The second person you refer to is not Sward, but Swords. Desmond Swords.
The portion of the Heaney/O'Driscoll interview you cite when beginning the
attempted disassembling of a human being who (like you) is a poet - and who
the verb in the title of your piece explicitly cites as being one who feigns
an appearance of and conceals the Truth (dissembling) -- is incorrectly
It appears in Stepping Stones, under the title of, not *Beyond the Fiddle",
but in Part II: On The Books: chapter 15: "An ear to the line" Writing and
"Beyond the fiddle" are the final three words of Heaney's answer to the
question immediately prior to the answer you quote in full at the beginning
of your argument that Heaney is a bit of a cod. The disssembling poet.
Thank you very much for offering me the opportunity of appearing in the
Jacket for the very first time. I had often wondered if one would appear
there, and that the publishing opportunity came so suddenly, unexpectedly
and fits in with one's own poetic, affirmed the event was (what in Irish is)
You express the view that I made accusations about you without offering
citations or references. The first accusation was that you set about trying
to prove that Heaney was a dissembling poet, *like a traffic warden on price
work*. I meant this in a poetic sense Side. I could have said
"Side sets about arguing Heaney is a dissembling poet with a very methodical
and thorough approach, close reading the exact verbal formulae and weighing
the implications of evey packet of information Heaney relays to O'Driscoll.
He takes us *step by step* through the claims Heaney makes, beginning with
the charge that "avant garde" "is an old fashioned term".
What does Heaney mean by this? Side asks, and extending the scope of his
investigation into what Heaney means when he says avant garde is an old
fashioned term, asks:
"...what does this really say regarding the term’s significance in relation
to his own poetic ideals?"
However, I didn't because I was thinking of a Reader's entertainment, rather
than the exactness of your claims, which after reading your piece, didn't
sway me to your argument as a Reader, and as a Writer, detected an
opportunity to further my own cause by responding to you in the way I did.
My imagined Reader of course, will not necessarily be the same as yours or
anyone elses, but at the end of the day, we make our choice on this
fundamental cerebral creative aspect of who our Reader is and that's that.
Some imagined person, possibly in our own image, or with our sensibilities,
a mask at one remove and in poeitc terms, our daemon, perhaps Side?
Part of the reason I described the tenor of the piece to a traffic warden on
price work, was because as soon as you ask your first question about
wondering aloud what Heaney's the avant garde is old fashioned term *really
says* about his own poetic (which I took to mean something along the lines
of, really, as in straight up as in, honestly?) - you then answer your own
question about what the five words Heaney said really, (REALLY) means and
what it says about his own poetic, thus:
"Indeed, many critics have accused Heaney’s poetic, itself, as being
distinctly old fashioned, a sort of neo-Georgian retrogressive “poetic”
utterance. It is as if Heaney recognises the accuracy of this criticism, and
in an effort to deflect its force feels the need to reflect it back at his
Who are the many critics? The obvious answer is, you and your pals?
But who the many critics are is not what I find interesting, it is that you
take five words and from that, instead of saying, well, when Heaney says
avant garde is an old fashioned term, what he really means is, it's an old
fashioned term - rather than it being some dissembling trait. But you
clearly don't buy the obvious way most non writerly people would take this
staement, at face value - rather you decide it is a sign of the dissembling
poet engaged in a strategem, and cite *many critics* (anonymous ones) and
immediately enagage what I took to be a bit of dissembling yourself, with
your next sentence, which has all set forth on the strength of one person
saying avant garde is an old fashined term.
"That he is sensitive on this point is suggested by his saying (as if an
afterthought) that "in literature, nobody can cause bother any more". This
is a curious thing for a man of letters to say in the absence of a defensive
posture. What does he mean by “bother”, anyway?"
So now we have it that he is sensitive on *this point". By now, your Reader,
unless they are supporters of your argument to begin with, will be straining
to keep up with your train of logic, because you have gone from a bloke
saying the avant garde is an old fashined term, to, a couple of hundred
words later, that "we (can) now have it (on authority of the anonymous many
critics) that he is sensitive on *this point" - the point you made up out of
That was my reading and as I read the few thousand words more, the evidence
that you were presenting, all followed a similar pattern of being based on a
premise which i as a Reader, didn't get because your logic was not such as
to be reasonable and clear. And as I was reading it I was getting excited,
as I thought, here's an opportunity to have fun with language by wading into
this caper, of a recently qualified doctor talking bollix.
Now i know we are never going to agree, you are hardly likely to say, fair
cop, i'm talking bollocks, not after ten years effort of convincing yourself
that your version of what Poetry is, is the truth and people like Heaney are
the frauds. I understand and sympathise with that position as I too am a
linguistically innovative avant garde poet who no one takes seriously. I
don't even have the meagre comfort of an academic tenure and a few like
minded colleagues who can help me through the campaigns against the
Mainstream poets who are boring and don't get it, that what I am trying to
put forward, is far more poetic than there wet water gear and breathless
depressing poems about their domestic situations, delivered in the monotone
identikit mainstream poetry voice which is based not on verbal
inventiveness, but how posh one can sound, how breathy and gaspy and natural
English saviour of the Movement poetic that has Larkin at its misanthropic
core of demotic and stabs at highblown.
I am a serious poet who is not even afforded acknowledgement by - not only
O'Brien and his mob, but my sisters and brothers in the avant garde. Van
Gough was the same, everyone thought he was a loony and his life's work crap.
But really Side, you don't seem to offer anything about what IS, just what
is not. You tell us Heaney is this and that and dissembling, but you
yourself, do not offer us any theory of your own poetic, and your writing in
the piece implies as a *given* that you are avant garde yourself. You don't
state what you are, but imply through the oppositional stance you take on
Heaney, that you are some crazee liberal linguistic who is the real arty
type, like Van Gough.
Please forgive me for the lingo, the *I* of this piece is not *me* as in me
the real person, but merely a construct and part of a wider linguisitc
process linked to my own route to becoming a doctor of poetry.
Ollamh Side, is the irish word for a doctor of poetry and it comes from the
bardic tradition, which had a 1200 year existence in print, and the course
from beginner to doctor, was 12 years long and i am in year 8, at grade five
Cli (ridgepole) and in this year I (as a linguistic construct and performer
in language) have just begun taking on one of the two substrands of the
primary and highest compositional method a filidh poet practiced in. Imbas
Foronsai, which translates as - manifestation of knowledge which enlightens.
Dichetal do Chennaib - extemporisation (which some glossers have glossed)
from the tips (of the tongue and fingers i think) is the substrand of imbas
foronsai and I used that when first replying to you at Jacket and here. Now
i won't bore you with my own study of bardic lore and Irish myth, but will
say that Irish myth is one of the most useful ones on the planet for a poet
to have as their base one.
Now I am assuming yours will be Greek? Well Heaney, his is Irish and it
really is a fascinating tradition he is linked to you know.
I love you Jeff