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Kevin Kiely poet, novelist, literary critic, raconteur and American Fulbright Scholar gained his PhD in modernist and postmodernist poetry from University College Dublin. He was born in County Down (Northern Ireland) and has received six Arts Council Bursaries in Literature, a Kavanagh Fellowship in Poetry and a Bisto Award for Fiction.
His more controversial books are also available on Amazon including 'Seamus Heaney and the Great Poetry Hoax', 'Harvard's Patron: Jack of all Poets', 'Arts Council Immortals', and 'UCD Belfield Metaphysical: New and Selected Poems'.
He is an Honorary Fellow of the Iowa International Writing Programme, was visiting Professor of English in Boise State University and the University of Idaho (Moscow), and has taught Romantic Literature at UCD. His critical commentaries on poetry, the arts, and cultural issues have appeared in Village Magazine, Hibernia, Irish Examiner, Irish Studies Review, Honest Ulsterman, Fortnight, Books Ireland, The London Magazine, The Irish Book Review, Poetry Ireland Review, Irish Times, The Irish Independent, Irish Arts Review, Inis, Irish Literary Review, Idaho Arts Quarterly and Humanities (DC) among other publications.
Published titles include A Horse Called El Dorado (O'Brien Press, 2005) Bisto Award. Breakfast with Sylvia (Lagan Press, 2006) Patrick Kavanagh Fellowship Award. Francis Stuart: Artist and Outcast―Official Biography (Liffey Press, Dublin 2007; Dufour, PA 2008). The Welkinn Complex (Number One Son, Florida, FL., 2011). SOS Lusitania 2012 (O'Brien Press, 2012) which was the 'One Book One Community' in the Lusitania Centenary year of 2015. Immortals Vol. I―1941-1981 (Amazon, 2015). Plays on RTÉ: Children of No Importance and Multiple Indiscretions.
Selected Anthology Listings: Something Sensational To Read in the Train anthology foreword: Brendan Kennelly (Lemon Soap Press, Dublin 2005); Catullus: One Man of Verona anthology ed. Ronan Sheehan (Farmar & Farmar Ltd., 2010); Ends & Beginnings anthology eds John Gery and William Pratt (AMS Press Inc., New York 2011); A Map of Melancholy (long poem) in Windows Anthology eds. Heather Brett and Noel Monahan 2012; In Place of Love and Country eds Richard Parker & John Gery (Crater Press, London 2013); Liberty, Come Galloping! Salvation, Flower: Poets Worldwide Anthology ed. Kamran Mir Hazar, (Kabul Press 2013); Still Anthology Ed. Chelley McLear (CAP, Belfast 2014).
His life events read like the epic novel of a flawed hero. His father’s suicide when Stuart was an infant became a family secret which he discovered during his marriage at age seventeen to Maud Gonne’s daughter, Iseult, a former lover of Ezra Pound’s. The marriage engulfed him in Irish Republicanism as soldier and gunrunner in the Civil War. He established a reputation as international novelist and aristocratic squire of Laragh Castle (Ireland) where he became a racehorse owner, chicken farmer, drinker, gambler and womaniser. His lifestyle ended on moving to Nazi Germany in 1940 (after a lecture tour there in 1939) organised through the German Ambassador Edouard Hempel. Stuart worked with German Intelligence (Abwehr), and also met members of the anti-Nazi Rote Kapelle’. As broadcaster and lecturer, he reached outcast status becoming a vagrant in post-war Europe. Having left his family in 1940, when his wife Iseult died in the 1950s he married Madeleine in London while they both under Inland Security surveillance.
Stuart’s return to Ireland in the 1960s meant losing his London Jewish publisher, Victor Gollancz. There followed two decades in the literary underground until his adoption as mascot by the ultra-conservative Arts Council group known as Aosdána. ‘Enmeshed’ in this group and dependent on them as funding cartel, he struggled for artistic freedom as covertly depicted in his later novels such as A Hole in the Head and The High Consistory. He consistently repudiated Nazism at the behest of the Irish Media yet remained a ‘hostage’ of Aosdána and their imposed establishment. The eclipse of his work by affiliation with Hitler remains, whereas he claimed that as ‘criminal author’ his vision had reached full utterance.
In this Revised Edition, previously expunged material in the 2007 Liffey Press edition is restored with an exploratory Foreword relating to Stuart and Aosdána. There is a lengthy New Introduction appraising Stuart by Kiely who personally knew him over twenty years.
‘Stuart’s labyrinthine life will hardly find a more detailed exposé’—David O’Donoghue The Sunday Business Post
‘Stuart predicted the course his life would take in his pre-war novels’—Tony Bailie The Irish News
‘Fascinatingly accurate echo of the controversial writer’s own eerie voice’—Brian Lynch The Irish Times
‘The biographer’s congenial access to Stuart lends authentic immediacy’—Richard T. Murphy New Hibernia Review
Jack Sweeney reached out to a constellation of 20th century poets, not merely schools and movements but also mavericks and outsiders in conflict with professors and curricula, real poetry versus academic poetry; and he eventually quit the groves of academe for patronage outside of Harvard’s walls.
The non-academic Introduction and A-Z present a subversive scholarly, holographic, critical, biographical history of poetry based on unpublished letters and vast resources, unravelling the poetics, the politics, triumphs and tragedies. Poets in breakdown and breakthrough, madness and suicide, agony, ecstasy, and comedy; and producing immortal poetry and literature which is free patronage to the university system.
‘Jack Sweeney, waiting, gracious, whitehaired, loveable, in the quiet sanctum of the poetry room.’—Sylvia Plath
‘Jack Sweeney, he introJUICED Dylan [Thomas] to Harvard.’—Ezra Pound
‘You do know, don’t you, Jack, that I appreciate all you have done for me and think of you always with great fondness.’—Anne Sexton
‘Benevolent Jack Sweeney!’—Marianne Moore
‘Dear Jack, Thank you for your Phi Beta Kappa poem (“An Arch for Janus”). I liked the poem. I found it moving, especially, for some reason, the reference to John Quincy Adams.’—T. S. Eliot
‘My staunch friend Jack Sweeney (himself a poet) who runs the Harvard ‘record room’”—E. E. Cummings
and ‘Breakfast with Sylvia’ along with Kiely’s most recent poems published in magazines, journals and newspapers in Ireland, England, and the United States.
The new poems under the ‘metaphysical label’ resonate beyond the ‘refinement’ of language as wordscape. The metaphysical quest varies in each poem as the work of a poet whose lines are ‘given’ rather than engineered into position to achieve certain effects. The poetry mirrors the fleeting recognition of the universal metaphysics evoked, made present and living. The lines in their final form and content register the intensity and boundless openness of the poems.
Kevin Kiely, like quite a few of his literary contemporaries, has a reputation as strong in Europe and the US as it is here.
—James J. McAuley The Irish Times
Kiely’s style—and the liberty of his voice—has more to do with those few Irish poets who have been exposed to a working European modernity; the work is given its head, allowed to find its own form. This is dark, almost Gothic stuff, not for the poetically squeamish.
—Fred Johnston Poetry Ireland Review
Kiely jolts us into another dimension of language, where speech is worked like molten metal, throwing off sparks.
—Barbara Ellis Iota (London)
Here poetry redeems itself in Kiely’s assured perspective. The title poem is in two parts which, if they were music, must resonate of Bach.
—Tommy Frank O'Connor Studies
Successful is his series about famous artistic personalities. The mix is eclectic: ‘Requiem for Kurt Cobain’ sits between ‘Who's Afraid of Ezra Pound?’ and ‘Skimming Sam Beckett’, while Ovid, Buddha, and Coleridge all inspire poems of their own.
—Val Nolan Poetry Ireland Review
Kevin Kiely [...] haunted by real and imagined women, and by how the most ancient myths are the most contemporary. He’s an essential voice with the news that stays news.
—Norman C Weinstein, author of 'No Wrong Notes'
One of the most dramatic seafaring tragedies ever …
Thirteen-year-old Finbar Kennedy runs away from home in Queenstown (Cobh) to follow his sea-captain father onto the Lusitania. On the return journey from New York, Finbar works as a deck-hand, and running messages gives him a lot of information. He begins to understand that something strange is happening. But what can he do? And whom can he trust?
Fact is stranger than fiction: In May 1915 the huge liner, the Lusitania, sank off the Cork coast near the Old Head of Kinsale. This happened during the First World War. But, unlike the Titanic tragedy, this was no accident. The ship was torpedoed by a German submarine. Rumour had it that there were spies, arms and gold on board the Lusitania. These rumours were true.
‘There will be those who’ll say it’s a cop out, and those who’ll say it’s a manifesto; those who’ll say it’s a fragment, and those who’ll say it’s a bible. There will be those who’ll say it’s drunk on its own excesses; and those who’ll say this very delirium is its greatness.’
—Aubrey Dillon-Malone The Evening Herald.
‘Neither slick nor over-clever, betraying all the ingredients of the genuine fools of literature in whom an unconscious nobility rather than rebellion is the mainspring.’
—Gillman Noonan The Irish Times
‘Kiely’s prose presents a stream of surreal images, evoking an Ireland that is part real and part literary tradition.’
—Stephen H Cape Library Journal New York
‘As did the mature Nabokov in Ada, the novice Kiely offers a sort of palimpsest of erotic memories, in which old experience glimmers beneath the surface of new.’
—Stephen Whittaker Best Seller New York
‘This first novel has quite a simple plot, I have read it three times to establish this, and it was worth it.’
—Gerry Colgan The Irish Independent
After the Druid-led executions of Abhartach and the Hags of the Long Teeth in 545AD, Stoker bites Luna who becomes his nemesis and pursues her over many centuries. Luna inhabits the world in disguises as Hungarian serial-killer Erzébet Báthory, Queen Ranavalona of Madagascar, Ellen Terry the Victorian actress and among others Deirdre Hewson, owner of Club Abhartach ultimate erotic experience in twenty-first century Dublin.
Stoker’s Odyssey on the trail of Luna is paralleled with his search for the Sacred Lance of Longinus. Journeys through blood, murder and eroticism bring Stoker from the kingdom of Vlad III in Transylvania, the French Revolution and the Marquis de Sade to Victorian London where he completes Dracula in the era of Jack the Ripper. After the trenches of the First World War he works on the first vampire movie, Nosferatu and moves into Himmler’s Wewelsburg Castle among the Nazis. In 1945, he meets Alfred Hitchcock who is editing a Holocaust documentary for the US Military.
Stoker’s desire after centuries of evil is to change his vampire state and achieve the impossible: persuade Luna to join him beside the grave of Abhartach in Slaghtaverty, a real place fifty miles from Belfast.
This is the only full-length book (so far) defending poetry against the exorbitant claims of the self-protective Heaney cult. There is a plea to discerning students, scholars and teachers imposed upon by Heaney’s low resolution verse.
All of Heaney’s collections and translations are critically exposed, alongside his interview statements and criticism. Academic ghouls who ‘made’ his reputation are ‘outed’ including Harold Bloom, Helen Vendler, John Carey, Blake Morrison, Karl Miller, Peter Levi, Andrew Motion, Lachlan Mackinnon, Clive James and Christopher Ricks among the easily bought. The conspiracy is located in Faber & Faber’s contemporary mediocrity as ‘poetry publisher’ after their high modernist, post-modernist successes.
‘A minor talent, grossly over praised for political reasons. His talents as a poet wouldn’t, in a sane world, have taken him further than the parish magazine, but he is hailed as a Nobel Prize winner.’
—A. N. Wilson
‘I have enough of the aborted scholar in me to express doubt about the advisability of studying Iris Murdoch or William Golding or Philip Larkin or Seamus Heaney in a university course.’
‘Heaney was preparing books for Faber.’—James Simmons
‘A minor poet [...] elevated to a touchstone of contemporary taste.’—David Lloyd
‘Political correctness came as naturally to him as breathing’—John Bayley
‘Heaney unable ever to address the relation between politics and writing more than superficially’ —Tom Herron
‘Kevin Kiely, like quite a few of his literary contemporaries, has a reputation as strong in Europe and the US as it is here.’
—James J. McAuley The Irish Times 2005
‘Kiely jolts us into another dimension of language, where speech is worked like molten metal, throwing off sparks, allusions, memories and experiences. Yet through the pyrotechnics shines the cool winter light of Donegal.’
—Barbara Ellis Iota (London) 2006
‘Here poetry redeems itself in Kiely’s assured perspective. The title poem is in two parts which, if they were music, must resonate of Bach.’
—Tommy Frank O’Connor Studies Spring 2006
‘Successful is his series about famous artistic personalities. The mix is eclectic: ‘Requiem for Kurt Cobain’ sits between ‘Who’s Afraid of Ezra Pound?’ and ‘Skimming Sam Beckett, while Ovid, Buddha, and Coleridge all inspire poems of their own.’
—Val Nolan Poetry Ireland Review 2006
‘Lyrical, original, faithful to the moment and its joys but with an undertone of sometimes rueful experience—these are the poems of a man who has come through.’
‘These poems are full of edgily real things, people and places caught in a sudden urgent perspective that shakes the reader with their nearness. A poem such as ‘On a deserted beach with a Sony Walkman’‚ succeeds in doing this simultaneously with the material world and with emotions and ideas about art. There is nothing glum or staid here and much that is invigorating to read.’
—Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin
‘The mythic mingles with the realistic, the spiritual touches the material world, the robust sexuality of many of the poems lies side by side with moments of delicate reticence. There’s an energetic awareness of, and participation in the joy of being.’
Dr Strongbow, Director of The Excelsior Clinic in Guernsey is testing a new drug, ‘XcellN’ that can erase trauma and severe mental disabilities under controlled clinical conditions. Treatment is expensive and some of the clients (patients) are volunteers seeking escape from traumatic eclipse.
Strongbow hires a fireball American, Dr Welkinn who begins an affair with Rosy Siggins of the Pandora Hotel.With the arrival of Welkinn’s wife, Kay from America the Excelsior Clinic radiates fall-out not least involving Rosy and a Satanic Cult among a list of extremes leading to tragedy.
‘Welkinn is surrounded by people who are cracking up and yet he functions with a cold detachment.’
Tony Baillie ‘The Irish News’
'Though the opening suggests a riff on Mel Brooks’ movie “High Anxiety” the reader is quickly absorbed by an engrossing “noir” and serious read.'
Geoffrey Elliott ‘I Spy: The Secret Life of a British Agent’
‘Kiely has written an international sensation. The Welkinn Complex is a doorway to the realities and cover ups interwoven into the ulterior motives of the treating physicians and drug manufacturers. The Welkinn Complex is the deliverance of realities through a complex fictional work.’
Colin Sinclair ‘The Janet Brook’s Chronicles’
In the commune at the edge of a forest in Colombia, life is blissful. Until the guerrillas come. Then Pepe must flee with his mother to the city, leaving behind his favourite horse, El Dorado.
His future looks grim until his Irish grandparents offer him another chance. But can thirteen-year-old Pepe go all on his own to this strange, cold land, the birthplace of his father? And what future awaits him there?
Will he ever have the chance to ride his beloved horses again?