Monday, January 5, 2009

Eugene Robert Platt

On 11 June 1970 at about 7 pm I was strolling along Nassau Street, Dublin and stopped to look at the books in the window of a bookshop. I was approached by a tall man a little older than myself who asked me if I would like to buy a copy of his recently published book of poetry. I bought a copy and he inscribed it for me "with appreciation, best wishes, happiness."
It would be nice if this story ended with the poet becoming a household name and this early signed work now being worth a small fortune.

Alas not so. The poet's name was Eugene Robert Platt and the volume was called "coffee and solace" - yes lower case hardly a capital letter in the whole book. The influence of e. e. cummings was strong then.

I kept the book over the years and last night I took it down again. It was published in May 1970 by Commedia Publishing Division, Dublin and Charleston, South Carolina - probably his own imprint. He was a native of Charleston and was a graduate student of Anglo-Irish Literature at Trinity College, Dublin when I met him.

A search on the internet shows that he apparently published very little afterwards though he did edit a A Patrick Kavanagh Anthology, which was published by Commedia in 1973. He did continue to write poetry it seems and in 1999 his New and Selected Poems, 1968-1999 was published under the title Summer Days With Daughter. This was published by Hawkes Publishing Charleston and copies are available on the internet. Should I buy a copy?

Here is the poem which gave the book I bought its title:


coffee and solace
both stimulants -
typically, niggardly
she offered him
his choice

Quite a neat little effort I think. This one written for st. patrick's day 1969 is much less admirable:


today, i'm wearin' green
and i've sent to the queen
a resignation of
my english ancestry.
i'd rather be
honorary irish,
livin' with the truly free,
than to have the sickly
red lion - dyin' -
in my family tree

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