Statement by President Higgins on the death of Kevin Higgins
Date: Wed 11th Jan, 2023 | 13:29
“It is with a great sense of sadness that all those who knew the poet Kevin Higgins, either in person or through his poetry, will have learned of his death. Brave and writing as he was right to the end.
Kevin was a poet who had read enormously widely of the work of poets writing in English, Irish and from different countries. His work includes that published by Salmon Poetry in collections such as ‘The Boy With No Face’, ‘Time Gentlemen, Please’, ‘Frightening New Furniture’, ‘The Ghost In The Lobby’ and ‘Sex and Death at Merlin Park Hospital’ – were valuable contemporary contributions that had a directness to it that was unsparing, but not at a cost of finely worked poems.
The partnership which he shared with his partner in writing, Susan Millar DuMars, saw them both working together in a way hard to surpass in terms of making a contribution to the arts through writing.
Indeed, I cannot think of anyone who did more to bring the public to appreciation and joy of poetry, to make the case for performed poetry, and who encouraged others to read broadly and, most of all, to make poems and find their meaning in their lives. He gave generously to so many through his poetry workshops, poetry slams and creative writing classes in Galway Arts Centre, GMIT and the University of Galway.
The many people who were to discover through participation in ‘Over The Edge’, an open reading series specialising in promoting new writers, cherished it as a gift. While as poet in residence at Merlin Park Hospital, he helped so many patients, their relations and staff, to explore and share their own lives.
His political beliefs were clearly in the family of the Left, but he didn’t shirk from identifying the gap between what was sought, and what he saw as the failure in efforts to deliver it in practice, for the benefit of all in a changed world.
For those of us who have known him over the decades, there is nobody who would not agree that he was a charming presence and a great friend, guaranteed to never be dull.
His final pieces from hospital show a person of the deepest humanity, gifted with words and full of courage that he would wish for all to have for themselves.
He will be missed by so many, far beyond Galway.
May I send my deepest condolences to his great partner in words and their power, Susan, to his family, and to his wide circle of friends.”