Saturday, September 14, 2013

Brendan Cleary is leaving

So Brendan Cleary is leaving Brighton, and his occasional place at my kitchen table for mushrooms on toast and moans.

Brendan's been resident poet of the gyratory village for many years, hanging out and playing tunes at the Gladstone, organising secret readings in upstairs rooms of pubs - a famed tutor who's set many poets on their way and editor of the iconic Echo Room magazine, recently revived.

He's off to Ireland for the foreseeable future and many of us will miss him. Maybe he hasn't had his due here for his unique style of writing - short, intense, urban lyrics seasoned with a photographer's attention to detail.

Ask him anything you like about Ken Smith and he'll probably know it. Ask him about the Morden Tower in Newcastle in the 1980s. Ask him about stand-up, the blues, Motown or his stint on Radio One's Mark Radcliffe show which produced the Radioland poems in Sacriledge. Ask to see his burned and coffee stained notebook pages.

He's stayed outside academia and the poetry establishment but published consistently - two collections with Bloodaxe, Sacriledge (1998) and The Irish Card (1993), the many pamphlets that he's made an art form, and a long list of others from a variety of small presses cataloguing the experience of a single man in the city in our times.

Brendan Cleary. Photo: Pighog Press

He talks wryly about being a poet of the small press but they have insured his work's still available: Wrecking Ball Press, Tall Lighthouse and now Brighton-based Pighog.

It is possible to get a copy of The Irish Card on Amazon - a signed first edition, for next to nothing but watch out, other collections are creeping up in value: Tears in the Burger Store, published in 1985, is now selling for £28 and Weightless, published by Tall Lighthouse in 2006 is also demanding good sums.

Brendan's exit from Brighton coincides with the launch of his latest collection, Face, written in memory of his brother, Martin Cleary. So his launches, in Brighton, will be entrances and exits. He's reading at the Gladstone on Wednesday 25 September and the Red Roaster on Thursday 26 September. Catch him before he flies.


Going Down Slow - Tall Lighthouse 2010
Some Turbulent Weather - Tall Lighthouse 2008
Jackson 2004 - Pighog Press
Stranger in the House - Wrecking Ball Press in 2003
Crack -  Echo Room Press 1990


Trees on Bear Road 2008
London Hearts 1998
Sad Movies 1996
White Bread and ITV 1990
Transylvania 1992
Party's Upstairs, 1987
Late Night Bouts, 1987
Memos to Sensitive Eddie 1987
Expecting cameras, 1986

In Dark Times: An Anthology of Poetry from the Echo Room 1985-95