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 the 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



  • Sat 30 Apr, 11 am, Cushendun Big Arts Festival Carmel to Cushendun: Anne-Marie Fyfe & CL Dallat explore (in poetry, music & talk) Robinson & Una Jeffers’ 1920s Cushendun visit, Una’s love of Irish music, the Glens’ influence on Robinson’s poetry, & his legacy to the poetry of John Hewitt, John Montague & Seamus Heaney: a John Hewitt Society event, Mary McBrides, 2 Main Street Cushendun BT44 0PH
  • Mon 9 May-Mon 20 Jun: Coffee-House Poetry, Summer-2016 fortnightly programme of readings, alternate Mondays, 8-10pm, hosted by Anne-Marie Fyfe with music by CL Dallat, Coffee-House Poetry at the Troubadour Earls Court London
  • Sat 14 May—Sat 28 May, Heinrich Böll Cottage, Writer’s Residency Achill Island Co. Mayo
  • Mon 6 Jun, 8pm: The End of the Page?: a Coffee-House Colloquy, with Hannah Lowe, Gregory Leadbetter, Richard Price, Carrie Etter & C.L. Dallat for Coffee-House Poetry at the Troubadour Earls Court London
  • Sun 19 Jun, 2.30-5 pm: Land of Heart’s Desire: a W.B. Yeats walk …with CL Dallat, from Ravenscourt Park Tube Station Hammersmith London
  • Mon 20 Jun, 8 pm: The Hidden Life of Cities: An end-of-season poetry party with invited guest readers, plus music & prize quiz by CL Dallat for Coffee-House Poetry at the Troubadour Earls Court London
  • Thu 23 Jun, 7.30 for 8 pm, Bedford Park Festival Poetry Evening with special guest, Rowan Williams, plus poems, music, refreshments, hosted by local poets Anne-Marie Fyfe & C.L. Dallat at St. Michael & All Angels Hall, opp. Turnham Green tube station, Bath Road Chiswick London W4 1TX
  • Mon 25 Jul—Fri 29 Jul 2016, John Hewitt International Summer School 2016 …a week of readings, talks, lectures, discussions, creative writing, drama, music, details t.b.a. at Marketplace Theatre Armagh City
  • Sat 13—Sat 20 Aug, Poetry Course (residential) with Anne-Marie Fyfe & co-tutor CL Dallat at Château L’Age Baston Angoulême Charente
  • Sat 20—Sat 27 Aug, Poetry Course (residential) with Anne-Marie Fyfe & co-tutor CL Dallat at Château L’Age Baston Angoulême Charente

See more details of events

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

Listen to Love on a Rock and other poems on Poetcasting

Sign up for the newsletter

Content: copyright © Cahal Dallat 2009. All rights reserved.

Website by Lab 99 Web Design.