Poetry Blast: Alan Gillis & Leontia Flynn

For our May Poetry Blast we are proud to present two poets from Northern Ireland.The Ulster Way by Alan Gillis and Airports by Leontia Flynn are read by D.C. actor Patrick Flannery.

Alan Gillis

 Alan Gillis was born in Belfast in 1973 and lives in Scotland where he is Lecturer in English at The University of Edinburgh and editor of Edinburgh Review.

His first collection, Somebody, Somewhere (2004) was short-listed for the Irish Times Poetry Now Award and won the Rupert and Eithne Strong Award for best first collection. Hawks and Doves (2007), a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, was shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize. His latest collection Here Comes the Night was published in 2010.


The Ulster Way


This is not about burns or hedges.

There will be no gorse. You will not

Notice the ceaseless photosynthesis

Or the dead tree’s thousand fingers,

the trunk’s inhumanity writhing with texture,

as you will not be passing into farmland.

Nor will you be set upon by cattle,


ingleberried, haunching and haunting

with their eyes, their shocking opals,

graving you, hoovering and scooping you,

full of a whatness that sieves you through

the abbatoir hillscape, the runnel’s slabber

through darkgrass, sweating for the night

that will purple to a love-bitten bruise.


All this is in your head. If you walk,

Don’t walk away, in silence, under the stars’

Ice-fires of violence, to the water’s darkened strand.

For this is not about horizons, or their curving

limitations. This is not about the rhythm

Of a songline. There are other paths to follow.

Everything is about you. Now listen.

Leontia Flynn


Leontia Flynn was born in County Down and now lives in Belfast. She is the author of several full-length collections of poetry, including Profit and Loss (2011), Drives (2008), and These Days (2004), which won the Forward Prize (Best Poetry Collection of the Year) and was shortlisted for the Whitbread Award. She has also been awarded the Eric Gregory Award and the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature.

Fran Brearton, writing in The Guardian described the poet as : "One of the most strikingly original and exciting poetic voices to have emerged from Northern Ireland since the extraordinary debut by Paul Muldoon 35 years ago."

Find out more about Leontia on her website.




Airports are their own peculiar weather.

Their lucid hallways ring like swimming pools.

From each sealed lounge, a pale nostalgic sky

burns up its gases over far-flung zones,

and the planes, like a child’s mobile, hang at random.


Like hospitals, they are their own dominion.

We have tried their dishes with plastic knives.

We have packed our bags ourselves, no one has tampered with them,

and as we pass through the eye of the charged needle,

our keys and wallets drop from us like stones.


But now we are passing quicker, colder, clearer,

From East to West un-policed, a gate of light

which lengthens like some animal proboscis

Or a hoop bowled along at speed beside the sun.

And when we return, the airports remain in us,

We rock, dry-eyed, and we are not at home.