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I piled into the back a minivan with my parents, my sister and my sister’s daughters last Friday and made the 6-ish hour drive from Atlanta to Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

The destination was Wake Forest University, specifically a small book release party commemorating the publication of The Shack, a collection of poems and essays by various Irish poets who had come to the university over the years when invited by my Uncle Dillon.

Many of these visitors would stay in a run-down, bare-bones little cabin that Dillon and his wife, Guinn kept just across the boarder in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. The cabin came to be affectionately known as “The Shack” and this book is dedicated to both Dillon and Guinn.

Arguably, the best part of this celebration was the poetry readings by Irish poet Conor O’Callaghan. I snagged some video of the event and here present O’Callaghan reading “Swell”, from his latest collection titled The Sun King.


This entire poem is really just right, but the stanza that hits me each time, like something warm and light, is this one:

“All I mean to say is that it was lovely,

that not every given is bleak or wrong

and some even are as gorgeous as they are elementary.”

I can’t quite explain why those lines strike me as perfect, as the epitome of a poem being at work staying a poem, but it does.