Skip to main content

Notes from Ireland

I was in Ireland for Easter, at an auspicious and controversial time - the 90th anniversary of the Easter Rising.

I also had a chance to talk with my friend, Fr. Brennan, who sometimes lectures at Fordham but is also a parish priest. His moving, thoughtful Easter Sunday homily included references to both Patrick Kavanagh (pictured) and Howard Nemerov - surely a unique occurence in Christendom this year?

Seamus Heaney's new collection, District and Circle, was ubiquitous, and was book of the month at Hughes & Hughes (the airport book sellers among other things) - and he also received a glowing review in - of all places - The Economist. Will read it more closely in days to come. The poems I did read were satisfyingly tight, crafted and palpable - evoking the real presences of things of this world - it seems a late, valedictory collection.

Andrew Motion, in his Guardian review, noted (I write this from memory) that while it did not surprise with new tactics or strategems, the new Faber collection confirmed the necessity of Heaney's project - which seems to be to establish (even sanctify) a good relationship between word and world, one that is creative, healthy, and optimizes the best that both language and experience have to offer each other; it is a deeply gifting (and gifted) act to be pursuing, and one that is radically conservative in nature.

As always, I am torn between my appreciation of such stately care placed at the service of poetry's grand tradition, and, an urge to chafe at the bit, and pursue newer, and sometimes less redemptive tracks. Poetry also, it seems to me, troubles as much as heals.

While in Dublin, I picked up Vona Groarke's latest, Juniper Street, just out from The Gallery Press, which does a good-looking book. Groarke was based in Dundalk but now lectures in America. Look forward to reading her new one.

I also noted the new Selected series from Penguin - James Fenton, Roger McGough and Carol Ann Duffy out now - Hill and Mahon and Sophie Hannah out this summer. The books are beautifully designed, and will hopefully bring new readers to these essential poets; Hannah is young, and it is most impressive to see her up there with the others.

I also bought the new Selected from John Burnside, just out from Cape, so a lot of reading next month.
Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

DANGER, MAN

Like a crazed killer clown, whether we are thrilled, horrified, shocked, or angered (or all of these) by Donald Trump, we cannot claim to be rid of him just yet. He bestrides the world stage like a silverback gorilla (according to one British thug), or a bad analogy, but he is there, a figure, no longer of fun, but grave concern.

There has long been a history of misogynistic behaviour in American gangster culture - one thinks of the grapefruit in the face in The Public Enemy, or Sinatra throwing a woman out of his hotel room and later commenting he didn't realise there was a pool below to break her fall, or the polluted womb in Pacino'sScarface... and of course, some gangsta rap is also sexist.  American culture has a difficult way with handling the combined aspects of male power, and male privilege, that, especially in heteronormative capitalist enclaves, where money/pussy both become grabbable, reified objects and objectives (The Wolf of Wall Street for instance), an ugly fus…

AMERICA PSYCHO

According to the latest CBS, ABC, etc, polls, Clinton is still likely to beat Trump - by percentile odds of 66% to 33% and change. But the current popular vote is much closer, probably tied with the error of margin, around 44% each. Trump has to win more key battleground states to win, and may not - but he is ahead in Florida...

We will all know, in a week, whether we live in a world gone madder, or just relatively mad.

While it seems likely calmer heads will prevail, the recent Brexit win shows that polls can mislead, especially when one of the options is considered a bit embarrassing, rude or even racist - and Trump qualifies for these, at least.

If 42-45% of Americans admit they would vote for Trump, what does that say about the ones not so vocal? For surely, they must be there, as well. Some of the undecided will slide, and more likely they will slide to the wilder and more exciting fringe candidate. As may the libertarians.

Eyewear predicts that Trump will just about manage to win th…

SEXTON SHORTLIST!

Announcing the Shortlist for the 2016 Sexton PrizeSeptember 13, 2016 / By Kelly Davio
Eyewear Publishing is pleased to announce the shortlist for the 2016 Sexton Prize. The finalists are, in no particular order, as follows:


THE BARBAROUS CENTURY, Leah Umansky
HISTORY OF GONE, Lynn Schmeidler
SEVERE CLEAR, Maya Catherine Popa
GIMME THAT. DON’T SMITE ME, Steve Kronen
SCHEHERAZADE AND OTHER REDEPLOYMENTS, David McAleavey
AN AMERICAN PURGATORY, Rebecca Gayle Howell
SIT IN THE DARK WITH ME, Jesse Lee Kercheval

The shortlist was selected by Eyewear’s Director Todd Swift with Senior Editor Kelly Davio. Don Share of Poetry Magazine will select the winning manuscript, which will be released at the 2017 AWP conference in Washington, D.C. The winner will be announced in October. 
Congratulations to our finalists!