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The Emma Press


Who Seemed Alive & Altogether Real

Who Seemed Alive & Altogether Real


Who Seemed Alive & Altogether Real is the second pamphlet of poems by Padraig Regan. With an introduction by Andrew McMillan.

“Jean Cocteau, at seventy-one, reaches
into a terracotta pot, pulls out
a scrap of ripped-up hibiscus
& smooths it back onto the calyx.
He does this five times over,
until the the full skirt
of the corolla is made intact again.
He inserts the stamen;
it is a long, green flourish
gesturing from the centre.
I once had a drink
of raspberry juice, syrup & water,
with hibiscus flowers
floating at the top,
making it a kind of gaudy snow-globe.
It assailed my teeth
with sugar. I imagined
an island stippled with hibiscus,
& a man swimming
in the surrounding waters —
a pale needle in a world of turquoise.
Later he’ll say
that he liked my first poem
about Jean Cocteau;
this was a lie,
to indulge me.”


Page count: 36

Publication date: 8th June 2017

Paperback ISBN: 9781910139745

Padraig Regan

Padraig Regan was born in 1993 in Belfast. They are the author of two poetry pamphlets: Delicious (Lifeboat, 2016) and Who Seemed Alive & Altogether Real (Emma Press, 2017). In 2015, they were a recipient of an Eric Gregory Award. They hold a PhD on creative-critical and hybridised writing practices in medieval texts and the work of Anne Carson from the Seamus Heaney Centre, Queen's University Belfast. Padraig has a collection called Some Integrity (2022) forthcoming from Carcanet. They recently received the Clarissa Luard Award for an emerging writer, awarded to them by Colm Tóibín.


Padraig Regan’s poems delight in the sensual and the visual: this pamphlet is alive with the textures of paint, sweat, sugar and overripe fruit. Regan riffs on art history in a way which is playful and inquisitive – Johann Zoffany drinks mojitos with David Hockney; Caravaggio outrages and compels; Queen Elizabeth I is effortfully glorious.

Many poems focus on the representation of the human body, discovering alternative histories in responses to paintings where the gaze of the male artist is directed towards the male figure in queerly erotic ways.

Padraig Regan was born and lives in Belfast. They graduated with an MA from the Seamus Heaney Centre. A debut pamphlet, Delicious, was published in 2016. In 2015, Padraig won an Eric Gregory Award.

‘It’s fun when a poet’s having fun. Especially exuberant, controlled fun. And that’s exactly how this pamphlet strikes me. A virtuoso.’ Charlotte Gann, Sphinx

‘Aside from the intelligence and joy of these poems, there is a real mastery of image too – the language sometimes recalling Edmund White at his most luxurious, and the opening of poems such as ‘Aubade’ being simply breath-taking. These are poems that look at the extremities of experience and ground them for the reader.’ From the Introduction, Andrew McMillan

Watch Padraig Regan read some of their poetry

Additional information

Dimensions 12.9 × 19.8 cm

Print, eBook
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