Cahal Dallat: Poet, Musician and Critic

CL Dallat

  • London-based poet, critic & musician (b. Ballycastle, Co. Antrim),
  • studied Statistics & Operational Research at Queen’s University Belfast;
  • is married to poet, Anne-Marie Fyfe — they have two children;
  • has worked in television, publishing, public utilities, construction & information technology & taught systems analysts in India;
  • plays several instruments including bandoneon, musette-accordion, traditional flute, mando-fiddle, balalaika, piano, clarinet & soprano-sax;
  • writes on Irish fiction & drama for a range of literary journals including the Times Literary Supplement & the Guardian;
  • has been a regular panellist on BBC Radio 4’s weekly arts magazine, Saturday Review, since 1998;
  • teaches creative-writing ‘masterclasses’ and poetry seminars
  • is 2017/Causley-Centenary-Year musician/poet-in-residence at Charles Causley’s Cyprus Well Cottage, Launceston Cornwall as part of the Charles Causley Trust’s Spark to Flame Project
  • is organiser of — and inspiration behind — the W.B. Yeats Bedford Park Project to create a public artwork in West London’s 19c garden-suburb/artists’-colony where Nobel-prizewinning poet and dramatist W.B. Yeats spent his early years.

His poetry appears in a range of literary magazines & anthologies, in Trio 7 (with John Kelly & Sean McWilliams, Blackstaff Press, 1992), Morning Star (Lagan Press, 1998) and in The Year of Not Dancing (Blackstaff Press, 2009)

Buy The Year of Not Dancing (publ. £12.99) plus free copy of Morning Star (publ. £4.95) inc. p&p for special web price of £12 via PayPal on poetry page.

Recent Coverage/Articles

The Year of Not Dancing reviewed by

From the Archives

Poetry Couples in Magma 40


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Love on a Rock

Who could tell them now – out in the world,
its plethorae of arc-lights, halogens, discos —
those lighthouse children with listening eyes,
now the last tin cup, plate and fork
are stowed in the last canvas bag under
a fo’c‘sle and rowed with their owner
to the supply port, gold watch and severance.

But you’d know them then in utility brown-
and-cream rooms, wiser in their generations
than world-children; at jonquil Formica tables,
sucked HB stubs at poise to take down
wireless PO boxes, or describe collections
and hobbies to comics; devouring a quarter’s worth —
in a morning — of Dandys and Beanos and Judys
since the weather last faired; or dwelling
on all missing lightkeeping men …
know them playing ecksy-oseys in winter,
hopscotching the one slab of cement
between storm door and fairweather jetty:
and know by their manners when bible-people
came with flasks in baskets and Old-Testament
crayoning books, or hikers with tripods
to put the rock in their textbooks and maps.

You might see them still, if you’re careful
on city-hall or tower-block stairways, left
foot tiptoed on an absent stiletto from years
navigating anti-clockwise tight spiral stairs:
or find them when everyone’s gone,
rocking against the emulsioned wall
in the dark of a seventh-floor office
and the sound that you hear isn’t them
but the thinness of baby-seals’ weeping
or the contralto with auburn-grey wisps
chanting the bright stormy sea as she folds
the cold grey sheet down and Trinity-
House-issue blankets, tells them never
to fret. Or their lilting along to the small-
gansied man with pipe-grime under
his left index-nail rippling a hornpipe’s
slow triplets on a Breton concertina.

And you’ll know them in truth for children
of the rocks, for they’ll have preset
the Xerox’s counter right up to the thousand,
lid-up and nothing on the glass, eyelids
numb on the margin of sleep as the phasings
of light take them home to the beam-room again.

Winner, Strokestown International Poetry Competition, 2006

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