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John O'Donoghue is an author, poet, and journalist. He blogs about Outsider Art, drawing on the aesthetics of Art Brut and applying these in particular to poetry - investigating the idea of 'Poesie Brut'.

How cool is Crip?

21 September 2012

Blog

crippen cartoon showing a group considering how to make sports more inclusive. a man offers a suggestion that the answer is to introduce 'dwarf tossing' as an olympic sport

What a wonderful summer it was! The Paralympics! Unlimited! Wasn’t it fantastic? For the first time in sporting history the Paralympics got its own Open and Closing Ceremonies, putting the Games on the same level playing field as the Olympics. The Paralympics Opening Ceremony had everything – a fly past, Stephen Hawking, the Big Bang, umbrellas, a giant blinking eye, Newton’s apple, Miranda from The Tempest, over 140 deaf and disabled artistes and volunteers. It was fab. And...

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The Mission

27 July 2012

Blog

Olympic security to an extreme

'Our mission,' said the CO, 'will be a tricky one.' He looked over the podium at the eager faces in front of him. He knew just how brave they all were, what they had all come through together, just how much a challenge this new mission would be. They were tired, exhausted some of them, on their last legs. But theirs was not to reason why. They had a job to do and by God they were going to do it. 'Now you'll all know,' he continued, 'just how erratic local forces can be. This latest incident...

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Memories of Brian Behan

22 October 2011

Blog

black and white photo of Brian Behan

It’s now over ten years since the death of Brian Behan. Brendan Behan, the playwright, and Dominic Behan, the singer-songwriter, were his brothers. His mother, Kathleen, was the subject of his book, Mother Of All The Behans, which was turned into a stage show and ran on Broadway. I first met Brian when I asked him to be in the Brighton Fleadh, an Irish Festival I organised in 1995. His play, Hallelujah I’m A Bum, caused a bit of a stir that summer. A journalist friend of his phoned...

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The Place Of Asylum

3 August 2011

Blog

book cover

It was a great honour to see my memoir Sectioned: A Life Interrupted awarded Mind Book of the Year last year. To be in the same company as writers like Hilary Mantel, Studs Terkel, Jenny Diski – well, writers live on dreams and here was my dream come true. I’d been writing seriously since I was 14. This was when my father died and I composed poems that tried to remember him, to mourn him, to come to terms with what I’d lost. Soon after my father’s death my mother became...

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Outside In At Pallant House

25 July 2011

Blog

painting of a sailing boat by Alfred Wallis

You wouldn’t think Chichester was the kind of place Outsider Artists would feel much at home in. It’s a prosperous cathedral city in the southeast of England, the Downs close by, with a genteel air and a rather old-fashioned atmosphere. Tea rooms, bookshops, and a medieval gate all make this kind of place you half expect to see John Betjeman rooting around in, or perhaps some of those artists who were his friends and contemporaries, people like John Piper, or Ben Nicholson, or...

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The News of a World Gone Mad

22 July 2011

Blog

Do you remember Lady Isobel Barnett? She was a star of the TV panel game What’s My Line? in the early days of television and went on to appear on radio. Her husband died in 1970 and she retreated into a semi-reclusive existence in Leicestershire. In 1980 she was arrested for shoplifting a can of tuna and a carton of cream worth 87p from her village grocer. She pleaded not guilty and the case was brought before the court. The story was featured in the Sunday newspapers – and more...

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Byron... then and now

18 July 2011

Blog

Portrait of Lord Byron

The invitation came by post: 29 January 2009, The John Murray Authors’ Party, 50 Albemarle Street W1. It’s one of the most famous addresses in literary history. Byron’s 'Childe Harold's Pilgrimage' was passed out of the window of the drawing room to crowds on the pavement, and his memoirs were burnt 12 years later in the fireplace. I mount the steps and enter a gilded world, a grand London townhouse, full of glamour and ghosts, and then I am in that famous salon. There is...

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