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Tuesday, 15 September 2020


 I have a portfolio of features, reviews, poetry and short fiction published in all sorts of places - Belfast Telegraph, Tribune, Ireland's Own, Dalhousie Review, Fairlight Books, Reader's Digest, Reality, Lapwing Poetry, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Spillwords, Dear Reader, Amethyst Review, Black Bough, to name a selection.  Oh, and the odd BBC radio contribution. I wrote books on retailing, on dealing with job losses and a biography of film star Stephen Boyd.

This is a series of (hopefully) funny poems from hundreds I've written over the years (inspired by the likes of Spike Milligan and Roger McGough) to provoke a smile in these odd times.

My own original Text ©2020 Joe Cushnan (But you can RT!) 

I am delighted to present a guest post by exemplary writer/poet Damien Donnelly.


I’ve returned to my beginnings not only older, occasionally wiser and sometimes wider- depending on the cake baked that week, but more importantly holding dreams I never thought I’d be able to clutch onto, let alone turn into reality. ‘Eat the Storms, Mother said’, is a line from the poem Scarlet Rising, from my debut collection and it has taken a long time to understand that concept. To embrace all, the light and the dark, the glorious colour and the shades of shadow the surround them, while turning through the spirals of tales and time.

         I grew up in Dublin, Ireland and began writing at an early age, finding the pen and the page the perfect way to deal with growing and turning and twisting through a body I had no idea how to control but fashion design turned out to be the winner in terms of focusing on a career. I attended an all-boys secondary school in Artane and, of all the options available to me, being a poet while also being the playground punch bag for bullies was not something I was encouraged to dream of. Hell, poetry was barely even acknowledged, outside of a few dusty sonnets, while I stood last in line on rainy days on parched football pitches when sports teams were being picked. I was more picked on than ever picked out. But the ‘fairy who did fashion’ and occasionally helped others with their drawing homework was much more tolerable and a much better box to be placed in for everyone else’s understanding of who I was. And this was all long before even I knew who I was. If only I’d known then how to eat those storms. 


A degree in fashion design from the Grafton Academy sent me off to Paris at the age of 22 where I ended up being a barman, chef and entertainments manager in a pub/restaurant instead of a designer but this was certainly where I started to learn about who I wanted to be and how to taste the colour of life. 23 years later, after lives lived in London, Amsterdam and a 4-year return to Paris to close that chapter, having worked for various fashion brands from Calvin Klein to & Other Stories as a pattern maker, I am now back home in Ireland and calling myself a writer for the very first time, and not feeling so bashful about it.  

         I started sharing my writing back in 2008 with a blog on WordPress and since then have taken slow but extremely enjoyable steps into the pond of literature. Seeing my poems appear in magazines like Barren, The Runt and Black Bough Poetry and in poetry anthologies like Nous Sommes Paris from Eyewear Publishing or my horror short stories in Coffin Bell and ‘Body Horror Anthology’ from Gehenna & Hinnom, all next to writers I have long since admired, was insane to witness, like someone had left the window open and I was the unwanted fly who’d crept in and took up position in the background just as the group photo was being taken. When I heard the news that I was one of 3 winners of The White Label Cinq, First Collection Pamphlet Poetry prize from The Hedgehog Poetry Press back in 2019 while still in Paris, there were multiple laps of crazed madness around the office that followed and a very tearful phone call to the homelands. Dreams, when they come true, really do take the breath away so my advice is to always, always, have a hankie handy. 

         Eat the Storms for me is the acknowledgement of the journey I have taken over the past 45 years, learning how to acknowledge, accept and embrace all of my shadows and how to find a way to walk with them as a strength instead of running away from them while they attempt to hold me back. As much as the beach is part sea, part sand, I too am part light and part shadow. To be able to hold both, love both, for me means to be able to come to a better understanding of who I am. How this adopted, gay, bullied fairy who did fashion made it out from all that weighed him down and managed to find a way to turn it into someone beautiful on a page. Well, beautiful to him at least. 

         ‘Eat the storms, Mother said, boil those beds of bitter blackness until the dream rips through the rain and translucent turns to trust.’ 

         The collection starts off with a soft moon on a sun-drenched beach, a blazing white light like a blank canvas of possibility just as we all are when we make those movements out into the world, and, from there, colour is added to each poem, to each understanding, taking away the emptiness of all that blankness, incorporating the shadows and light, asking us to partake in a journey that requires all the senses at once; to test the running water of the riverbed with your tongue, to hear the pout of a ruby red lip while slowly exploring what happens when shade threatens fragility as we are faced with our own fears before bringing us back again into the light as we see fragility as our strength and not our failure. 


‘…I am looking 

to find a new shape; turning back,

recalling that first mark, to measure how far 

from it I ran, to see what was left behind,

to lay it to rest and find the rest of me


beneath the red ink tipped into this flesh…’


from my poem Red Ink. 


         I am very proud of this collection and overjoyed to be joining follow poetic Hoglets at The Hedgehog Poetry Press. Mark Davidson, the head Hedgehog, has been a dream to work with and has taken my dream and turned it into something I can now call my actual work. 

         What happens next is anyone’s guess as we all find different ways to navigate through this ever-changing world. For me, there will be no official launch in a bookstore, at the moment, but the world is at our feet, thanks to the internet, and I am exploring new ways to share my poetry using video poems, blogs, podcasts, TicTok, Instagram, Facebook and zoom gatherings.

         Looking forward, I’m currently working on a 2nd poetry collection based on my time in Paris which will hopefully be a combination of a photo/poem diary and have just finished the final draft of a fictional novel entitled The Journey Home and am sending that out to publishers right now. It’s the story of 12 people on a small island in Scotland and documents the journeys they make through life, from love and loss, to acceptance and forgiveness and how sometimes it takes coming home to look back and measure how far you got. 


‘I wanted to draw 

the sound of the moon 

on a sun-drenched beach, 

stripped down to white sand, 

white wave, white skin…’

From ‘Meditation Under the Yellow Sun’, Eat the Storms, Damien B Donnelly, The Hedgehog Poetry Press.


Eat the Storms is available to buy from 17.09.20 from the bookshop on my blog at and also from Amazon

My Twitter page is @deuxiemepeau

My Tiktok is @eatthestorms

Instagram is @damiboy

My podcast will air in September 2020, entitled Eat The Storms, and will be available on Spotify and most podcast platforms 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for a few more glimpses into what you are, Damien. Your enthusiasm and contentment is audible.