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Night-Watch Man & Muse (Salmon Poetry, 2013) 

A Review by Bernard Kennedy 


This book of poems, Night-watch Man & Muse is a deep expose of our human existence, feeling and thinking. As a psychoanalyst and poet, I needed to return and re-read. It was a tolle lege experience for this reviewer. The theme of desire, irascible to Juan de la Cruz, journey, lifeblood of Kerouac, Father, central to Freud, and poetry, the night and watch of man are excavated within this existential lyric. I would use the word philosophy to express my thoughts as I read,Taking Shade with Buddha, where the universe is excavated sensitively, with the lyrical use of Balzac’s cloak, a sentence I will use to express the poets place under that tree. In the Roman Laurel, 'a remarkable choreography', to use  Mark Murphy’s phrase, sums up the search of our life, and On Chasing Pigeons and Coniston Water a spiritual thrust expresses that human search for which we all apply in being born.  In Killing the Summer, ‘it is not quite right how the kettle on the hob, outlasts the man who wrought it’, expressing the disappointment of a realization between desire and possibility. 

This theme continues throughout the poems, where we meet Lenin, Burroughs, Chomsky, Frank O’ Hara and Diogenes, themselves signifiers of the land being excavated and worth slowly rereading and returning to read.  Russia, Chile, and the Minotaur give us a signifier of place. It is said that geography influences us as much as heredity and here we are invited into both place and person with emotional resonance... ‘ listening to Saties’ Gnossiennes/yet every note is out of reach’ and ‘ we are all love sick and sick of love’ is why I use the word philosophy and psychoanlysis to etch a review of this wonderful provoking book of poems. It is for me an anthology of a life’s experience, a review of reaction to an existence, a mirror reflection.

Snowbound was for me a paradigm of life, and I think you will find the same in Mr. Mojo risin’ where hope, so often future based comes from a life here, and the poem Night watch Man and Muse, the title poem, defines the poet well, ‘I do not seek to order the night/My task is to watch and listen’. In Last Word where every note is out of reach, and In a Rage with Allen Ginsberg a poetry definition and journey is made with another signifier of person. William S. Burroughs Deadreminds the poet of his moral duty and the writer too... ‘He will not be enticed into the guilded palaces of deception’. That sentence for me is a clarion call of the true artist, which reduces the number deserving the title poet. It would spoil the read if I were to dwell, in review, on each poem but it is the duty of the reader to dwell, and alone, outside those palaces in his lonely room of existence to taste deeply of this nakedness of humanity themed so beautifully.

Mark A. Murphy is a true poet, as you will find as you take this text in your hand, and play with the themes of our very living. It is provocative, lonely, happy, and a signifier of our living truthfully.


Bernard Kennedy was born in Rathfarnham, Dublin 1954. Kennedy was educated at De La Salle College Churchtown. Studied Philosophy and Theology at Mater Dei Institute and Holy Cross Seminary Dublin and was ordained by Archbishop Ryan in 1979. Holds an M.A. (2000) in Psychoanalytic Studies from University of Sheffield for work on Freud . He holds an M.Sc. from UCD, (2004) in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy for a thesis on the work of Freud and Jacques Lacan. He is a Psychoanalyst and member of The Association for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy in Ireland, and a Member of the College of Psychoanalysts of Ireland. He is a Registered Practitioner.


His published works include three poetry collections, Leaves of Autumn (1998), The Poet’s Tower (1999), Berlin, Berlin (2000). His work has been included in Anthologies Rainbows & Stone (1988), Argosy: Junior Certificate English (1993), Poetry Now 1993, The Consuming Flame (2000) and Sinatra and poetry: G. Gigliotti, (2005). Academic work has been published in The Furrow, Intercom and The Letter: Lacanian perspectives on psychoanalysis, and Studies.