred around the latin phrase Sine Metu. Sine Metu is the Jameson Family motto and appears on all of their bottles. It means “Without Fear” and at the time, their advertising campaigns were using Sine Metu prominently, with the tagline “Fear a little less, live a little more”. So, my brief was to write a poem with that as my guiding light. Personally I love these kind of gigs, because you are hired with an implicit trust and appreciation of your craft & artform, and I often find that the slightly restrictive thematic guide rails force me to think more creatively about unlocking the poem. I also want to write an excellent poem that I can really stand over and not just phone it in. So I worked hard on the commisioned piece, and the end result was the poem above, which I was very proud of. The folks at Jameson clearly loved it too and the poem took me on an epic journey. I was asked to perform it live at the annual Pernod Ricard conference on an island off the coast of France, as well as a series of other high profile Jameson events back in Ireland over the following months. Then finally, it was captured for posterity at the old Bow Street Distillery a day before major renovations began. As I watch it back, it takes on fresh meaning in that setting. I love how poetry can do that sometimes. Now, this is not my absolute best performance of the poem (there’s even an obvious mistake, see if you can spot it) but that doesn’t matter, it’s still a decent rendition. And I’m so glad to have a document of this creative milestone. I still like the poem a lot. Hope you like it too.

Forgive Yourself by Jonas Gardell

The Swedish author and comedian Jonas Gardell is one of my favourite writers. There is a gentle beauty and disarming truth in his deceptively simple Swedish writing. Alas not much of his work is translated into English, but it has been translated into a number of other European languages.His novel “En Komikers Uppväxt” (A Comedian Grows Up) had a profound impact on me when I read it almost 30 years ago, and it has stayed with me ever since. It was introduced to me as an undergraduate in college by a visiting lecturer from Sweden, and such was the effect of reading it (in the original Swedish language), that I ended up writing my entire undergraduate thesis about Jonas Gardell’s novels. The entire book is magical, but it is the opening page of the book that I often turn to again and again. On that page sits this simple, elegant, beautiful poem. It says so much with so little and sets the tone for the entire novel.

För allt du hatar hos dig själv – förlåt dig själv
För allt du älskar hos dig själv – förlåt dig själv
För allt du skäms över
För allt du är stolt över
För allt du vill dölja
För allt du vill visa upp
För allt som inte blev som det skulle
För allt du är
För allt du vill vara
Förlåt dig själv

For everything you hate about yourself – forgive yourself
For everything you love about yourself – forgive yourself
For everything you are ashamed of
For everything you are proud of
For everything you want to hide
For everything you want to show off
For everything that did not turn out as it should
For all that you are
For everything you want to be
Forgive yourself

The book then closes with an equally beautiful, poetic and enigmatic piece that manages to capture the magical innocence of youth and all that it brings. A perfect bookend, literally. I have read these pieces many times at live spoken word events and they always get a huge response. There is something about hearing the musicality of the foreign tongue at first, and then the translation that unveils its beauty. While there is always a little bit of magic lost in any translation (my own translations here included), these pieces still retain the majority of what made them special.

Allt ska vi glömma och allt ska vi förlora.

Och någon annan dag, men inte nu, ska jag visa dig

den hemliga grottan, den porlande bäcken

jag aldrig fann som barn.

Everything we shall forget and everything we shall lose

And another day, but not now, I will show you

the secret cave, the babbling brook

that I never found as a child

A Bob Dylan poem

I recently renovated my office at home and put up my treasured Bob Dylan poster on the wall. Not only is Bob Dylan an artistic hero of mine, he also plays a huge role for me in learning about the craft of great writing. As for the poster; the story of how I acquired it is one of my most treasured New York moments. So, in the spirit of sharing, here is a brand new poem I wrote to try and capture that moment when Bob and I crossed paths in his most famous New York haunts (metaphorically).

the hard rain

surfacing from a gig
in a dive bar
where they are handing over

chunks of the bar
and pints of Courvoisier
because they’re
“Closing down,
tonight motherfucker, tonight!”

I ask for the huge poster of
Bob Dylan
hanging on the wet wall
by the swaying bartender

“You’ve got a lot of nerve,
But, fuck yeah, take it bro”
he says
with a wink
 
I throw back my drink
balance Bob’s wiry frame
over my head
for shelter 
from the storm

freewheelin’ outside
into the concrete caverns
 
the thin mercury sound
of wild Village wind
washing rain inside my shoes

my heels 
still wandering
to the subway station
at 4th street
positively 
singing

Bono found what he was looking for!

As a teenager I adored U2 (and I still do), so it was extra special to see that Bono got a copy of Three Men Talking About Things They Kinda Know About yesterday from Stephen, when they were filming the annual Christmas Busk to raise funds for the Simon Community (who work tirelessly to aid those who are homeless).

If you told the teenage me, that my hero Bono would have my words in his hands, I would scarcely have believed you. But art moves in mysterious ways. Very proud today.

If you too (u2?) want a copy of the book, you can buy one here

Three Men Talking – Now available in the shop on this site!

This limited edition 10th anniversary publication of Three Men Talking About Things They Kinda Know About is now available in the shop on this site. You can visit the SHOP menu above or click here to go directly to it. It contains new forewords by myself, Colm & Stephen, several never-before-seen photos, as well as new contemporary essays by Director Sarah Brennan and Gemma Tipton (The Irish Times) that reflect on its impact and enduring legacy. Each book is a work of art in and of itself, with a cover printed on 270gsm paper (the colour is called Citrine), with unique imperfections and magical flourishes that make each book completely unique. I would be grateful if you let any fans of poetry or literature know. Now taking orders and we will ship them in time for Christmas.