Statement on the death of Irish Poet Kevin Higgins, by Karl Parkinson and Dave Lordan

“And, of course, there is the bargain – the devil’s bargain. I think it’s a tribute to Kerouac’s essential integrity that he was never approached with the devil’s bargain., which means that he never laid himself open to the bargain. I will make you rich, I will make you a uniquely famous writer, I will give you fame and lunches with the Queen and royalty at your door asking to be invited to the so chic, so empty, so nowhere…”

William Burroughs

We would like to pay tribute to Kevin Higgins, our friend and comrade.

We thank him and his partner Susan, for everything their generosity and genius have done for us and for so many others – especially for what they have achieved in preserving and raising the spirit and the reputation of Irish poetry in these deeply unpoetic times.

Our deepest sympathies lie of course with Susan , who is going through the indescribable grief of the loss of a true love.

Anyone with any knowledge of contemporary Irish poetry knows what Kevin has done for us in terms of championing our work and careers over the last 20 years.

Anyone who knows little or suspects they know wrong about Irish poetry, as well they might, can educate themselves through Kevin’s eyes by reading his Thrills & Difficulties: Being a Marxist Poet in 21st Century Ireland.

Kevin is being collectively mourned on a scale not seen for some time in Ireland for an anti-establishment poet.

And the beautiful thing is there is no PR agency directing this – This is the real deal. The media and the hoi-polloi sprinting to catch up with the popular outpouring will greatly please Kevin. He couldn’t have organised it better himself.

It is a reflection of the value and influence of the life work of a poet whose project was of Whitmanian scope. Like Whitman he wrote a continous poem of the people and the nation and of what was happening to them in real-time.

Some have spoken of Kevin’s Contradictions.

Here is what Whitman had to say about his poet’s contradictions in his seminal 1855 poem ‘Song of Myself’, from his collection Leaves of Grass:

Do I contradict myself?

Very well then I contradict myself,

(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Kevin wrote a Song of Ourselves inside which he sang, much more humbly than is the fashion, of himself.

By the way if you do not have contradictions, you may not be human. You are certainly not a poet.

Kevin despised obseqiousness as much as he despised pomp.

We are certain that one of Kevin’s last regrets was he wouldn’t be around to ruthlessly satirise his own obituary.

We had lot a common with Kevin

None of us can drive, for example!

He was our close collaborator on the Bogmans Cannon – our Satirist-in-Residence in fact, the only one worthy of that gilded position.

He too terrifies the professional chancers and little green men that are so prominent in the Irish Literary province, especially its administrative and little business sides, not to mention those of little talent and much envy, of which in Irish writing we still are blessed with legion, and out of which numerous peer slanders emanate, not a few aimed at kevin over the years.

Kevin is worth more to our culture than all of his critics put together, and then some.

But obviously we all also had shared elements of background, politics, gen-x life in england and ireland. We had much in common too in terms of theme and style and a commitment to public poetry.

We inspired each other often, back and forth. We, along with, as is now obvious, many thousands of others, will long continue to be inspired by Kevin and to use his work to inspire others in teaching.

As poets, we do not believe in death, anyway.

At the very least the work of a true poet like Kevin survives their death for some significant time because it holds significance for a significant ammount of people – outside of the academy as well as inside it.

Kevin’s poetry is already being read in many languages here in the early 21st Century. He will be one of very few contemporary Irish poets being read in whatever languages exist at the end of the 21st Century.

He was always making history. Now, he is going down in it.

With love, admiration, and grief,

Dave Lordan and Karl Parkinson

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