Crossways

Literary Magazine

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“Nothing is funnier than unhappiness”

          When directing Endgame at the Schiller-Theater in Berlin in 1967, Samuel Beckett described the relationship between Hamm and Clov as a “war”. This is an apt way of summing up the relationship between the two men who are confined together in what seems to be a post-famine or post-apocalyptic shelter. Throughout the play, much of their time is spent bickering and insulting one another, yet […]

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Writing: No Fast Track to Success

          If good creative writing is about finding your own voice, then nobody can teach you how to write. Any genuine, honest writer will tell you this. Beware of courses and classes that claim to teach the ‘secrets’ of good creative writing. We live in a world of instant gratification – everyone wants to know the secret ingredient that will take their art to the next […]

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In Search of Michael Hartnett

          I first read a poem by Michael Hartnett while drinking a nuclear coffee in the very brown and very beige surroundings of the UCD Arts Block. I didn’t realise it then, but I was lucky enough to have had the opportunity to attend a series of classes led by the poet Paul Durcan exploring the work of Hartnett. To have been introduced to Hartnett by […]

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The Short Story: An Arrow in Flight

In A Story with a Pattern, Mary Lavin’s protagonist is a writer, cornered by a man at a party who complains that her short stories are frustrating because they don’t have a beginning, a middle and an end.  Lavin, could capture stillness like few other writers, beautifully illustrating the fustiness of Irish society in the 1940’s and 50’s and hinting at the subversions rippling beneath the surface. She did this […]

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On the Nature of Poetry: Treading the path already taken.

“It was the month of May. Trees in Harvard Yard Were turning a young green. There was whispering everywhere.”   In Canopy Heaney describes how someone had installed speakers amongst the branches of a tree in Harvard and how the whispering voices emanating from these speakers seemed to become the voice of the leaves, the tree, the earth itself, rising up and reminding us of its dominance. One of the […]

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The Nature of Writing: Narcissism and Egotism

Two truths that anyone who has spent time trying to write will affirm: writing is narcissistic, and writers have big egos. If you don’t agree then you haven’t tried to write seriously. By this I don’t mean writing on serious subjects such as truth, suffering and hope, but seriously trying to master the art of writing, which I am doing now. Even if you fail, which I am also doing […]

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The Allure of Science for the Arts: Reflections

This post is concerned with objectivity and its role in the Arts, especially literature. Objective or scientific thinking on the face of it, is alien to the Arts just as subjectivity is outside the realm of science. And yet that highest of art forms, music, is understood in systematic and objective terms. Just as that purest of sciences, mathematics, is considered more of an art than a science in its […]

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Form and Content: The Art of Editing

  According to Stephen King, to write is human, to edit divine. Anyone who writes will see sense in this. Especially poets. The Old English word for a poet is ‘Scop’ which translates literally as ‘shaper’. What else is poetry but an exercise in constant editing? And what else is editing but shaping and giving form to something? That is why Stephen King calls it divine. It is the most […]

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Notes on Literature as Play

  As far as I can make out, there is only one rule to the game of literature that we can say with any degree of certainty. That rule is play. Play consists of saying much without really saying anything. It is not the job of poetry to clarify. Poetry should suggest and ambiguate. To play with words, to juggle with concepts and ideas is the business of the poet. […]

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