A WELL-KNOWN singer from a popular Gwent band has had his third book of poems published.

Mike McNamara of Big Mac’s Wholly Soul Band has recently released Dialling A Starless Past.

(Dialling A Starless Past is the new book of poems from Mike McNamara)

This collection of poems spans a period of around five decades in the life of Mr McNamara. He said: “I’ve been writing for more than 50 years. The poems in this particular collection are, by and large, semi-autobiographical and encapsulate themes as diverse as street culture and addiction to publishing songs, love and fatherhood.


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“Various occupations from being a military prisoner, scaffolder, dispensing methadone to recovering addicts at Kaleidoscope and driving the mobile library all contribute to the tale.”

People familiar with Newport will see many locations they will remember in the Irish-born musicians book.

“It features a veritable host of iconic Newport spots from The George Street Bridge to the long-gone Welcome Home pub in Pill,” he said.

(Mike McNamara)

With five decades worth of stories in Newport, Mr McNamara has almost seen it all. On how he has seen the city change, he said: “Inevitably our perspective of ‘the town that became a city’ changes with our own circumstances and age. From swinging around the lampposts in Halstead Street at eight years old, to meeting on the market steps as young mods, drugs, alcoholism, marriage and playing to an audience of 1,000 people at Newport Centre celebrating the band being together 25 years all colours how we see our environment, our city.

"The town changes but so do we so it becomes an individual, interpersonal progression. Although we personally may be aware of a changing landscape and zeitgeist, I wonder whether a contemporary eight-year-old in Halsted Street or thereabouts, may see such a very different town to the one my peer group see? The same applies to teenage experience, middle age etc. We create our own vision of our city and its coloured by our own particular circumstances and interests.

“Crucial points may differ radically for someone with a particular political agenda to someone looking for the cheapest way to get drunk. It’s a different Newport for a person living in say Ridgeway at 70-years-old, to someone existing homeless on the streets at 22 and living hand to mouth. Any city is subjective.”

Dialling A Starless Past has been published just two months after This Transmission, Mr McNamara’s last book of poems.


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The publication came about as a coincidence. In 1997, he released his first collection of poems titled Overhearing the Incoherent just before he closed a long chapter on alcohol and drug abuse.

That was published in September this year. Mr McNamara continued: “I’d started going to a few poetry open mic nights and Rhys Milsom, a young poet, suggested I contact Aberystwyth publisher Arenig as I’d accumulated such a large backlog of work.

“The editor there accepted what became Dialling A Starless Past.

“I’ve had some wonderful and unexpected reviews from a good number of well-respected poets and editors for both of the books. For me that means far more than sales.”