Jon Kennedy's 'Postcards from
his soj
ourn in Northern Ireland'

The land of poets

Jon Kennedy  

JONAL ENTRY 1301 | JULY 29 2013

. . . take note of those who create dissensions and difficulties, in opposition to the doctrine which you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by fair and flattering words they deceive the hearts of the simple-minded.

— from the Epistle to the Romans chapter 16, from today's
Orthodox lectionary readings
See the homelitical thought below.


Diary: Last week, spent at the John Hewitt International Summer School in Armagh, was yet another confrontation with poetry, its importance in England and Ireland, but especially Ireland. It confirmed that, allowing that some of the best poets who read their work there are English, Ireland is not only the land of saints and scholars, it is the land of poets. The mix of the whole week's impressions and experiences persuaded me that though I've been answering the repeated question, "what brings you to Northern Ireland?". . . instead of "C.S. Lewis" (which is true in some senses), I should answer, "of course, because it's the land of poets." And though my poetry is sparse (only a dribble) and thin (having little of subtance), there is a sense in which anyone who tries to write creatively is a poet because poetry is part of his or her trade. C.S. Lewis considered himself a failed poet, but his true poetry is in his prose, which he honed to an art, a lifetime's work of great beauty with enduring power to illuminate and quicken imaginations and hearts.

In the 1980s I was the director of the largest writers organization/business in California, the Writers Connection. For a half dozen years or more, a half-dozen people led by Steve and Meera Lester who provided its seed capital and devoted most of their time to helping it succeed, worked day and night to turn a vision of a community of writers into a viable business that could profit not only its investors but its members. Every quarter, we put together a catalog of writing courses and seminars of various length and content, from one three-hour evening session to a whole weekend or a succession of week nights. We came to realize that writing for the movies and television was the most profitable niche in creative writing, so our script conferences, which ironically we took from San Jose to greater Hollywood, where they had their greatest success, became the most profitable and carefully planned events in our cataloges. But others included everything from writing publicity to producing self-published self-help books, to writing novels in genres like romance and crime-mystery, and writing resumes and newsletters as forms of self-employment.

We also put on events that were offered free to our members and at a fee to the public, the most successful of which were probably panels of successful novelists discussing their secrets. But throughout the years of the Writers Connections' run, I don't remember it ever offering a course on poetry or a night devoted to poetry reading. People would often ask about it, but our answer was, "there's no money in poetry." That's what my writing teachers in the uni (as they call it here) told me as an undergraduate and what I told my writing classes for years and what I took into the Writers Connection. I now realize that this was akin to a politican who, after describing his materialistic "solutions" and asked what he had for the soul, he replies "that question's beyond my pay scale." Kyrie eleison. Poetry is to the study of any other type of writing aspiring to be "creative" what Greek and Latin are to the study of English or other modern languages, foundational; the context in which it is all used and made profitable to those who engage it.

So, mea culpa. This begins my repentance for a lifetime of saying that there's no money in poetry. For what shall it profit any man or woman to gain the whole world and lose his or her own soul?

How arrogant and typically Yankee-imperialistic was our attitude. And was the Writers Connection profitable? Yes, in the sense that it stayed in the black throughout its run, but no in the sense that it was hoped to become another Google or Facebook. It didn't make anyone rich, and once it became apparent it never would, we all abandoned it. I must admit that I was probably the first to do so. I moved on, not to riches or even the prospect of that kind of material prosperity, but at least to work that I enjoyed more than directing what was basically an educational program that had the same content quarter after quarter and year after year, to become the editorial chief at a chain of local community newspapers.

For more and more spontaneous posts, follow me onand.

Feedback: You can comment on today's topic on the page linked here:


Feedback is always welcome.

Homiletical thought: Paul's instruction here is the basis of all orthodoxy in Christian religion.

§     §     §

Please support my mission to Northern Ireland in your prayers. You can read my overview of this undertaking here. My residence/postal address is 227 Crumlin Road, Belfast, Northern Ireland BT14 7DY, UK. Mobile: 44 7455 980890.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

related pages

The Nanty Glo Home Page

Previous blog:
My fourth monthaversary in Northern Ireland

Report on latest NTAMHS Meeting

Glotube videos



Q: Whats the difference between an Irish wedding and an Irish funeral? A: One less drunk.


Hardship often prepares an ordinary person for an extraordinary destiny.

C.S. Lewis

The Nanty Glo Home Page and all its departments are for and by the whole Blacklick Valley community. Your feedback and written or artistic contributions, also notification about access problems, are welcomed. Click here to reply.

Suitable letters to the Home Page will be considered for publication in the Forum departments unless they are specifically labeled "Not for Publication."

Jon Kennedy's recent book,
C.S. Lewis Themes and Threads, is available for purchase at $2.99. Purchase supports the author'
s mission to Belfast, Ireland. Click here to download it directly to your Kindle or your Kindle bookshelf on your PC or smartphone.

Search site

Enter a name or subject and press return.