Nick Laird

Nick Laird’s new collection, Feel Free, is due in August.

Poem: ‘The Folding’

Nick Laird, 21 June 2018


In the midst of this lifelike grief I am stood at the cutlery drawer, and keep on standing here as if I might remember what I came in for, but then I think of something else, and head upstairs only to forget what that was and find myself

eyeing the unmade bed, the bookshelves, the snow still coming down outside and realise then, and lift a stack of printer paper and the safety scissors...

Diary: Ulster Revisited

Nick Laird, 28 July 2011

I took my daughter back to County Tyrone at the end of June to see my parents, and to spend some time with my sister and her children, who were also visiting. We did the usual: gorged on apple pancakes, spent a long time in Poundland, and trekked through Drum Manor Forest Park in the rain, dispensing bread to our children to feed the ducks, just like our parents used to do with us. And we...

Louis MacNeice’s influence is everywhere in contemporary poetry, in its forms and in its forms of engagement. Certain strands in his work – questions of identity, nationality, responsibility – became, with the advent of the Troubles, critically important to a celebrated generation of Northern Irish poets, poets like Derek Mahon, Michael Longley and Muldoon. These writers...

Three Poems

Nick Laird, 19 August 2010

The Mark

After that Etruscan she-wolf tenting milk-fat twins, the grabby cherubs added fairly awkwardly

around the time of Michelangelo, we chance upon Marsyas, nearly dead. Boxer’s nose. Cow’s lick. The arms tied

overhead standard white marble, as is the face, the beard, the gallows; a petrified tree with prettified leaves.

The torso though is pavonazzetto; the thin pink veins of...

Two Poems

Nick Laird, 10 May 2007

The Immigration Form

Are you now or have you ever been skilled with silkworm gut or boric lint? How intimate are you with breathing

through a Carbolic Chinese Twist? Using the four-hand lift or bamboo splints? Are you now or have you ever been

conversant, properly, with pain? Bandages, assorted. Tincture Eucalyptus. How intimate are you with breathing

through artificial respiration? There is...

Not a Damn Thing: In Yeats’s wake

Nick Laird, 18 August 2005

In April 1959 Frank O’Connor wrote to his editor at the New Yorker to say that he had taken ‘the family up to Sligo to see how Yeats was getting on’. Since Yeats had been dead twenty years, he should have been getting on just fine. But:

Even he seemed to be disgruntled. Kavanagh the ex-poet ran into me soon after I came home, and the following conversation took place...

Growing up in Cookstown in County Tyrone, I would occasionally wonder what it would be like to be Martin McGuinness’s son. He was infamous for being Sinn Féin’s number two, and for being the officer commanding of the Derry brigade of the IRA, a position he assumed, as he recently admitted, in February 1972. He was born the same year as my mother, and my parents used to live...

Two Poems

Nick Laird, 18 November 2004

The Layered


Empty Laird was called that ‘cause his Christian name was Matthew and his middle one was Thomas.

Towards the end he commented that by his-self he’d made a sixth of the disciples, and forgone a life

on the quest for the rest. And a good book. Or a decent cause.


Laird Jnr was a tyke, a terrier.

A nit-picker who grew to a hair-splitter, he was not so much...

Poem: ‘Imperial’

Nick Laird, 20 March 2003

And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?

Jonah 4.11


In A Popular Account of Discoveries at Nineveh (1854) Austin Henry Layard, the popular archaeologist and author, is again among the ruins by the dying of October,

scattering some Arabs from a...

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