Monday, April 26, 2010

Poetry Ireland Review 100 (2)

A very interesting review in this issue by Justin Quinn of Paul Durcan's Life is a Dream: 40 Years Reading Poems, 1967-2007.

Durcan is one of the few Irish poets who has achieved wide public recognition. I got a selected poems of his as a present in 1990 and was delighted at poems such as Tullynoe: Tete-a-Tete in the Parish Priest's Parlour. Later volumes disappointed especially Crazy About Women (1991) based on paintings in the National Gallery and The Art of Life (2004).

The volume under review contains selected poems from four decades and the reviewer is loud in his praise for the ground breaking quality of Durcan's early work and its effect on the country. It's only fair to say that Durcan was an agent of social change in Ireland . . . He has helped to make their country a better place.

There's always the difficulty in deciding whether something like Durcan's poetry occurred as a result of the changing face of Irish society or was a cause of that change. More the former than the latter I would say.

Anyway having heaped high praise on the poet he then comes to the bad news and refers to what he calls Durcan's inability to develop beyond his early established style, method and subject matter: It is hard not to escape a sense of monotony: his method is so strong that he himself has become its prisoner.

Review of Durcan's book in the Irish Independent here and in the Irish Times here.

I notice that Pete Mullineaux, one of the ten poets shortlisted for the WOW Awards in Galway, has a poem in this issue of PIR. Surely that makes him favourite to take the Award on Friday evening.

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