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P.J. Kavanagh (1931 - 2015)

  • About
  • Reviews
  • P.J. Kavanagh was born in England in 1931, and worked as a lecturer, actor and broadcaster, as well as a writer. His Collected Poems were published in 1992, the year in which he was given the Cholmondeley Award for poetry. His memoir The Perfect Stranger won the Richard Hillary Prize in 1966, and his first novel A Song and Dance was awarded the Guardian Fiction Prize in 1968. From 1983 to 1996 P.J. Kavanagh was a columnist on the Spectator, and from 1996 to 2002 on The Times Literary Supplement. In addition to his four novels for adults and two children's novels, he wrote a travel autobiography (Finding Connections), a literary companion (Voices in Ireland) and has edited The Oxford Book of Short Poems and The Essential G.K. Chesterton, and, for Carcanet, a new edition of his Collected Poems of Ivor Gurney.




    Praise for P.J. Kavanagh (1931 - 2015) 'To hear the truth so devastatingly and yet so joyfully encountered is rare in an age where autobiography has been flattened by the massed weight of political and public reminiscence. This autobiography, from its beginning to its bitter end, is a celebration of joy: joy in youth, in woman, in male camaraderie, in the struggle of art, in married love.'
    Times Literary Supplement 
    'There is plenty of quietly glittering intellect in these poems... he has an eye for rural things, birds, plants, weather; all are subdued to the colour of his own mind, its knowledge of loss, its recurrent perception of the world as a place to which it belongs and does not belong... this collection amply demonstrates Kavanagh's distinguished place among contemporary poets.'
    Frank Kermode
    'The pleasure of reading these poems is the pleasure of exceptionally good company. Kavanagh has exactly the right kind of curiosity - neither pedantic nor trifling, but casual in the best sense.'
    Wynn Wheldon, Spectator
    'There is plenty of quietly glittering intellect in these poems... he has an eye for rural things, birds, plants, weather; all are subdued to the colour of his own mind, its knowledge of loss, its recurrent perception of the world as a place to which it belongs and does not belong... this collection amply demonstrates Kavanagh's distinguished place among contemporary poets.'
    Frank Kermode
     '[P.J. Kavanagh possesses] that quality of sheer readability... '
    Vernon Scannell
     'Though in many ways an obvious successor to Edward Thomas... P. J. Kavanagh has also much in common with Louis MacNeice, an essentially private and autobiographical poet... Kavanagh displays the same talent for a conversational tone, and shares MacNeice's fondness for rhyme, his love of echoes... he employs traditional forms while allowing himself a relaxed freedom regarding line-length and metre (not to be mistaken for a lack of craft). The parallels should not be overstressed, however; Kavanagh is decidedly his own man with his own interestsand concerns. For one thing, religion takes the place of politics for him, though his attitude to belief reveals something of that critical fastidiousness MacNeice maintained towards the political orthodoxies of his day...'
    Simon Rae
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