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Meet Callan’s poet of the people 

by John Fitzgerald

FENNELLY’S’ arty café in Callan was the launch pad for a new collection of zany, wide-ranging and life-affirming poetry that is the talk of the town. 

Peter Brabazon’s poems have an appeal that extends beyond the usual literary circles. 

He’s one of those rare creatures, a poet of the people…more of a strolling player and roving bard than the studious grumpy type that one associates with the muse.

A native of County Kildare, he studied literature at UCD before moving to Callan where he has lived for 33 years.  

He’s been composing poetry on and off since he arrived in the historic Town of the Ructions. 

After retiring from his post at L’Arche he found more time for poetry. His latest collection, titled 40 more poems, follows on from his widely acclaimed 2006 book containing his first 40 compositions. 

Peter draws inspiration mainly from personal experience, encompassing all of life’s ups and downs. 

Anything can act as a spur: An unlit fire, a double wooly jumper, an overcast sky, a small mercy or random kindness, watching an old movie, casting his eye on a flower or weed while in reflective mood, or seeing a bird flutter past.  

He enjoys belting out a song too and singing can release new ideas or insights from his subconscious.  

Nothing is off limits. The smallest dab on life’s canvass can spawn another lyrical foray.  

Whatever the joyous or sorrowful emotion or occasion, trigger image, or recollected place in time or space he can apply his bountiful word brush to it. 

He resists the tendency to veer off into the incomprehensible or indecipherable, as some poets do.  

Fennelly’s of Callan


Hence his popularity. His poems are euphonic and accessible, and almost any of them could double as songs.  

Small wonder that Peter features prominently in the Tuesday night musical session at Hourigan’s of Bridge Street.

He doesn’t confine himself to firsthand perception.  In his found poems, as he calls them, he ventures outside his circle of experience;  addressing subjects as diverse as the downside of wind turbines (they shred birds as well as generating energy) and the lamentable downgrading of Pluto to the status of a dwarf planet. 

It may be five billion K from the sun, but for Peter it’s as relevant an issue as the havoc that his two beloved dogs wrought on the world of literature when they ripped into his library. 

I liked how in one poem he adapted Shakespeare’s King Lear to a zippy modern setting, managing in a few lines to give the story a startling new relevance for the 21st century.

He has a new take on the myth of Sisyphus:  for him, a poet’s unending literary quest is the stone being rolled back up the hill.  

Peter availed of the bleak and oppressive Covid lockdown to re-focus his creative energies. He devotes a poem to the subject titled Le Tour de Farce.

 In an athletic feat of the imagination he cycles to victory. But it’s hollow…without accolades or crowds or the girls to peck him on the cheek. 

The collection has an intriguing and useful notes section at the end. This sheds further light on the process by which he transferred all those beguiling mind-images onto the pages of this wonderful little book. 

40 More Poems is on sale at The Book Centre, High Street, Kilkenny, Khan’s of James’s Street, and Supervalu, Callan. Price €8.99. 

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