James Hewitt – nice bar, good poet

The John Hewitt bar on North Street in Belfast serves some fine ales and decent food. Named after the poet and run as a workers’ co-operative, it is one of my favourite bars in Belfast. Check out their website for gigs and sessions.

Here’s one of Hewitt’s poems called The Scar

There’s not a chance now that I might recover
one syllable of what that sick man said,
tapping upon my great-grandmother’s shutter,
and begging, I was told, a piece of bread;
for on his tainted breath there hung infection
rank from the cabins of the stricken west,
the spores from black potato-stalks, the spittle
mottled with poison in his rattling chest;
but she who, by her nature, quickly answered,
accepted in return the famine-fever;
and that chance meeting, that brief confrontation,
conscribed me of the Irishry forever.
Though much I cherish lies outside their vision,
and much they prize I have no claim to share,
yet in that woman’s death I found my nation;
the old wound aches and shews its fellow scar.

Here’s the man himself reading it http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p036gpm1