Skip to main content

Head down in Dublin




The poems that I like best are the poems in which something happens. You go through to the end and you ask what was that about, and then you go back over it and have another look at it. There has to be enough stuff on the surface to hold your attention, and you can do that with lots of different things, with imagery, or sound, or whatever you want. But then there has to be an element of worrying at the poem until you get something from it. Something draws clear, something very small perhaps is clarified in it. That’s how the best poetry works, I think….there are some poems that I thought I knew well which are still coming clear to me now. There are lots of different things going on in good poems, and you can live with a poem for years and then suddenly think, ah, that’s what that’s about. I think that’s a good thing. If you instantly think you’ve got all that a poem offers, either it’s not a very good poem or you’ve made a mistake.



The above is from an interview with Nick Laird which will appear in the spring issue of The Stinging Fly.

The issue will also have new poems from Laird and from Eamon Grennan, Paula Meehan, Christine Broe, Mary O'Donnell, Mark Roper, Ron Houchin, Billy Ramsell, Alan Jude Moore and Oliver Dunne, and features translations of Mexican poet Pura Lopez Colome by Lorna Shaughnessy. There are also stories by Colm Liddy, Gillman Noonan, Ross O'Connor, Kusi Okamura and Aiden O'Reilly.

The Cat Flap always knew Dublin was a dangerous class of a place where a smack in the gob or a knife in the back were among the rewards of art, and he’s glad to have this confirmed by Nick Laird. The poet recently reviewed the collected Kavanagh in the London Review of Books and was less than whelmed: ‘He’s an incredibly important poet. But I also think if you had to sit down and read through that Collected Poems, you would be irritated and bored by a lot of it.’ After the review appeared ‘Brendan Barrington [editor, The Dublin Review] e-mailed me to say that he agreed with me but that he didn’t think I should come to Dublin for a while.’ Oh, a dangerous place indeed. The Cat Flap has long since taken to wearing dark glasses as he prowls the town.



The Stinging Fly
PO Box 6016, Dublin 8, Ireland

For news updates about our submission deadlines, publications and events see: http://www.stingingfly.org/latest.html

Comments

chippy said…
Re: the excerpt from an interview - the first sentence is misleading (?) as it seems to say that narrative poems are best. Is it not between the reader and the poem that something happens
Anonymous Poet said…
I live poems that make me come back again and again. Ones that are an experience unto themselves.

Popular posts from this blog

The rustling of the silk

Back after a long absence with three versions of a poem from the Chinese, for our edification, followed by a moral quandary.

The first is Ezra Pound’s.

Liu Ch’e

The rustling of the silk is discontinued,
Dust drifts over the court-yard,
There is no sound of footfall, and the leaves
Scurry into heaps and lie still,
And she the rejoicer of the heart is beneath them:

A wet leaf that clings to the threshold.

Much has been written about Pound as a translator or mediator of Chinese poetry into English. He didn’t speak Chinese, so his versions don’t have scholarly pretensions. In the Cathay poems he relied on the notes that Ernest Fenollosa compiled in Tokyo, and was quite happy to use the Japanese designation Rihaku for the Chinese poet Li Po. Arthur Waley, whose own translations of Chinese poetry were hugely influential, objected to many of Pound’s versions, though it’s hard to see how his version of, say, ‘The River Merchant’s Wife: A Letter’ improves on Pound’s. Pound’s great gift as a p…

John Riley

John Riley’s early death — he was murdered by two muggers at the age of forty-one — combined with a history of publication by small presses and a talent that doesn’t lend itself to easy categorisation have tended to keep his work on the margins, admired by the few but generally unknown. This is a pity, because Riley was one of the finest poets of his generation. In his lifetime he published three collections, Ancient and Modern with Grosseteste Press, which he founded with Tim Longville in 1966, What Reason Was, and That is Today, published by Pig Press in 1978, the year of his death. The now out of print Collected Works (Grosseteste Press) came out in 1980. Carcanet published his Selected Poems, edited by Michael Grant, in 1995.

I had always been impressed by the few poems I came across in anthologies like A Various Art, edited by Andrew Crozier and Tim Longville. The impression I had of an extraordinarily gifted poet was borne out by the Selected Poems. I first came across this in …

Songs of the earth (1): Yannis Ritsos

The Meaning of Simplicity
I hide behind simple things so you’ll find me; if you don’t find me, you’ll find the things, you’ll touch what my hand has touched our hand-prints will merge.
The August moon glitters in the kitchen like a tin-plated pot (it gets that way because of what I’m saying to you), it lights up the empty house and the house’s kneeling silence– always the silence remains kneeling.
Every word is a doorway to a meeting, one often cancelled, and that’s when a word is true: when it insists on the meeting.
(Translated by Edmund Keeley, published in The Greek Poets: From Homer to the Present, Norton, 2010)
Yannis Ritsos’ output as a poet was enormous. He published more than a hundred collections of poetry, and often wrote with great speed, sometimes producing three collections in a single year. Such protean fluency can interfere with the reception of a poet in his own culture, and it can also inhibit or distort the reception in translation. How do you choose? How much o…