Stanzas: Caleb Brennan

‘Walking the streets

With some new love’


From Thomondgate, Caleb Brennan works as a freelance journalist, as event manager with Stanzas and with the CUISLE poetry festival in Limerick. His work has been published in several noted national and international poetry magazines. He thinks he is charismatic.

“I do words,” says this poet whose personality and appearance would remind anyone of Bernard Black from the TV show Black Books. “I get that a lot!” he laughs.

“I’m the city boy anyway, my family is mostly from the Island Field so pretty Limerick when it comes to being Limerick.”

How would you describe your relationship to Limerick?

“There was a massive dissociation between myself and the city for a long while. I just started being a more active member of the arts community. I first started going to poetry readings in the White House when I was about 17. Limerick is a beautiful city especially on a day like today but even on wet days the city glows; it actually shines. The stonework, the way it looks differently, the paint looks paintier.”

Would you say culture has given you this new perspective on Limerick?

“Yeah it’s kind of a realistic view on what it can be. If you look at what people are doing in the theatre sector, film visual arts everyone is doing some world class work. It’s not just good for the country, good for the city, it is amazing world class stuff. People need to build that perception in their mind. We have three poetry events in the city now.”

What is the inspiration for your poetry?

“Repressed sexuality! When you become a poet as a teenager you go either side of the string, really heartsy love poems or real dark depressing ‘my life is sad’ poems. I went both. I wanted to be dark and kind of angsty like Edgar Allen Poe and then I realised girls were pretty so I started writing love poems.”

So would you say you are more a romantic poet than a gothic poet?

“I’m more of a scornful lover. That’s definitely romance, yeah it is. What was the question again?”

Your inspirations.

“I suppose I love classical poetry, that’s what got me into poetry, but contemporary helped me realise what my writing could be. I suppose it is quite a hodge podge of what people are doing. I’ve always like short poetry, I like structure and contemporary poetry. I have aspects of Seamus Heaney in there, those lurkers.”

In your poem, what street are you walking on?

“To be honest it was Sexton Street. That was the street I was thinking about when I wrote it.”

So who is your new love?

“My new love, her name’s Fiona. That’s my girlfriend, she will be happy with the shout out. It was actually a reference to my love’s new love.

The poem is about leftover love, when you split with someone, when that’s over, where do your feelings for them go? That was the question I was trying to ask.”

Where did your leftover feelings go? How did you deal with that bag of feeling?

“I don’t think you do, you kind of just move on and use that love to form you in your future relationships. That was about seeing your new love with a new love in the street and that person trying to associate is his love with that girl or is it inside himself, where is that aspect of him? I’m trying to understand why he is so sad. Hashtag art.”

What is the strangest thing you have ever written?

I wrote a poem recently about two anorexic people fighting their perceptions of each other because their perceptions of themselves were flawed. But I also wrote a poem the other day which I felt needs to get mentioned. I gave it a long arty title ‘This is what would happen if Chet Baker and Bob Dylan smoked too much cigarettes, drank too much wine and got into a massive fight.’

What is the strangest thing you have ever seen?

We once believed we saw the banshee. There’s rumours of a banshee in Thomondgate. The hands on the bridge are the soul of the woman who got thrown over the bridge. Apparently she haunts Thomondgate. We went searching for her and we saw a girl but it was probably just some woman in a white dress.

What are your hopes and dreams for the future?

Publish more poems, read at more events, drink more wine.

What is your favourite thing about Limerick?

An old place that used to be here. Harry’s Diner in the old Dunnes on Sarsfield Street. Right behind it. Harry’s used to be an old fashioned diner and that was our family’s go to eating place. That has a good place in my memory that I would like to share.


Leftover Love 

I have thrust this leftover love out,

and I find it still dredged at the end

of my drinks. It lingers in the

natural oils of pages or bed sheets.

It comes out in sweats. It never ends.

It works like traffic lights, going slow

but never ending. It has no place with me.

It does not fit in drawers or sit on shelves.

The heart is no suitable place for it.

It taints normality. I can sometimes see it,

in the place it came. Walking the streets,

with some new love. Forgetting about me.

Why does it sit in front of me when I’m lonely,

and come calling back in the witching hours

like old souls returning to Ithaca. Tell me,

when can the soul pour itself into a box,

pick its wounds, pray for heartache

and shed itself. When can the heart

finally digest this bad medicine. 

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