A message from our guest Editor Joseph Horgan

The strange thing about being an editor is the idea that you might also become a director. I have no intention of directing fellow poets towards what kind of poem they should write or what kind of things they should write about. Who am I to do that? That said, like the rest of you I have my preferences and my hang ups. I remember a few years back in the middle of the boom, in the middle of the most fundamental societal changes, that the editor of The Shop, John Wakeman, had to ask why so few poets were writing critically about social issues. And he asked them to do so. That worried me. If we weren’t writing about our society what were we writing about? If we are not now writing about recession, inequality, the Middle East, or the dangers of getting shot if you are a young black American, then what is it we are looking at and thinking about? Not that I think we have to respond to breaking news or, God forbid, be relevant; for what is relevant this week isn’t the next. But there is something. Fred Voss in his poem Only Poets with Clean Hands Win Prizes writes ‘the poets/ are polishing lines about the shadows inside ivory bowls/ and what time really means/ as old people/ must choose between their medicine and eating/ people in agony with no health insurance spend nights sitting in chairs waiting/ in crowded emergency rooms/ men/ go to prison for the rest of their lives for stealing/ a sandwich/ the poet/ is writing about looking in a mirror.’ And I like Fred Voss a lot.

But don’t get me wrong: I don’t think we have to hit hard all the time. I’m all for poetry bringing us comfort. I just don’t think it should make us comfortable. Or be the voice of privilege. Privilege is loud enough. It doesn’t need to speak here too. I trail along after the truly great Michael Hartnett when he says ‘the act of poetry/ is a rebel act’ and I still think the act of writing a poem itself akin to an act of protest. Unless, in our commerce soaked age, anyone can think of another art form that has less monetary value place on it? I know that has nothing to do with the impulse for writing a poem in the first place but let’s be kind to ourselves for once and say that most poets are writing out of the same place, the same search for……

I reckon standing still for a moment to look at a bird or a tree, in the startling manner of the early Irish poets, to be just as true as anything else. And more beautiful than most. See, I’m not directing you where to look. I’m not saying bring me your gritty, dirty, poetry of the boarded up places. We can’t all look in the same place. So how about just this: you do your best by you and I’ll try and do my best by you too. How about that?

I look forward to seeing your work.

Joseph Horgan
(Editor Issue 8)


Issue 8 Guest Editor

The response to our call for a guest editor of the next issue of the Burning Bush 2 was way beyond what we thought it would be, in quality as well as quantity of applications. A sincere thanks to all of you who took the time to get in touch and share your ideas with us; we take nothing for granted here at the BB2 and appreciate the interest you have in our project.

Following much deliberation and shortlisting, we reached a decision and we’re pleased to announce that the guest editor of issue #8 will be author Joseph Horgan.

Details re submissions, publication date, editorial etc. to follow shortly.

Joseph Horgan was born in 1964 in Birmingham, to Irish parents. He was shortlisted for the Hennessy Prize in 2003 and won the Patrick Kavanagh Award for poetry in 2004. He currently writes a weekly column for The Irish Post newspaper. His work has appeared on RTE radio and television. His first collection, Slipping Letters Beneath the Sea, was published by Doghouse in 2008. In 2010 Horgan published a collection of prose with the Collins Press, A Song at Your Backdoor, and was anthologised in Landing Places: Immigrant Poets in Ireland (Dedalus). His third book, An Unscheduled Life, a collaboration with the artist Brian Whelan of poetry and pictures, was published by Agenda Editions in August 2012. He lives in County Cork.