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Ali Whitelock – Review
Bittern Cry by Fergus Hogan

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Bitter Cry Fergus Hogan Live Encounters‘I normally gravitate towards poetry that whacks me over the head and delivers an unexpected uppercut for good measure. The achingly beautiful, ‘Bittern Cry’ is not that kind of poetry. The warmth in this work disarmed me. Its lilt and music are smooth as the surface of Lough Gowna on a calm summer’s night and if it were possible for a poet’s voice to taste of something, Fergus Hogan’s would be that of a single Irish malt––perfectly balanced with honey, oak, peat and smoke. As I read, a tenderness slipped quietly like glucose into my cells and transported me to a small stone cottage that, ‘stands on the hill shadowed by a few old trees worn thin’. From there the poems motioned for me to take a seat in a cracked leather arm chair by a roaring log fire, and as I warmed myself at the hearth of this collection, Fergus took a fine tooth comb to his soul while guiding me deeper into my own ––‘When did you last dance?’ he asks, ‘When did you last sing? When were you last at peace in your silence? When were you last proud in the telling of your story?’ This collection weaves a gentle path through childhood, nature, home, a bottle of gone-off sun cream, an ill-fitting wedding suit and a series of heart-clutching lines such as, ‘I forgot to even whisper/how beautiful you looked/dressed in white’. As I read this work, I fed my own worries to the crows, ‘my beautiful flock of silver eyed friends/my funeral of sin eaters’ while these poems wrapped me in a love I hadn’t expected to find here. Turning the page on the final poem, I stumbled on a deeper kindness towards myself––and to the world.’

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Fergus Hogan lives and works in Waterford where he lectures fulltime in Family Therapy and Narrative Storytelling Therapy at Waterford Institute of Technology. His poems have been published in the Irish Times, Channel, Feral Journal of Poetry and Art, Tiny Seeds Literary Journal, and Live Encounters. His spoken word poem Consent took first prize in Waterford’s inaugural spoken word and slam poetry competition in 2018. His poetry chapbook, Bittern Cry, was published in November 2019 by Book Hub Publishing and is available for his publishers at and it is also available for sale online from his local independent bookstores; The Book Centre Waterford and Red Books Wexford

Ali Whitelock is a Scottish poet and writer. Her latest collection, ‘the lactic acid in the calves of your despair’ is published by Wakefield Press and her debut collection,‘and my heart crumples like a coke can’ (Wakefield Press 2018) has a forthcoming UK edition by Polygon, Edinburgh. Her memoir,‘Poking seaweed with a stick and running away from the smell’ was launched to critical acclaim in Australia and the UK. She’s read her work at festivals & events around the world including The Edinburgh Fringe 2018 & 2019. You can read more about Ali right here:

© Ali Whitelock