Irish launch of Flaking the Rope March 2019











Launch of Flaking the Rope Boston January 2019

                  IMG_4167     MXNE2159


there is a frozen silence

both sides of our window.

Outside, a white sheet steals

the joy of herbs and plants,

decorates the half-worked

green climbing our un-finished fence.

Three electric poles are alive.

Daffodils are popping through

disliked moss greens,

calves entertain electric fences

and woken tractors are feeding fields.

Inside, a voice is echoing your

granddaughter’s telephoned message,

stilling thoughts, and delivering

the cold news that you have passed.



for Charlie Vella


When I am older my love

and Zurrieq is sleeping

hoarsely, I will go to her

and ease her tiring larynx.


My skein of love

I will take and plant

each hank in a house

Barocci failed to influence.


A set of arms from each one

I will invite and let it hold me

and seduce a pair of loving

lips to steal a moment, or two.


I will waltz her medieval

streets with Ptolemy and at

the temple I will listen

to his Sunday Miscellany.


I will be a Vella for a day,

drink with Victoria and

sway my youthful arms at

A La Veneziana,


and when the pick is

whispering to be harvested

I will bend all day and sleep

in the safety of their Għorfa.


Stones in their Shoes 2008

Cover design by Laura Barry

A Kennedy moment
For John Liddy

Mary, my lips hadn’t dressed
Your name in a multiple
Of decades, not until you
Perched between us tonight,
Landing yourself on a
Republican lap.
It was a Kennedy Moment.
Etching wasn’t deep enough
To hold you. The memories
Danced to polkas, reels
And jigs and were held
In volumes of uninterrupted
Slow airs.
When I looked again I
Noticed that the tide had
Ebbed and a feed-bag
Of torments had discharged
Itself. You wore that same smile
That introduced you to
Us in the Phoenix bar in
1977, when your lips seduced
The plastic tip and drove a
Decade of fingers to entertain us.
Jesus you were great!
My memory fumbled and
Fumbled in its recall, till

You excavated a hunk of
Deep-bored and unmarried
Memories and exorcised an
Unwelcome landscape that
Had found an inappropriate
Home. I left my hosts and
Danced my way through Limerick
Streets that once held your
Stride and winked at the
Variety of unwritten plaques
That hold you now.
Unwittingly ordering a confluence
Of memories to entertain
Themselves. Later today
I’ll drive to Cork and on
My way I’ll erect a cortège
Of finger posts, to you, and
Bless them with a lifetime
Of acceptance.

©Gene Barry

A Kennedy moment’ just shifts along and changes emotional gears effortlessly until you achieve that sonic roar.
Professor Robert Welch

Turkish Baths
For Bob Welch

Disappointed, Urquhart bridled
Brindisi’s compassionate son as
he nursed his twinned cusp
to a table at Jacob’s.
The front row decorated
with their father.
I heard an echo of mechanics
broadcasting on repeat, as the
Du Cross family maintained the
haunting harmonies.
Bind crouch engage you fuckers,
it’s head to head now.
An emotional thread worming
its way through generations
of unfinished business.
A crescendo of anger sitting in the
changing rooms, uncaptained.
The award-winning meal of ifs and whats
waiting to be digested. Laurence I
ask you now another language
to master. A language of resolution
and awareness. Of forgiveness.
Exorcise these torments now encased
in blinkered generations.

©Gene Barry

‘Turkish Baths’ is an exercise in heroic exorcism. It is a blast of human energy.
Professor Robert Welch


Silent Voices Millstreet 2010


Gene Barry held a series of poetry workshops in Millstreet Co Cork for asylum seekers living in Ireland. Silent Voices is an anthology of their poems edited by Gene.

This book is dedicated to all asylum seekers

‘the written word is the most powerful tool we have to protect ourselves, both from the tyrants of the day and from our own traditions

Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Prize winner 2003


Freedom I see every day,
Freedom I think about every day
And I keep saying to myself,
When will I be free?

But even when the freedom comes
I shall ask myself Am I truly free?
I say this to myself because freedom is
What I see every day.

Ebere Odo (Nigeria)


Inclusion 2012

Inclusion 2012 is a collection of poems written by Transition Year students from Loreto, St Colmans and Youthreach Fermoy who attended weekly poetry workshops given by Gene Barry. The front cover was designed by Youthreach student Daria Narbut and the collection was edited by Gene Barry.

Gene Barry is to be commended for his voluntary dedication to his poets and their poems. His foresight and vision to publish such an anthology will add meaning and depth to our everyday lives.

County Cork VEC and the students at Youthreach, Fermoy understand and acknowledge the merits of this project. We believe in the power of poetry and we are happy to be associated with the publication of this anthology.                    

Ger Canning AEO


Dull and dark
With shades of grey
Peering at you as I lay,
Please stay.

Moving around
There is no sound
Standing tall
Waiting for the call
You didn’t call.

With a wiry look
Your stare took
With eyes that torment
A curse that drives my pain
Am I insane?

Embrace the future
Look forward to love
Everything is not as it seems
Look forward with bright beams
Take time, everything will be fine.
Sit and think, believe and trust.

Erika Foley

Enormous credit is due to our ‘poet in residence’ Gene Barry who, in co-operation with Mr. Sharon O’Leary (English teacher), inspired our students to give voice to their spirits through verse. It is our sincere hope that this inaugural festival will grow deep roots within our community and blossom each summer for many years to come.

With best regards for the future,

Sharon Holland.

T.Y. co-ordinator at Loreto, Fermoy


Remembering the present

Remembering the present is an anthology of poems written by members of AOSTA and edited by Gene Barry. The poems were written during numerous workshops held by Gene in Millstreet, Newmarket, Doneraile, Mallow, Fermoy and Glanworth.

My New Boy

Today he plays games that fell
out of his head many years back.
Bath ones he once taught me
before lifting me for drying
and all of the time talking.
Sanity is partially kept clean
by reading the plethora of
laminated signs;
Hot tap
Cold tap
Shower gel…

I repeatedly tell him
my hand clock is waterproof,
agree that uncle Jim
is in his mother’s kitchen,
only a fool would pay1s 3d for a pint
the horses are fed and that
aunt Margaret would be better off
here on the farm and not in America;
she’d be seasick all the way over
finishes every sentence.

These days he can be heavy 
and neither can I lift his spirit,

cuddle and kiss him as I dry.
Emotions trot out in abundance
and announce themselves without
warning; gifts you could call them.
We failed to see the obvious
Alzheimer delivered before he came
to lodge with my father.

©Gene Barry

As Chairperson of AOSTA I am very proud to be associated with this wonderful project. The poetic talent of our members is but the tip of the iceberg. Writing their poems has been a very positive experience for everyone involved and the fruits of their labours are now down in print for ever.

AOSTA are very grateful to Gene Barry for the amazing assistance he gave to individuals and groups, for his skills in compiling the poems into book format and being the driving force behind this worthwhile project.

Eileen Fitzgerald


Inclusion 2013

Inclusion 2013 was made up of poems submitted by 53 students from Cork Ireland and California USA and was edited by Gene Barry.

We the Sacramento Poetry Centre are extraordinarily of our special relationship with the Blackwater International Poetry Festival, Rebel Poetry and Gene Barry. We are especially pleased to have been given the opportunity to have our young poets represented alongside some of the best and brightest of Ireland’s next generation of poetic voices.

Archibald MacLeish wrote that “A poem should not mean, but be.” The poem, coming into being, should mean something – should have a tangible effect on our lives. The “Inclusions” anthology not only changes the lives of these young writers, but also, all of us who have been privileged to participate in the project.

Long live Ireland and her poetry!

Philip Larrea

                                Cover by artist Maria Dowling

Pictured above is student Cliodhna Condon the 2013 Inclusion winning poet.

I am all that is left

Once I appeared as you do:
full of life and desire.
But then they came.
They took all that was good,
all that was pure,
all that was real.

Now I stay here wasting away.
lying on the floor,
My dignity has deserted me.
But who needs for that?
Not in this world,
not in this time.
It just slows you down.
Once I had hopes,
I had potential.
But then the biting cold came
and bruises along with it.
My protective wall dissolved.

I am all that is left:
rotting at the core.

Cliodhna Condon


Unfinished Business

2012 festival

Cover design by Laura Barry

The poems of Gene Barry are generous and compassionate. Barry writes rebel poetry that rebels against the hardening of our hearts and minds and urges us to stay open-minded and understanding. Anybody who writes lines like ‘lost my breath again / as they doled out / the currency of resentment, / bitterness’ deserves your and my attention. I am thrilled and happy that his first collection has finally appeared in print.

Tsead Bruinja. Holland

Gene Barry’s poems informed and grounded in the vernacular of the soul, reveal his deep understanding of human nature. His poetry describes la condition humaine with an unequivocal honesty and a purity of language which, I have to admit, transported me.

Michèle Vassal. France

Gene Barry knows how difficult it is to deal with the burdens that are visited upon each generation by its progenitors. His poetry epitomizes the struggle all of us must face to put aside the hurt and forgive, and possibly even love.

His work deals honestly with the day to day realities and struggles of daily life in a way that shrugs off nothing, that refuses to obfuscate or romanticize.

His poetic voice is an original one that speaks memorably to all of us.

Bradley R. Strahan. USA



After polio had visited

the boy it chose

was never the same.

It paralysed his mother.


Young men lit their laughter,

pubescent girls wondered

and dogs slowed near him;

the years after his father

could take no more.


He paddled upstream

to a school and a room

for special people and

at a bench he called his own

he cut leather, punched it,

put coins in between the strips

he managed to sow together

for the brothers who flogged him.


He tied four longer strips

around his neck before

he pushed the stool away. 


©Gene Barry


Inclusion 2014

Students Lucy Fitzgerald, Brandon Geary and Eoin Donnellan share the stage with Dutch poets Saskia Stehouwer and Tsead Bruinja, Harry Owen from South Africa and Irish poet Miceál Kearney from County Galway.

The winning prize being presented to the 2014 winner Lucy Fitzgerald from County Kerry by Eleanor Barry. 

Confessions of a Pounding Skull

We are drowning in regrets when Sunday morning comes screaming,
Gasping for the spider’s breath in the web of lies we’ve spun for parents.
Failing, lying, learning.
Dragged through razor wire labyrinths of angst, stumbling towards corrosive pools of ambition’s expectations.
It burns your throat, mother’s threats ricochet around your pounding skull.
Together, united, a community, a team, a nightmare.
Sharing trust, secrets, lies and stories.
Generation failure, the laughing stock of society.
Condemned to bullshit by bullshitters.
Hopeless, ignored, neglected.
Engulfed by the bitter clouds of pessimism and the cold winds of negativity.
The fumes stick in our throats like the tears of God-given guilt we weep at night.
Doused in petrol and set on fire on teenage disco dance-floors.
Wasters, tossers, good-for-nothing bastards, but only in their eyes.
We are the hope, the glimmer of light in the dark tunnel of yesterday’s bogs,
Striving for equality, acceptance from parents, from peers, from society.
Free from the demons of discrimination that plague their minds,
Blessed with dreams and fresh ideas, longing for incubation.
We will be the ones to find the cure to cancer and solve global warming.
A blank canvas, inspired, optimistic, ambitious.
We are the future.
So back off.

Lucy Fitzgerald

Harry Owen South Africa

Inclusion 2014 was made up of poems from students from various counties in Ireland, some of whom attended Gene’s workshops and poems from American and Dutch students.


The Day the Mirror called

Cover design by Laura Barry

The Day the Mirror called is a collection of poems written for Dr Heather Browne following the unexpected death of her beautiful husband Ted. All of the poems were written by members of the Blackwater Poetry Group from 9 countries and the collection was edited by Gene Barry. 

Some Years are Full of Sorrow

I want to blow your candle
Winds to sail upon the seas
To rise you up each crested wave
And gently lay, soft, on other side
Some years are full of sorrow

I listened for the jesters laugh
Searched to find the clown’s balloon
I find my own voice missing
Sing you out this birthday song
Off-key and cock-eyed
My soul melts alone
Anxious to find a bit of warm

If I could build that wall
That holds you in, so safe my friend
Each moment’s joy, dear
My gift for you, a smile returned
Breaking free from deep within 
This drafty cavernous womb
Today is yours to find that breeze, that breath
The air that calls for new

Heather Maecherlain Browne


fathers and what must be said

fathers and what must be said is a collection of poems from poets from around the world Including Helene Cardona, Harry Owen, Hugh McFadden, Saskia Stehouwer, Ronnie McGinn, Anne Elezabeth Pluto, Miceál Kearney, Anna Tannam, Greagoir ODuill, Erin Murphy, Liam Ryan, Pete Mullineaux and May Leonard. fathers and what must be said was edited by Gene Barry. 

GB father launch

Cover design by Laura de Barra


NOW, while it is darkest, JUMP
off the gray carousel.
The horses are still,
and their wrinkled keeper dozes
in his cane bottomed chair.

This is the hour graves gape,
and sleepers twist in their chains.
There is no moon, but the stars
cast their wan messages of light
like bottles drifting over cold fathoms.

All the people and places you never touched
open their pale morning faces for you.
You reach out, but you are so slow
night sucks you back like an empty phrase
from a long distance telephone call.

But tonight I am restless. As you pass
I feel the brush of bony fingers on my wrist.

Bradley R Strahan


The Sea – Dublin

The Sea is an anthology of poems published by Rebel Poetry to raise funds for the Skerries RNLI. The majority of the poems submitted were by Irish poets, including President Michael D Higgins.

The book includes a number of stunning photographs and poems that touch on almost every experience of the sea and is well worth getting your hands if only because it’s that the crew of each lifeboat is made up of unpaid volunteers.

Happy Screaming

Plumbing and midwifery I’m not good at.
I stray from fluids, move upstream.
I could mend a stroller, a garage door,
plaster, pipe, block and brick, so
I could most likely build a pool
just five feet deep throughout
where I would butterfly stroke,
back stroke, snorkel.
Over where I would have put
the pool tables and chairs, drinkers
under influence would be clad

in waves they’d throw at me.
Children would be happy-screaming.
The big-breasted Pilates-driven topless,
each staring in my direction
would all be tall and blonde,
personality driven and normal.
While fully composed they would dream
of fondling me, marrying me.
I would of course eventually
tell them about the midwifery.
The background of potbellied men,
each and every one a heavy smoker,
would have faces held together with pimples
and baldness would be everywhere.
Now the sea, that’s a different story.
Not having a purchase scares me.
I need ropes and cables within reach,
toeholds, footholds, fingerholds, footings,
support, security. Something to grasp.
Just a small little place to nurse in
a finger, a hand, a toe or foot.
For combers they have curled out life,
upturned the un-upturnable, spilling
out potbellied men, the topless and
so many fishermen and teenagers.
At fifteen, I started the nighttime’s revisiting
of when we pulled a boy the same age,
a friend, out of the full moonlit calming water.
Rowing in, I dammed my eyes for a second time
when I saw his father standing on the
nearby grass, two big strong oarsmen
with soft hearts at his elbows.
We coffined him two days later.
At sixteen, I saw another sixteen year old
slip under the belly of the cruelest wave,
his much older non-swimming brother
helplessly wailing top voice and
calling to his already drowned father.
He drowned too, a short while later.
The sea took care of their funerals and
I didn’t swim for a decade.
Taught my kids to swim at infancy,
win medals, save lives.

©Gene Barry


The Blue Max Review 2015


Inclusion 2015

The 2015 Inclusion winning poem was Those Footsteps by Ryan Manning from County Cork. Second place went to Sarah Hogan and third place to Laura Svaza.

Those Footsteps

I could feel the stomping,
the repeated hits and the smacks,
the name calling and tears
splashing down on me.
That girl was hurt inside and out;
those cuts and bruises,
the hate and the doubt.

Pain streaming down her
once happy face.
And as the time passed
from that day to night,
the bully came lurking
for more of his pay,
but the tables had turned.
I hatched my plan
to fix this day.

As this bully approached
I tripped him in his stride
and watched him fall to the ground.
And a great big frown he wore
as finally this girl was free,
thanks to me,
the pavement.

©Ryan Mangan

The Blackwater International Poetry Festival student anthology Inclusion contains poems written exclusively by the students in 4th, 5th and 6th class in our school, Castletownroche National School.The children’s poetry in this anthology covered a range of topics in particular the topic of Bullying. The creation of poetry to be officially published was a new endeavour for the students of our school and one which they thoroughly enjoyed. I wish to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks to my students for their hard work, enthusiasm and dedication in creating their wonderful poems. I would like to thank the staff for their hard work and dedication and Mr Gene Barry for inviting us to participate in this anthology and for his dedication and enthusiasm in working with our students in the creation of the beautiful poems. 

I would also like to extend a special thank you to Rebel Poetry for publishing this anthology.

Tá súil agam go bhaineadh sibh an taitneamh as an leabhar seo.

Is mise le meas,

Laura O’Hara.


Pupils of Castletownroche National School (4th, 5th & 6th classes) completed Poetry Workshops with Mr. Gene Barry throughout the school year. The children looked forward to the workshops every week. They studied many themes through poetry and in turn were able to express themselves and write about their own experiences.They produced some fantastic poems and there was great enjoyment in the process. All the Teachers and staff in Castletownroche National School are so proud of our pupils for what they have achieved.

A big thank you to Gene Barry who put so much time and effort into the workshops. We look forward to working with you again in the future.

Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity.” William Wordsworth

Marcia Howard

Deputy Principal


Culture Night – North Cork


Startled by you – Maria Ní Mhurchú – Dingle

Startled by you is the 4th collection of poetry by poet, author and playwright Maria Ní Mhurchú’s from County Kerry and is published by Lapwing. Gene Barry was the MC at the launch.


 Blue Max Review winner 2014 Professor Daniel Roy Connelly

Professor Daniel Roy Connelly from Italy was the winner of the 2015 Blue Max Review competition

Half Light  

Early those mornings, Dog-with-a-leg-missing took to yapping me awake
from the porch while his human pal, insomniac and smiling security guard,
stood silently by. Day after day, I stepped out from my bungalow hastily
shawled in the Dhaka half light to insist on silence. Twice I threatened Dog-
with-a-leg-missing with a papaya.  Shut
up, Dog! 
I yelled day after day, Shut up, Dog, Shut up!   

Two weeks on and visibly tired I cut work for an afternoon nap. I drove up to
my compound whereupon insomniac and smiling security guard
eased open the gates and pulled an expansive salute with his withered
arm. As I rolled the car in, in English copied to perfection, he yelled through
the half-open driver’s window Shut up, Dog! right in my face, Shut up, Dog,
Shut up!
 while behind him on the lawn Dog-with-a-leg-missing tried to fuck

the papaya tree.  

Daniel Roy Connelly 


Working days


Writing human condition: Gene Barry as a chronicler of our times.

 When grief unbuckled itself

it fell like January dew

seeping right into her very marrow,

the big Clare smile was gone.

Gene can be metaphysical, if he chooses to be!

The lines above from January Dew from the present collection of his recent poems confirm this impression—and validate.

Gene Barry of the famous Blackwater Poetry Festival is an institution. Art therapist, critic, poet, curator, activist, public figure, this Irish artist has proved that once it comes to articulating the angst of the human condition the Irish are the best.

And they have an impressive heritage! Joyce is the summit very few can dream of ever surpassing. Swift, Shaw, Yeats, Wilde, Beckett, Seamus Heaney, Sean O’ Casey and many others. It is a collective that can be best matched by the Russians or the French of the previous two centuries. Gene is a true inheritor of this world-class legacy of wit and sharp observation and satiric commentary on foibles and fads of a species called Homo-sapiens that has kept the artists engaged from the very beginning of the time—and now entertained through its stupidity and greed and predatory nature out to destroy nature itself!

For Gene Barry, the world is a canvas, life is the field of study and humans, despite frailties, true subject. He turns his gaze at the la affaire human—this great drama—and mercilessly dissects with the commitment of a scientist and psychiatrist. He dissent, subverts power-structures and dominant power discourse. He makes rigid language flexible, yokes dissimilar images and makes the fusion speak, like the Metaphysical poets of the yore!

English becomes a supple probe in his deft hands. He makes it do amazing things—almost re-vitalizing clichés and making the readers see the everyday in a new light.

For me, as a reader, Gene Barry reminds me of another great: Paul Henry, especially his Connemara series. Like Paul, Gene takes in the essentials and compresses them in a vibrant frame—catching the scene forever.

These poems do that job—moving us and like a classic Paul Henry painting, giving us a sense of time and place.

Dr. Sunil Sharma.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s