€535 a Month: Utilities Not Included

A diptych from my series ‘€535 a Month: Utlities Not Included’
A project completed as part of my recent digital photography course in Block T, with tutor Kate Nolan.

Dyptich 1
fig 1.

Dyptich 2fig 2.


autonomy in 8 parts

Yesterday began with the news that my poem autonomy in 8 parts had been published in the September issue of ‘A New Ulster‘.

With big thanks to editor Amos Greig for including me in the project, I feel very lucky to be featured alongside other great works and poets.

In essence the poem examines a recurring theme of mine, that of carving out a home in a new unfamiliar space, whilst navigating the inevitable social and economic tensions. It’s about trying to run from the past, whilst confronting the person you’ve become. Overall it explores the anxiety associate with feelings of validation and autonomy, in times of struggle and flux.

It seemed fitting that this particular work be featured in a Northern Irish journal, as it muses on movement across borders, and my own memories of childhood in Inishowen.

The thin film of ‘making it work’ over your eyes.
The ‘just for now’s keeping you off the up highs.
Independence is disappointment,
that of staying up all night.
Admitting that you hardly know home sickness,
is this what it means to live your best life?

You emerge, blistered survivor of a small-town hive.
Independence is limbo:
double down, be quick to deny.
What would you say to yourself then, if you could?
Not to dwell? To take heed?
You’ve built your own life now, minus mouths to feed.

You can read the full PDF issue here

And you will know that you’re just the mesh caught in the zip,
screaming for more in the system designed to digest
but you’re still expected to work and smirk,
make a to-do list, make your art and passions a pastime.
Independence is productivity, and mental health is inconvenient
say it again and again and again until you believe it.

Short Story – Bee Safe Bee Zine


Semi-recent scientific studies have found that the area of our brain which processes the senses is also partly responsible for storing vivid emotional memories. It is for this reason, probably, that each time my sister hears the low buzzing of an insect approaching, she misplaces inhibitions, and sets off running and swatting erratically. Recently this resulted in an incident where she all but cascaded into oncoming traffic. Usually when these situations arise I run after her, shouting comforting things until she is able to hear me and stops. And usually this appears quite strange to the passers-by.
My sister and I each have a distinct capacity for empathy, and for anticipating one another’s thought patterns. That is why I often pretend that I can read her mind, and why I felt quite certain that I could recap this incident without actually having actually witnessed it.

To further understand the context of her lurching reactions, we must navigate the most well-trodden of tropes and cast our glance back to childhood. It can only have been 2007. That year we, or rather our cat Sunny, had four kittens. My mother, in all of her misguided grace, let us keep them. Certainly they were a well-loved nuisance, but that’s four other stories for four other times. This particular afternoon Smudge (gatito número dos) had been spotted sniffing around a bees’ nest. The location of which had been known to the children but not to their mother. As was the way of a great many other treasures in that fast shrinking garden, which in childhood had seemed quite infinite. After witnessing this transgression, a meeting was called between the children present: my sister, little brother and my little brother’s best friend. A decision was reached quickly by the nimble young minds, and plastic swords were drawn in arms to protect the kitten. A plan hatched. A mother unknowing.


My short story Deadly Buzz can be read in it’s entirety in ‘Bee Safe Bee Zine’, a recent publication by Fionn O’Shea. Contact Izwis to order a copy.


‘Earwig’ Poem

My poem ‘Earwig’ and a corresponding photograph were included in the In Place photo book, published in October 2016 to accompany an exhibition in Tara Street, Dublin.

IN PLACE is a collective of artists working in Dublin, Ireland. They are focused on formulating a response to the disuse of space within Dublin’s urban landscape.

The collective invited artists in to disused and vacant sites in Dublin City Centre, to create site-specific reactionary work, hoping to “reveal the cultural potential of the many vacant sites that make up our city”.

Written from the P.O.V. of a young person not originally from the capital; someone who was initially dwarfed by its vastness but is still striving to carve out a home within the city. This is an experience shared by countless others, who have been to hell and back trying to secure a safe space to express or even exist as themselves amid the bustle.

The poem, although seemingly traditional in form, yearns to be essentially experimental by way of revolt. A mosaic piece partly inspired by personal experience, the current housing crisis, stories overheard, cultural sanctuary in spaces rescued, and the current My Brilliant Friend exhibition housed in ‘Temple Bar Gallery’.

At a juncture where the necessities for social and personal comfort are readily commodified, this snapshot highlights the positive and negative truisms of our position. I am interested in the tandem concerning the individual and the in-between, notions of solidarity among young creatives and renters, commenting on inner city pressures arising from fear and insecurity. The theme of space re-purposed artistically is an established seam throughout, rebelling against the neoliberal structures hemming us in, ultimately leaving breathing space for innovative flourishing.

Displaying No Parking.jpg

Copies available in The Library Project

Willie Doherty ‘Memory as a Vehicle to Survey Liminal Spaces’

Willie Doherty is a world renowned Irish artist born in Derry in 1959, and continues to work there as a Professor of Video Art in the University of Ulster. He is a much celebrated artist who represented Northern Ireland at the Venice Biennale 2007 and twice has been nominated for the Turner Prize. Visually led, his work is comprised mainly of photographic and filmic elements, often maintaining autobiographical references. This individual expression however is by no means the primary purpose, instead Doherty is fascinated by themes of collected recollection and trauma. This article seeks to examine the voyeuristic power of his lens through recent Irish exhibitions, investigating Doherty’s utilization of memory as a device to access liminal spaces, whilst acknowledging its subjectivity.

Full article can be read on Headstuff as originally published.

Words and images by Jessica Mc Kinney.