Poetry Ireland is deeply saddened by the death of Poet Gerald Dawe

30th May 2024

Everyone in Poetry Ireland is saddened to learn of the death of poet, memoirist and academic, Professor Gerald Dawe. Our sincere condolences to his family Dorothea, Olwen and Iarla.  All of us in Poetry Ireland admired his energy and clear thinking and we hugely valued the world that he opened up for us. His passion for and admiration of the people and places he knew, were plain for all to see and in particular, his connection to his hometown of Belfast remained steadfast throughout.

Gerald Dawe (known to us as Gerry)  edited Poetry Ireland Review 137 for Poetry Ireland, and his editorial seems even more relevant and timely in today’s troubled world:

“Poetry picks up … tensions in unpredictable ways, but one of the things many of the poems included in this issue share, is an unmissable sense of the poet facing up to their world with fortitude and belief in the power of language to challenge falsehood and the corruption of political power for ill-conceived and undemocratic ends. For sure, poetry entertains alternatives; but not the kind of alternative ‘facts’ which have led some people into vengeful unreality. Poetry is a truth-teller”

Gerry was a frequent and valued contributor to Poetry Ireland Review as a poet, including with this poem, ‘Straws in the Wind’, published in PIR 26 from 1989. 

I sleep in my daughter's bed tonight
while she snortles feverishly by her mother. 
Her things are all around me.
I am like a giant in a doll's house
and in the mirror of her dressing table 
see myself, ludicrous with glasses on, 
a cursed fly buzzing overhead.

If I had the choice what could I hope for?
That she see this night through with ease 
and that her dreams suffice
so when morning comes
the sickness will have passed.
But now, with time on my hands,
I wish for her much more – 

the passion and caress of love;
the want to go on, not just saving face.
Far better she just sleeps.
In the meantime, like standing guard,
I think I hear night-things bombard
our fragile peace: straws in the wind,
a fugitive dog sniffing the back steps.

Our condolences too to his many colleagues at Trinity College Dublin including Iggy McGovern, Deirdre Madden, Nicholas Greene and Terence Browne amongst countless others whose lives he touched.