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Wake Forest
University Press

Wake Forest University Press

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Poem of the Week: “How to Live” by Derek Mahon

…reflect on the year as it draws to a close. In our Poem of the Week, Derek Mahon offers a translation of one of Horace’s Odes as a reminder to set aside our worries to give thanks for the time we have with each other. How to Live (Horace, Odes, Book One, 11) Don’t waste your time, Leuconoé, living in fear and hope of the imprevisable future; forget the horoscope. Accept whatever happens. Whether the gods allow us fifty winters more or drop us at t…

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Poem of the Week: “Noon at St. Michael’s” by Derek Mahon

In “Noon at St. Michael’s,” Derek Mahon uses the specificities of place as an entry point for memory, following the tradition of poems like William Wordsworth’s “Tintern Abbey.” The sun, the rain, and the sound of the sea all emphasize, rather than detract from, the speaker’s thoughts. The shape of the poem echoes the repetitive rushing and pounding of waves in the bay—a constant backdrop to his memories. Noon at St. Michael’s Nurses and nuns— th…

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Poetry for Samhain: “The Andean Flute” by Derek Mahon

…al marking the beginning of winter or the “darker half” of the year, Derek Mahon’s mystical poem perfectly encapsulates the mood of the celebration. The month-long holiday, which will commence at sunset on October 31, is celebrated in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, and is known as the source for our own “dark festival” (otherwise known as Halloween). The Andean Flute He dances to that music in the wood As if history were no more than a dream. Who s…

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Derek Mahon

Derek Mahon

Derek Mahon was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 1941 and was educated at Trinity College in Dublin and at the Sorbonne in Paris. Wake Forest published three of his volumes: The Hunt by Night (1982, redesigned in 1995), The Hudson Letter (1996), and The Yellow Book (1998), as well as his translation of Philippe Jaccottet’s Selected Poems in 1988. He has written many volumes of poetry, translations, and plays, and edited The Penguin Book of C…

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John McAuliffe in Conversation with Conor O’Callaghan

…while still bearing the theme in mind. And, yes, that’s a terrific and apt Mahon line, with a sense of potential and limit, a feeling that chimes with “The Hundred Towns” and a lot else in Next Door. A couple of other points of contact with Mahon whose tone and phrasing are still a model to me: I must have had his London poems in view as well in “The Hundred Towns”—I’m thinking of his Kensington poems, more than the brilliant and more recent Coler…

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Selected Poems | Philippe Jaccottet

Selected Poems | Philippe Jaccottet

…cottet’s work has now developed steadily over nearly four decades as Derek Mahon points out in his introductory essay. In themes and form it will not seem alien to English language readers, yet Jaccottet’s voice is his own. The sensuous modulations of imagery, harmony, and mood are strangely moving and haunt the imagination. About the poet: Born in Moudon, Switzerland in 1925, Philippe Jaccottet is one of the most prominent figures of the immediat…

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Radio Signals: An interview with Leontia Flynn

…Seamus Heaney, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Michael Longley, Eavan Boland, Derek Mahon, to name a few. Who would you consider to be your greatest poetic influences? Medbh McGuckian’s debut and early books were game-changing-ly brilliant and it always bothered me that she wasn’t quite recognized the way her postmodern male contemporaries were. Because the ideas she played with involved gender—and motherhood indeed—she was often read back towards more con…

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Collected Poems | Louis MacNeice

Collected Poems | Louis MacNeice

…ment for his poetry’s continuing life. Two Irish poets in particular—Derek Mahon and Paul Muldoon—would be unrecognisable without MacNeice’s example and influence; and others, from later Irish generations still, are continuing to discover and make creative use of resources in the poems of this writer who died before they were born. – from Peter McDonald’s Introduction to the US edition Reviews “MacNeice’s . . . reputation has been steadily rising…

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The Hudson Letter

The Hudson Letter

Mahon writes from lower Manhattan, addressing, in ramble or vigil, his absent lover, his children in London, Auden, Yeats’s father, and other cosmic vagrants, “clutching our bits and pieces, arrogant in dereliction.” In the eighteen sections of “The Hudson Letter,” the gabble of a dockside bar, voices of a recycled Sappho and of an Irish immigrant girl reassuring her mother in Inishannon, and the midwinter, all-night sounds of the City interspers…

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“It felt like a breaking of some taboo I’d placed myself under”: Caitríona O’Reilly on writing Geis

…poets such as the brilliant generation of Northern Irish poets: Montague, Mahon, Longley, Muldoon, and of course Heaney, and I think Muldoon in particular has been very influential. He was himself reacting against previous generations, of course, with his highly ironized style, suspicious of lyric earnestness or of anything that takes itself too seriously. But there are also brilliant women poets like Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin and Vona Groarke who a…

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Selected Poems | Louis MacNeice

Selected Poems | Louis MacNeice

…sh poets, especially those from Northern Ireland like Seamus Heaney, Derek Mahon, Michael Longley and Paul Muldoon, because of his lyrically nuanced considerations of international as well as national issues. Born and raised in Northern Ireland, and educated in England where he resided for much of his adult life, MacNeice answered a need in these poets for a perspective that made the local have larger political significance. He also offered an ang…

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John Montague

John Montague

…lumes, and a new selection of his poetry, A Spell to Bless the Silence (2018). Montague died on December 10, 2016, at the age of 87. Praise for John Montague “The best Irish poet of his generation.” – Derek Mahon “[H]e is a world-class poet, one of that extraordinary group — perhaps a dozen? — who illuminate our lives, not just for now, but for as long as words have meaning.” – Carolyn Kizer…

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Harry Clifton

Harry Clifton

…erature and the Patrick Kavanagh Award in 1981. Harry Clifton served as the fifth Ireland Professor of Poetry from 2010–2013. He is a member of Aosdána, the Irish artists’ association. Praise for Harry Clifton Harry Clifton is “among the poets who matter.” – Derek Mahon “Secular Eden is a magisterial book, one that should re-introduce Clifton to a wide audience.” – Kenyon Review The Winter Sleep of Captain Lemass is a “complex, evocative volume [t…

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Gone Self Storm

Gone Self Storm

…cessity, Clifton has all three—he is one of the poets who matter.” – Derek Mahon “These poems…cut through the mist, like a fog lamp, with their own sharp-edged clarities… There is ambition here.” – Benjamin Keatinge “Much like Joyce, he’s one of these people who writes about Ireland with the great insight that only a sense of self-exile can bring.” – Jessica Traynor, RTÉ Radio 1’s Arena, on Herod’s Dispensations (Irish Poetry books of 2019)   Irel…

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The Yellow Book

The Yellow Book

…ouse beams; like a storm lantern the wintry planet swings. (“Night Thought”) Reviews “There is a quality of intellect in this recent work—its varied influences, verbal play and thematic design—that beggars the work of many other writers. The Yellow Book is Mahon’s Autumn Journal, much like MacNeice in its congenial (sometimes jaundiced or wistful) meditations.” – The Hudson Review “. . . one of the most impressive poetic sequences to emerge from I…

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The New North: Contemporary Poetry from Northern Ireland

The New North: Contemporary Poetry from Northern Ireland

…ia Flynn, and Nick Laird, as well as classic poems by Seamus Heaney, Derek Mahon, Ciaran Carson, Paul Muldoon, Medbh McGuckian, and Michael Longley. Reviews Wake Forest University Press continues its impressive dedication to Irish poetry . . . with The New North. . . . [T]he poems and poets offer an insightful, lyrical look into the psyche of 21st-century Northern Ireland.” – Irish America Magazine “American-born editor Chris Agee, who has lived i…

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Scapegoat and Other Poems

Scapegoat and Other Poems

…Laganside,” and “In the Shadow of the Mournes,” Gillis reveals, like Derek Mahon and Louis MacNeice before him, his ability to plumb the depths of the complicated society of Northern Ireland. In the title poem, Gillis captures the religious and political implications of a society that too long has looked to find a scapegoat for its woes. From his first published poem, “The Ulster Way,” he has turned social pressures back upon the self, exploring t…

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Louis MacNeice: Collected Poems NY Times Book Review

Louis MacNeice: Collected Poems NY Times Book Review

…port from other Irish writers such as Edna Longley, Paul Muldoon and Derek Mahon. Orr provides an intimate glance into MacNeice’s melancholic childhood, a theme that permeates much of his work. He also praises MacNeice’s versatility via style and content, thoughtfully complimenting MacNeice’s beauty in repetition and refrain. There is a sense of circularity to MacNeice’s work, always harkening back from whence it came. It is in this tradition that…

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Remembering Gerard Fanning

…pulling out clippings from the Irish Times of new poems by his hero, Derek Mahon. Gerard was always too modest about his own poems, the best of which are head-and-shoulders above the crowd. There is, in his work, a Mahonish ache for the crepuscular, the derelict, the past. But in addition to that there is a boyish charm and wit and secrecy that is all his own. He worked as a civil servant, and his best poems play with the persona of the faceless f…

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The Shack: Irish Poets in the Foothills and Mountains of the Blue Ridge

The Shack: Irish Poets in the Foothills and Mountains of the Blue Ridge

…ran Carson, Medbh McGuckian, Conor O’Callaghan, Michael Longley, and Derek Mahon. With lush watercolors by Kenneth Frazelle and an eighteenth-century painting of Old Salem by Christian Daniel Welfare. Footage of Conor O’Callaghan reading one of his poems from the book at the launch on March 13, 2015: Purchase a handmade broadside of the title poem, “The Shack” by Michael Longley, created on the occasion of the launch of this book. Reviews “. . . W…

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Pharaoh’s Daughter

Pharaoh’s Daughter

…ett, Seamus Heaney, Michael Longley, Medbh McGuckian, Tom MacIntyre, Derek Mahon, John Montague, Paul Muldoon, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, and George O’Brien Reviews “[T]he branching-out, or shape-shifting, from Gaelic myth or folk-song to some less romantic or quirkier emblem of the present, is a constant resource of Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill’s poetry; and it’s one of the ways she has rescued the Irish language from its association with Gaelic League pieti…

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