Paul Simon pays tribute to Seamus Heaney in Dublin

The late Seamus Heaney, whose life's work was celebrated, last night, by his devoted readership and by a cast of poets, musicians and friends.

The late Seamus Heaney, whose devoted readership and long list of fellow poets and friends celebrated his life’s work, last night, at Dublin’s National Concert Hall.

LEGENDARY singer- songwriter Paul Simon was among those paying tribute, last night, to the late Nobel Prize- winning poet Seamus Heaney at a celebratory event in Dublin’s National Concert Hall.

Others who paid tribute on the night, which Dublin City Council’s One City, One Book initiative as well as Poetry Ireland supported, included poets Paul Muldoon, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Michael Longley and Colette Bryce as well as musicians Lisa Hannigan, Martin Hayes and Paul Brady.

To read my piece, which the Irish Post commissionedclick here.

X marks the (black) spot: John McAuliffe’s problematic Irish Times review of Vona Groarke’s ‘X’

In his review of Vona Groarke’s X, published in last weekend’s edition of the Irish Times, poet, critic and full- time senior academic John McAuliffe acknowledges that both he and Ms. Groarke work together in Manchester. What Mr. McAuliffe fails to disclose, however, are the possible financial implications that writing such a glowing review could have for himself, his University of Manchester colleague and the academic department in which they both work.

In last week’s press, X
reviewed Y: One of the best
poets now writing.

In this week’s press, Y
reviews X: One of the best
poets writing now

        – Peter Reading

FRIENDS REVIEWING FRIENDS: it’s considered something of a no- no within the notoriously tight- knit literary circles of the arts community. Much as those in the medical profession consider  administering to a friend or family member as unethical, eyebrows are sometimes raised when practice of a similar nature occurs in both the arts and academia.

And so it is with Manchester- based Listowel native John McAuliffe, the Irish Times’ sole poetry critic, whose laudatory review of X– the latest collection of poems by his fellow Gallery Press poet and University of Manchester colleague Vona Groarke, which Ms. Groarke launched last month at their place of work in Manchester– appeared in last week’s weekend edition of the Irish Times.

Though I have yet to read Ms. Groarke’s latest collection of poems, I have followed Ms. Groarke’s immensely enjoyable work with interest since the 2006 publication of Juniper Street, which like 2009’s Spindrift, is a remarkable collection of poems.

Certainly, avid readers of contemporary poetry don’t need me to point out that Ms. Groarke is undoubtedly one of the leading Irish poets of her generation; a poet of genuine heart and originality and a poet who belongs to a group of mid- career Irish poets who are long overdue critical attention and critical revision; those poets born in the 60’s / early 70’s who arrived after Paul Muldoon, including Sinéad Morrissey, Leontia Flynn, Caitríona O’Reilly, Peter Sirr, Conor O’Callaghan, David Wheatley, Pat Boran, Patrick Chapman and, indeed, John McAuliffe, to name but a few.

All that said, Mr. McAuliffe’s Irish Times review of X, is problematic, highlighting some of the reasons why academics should never review nor assess the work or wares of their colleagues, particularly in the national and international press.

X marks the (black) spot

In the fifth paragraph of his glowing review of Ms. Groarke’s book, under the sub- heading Different note, Mr. McAuliffe appropriately declares a degree of interest, however slight, in acknowledging that both he and Ms. Groarke are colleagues in University of Manchester (“Groarke, with whom this reviewer works in Manchester, is much more occupied by time than by places in X.”) where both poets teach an MA course together.

However, Mr. McAuliffe, a full- time senior academic in University of Manchester and co- director of University of Manchester’s Centre for New Writing, fails to explore or disclose the possible financial implications for University of Manchester in publishing such a positive and favourable review of Ms. Groarke’s book in a national and international title such as the Irish Times.

Funding implications

Under the Research Excellence Framework (REF), 20% of UK government funding for academic departments depends on “impact”, the defined assessment criteria of which is outlined in an online document entitled Panel criteria and working methods. The document expands on “impact” in more detail on page 89 of Part 2D: Main Panel Criteria, available to read on-line here.  Panel D defines and assesses English Literature and Creative Writing: read here.

Termed as “indicative range of impacts” on page 89 of the above document, the “indicative range of impacts” include the following:

Civil society: Informing and influencing the form and content of associations between people or groups to
illuminate and challenge cultural values and social assumptions.

Cultural life: Creating and interpreting cultural capital in all of its forms to enrich and expand the lives, imaginations and sensibilities of individuals and groups.

Public discourse: Extending the range and improving the quality of evidence, argument and expression to
enhance public understanding of the major issues and challenges faced by individuals and
society.

The Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), which the REF is replacing, will assess research that has taken place from 2008 – 2013 inclusive. An Irish Times review published in 2014, then, would contribute towards the next REF, which has a census date of November / December 2018.

The REF assess submissions according to the following criteria:

  • Four star: Quality that is world-leading in terms of originality, significance and rigour.
  • Three star: Quality that is internationally excellent in terms of originality, significance and rigour but which falls short of the highest standards of excellence.
  • Two star: Quality that is recognised internationally in terms of originality, significance and rigour.
  • One star: Quality that is recognised nationally in terms of originality, significance and rigour.
  • Unclassified: Quality that falls below the standard of nationally recognised work. Or work which does not meet the published definition of research for the purposes of this assessment.

Suffice to say, then, that positive and favourable reviews in the national and international press of a work published by a practicing academic might, conceivably, constitute as an “indicator of esteem” and may carry “impact” for an academic department, such as the English Language and Literature department in University of Manchester.

August Kleinzahler

In an excellent essay entitled ‘Blurbonic Plague’, featured in The Outnumbered Poet, published posthumously by The Gallery Press, the late Dennis O’Driscoll writes fearlessly of what he perceives as the “insider dealing” within the world of poetry; friends reviewing friends in a mutual appreciation society. The policy among peers, writes O’Driscoll, is “You blurb me, I’ll review you.”

In the Winter of 2013, the Irish Times published Mr. McAuliffe’s review of The Hotel Oneira by American poet August Kleinzahler. Suffice to say that Mr. McAuliffe laid the praise on thick. Here is an extract from Mr. McAuliffe’s review:

Kleinzahler is a one-off, and this new book is as good as ever, with spiky portraits (and self-portraits) alongside the American landscapes that have become his speciality, moving easily and mysteriously between domestic close-ups of the weather and noodling riffs on the state of the modern world.

Compare the above extract from Mr. McAuliffe’s Irish Times review of August Kleinzahler’s collection with the below extract:

John McAuliffe’s got the gift. Mark the name…This guy’s the total package, as we say over here about our young, star athletes.

The back cover of A Better Life, Mr. McAuliffe’s first collection of poems, features the above quote as a blurb. The author of the blurb? That’s right: August Kleinzahler.

Mr. McAuliffe, as Co- Director of the Centre for New Writing, has also hosted August Kleinzahler at least one reading in University of Manchester’s Martin Harris Centre.

Nowhere in his review of August Kleinzahler’s The Hotel Oneira, printed in the Irish Times, does Mr. McAuliffe declare his interest by stating explicitly that he has previously accepted a glowing endorsement of his own work from Mr. Kleinzahler, published as a blurb on back cover of his first collection, nor does he state that he has hosted a reading of Kleinzahler’s poetry in his place of work.

The honest critic

Vona Groarke’s X, which is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation.

In my honest opinion, Mr. McAuliffe- who is a fine poet and an incisive critic, neither of which yours truly needs to point out- should have refused to review Ms. Groarke’s book on the grounds that a review of Ms. Groarke’s book could, possibly, have financial implications for the academic department in which both he and Ms. Groarke teach on an MA course together. Instead of reviewing X himself, Mr. McAuliffe should have, in my opinion, acted in the interest of editorial transparency and impartiality by outsourcing the review to a critic who is not an academic colleague of Ms. Groarke’s.

Regrettably, Mr. McAuliffe’s review of X is an unfortunate reminder of the level of dishonest reviewing that is endemic in the arts, particularly in the small, cliquish circle of poetry.

Furthermore, Irish Times Arts & Books editor Fintan O’Toole, an outstanding journalist who has written fearlessly about cronyism in Irish society during his long and distinguished career as an Irish Times columnist, doesn’t seem to have any issue with Mr. McAuliffe’s review; like Mr. McAuliffe, Mr. O’Toole doesn’t seem to have considered the possible financial implications for University of Manchester’s Centre for New Writing in publishing such a favorable review of the work of an academic colleague of Mr. McAuliffe’s.

Indeed, Mr. O’Toole’s weak editorial decision to commission Mr. McAuliffe as the Irish Times’ sole poetry critic confirms my belief that commissioning a variety of freelance critics, as was the policy under the Irish Times’ late, great and much- missed literary editor Caroline Walsh, is the only way to ensure that those books reviewed in the Irish Times‘ Arts & Books pages are impartial and that the Arts & Books pages carry a broad spectrum of critical analysis.

Speaking to RTÉ Radio One some time before his passing, Dennis O’Driscoll wrote of the incestuous nature of Irish poetry and the lack of tough, cold, honest reviewing:

I think that unless people speak the truth about the books that they get for review and they’re not bearing in mind rows they’ve had with people or that the publisher who published the book [for review] rejected a book of theirs or whatever…I think there’s a tremendous amount of dishonest reviewing and it takes a lot of courage and, I think, a lot of integrity and support on behalf of the editor you’re writing for, as well, to do honest reviews. I think it’s a tremendously important activity, but it does cost you friends and a lot of things, really.

X, certainly, marks the spot for the ever- deepening graves of literary criticism and journalistic integrity.

Update: John McAuliffe responds via email:

An email from John McAuliffe, sent from his university email account, in response to my article.

An email from John McAuliffe, sent from his university email account, in response to my article.

Books 2014: New poetry titles to look out for in the new year

The new year in poetry promises exciting débuts from fresh talents as well as old hands turning in new directions

Vona Groarke’s X will be published by The Gallery Press in February.

THE GALLERY PRESS will publish a rich varied selection of new collections throughout 2014. Manchester- based Longford native Vona Groarke‘s eagerly awaited sixth collection of poems, entitled X, is already generating considerable excitement, not least among the Poetry Book Society, who have made X their Poetry Book Society recommendation for Spring 2014. X is described as “a book of honesty and poise: its lustrous detail and exacting truths make this a groundbreaking publication from a poet hailed in Poetry Ireland Review as ‘among the best Irish poets writing today’.”

Other titles from the Meath publisher include From Elsewhere (March), a new collection of poems from Ciaran Carson, the ever- prolific Belfast poet who doesn’t seem to sleep; the late Pearse Hutchinson‘s poems will be appear in the spring; Gallery Press founder and publisher Peter Fallon will publish Strong, My Love in April, which will be his first collection since 2007’s The Company of Horses

Also returning with new work is Limerick poet Sean Lysaght, whose sixth collection is tentatively titled Carnival Masks. The inspiration for the working title came from a poem in which Lysaght describes a journey back to his home in Co. Mayo, after several months spent in Italy, and tidying away a pair of masks that the poet and his wife bought at the Carnevale di Viareggio, held every February in the Tuscan city of Viareggio, Italy.

According to Lysaght, the collection has “…a calendar structure: many poems with references to the natural world can be connected to a particular time of year. The first poem is called ‘Skylarks in January’, then there’s a February piece, a March piece, and so on. The calendar pattern is not absolutely strict, and there are other poems in the book as well, but it allowed me a way of organising an array of material, and of connecting poems about Mayo with poems set in Italy, where my wife and I spent a winter about four years ago.”

Doire Press

DOIRE PRESS are likely to be still celebrating, following Adam White’s appearance on the shortlist for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, this year. However, the Connemara- based publisher will publish the début collection of poems from Dimitra Xidousthe Dublin- based Greek- Canadian poet and co- founder / co- editor of The Pickled Body. Entitled Keeping Bees, Xidous’ first collection will no doubt feature poems that have featured in the Bridport and Over the Edge Emerging Writer prizes,  as well as work that is due to appear in The New Planet Cabaret and the Spring 2014 edition of The Stinging Fly, in which she will be a featured poet.

BLOODAXE have two Irish poets on their list for 2014: Harry Clifton‘s The Holding Centre: Selected Poems 1974-2004 will appear in February.

Louis de Paor’s The Brindled Cat and the Nightingale’s Tongue will appear in a bi- lingual edition from Bloodaxe

Interestingly, a bi- lingual selection of Louis de Paor’s poems will feature in The Brindled Cat and the Nightingale’s Tongue, a book which de Paor worked on with a trio translators, consisting of  Kevin Anderson, Biddy Jenkinson and Mary O’Donoghue. According to Bloodaxe, “the translations have eschewed the modern fashion for so-called “versions”, producing English translations which are as close as possible to the original Irish poems without sacrificing their tone, energy, clarity and lightness of touch.”

FABER‘s list of new poetry books for 2014 includes a typical mix of commissioned translations, an opportunity to revise the poetry of authors with considerable work under their belt, as well as new work from emerging talents.

Too often dismissed as too didactic and a political poet in an age of political apathy, Tom Paulin‘s New Selected Poems (May) comes at a time when there is a severe lack of well- written, well- executed political poetry. One only has to read Paulin’s current Selected Poems, 1972 – 1990 to find a poet whose gift for wrapping the demotic tones of his native Ulster around technically skilled, enviably crafted poems. Paulin’s New Selected Poems is a welcome opportunity to revise four decades worth of work, including poems from Walking a Line (1994), The Wind Dog (1999) and last year’s Love’s Bonfire.

American poet August Kleinzahler

Once described by Allen Ginsberg as “A loner, a genius.”, New Jersey- born, San Francisco- based poet August Kleinzahler is undoubtedly one of foremost American poets currently writing. The wider availability of Kleinzahler’s collections on this side of the Atlantic, including 1995’s Red Sauce, Whiskey and Snow, 2000’s Green Sees Things in Waves, 2004’s excellent The Strange Hours That Travellers Keep and 2008’s Sleeping it Off in Rapid City: New and Selected Poems, have seen the oft described “pugilist” poet’s stock rise considerably.

Kleinzahler’s latest collection, Hotel Oneira, will no doubt feature the collision course of registers, the unpredictable cadences and the savvy, street poetry that have characterised Kleinzahler’s best work. Writing in the Irish Times, John McAuliffe has described Hotel Oneira as a collection “…with spiky portraits (and self-portraits) alongside the American landscapes that have become his speciality, moving easily and mysteriously between domestic close-ups of the weather and noodling riffs on the state of the modern world.”

At a reading that Kleinzahler was giving and which I attended, a compere- who claimed to be an expert in Kleinzahler’s work and spent more than ten minutes introducing and explaining Kleinzahler’s work to us mere mortals in the audience- made the unfortunate mistake of continually referring to August Kleinzahler as “Awgoooost” Kleinzahler, rather than pronouncing Kleinzahler’s forename as one would pronounce the month of the same name. Perhaps- perhaps- Kleinzahler’s new collection will be appreciated to the point where even experts in his oeuvre can pronounce his name.

While we may have to wait a while for a new collection from Simon Armitage, the Yorkshire poet’s translation of The Last Days of Troy (May), commissioned by the Royal Exchange for performance in April 2014. A retelling of The Iliad, there’s no doubt that Armitage will freshen up the classical text as he has done with his engaging translations of The Odyssey, Sir Gawain and The Green Knight and The Death of King Arthur.

Lavinia Greenlaw’s A Double Sorrow: Troilus and Criseyde

On the note of translations, versions, imitations and all that, Lavinia Greenlaw‘s A Double Sorrow (February), which takes its title from the opening line of Chaucher’s Troilus and Criseyde- of which A Double Sorrow is a retelling- and which is neither translation nor version; rather, Greenlaw’s retelling takes the form of seven- line vignettes.

Twelve years on from his Collected PoemsHugo Williams returns in April with I Knew the Bride, his first collection of poems since 2006’s excellent West End Final, which, no doubt, will explore his parents’ theatrical vocations and his portraits of London in the 50’s, all shot through with the ironic bite and sardonic humour that we’ve come to expect from Williams.

Due in February, Tony Martinez de las Rivas‘ début collection, Terror (February), promises poems that are “…political, social, theological, historical and personal, the poems in this debut collection work closely with the reader, asking questions of us and encouraging us never to settle for inadequate answers.” Rivas was previously featured in Faber’s New Poets series.

Dedalus Press’ If You Ever Go: A Map of Dublin in Poetry and Song

THE BIG WIN for poetry in 2014, however, is undoubtedly Dedalus Press‘ If Ever You Go: A Map of Dublin in Poetry and Song (February), which has been chosen as the One City: One Book title for 2014. Supported by Dublin City Council and led by Dublin City Public libraries,  the award- winning initiative has been a resounding success.

First published in 1969, James Plunkett’s Strumpet City was given a new lease of life, this year. The very fact that Plunkett’s masterpiece topped the Irish bestsellers list, thereby introducing a whole new generation to Plunkett’s great novel, was testament not only to the power of fresh ideas within Dublin City Council (yes, they do exist), but also the willingness to support Irish books of which we as readers have, perhaps, under- appreciated the significance.

Edited by Dedalus Press publisher Pat Boran and Gerard Smyth, the Irish Times’ Poetry Editor, If Ever You Go takes its title from Patrick Kavanagh’s poem ‘If You Ever Go to Dublin Town’ (If ever you go to Dublin town / In a hundred years or so / Inquire for me in Baggot Street 
/ And what I was like to know).

According to Dublin City Libraries, If Ever You Go: A Map of Dublin in Poetry and Song “…includes writing by both historical and contemporary figures, among them Swift, Synge, Yeats, Joyce, Kavanagh and Ó Direáin as well as Seamus Heaney, Eavan Boland, Dermot Bolger, Paula Meehan, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill and Derek Mahon. There are songs and ballads from the city’s colonial past, verses by leaders of the 1916 Rising, and portraits of the modern city with its Spire and Luas tram, its Celtic Tiger ‘prosperity’ and its post-Celtic Tiger challenges.”

In a country which looks as if it is about to overdose on a lethal concoction short stories and flash fiction, it is finally good to see Irish poetry featured on the same platform as prose.

Forgotten anyone? Please use the contact form below and let me know. Otherwise, you can contact me here. 

Dennis O’Driscoll’s ‘The Outnumbered Poet’ due on December 4th 2013

The news of The Gallery Press’ publication of Dennis O’Driscoll’s ‘The Outnumbered Poet: Critical and Autobiographical Essays’ is a welcome reminder of the late critic’s remarkable gift for placing contemporary work in a broader, larger context, writes Philip Cummins

The late Dennis O’Driscoll’s ‘The Outnumbered Poet’ is due from The Gallery Press on December 4th, 2013 almost a year after O’Driscoll’s premature passing.

THE TERM ‘POET- CRITIC’ is often used to describe a poet whose reputation as a literary critic is as remarkable as his/her’s reputation as a poet, even if their critical work is considered secondary to the poetry. In Dennis O’Driscoll’s case, O’Driscoll was the ultimate ‘critic- poet’: a writer whose brilliant critical essays have overshadowed his work as a poet.

Over the years, in fact, the copy of the Irish Times that would inevitably find itself on the kitchen table of the Cummins household of a Saturday morning would more often than not feature a large chunk of text cut out, much to my family’s annoyance and to the bemusement of regular visitors to our house. After I had finished pasting O’Driscoll’s most recent review to a scrapbook full of his Irish Times reviews, I would be promptly sent down to the local village to buy another copy of the Irish Times that wasn’t deformed by my geeky impulses.

O’Driscoll was a critic’s critic and, in a sense, he had developed and mastered a style that would be the envy of any arts critic. O’Driscoll understood the vital elements that were necessary for any arts review:

i) rigorous, academic- strength analysis of the work, always underpinned with good- quality thought,
ii) a placing of the work in the broader, larger context of contemporary literature and of the culture, and
iii) all of the above, conveyed in clear, concise and, ultimately, readable prose; the latter being a hurdle that many poets cannot cross as smoothly and effortlessly as O’Driscoll.

O’Driscoll’s collection of ‘Selected Prose Writings’, 2001’s Troubled Thoughts, Majestic Dreams, should, in my opinion, be required reading for anyone remotely interested in contemporary poetry and, one would hope, a collection of poetry criticism that schools and colleges in Ireland and Britain will reference. O’Driscoll’s review of Simon Armtiage’s Killing Time and Short and Sweet is a brilliant critique of not just the 1,000 line poem and anthology, respectively, in question, but also a vivid portrait of the position that Armitage, himself, occupied at the turn of the century and, to a certain extent, still occupies, to this day, in contemporary poetry.

Add to this O’Driscoll’s essay ‘A Map of Contemporary Irish Poetry’- a tight, concise and nuanced essay on contemporary Irish poetry towards the end of the twentieth century, published in Poetry during the same year that the Nobel Committee for Literature awarded Seamus Heaney the Nobel Prize for Literature- and what you have, again, is a critic- poet who understands the three vital aspects of arts criticism. A much- missed critic- poet, critic’s critic and reader’s reader.

Dennis O’Driscoll’s ‘The Outnumbered Poet’ is due from The Gallery Press on December 4th, 2013.

 

 

The Shooting Gallery Press: A response to some of the reactions to my feature on contemporary Irish poetry for The Irish Post

That’s Charlie told…

OVER THE LAST NUMBER OF WEEKS, I’ve received no shortage of emails, text messages, tweets, comments on the site and words on the street from those people who felt strongly about my recent feature for The Irish Post on five contemporary Irish poets everyone should read, particularly about what they saw as glaring omissions on my part.

So allow me to make some points and clarifications about the list:

Firstly, I believe that credit is due to The Irish Post. Instead of featuring some vacuous, C- list Irish “celebrity”, an air- headed pop star who’s only key attribute is having been born with what his/her fans might perceive as “superior genetics”, or some steroidal- headed idiot who has upped- sticks and somehow managed to forge a career as an action- hero- movie- star in Hollywood, The Irish Post featured the late, great Seamus Heaney on the front page of Rí- Rá, The Irish Post‘s entertainment supplement, along with a 1,500 – 2,000 word, two- page spread, which profiled five contemporary Irish poets; for this, alone, The Irish Post must be commended.

While many readers may well have first read the feature on this site, it was originally featured in the print edition of RÍ- Rá, meaning, of course, that there was limited space for such a feature.

Tweet Poetry

The feature was not aimed at Ph.D candidates in Irish literature or even avid readers of contemporary poetry; rather, it was aimed at a general reader, specifically those many, many people who tweeted and re- tweeted lines from Seamus Heaney’s best- known and best- regarded poems and who, perhaps, have vivid memories of studying Seamus Heaney’s poetry during their secondary education, though are now out of the loop with contemporary Irish poetry.

If those millions and millions of people who quoted lines from Seamus Heaney’s poetry, following Heaney’s premature passing, were committed readers of contemporary poetry and regularly purchased books of poetry by living poets throughout the calendar year, poetry publishing would be a booming enterprise; it isn’t.

The list, then, was intended for those who may just be curious as to what else is out there, in terms of contemporary Irish poetry.

Picking the Poets

I picked five Irish poets from a short- list of twenty, which was a difficult process, to say the least. True, I could have featured all twenty poets, though I wouldn’t have been able to give a thorough introduction to all twenty poets. I chose, instead, to focus on five poets and profile those poets as thoroughly as possible within the limitations of a print publication.

Originally, the list comprised of Paul Muldoon, Ciaran Carson, Derek Mahon, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Michael Longley. All familiar names, suffice to say, and therein lied two of my deciding factors for the final list: four of these poets are from the north of Ireland and all five poets are now in their sixties / seventies.

Some readers criticised the final list for its lack of female poets: for this I make absolutely no apology, for the simple reason that gender was not- and never should be- a deciding factor in omissions or, for that matter, inclusions. Gender, quite simply, didn’t come into the equation when I was finalising the list; in that sense, I judged all of my inclusions and omissions equally.

There were other poets, too- remarkable talents, such as John Montague, Eavan Boland, Thomas Kinsella, Medbh McGuckian, Tom Paulin, Sinéad Morrissey, Leontia Flynn, Nick Laird, to name but a few- who didn’t make the cut as I didn’t want the list to be too focused on poets from the north and poets who belonged to Seamus Heaney’s generation, who are now headed towards the ‘Collected Poems’ stage of their careers.

I didn’t want to ignore poets from the south and I also didn’t want to ignore younger poets- now at the ‘Selected Poems’ stage- both of which are issues which readers have had with anthologies of Irish poetry that have been compiled in recent decades. Take, for example, Paul Muldoon’s The Faber Book of Contemporary Irish Poetry (1984) and, more recently, Professor Patrick Crotty’s The Penguin Book of Irish Poetry (2010).

Muldoon’s anthology has been criticised for being too Ulster- centric: seven of the ten poets featured were from the north of Ireland, which prompted Belfast- born poet Derek Mahon- writing in a review of Muldoon’s anthology for the Irish Times- to challenge Muldoon on what Mahon saw as Muldoon’s regional bias towards Ulster poets.

Mahon was not alone in his criticism of Muldoon’s anthology and the late Dennis O’Driscoll was equally as critical of Muldoon’s selections. Writing in his essay ‘A Map of Contemporary Irish Poetry’ O’Driscoll had this to say of Muldoon’s anthology:

“Muldoon’s selection, which excludes most of the significant poets from Southern Ireland, depicts the corpus of Irish poetry with a bloated Northern head on a spindly Southern body.”

Similarly, Patrick Crotty’s anthology was the subject of much criticism from Professor Clair Wills and, perhaps most memorably, Dublin- born poet Michael O’Loughlin- again, writing in the pages of the Irish Times and under the heading “Missing: Have You Seen These Poets?”– for what O’Loughlin viewed as Crotty’s “deliberate exclusion of an entire generation” of Irish poets.

The good news- dear readers- is  that yours truly will be profiling another five Irish poets in the coming days. 

So which Irish poets did I omit from my original list and why should he/she be included in the forthcoming list?

Make a case for inclusions here by commenting below and let me know which poets you think deserve special mention and why.

The list will go live later this week.