It is an inalienable instinct as old as the stars that a people have right to their land …
Ireland holds the dubious distinction of being Britain’s oldest colony.
‘The Ballad’ is a narrative poem dedicated to Ireland and its people and tells the story of this troubled land under English, then British colonial rule from the 12th century until ‘Bloody Sunday’, drawing on allegory and mythology.
A poem for every Irishman, woman and child, at home or abroad, past and present, the lost generations of the future.
Ernest M. Keeling is a British citizen, married to a Belgian citizen. Myriam, his partner of twenty-two years has her family and work still in Belgium, wherefore he is domiciled there.
He is a former student of the UK Arvon Foundation, but his real mentors are the poetry greats – Neruda, Lorca; from Ireland – Louis MacNeice, Patrick Kavanagh, Austin Clarke, Michael Hartnett, Thomas Kinsella, to name but a few. One of his early influences was Canadian poet / novelist Anne Michaels.
He has been writing poetry for about twenty years but ‘The Ballad’ is his debut in print. To this extent he is a new voice on the poetry scene though he has occasionally engaged in poetry readings in Britain over the years. His poetry is rooted in his working-class / socialist background – his raison d’être in relation to his writing and day-to-day life.
During the Apartheid era he worked for the African National Congress between 1985-1992. It was his hope to play whatever small part he could in bringing democracy to South Africa. In his considered view, the presidency of Nelson Mandela was followed by successive incompetent / corrupt administrations which failed to deliver on the ideals of the ‘Freedom Charter’ which, apart from political freedom, envisioned a society based on social justice and an egalitarian economic order. He regards the massacre of miners at Marikana on 16 August 2012 as reminiscent of Sharpville and Soweto.
At the time of going to press he is compiling a second book of poems which explore inter alia, his views / experiences around his time in Africa as well as the situation in the post-Apartheid South Africa.