Poetry Ireland Review Issue 106 Editorial
Poetry Ireland Review Issue 106 :Includes poems by Fiona Sampson, Michael Coady, Janet Shepperson, Mary Maddec, Billy Ramsell, Moya Cannon, Ngo Tu Lap, Vo Que and Eva Bourke; alongside translations by Nguyen Phan Que Mai and Fred Merchant, Philip McDonagh’s essay ‘Poetic Truth and Public Justice: Pushkin to Heaney’, and reviews of Thomas Kinsella, John McAuliffe and John Montague.
The death of Pearse Hutchinson in January of this year has caused great sadness among the poetry community and Poetry Ireland Review will offer a section of Issue 107 to honour his memory and his poetry. In February the Nobel Laureate, Wisława Szymborska, died; I received this message from a correspondent in Poland: Szymborska ‘died yesterday Feb 1 in her sleep, at the age of 89. She was preparing a new poetry book. She will be buried next Thursday in Kraków with the state pomp and circumstance – something she would dislike.’
I am delighted to begin this issue of the review with new poems from Fiona Sampson whose tenure of the editorship of Poetry Review in London was wonderfully distinguished; I am delighted, too, to end the issue with new poems by John Burnside, winner of both the Forward Prize and the T S Eliot prize for his collection (reviewed here by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin) Black Cat Bone. Both of these fine poets may be taken to exemplify a new energy in poetry, imaginative, committed, permeable and lyrically investigative, an energy that derives from the excitement of a vision of what poetry is capable of achieving. With other writers of this calibre now working, perhaps we are witnessing a whole new wealth of poetry in these islands. Poetry Ireland Review is happy to point in their direction.
The issue continues what I hope for with the review, including the offering of an introduction to a poet whom I consider worthy of wider consideration; in this case, Daniel Tobin, a poet writing out of Boston. He has also contributed a fine volume to the study of the work of Seamus Heaney, a work also honoured in a new essay by Philip McDonagh. I continue the ‘interview’ series with Eva Bourke, whose fine collection piano seems to have fallen through the reviewing net.
As well as the mix of new poems and reviews, this issue also offers a special section on poetry from the United States and Vietnam. The William Joiner Center for the study of War and its Social Consequences, forms part of the University of Massachusetts Boston; the centre promotes research, curriculum development, public events and humanitarian exchanges which aim to foster greater understanding and innovative means of addressing the consequences of war. It is staffed by veterans and others affected by wars. Many of those on the faculty (Eva Bourke led several workshops there over the years), and associated with it, are well-known poets in their own right and here I gather poetry from Fred Marchant, Kevin Bowen, Bruce Weigl and Martha Collins; I spent some time with them in Hanoi and saw how the exchange between veterans from both sides of the Vietnam conflict is drawing both peoples closer together through meetings and the translation of each other’s work. In tandem with the original work of the American veterans, here are poems by Vietnamese veterans, translated by the Americans. The work adds some worthy dimension to Auden’s ‘poetry makes nothing happen’, a quotation that is merely part of a quotation; the whole deserves to be reappraised in the light of the exchange offered in these pages:
For poetry makes nothing happen: it survives
In the valley of its making where executives
Would never want to tamper, flows on south
From ranches of isolation and the busy griefs,
Raw towns that we believe and die in; it survives,
A way of happening, a mouth.
- John F Deane, April 2012