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New and Selected Poems

Dennis O'Driscoll

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Imprint: Anvil Press Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (272 pages)
(Pub. Oct 2004)
£14.99 £13.49
Digital access available through Exact Editions
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    The Next Poem

    My next poem is quite short and it’s about something most of you will recognise. It came out of an experience I had on holidays a couple of years ago. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’m correct in saying that it’s the only poem I’ve ever managed to write during my holidays, if you could have called this a holiday – it bore all the hallmarks of an endurance test.

    There’s a reference in the poem to roller canaries, which become more or less mythical birds in the last line. I hope the context will make that clear. Incidentally, this poem has gone down extremely well in Swedish translation – which maybe reveals a bit about me! A word I’d better gloss is ‘schizont’; if I can locate the slip of paper, I’ll give you the dictionary definition. Yes, here we are: ‘a cell formed from a trophozoite during the asexual stage of the life cycle of protozoans of the class Sporozoa’.

    OK then, I’ll read this and just two or three further sequences before I finish. By the way, I should perhaps explain that the title is in quotations. It’s something I discovered in a book on early mosaics; I wanted to get across the idea of diversity and yet unity at the same time, especially with an oriental, as it were, orientation. And I need hardly tell this audience which of my fellow-poets is alluded to in the phrase ‘dainty mountaineer’ in the second section. Anyway, here it is. Oh, I nearly forgot to mention that the repetition of the word ‘nowy’ is deliberate. As I said, it’s quite short. And you have to picture it set out on the page as five sonnet-length trapezoids. Here’s the poem.

    Dennis O’Driscoll is among the finest and most popular poets of his generation. New and Selected Poems shows him to be a poet of humanity and wit whose observant, rhythmically supple poetry is attuned to the tragedies and comedies of contemporary life. One of the book’s highlights is ‘The Bottom Line’, a multi-voiced and multifaceted portrait of business managers and bureaucrats.

    Closing with a generous selection of previously unpublished work, New and Selected Poems – which follows Dennis O’Driscoll’s acclaimed Exemplary Damages, chosen as a Book of the Year by Seamus Heaney in 2002 – makes for a compelling collection, wide in its appeal and yet imbued with a distinctive and often startling world-view.

    Dennis O’Driscoll (1954–2012) was born in Thurles, Co. Tipperary. Apart from nine collections of poetry, books published during his lifetime included a selection of essays and reviews, Troubled Thoughts, Majestic Dreams (2001), two collections of literary quotations and Stepping Stones: Interviews with Seamus Heaney (2008). Among his awards were a Lannan ... read more
    Awards won by Dennis O'Driscoll Short-listed, 2001 Irish Times Literary Prize,Irish Poetry (Weather Permitting) Winner, 2013 Irish Times Literary Prize,Irish Poetry (Dear Life) Winner, 2013 Irish Times Literary Prize,Irish Poetry (Dear Life)
    Praise for Dennis O'Driscoll 'Carcanet has done a great job in collating work from his various collections with some revised and new poems... O'Driscoll's work should be read and re-read, as a sort of 'life' of a poet and scholar who worked outside academe and literary theory, deep in the bowels of the everyday, where flesh-and-blood experiences strive to make their own poetry.'
    John Wakeman, Books Ireland
      ''To rinse the world in rose water before you write is to bear false witness''. This is the challenge that O'Driscoll took on board - to face the workaday world we might have thought we'd risen above. He, and his discerning overview, are much missed. His Collected Poems are welcomed.'
    Dundee University Review of the Arts
       'His voice is one of the most distinctive of his generation.'
    John McAuliffe, The Irish Times
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