The Opposite of Grieving

‘The Opposite of Grieving brings together the talents of three poets who collectively run the publishing outlet Drunk Muse Press. There the similarities in their theme and style end. Hugh McMillan’s poems are mostly lyrical meditations on a father’s relationship and travels with his daughters, while Neil Young’s satires rewrite and reimagine Greek myths with a contemporary twist, and Jessamine O’Connor’s selection explores a gamut of responses to loss and bereavement. Each poet’s work is characterised by an angled approach that causes the reader to re-examine expectations.

Hugh McMillan

Hugh McMillan’s latest collection ‘Haphazardly in the Starless Night’ was published in 2021. In 2021 he was editor of the SPL’s anthology ‘Best Scottish Poems’. He edits for Drunk Muse

Hole in the Sky


A half empty train and

the north of England flicking

by in deep shades of green

and wild hawthorn.


I am sipping wine

and you are carefully judging

the smoothie you drink.

Food is a map we spread


out and navigate by:

we sometimes get lost there.

The sun is on your face, you

are smiling, but I have never


been more scared.

Can we make this day

a paradigm? One to fall

back on through the clouds.

Neil Young

Neil Young hails from west Belfast and now lives in north-east Scotland. He worked as a labourer, kitchen-porter and stage-hand before becoming a journalist. His latest collections include Shrapnel (Poetry Salzburg, 2019) and After the Riot (Nine Pens Press, 2021). Neil is founder of The Poets’ Republic magazine and Drunk Muse Press.

Sparta Casuals Plot their Comeback Tour


Soon as we’ve drank this Helot’s blood,

scoffed those magic manitária

Leonidas’ nephew fetched

back from his gap year

we’re trashing Thebes high street,

including shops,

whether the Wags

give us permission or not.

Then we’ll do Corinth;

remember to pack

an armpit flannel

and clean loin cloth,

we’ll all be sharing

an overnight cart,

it could get stinky and stuff.


Massalia, Chalcis,

this is payback

for calling Tyrtaeus a wuss

just cos he writes poems.

Athenians, get your

Snowflake-lads tooled up.


Chaps, remember our chants:

‘Two Med wars and one Aegean Cup’,

‘We’re Sparta till we die’.


Give ‘em Hades

right after you’ve waxed your chests.


Jessamine O'Connor

Jessamine O'Connor moved from Dublin to the Sligo Roscommon border in 1999. Her collection ‘Silver Spoon’ is published by Salmon Poetry. She is an editor with Drunk Musep Press, on the panel of The Poet’s Republic, and runs Co:Mon, an annual Countdown festival.

Notes on John


Their Peckham squat declared

nobody here but us chickens -

he was vegan for years there and used to knit

for days on end, then unravel it all

and start again


and on the long walk behind the hearse

his friend I hadn’t seen in 25 years said

when they got a council flat

he wouldn’t get up in time for his key

and refused to pay for one to be cut


so every time he came back first

in the morning from a party

he’d have to kick down the door to get in

until eventually

there was no door left