Poetry Ireland Review Issue 22 Editorial

Issue 22

Poetry Ireland Review Issue 22 :


It was with some trepidation that I agreed to wear the temporary editorial mantle of the Poetry Ireland Review. Unlike eternity, or infinity, happily it does not go on forever. In a sense with Dennis O'Driscoll's last issue, No. 21, the Review may be said to have come of age and the task of following the standards adhered to by my predecessors seemed a daunting one. I am indebted for advice and time given unstintingly by Dennis who still continues, and hopefully will continue, with his sometimes provocative gleanings on poets and poetry.
Editors, however, make their own individual choices for better or worse, according to their lights, and mine follows. It was indeed a great personal pleasure for me to read, for instance, the work of Barry Flood, a student at TCD, who is being published for the first time. And in a sense the pleasure I had in re-reading his work and that of others many times gives the key to the edition: the poems I chose are simply those I personally liked for one reason or another - they are, by and large, dutifully, while flexibly, crafted obeying at least the Poundian ABCs; they have for me a real true sense of 'delight' 'surprise' or 'entertainment' value; they have a sense of finality or achievement about them. They are variously reflective, angry, provocative, sad, happy, cynical, thoughtful - human, in other words. In a way, for a sense of 'warmth' they draw the quality of Hulme's 'old star-eaten blanket of the sky' about themselves. And in our increasingly depersonalised society, I feel this approach in the Review may be justified at least part of the time.

Poems contributed which I considered 'doing the dirt', though perhaps well crafted on occasion, I excluded. I was tempted on occasion also to write to poets, 'Now I feel if only you'd alter that line, or juxtapose a little, or drop ... ' but I desisted: in a fundamental sense, people must somehow find their own feet, seek out, as Vivian Smith, the Tasmanian poet, has said:

the true poet's vision
the search to find a language and a voice.

From time to time I waived my doubts, let the wider perspective prevail (one might have yearned for a greater sense of compactness), and included the piece. There were also many times contributors asked for 'comments', 'criticisms', 'advice', but as I lay no claim at all to '11 miglior fabbro'. I again declined: my advice might have been for the
kind of poem I would have written, rather than the contributing poet's. In all cases, I can only wish the writers well in their task.

(On a general note, contributors should include a brief biographical note. And it's hardly fair -or is it?- to submit the same work to a number of review outlets: because of the double-publishing element it can only lead to fewer people overall getting into print).

It is heartening to see so many contributors to the Review from Ireland and abroad. As is probably appropriate, most of the selected authors do actually come from Ireland. In a real sense I believe the Review is gaining an international flavour, while probing its own island traditions. I would particularly like to thank Proinsias Ó Drisceoil, colleague and consulting Irish editor, for his selection of the poems in Irish, the book reviews elicited as well as the article on Modern Poetry in Scots Gaelic by Ian MacDonald. There is a translation of Biddy Jenkinson done by a poet from Alabama. Also, I've balanced the article on American poetry, 'The Muse with an American Accent' in PIR 20 with a review of some recent poetry from the USSR compiled by Mark Hutchinson. Those of us long enough in the tooth will remember the heady days of 'Zima Junction' and 'Antiworlds' back in the brief thaw of the sixties.

This edition also contains a substantial Austin Clarke Supplement to honour the poet. Rory Brennan, the Secretary of Poetry Ireland, has compiled the contents. We would like to express our gratitude to the Dublin Millennium without whose financial assistance this bumper edition would not have been possible.

My thanks to one and all of the many contributors to this edition of the Poetry Ireland Review. A special thanks to reviewers Terence Brown, Sean Dunne, Mairín Nic Eoin, Aisling Ni Dhonnchada, Mark Hutchinson and Ian MacDonald. Finally, I hope the final edition entertains, at least, with its variety of styles, textures and approaches. As the poems started to gel together, the first selected began almost to choose their own 'society' and I found it more appropriate to group them on broad thematic bases.

John Ennis


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