brendan cleary

The last of the spring season of Poetry South’s readings ended with Brendan Cleary at the Redroaster cafe. This proved a much better venue than the Joogleberry, with no bands warming up downstairs.

Not seen Brendan Cleary before and in this event he was reading from his new collection some turbulent weather. Thumbing through this book the next day, I realise he is one of those poets who once you’ve heard him speak, it’s very hard not to have his voice in your head as you read. Maybe this is just his distinctive Northern Irish accent, or it’s some kind of signifier of authenticity.

Many of his poems end with punchlines. Unlike most jokes, however, you’ll actually want to hear or read these repeatedly. Funny, bittersweet, and pretention-free Cleary’s reading was genuinely one of the funniest and most enjoyable I’d ever been to.

His poems benefit from being read in context, but here’s one of his poems as a flavour:


on your rooftop
smokin’ weed
& you told me
I was the same
age as your Da
& he was bearing up
better than I was
so I looked over Brightonia
& decided there & then
not to pursue it
or you for that matter

brendan cleary

By Peter Kenny

I lead a double life. Identity #1. A writer of poems, comedy plays, dark fiction and the odd libretto. Identity #2: A marketing outlier, working with London creative agencies and my own clients as a copywriter and creative consultant.

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