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‘Feed the Beast’

Pádraig Ó’Tuama is a poet, theologian, and friend of Dr Kevin Hargaden of the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice.  He is also a broadcaster and former leader of the Corrymeela Community of peace and reconciliation in Belfast.

In this second part of an extended interview with Pat Coyle of Irish Jesuit Communications, he speaks about his deep friendship with theologian Glenn Jordan, with whom he developed the fascinating ‘process-workshop’ on ‘Borders and Belonging’, the subject of the first part of his interview. Glenn died suddenly in June 2020.

Pádraig recounts the unforgettable response he received from Glenn when he first told him he was gay. It stood in stark contrast to the reaction of the Charismatic community of which he was a member. They performed a number of exorcisms on him before he one day said ‘Enough!’. Looking back now he laments their incredible “failure of imagination” as they spoke their “frightening words to the frightened”. Pádraig notes that their ‘conversion’ enterprise failed as they did not, in fact, exorcise him from being gay, but rather from being afraid.

The whole experience of those years has resulted in his latest book of poems Feed the Beast to be published next year. The book, he says, features a constellation of ‘ravenous hungers of the human condition’. In it, he explores how we feed those hungers and what terrible places we are prepared to go to in order to belong.

He reads some of the poems in the course of the interview, including one particularly liked by Glenn, entitled ‘Me Oul’ Segotia’ (a post-lockdown reflection) which he reads publicly here for the first time.