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Collected Poems

P.J. Kavanagh

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RRP: GBP£ 12.95
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Paperback
ISBN: 978 1 857542 12 7
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: September 1995
216 x 140 x 13 mm
224 pages
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Also available in: Hardback
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  •     When brightness leaves the trees they seem to fall
        Backwards, deprived of shadows, then rise again in a cool
        Diminishment of waiting, solider still.
                                  Which it is possible
        Is what they mean whom death makes audible
        Beyond our ears and, I feel, as simple.

    'Sun Overcast'

    P.J.Kavanagh's poems are filled with praise, with the minute observations that transform a mood, or the dazzling recollection that can change the heart. 'If description is revelation,' wrote Derek Mahon in the Irish Times, 'his revelatory gift is prodigious. Now is the time to read P.J.Kavanagh.'

    The religious sympathies of Henry Vaughan and Thomas Traherne, the earth-love of Edward Thomas, the urbane wit of Louis MacNeice, are three of the many currents that run through his verse, giving it 'that quality of sheer readability' Vernon Scannell noted in the Sunday Telegraph. John Bayley declared, 'there are poets in any age who can give the impression of talk. Kavanagh is a real craftsman at this difficult form.'
        
    The contents of seven collections are included in this comprehensive volume, which traces the poet through three and a half decades and ends with his remarkable human elegy and celebration of a beloved landscape, 'Severn Aisling', described by Frank Kermode as 'quite magnificent'.
    P.J. Kavanagh was born in England in 1931, and has 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 ... read more
    '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
    '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
    Praise for P.J. Kavanagh '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 
    '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
     '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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