Compare and Contrast

Poems by Cathal O Searcaigh may be taken off the Leaving Cert curriculum as the fallout from the controversial documentary on the poet continues.Education Minister Mary Hanafin said yesterday that there were “difficulties” with the inclusion of his poems on the exam curriculum.

I have never read a poem by Cathal O Searcaigh. His poems may be brilliant, or they may be dreadful. I simply don’t know. But no activity on his part, lawful or otherwise, can alter the text of the poems he has already published. And if they were deemed worth studying prior to the release of the documentary Fairytale in Kathmandu, then they are still worth studying today. To adopt a stance of ‘since the author doesn’t meet our national moral criteria we can’t allow our children to study his poems’ is to return to the days of Committees on Evil Literature.


5 Responses to “Compare and Contrast”

  1. 1 Kevin February 22, 2008 at 12:13 am

    Oh, you pesky post-structuralists!

    But yes, I agree. I think she acknowledged that some poets on, say, the English course were of dubious moral stature, but intelligently noted that that was fine, because those poets are dead, whereas – judging by his piece in today’s Times – Cathal O’Searcaigh is, for the moment anyway, quite alive. Here’s hoping, Mary and me, that Michael Longley is hiding nothing behind that beard of his.

  2. 2 Hugh Green February 22, 2008 at 9:58 am

    I ain’t that post-structuralist….in that I think that some aspects of the poet’s personal history are worth studying in order to grasp the meaning of the poems. But even if the poet is responsible for slamming a series of planes into tall buildings, I don’t think that even that would render the poems inappropriate for study. Children, after all, spend large chunks of time engrossed in cultural products that -when they don’t openly exalt imperialist military supremacy, mass bombing and so on-

    But Bumblebee is not the only Transformer to have arrived on Earth – in the desert of Qatar, the Decepticons Blackout and Scorponok attack a U.S. military base, causing the Pentagon to send their special Sector Seven agents to capture all “specimens of this alien race,” and Spike and his girlfriend Mikaela find themselves in the middle of a grand battle between the Autobots and the Decepticons, stretching from Hoover Dam all the way to Los Angeles.

    are developed by corporations intent on indoctrinating children into a life of consumption and service to capital.

    The whole thing is outrageous.

  3. 3 dave March 9, 2008 at 9:41 am


    Big stone falls into small Irish poetical pond!
    One of our number has been having sex.
    (No, that fact is not the stone.
    That’s merely a ripple)
    He’s been having sex with young men in Nepal.
    He’s a sex tourist, dammit!
    Not good, not good.
    Letters to papers.
    Matter of ethics.
    But there again on the other hand.
    Milton was a PR man for Cromwell.
    Great art is above and beyond
    These piffling details of the weakness of humanity.
    Et cet era.
    And bear in mind, he was also teaching them
    Useful stuff (apart from sex),
    Reading riting ritmetic and so forth.
    It could be said, admitted, alright, it was sex tourism,
    But it was Fair Trade Sex Tourism.
    And anyway, none of this gets to the point.
    The real question remains unanswered.
    Was he having sex with them in Irish or English?
    If the latter, the question of grants and subsidies arise.
    There are definite forms to fill, proper procedures,
    Arts administrators to keep in jobs.
    If none of these things are done properly
    Well then the Irish poetical pond would be chaotic.
    Might even be poetry.
    Couldn’t have that.
    All that relevance to reality.

  1. 1 A Poem For Cathal O Searcaigh–Bock The Robber Trackback on March 12, 2008 at 7:03 pm

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