Philip Brady is the author of three non-fiction books:. To Prove My Blood: A Tale of Emigrations & The Afterlife (Ashland Poetry Press 2003)  By Heart: Reflections of a Rust-Belt Bard (University of Tennessee Press 2008), and Phantom Signs: The Muse in Universe City (University of Tennessee Press, 2019).  Also he co-authored an edition Critical Essays on James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man with James F. Carens (Twayne, 1998).Brady’s prose writing has received three Ohio Arts Council Individual Artists Fellowships, a Distinguished Professorship in Scholarship from YSU, and a Best of Ohio Writers Prize.

His essays have appeared in College English, Green Mountains Review, The Honest Ulsterman, The Massachusetts Review, Poetry Northwest, Provincetown Arts, The Radical Teacher, Thought & Action, and other journals.

To Prove My Blood: A Tale of Emigrations & the Afterlife


Arachne starts with Ovid and finishes with me. — Michael Longley

Who would have thought, in 1960, when my brother’s birth cramped our row house, expelling Aunt Mary back to Brooklyn, that a fat slice of the century later hers would be the last penny the McCanns would spend? Brooklyn should have made a quick end to her, but she flourished. At the age of sixty-one, Mary Martin began a career as a cleaning lady at the Borough Hall Board of Education, clanking through plaster labyrinths, shouldering fire doors, palming ashtrays, and single-handedly reviving the myth of an era when every brownstone boasted its Irish maid.

“Hey, Mary,” the suits would tease, as she flicked her dust mop through olive cubicles, “You’re doing a great job there. Rubbing like you’re going to conjure a genie.” “Show me the bottle, Gorgeous,” she’d rattle back. “It would take that baldy fella to clean your dirt.” She had them on a string — the psychologists and specialists, the social workers and the Ph.D.s. Everyone turned to her for proof that a primeval Brooklyn still shadowed.

By Heart: Reflections of a Rust Belt Bard


On the inside flap of his Universitas Bucknellensis algebra notebook, a freshman from Flushing, Queens once wrote, “Mine is the soul of a bard.”
Yes, I did. Sometimes, when a student comes into my office bearing aspirations, I recall that scrap of hubris and think, “Whatever’s here can’t be bad as that.” And it never is.
But I’m deep into the process of forgiving my former self. After all, he was just expressing our cultural belief that poetry emerges from a kind of inspiration reserved for those special beings we dub “bards.”

Books of Sand: A Review of Unpublished Manuscripts, One a Conceit of Its Author

(from By Heart: Reflections of a Rust Belt Bard)

There are whole books praised and never read. –Raeburn Miller

Borges, says Frank, went one further. He praised books that were never written. Phantom books. Make-believe authors. And this is not off point, since Frank himself, letter of acceptance from Miami University Press in hand, threatens to decline publication of his manuscript, thus joining the ranks of the make-believe, the phantom, the unpublished. “It’s unheard of,” I say. “Yes,” says Frank, “I suppose I will be.”

Frank Polite is not exactly my father, but if you’re a poet in Youngstown, Ohio — and what else can you be with unemployment what it is — you’re pretty much Frank’s bastard. He has a real son, Khepri, by his first wife, who once played…

Ginsberg in Ballydehob

(from By Heart: Reflections of a Rust Belt Bard)

There is a pub in Ballydehob, West Cork, called Leviss. It’s a small shoebox of a place, with a dry goods shelf on one wall, a deal table and three raw chairs, a hursuite recliner, and four stools knuckled up to the bar. Leviss is run by two spinster sisters, Nell and Julia — two beautiful old ladies straight out of “The Dead.” They’ve owned the pub as long as any Hobbit remembers.

Nell and Julia conduct business, if you call it that, the old way — shuffling in from the parlor to pull your pint, with a “Now my good man;” “Yes my girleen.” But for some reason the “Celtic Tiger” — the brash new Euro-Ireland — seems mesmerized by this old shebeen. If you’re Irish, if you’ve been to Ireland, if you’re anyone, you’ve been to Leviss.

%d bloggers like this: