Thursday, August 31, 2006

PIR 87

Dear Sir(r)

It has come to my attention that you purport to publish a poem of mine in PIR. In the manner of subject people everywhere, I wish to grudgingly thank you, and to use the occasion as an excuse to ask for more....
But first I wish to explicitly acknowledge that I now believe that it is possible to be an editor and a human being at the same time. This suspicion had been growing on me for some time, as The Cat Flap could not have been written by a complete bastard. . . I feel I've now traced the sources of my previously unpositive attitude to you: you didn't previously publish my many offerings; you obviously had a serious Montale phase (but who am I to judge: I had a serious Neruda phase; after a while, however, like Catholicism and Communism, it went away, leaving, like them, a certain positive residue; and your, eh, sirrname, operating no doubt at a subliminal and psychological level, caused me to see you as rather aloof, cold, distant, etc.

A brief sample from the Cat Flap's mailbag. The Flap, it has to be said, has never pretended to be a human being, and the labours of editorship have long drained him of whatever vestigial humanity might have slipped between the scales. And all of this preamble is by way of saying there is a new Poetry Ireland Review abroad in the world. PIR 87 features poems by John Greening, CL Dallat, Cathal O'Searcaigh, Maurice Scully, Enda Coyle-Greene and many others. The Crucial Collection series, begun in PIR 86, continues with Medbh McGuckian on Tess Gallagher's Instructions to the Double, Biddy Jenkinson on Dánta Grádha, Gabriel Rosenstock on Santoka Taneda and Mark Granier on Pearse Hutchinson's Watching the Morning Grow. Patrick Crotty contributes an essay on place in Thomas Kinsella, Chris Murray writes about the dramas of Austin Clarke. And in the Reviews section, among others, Terence Brown looks at Seamus Heaney's District and Circle, Gerald Dawe looks at George Mackay Brown's Collected, Aingeal Clare reviews John Kinsella and Jane Yeh, and Michael Cronin celebrates Biddy Jenkinson's latest collection, Oíche Bhealtaine. Dennis O'Driscoll contributes his popular Poetry Pickings – here's a couple to be going on with:

'If each MFA graduate wrote just one good poem a year for ten years, at the end of a decade we would have 24,750 good poems - not to mention 4,500 degree-bearing poets, each of whom was required to write a book-length manuscript in order to graduate. New poems, poets, and manuscripts are added to the inventory every year.'
- Joseph Bednarik, Poets & Writers, May/June 2006

'The fear of straight speaking, the constant, painstaking efforts to metaphorize everything, the ceaseless need to prove you're a poet in every line: these are the anxieties that beset every budding bard. But they are curable, if caught in time.'
- Wislawa Szymborska, quoted in Poetry Foundation online, 19 April 2006

'I didn't have time to write poetry before, but now I have had the time to become a poet.'
- Saddam Hussein, quoted in The Sunday Times, 14 May 2006

'People think they love poetry, but actually they hate it. The average punter feels that poetry is too self-conscious. I'm just grateful that I've been allowed to stay at home and do it. Oh my God. The idea of an office.'
- Hugo Williams, The Observer, 26 March 2006

'What's surprising about many poems from Britain is just how unsurprising they are - how domesticated, how well-behaved - and how closely they adhere to a single register, the poet getting quietly worked up about something in the plainest conversational tone.'

-Andrew Johnston, Best New Zealand Poems 2005, 2006

Fans of this feature might like to know that Bloodaxe has collected a selection of Dennis' pickings as The Bloodaxe Book of Poetry Quotations , which has just come out.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Getting it right

Another commonplace book entry, offered as encouragement.


Death will not correct
a single line of verse
she is no proof-reader
she is no sympathetic
lady editor

a bad metaphor is immortal

a shoddy poet who has died
is a shoddy dead poet

a bore bores after death
a fool keeps up his foolish chatter
from beyond the grave

Tadeusz Rózewicz
translated from the Polish by Adam Czerniawski

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