Poetry Ireland Review Issue 26 Editorial

Issue 26

Poetry Ireland Review Issue 26 :


I have always believed that poetry belongs to people at large or, at least, to anyone willing to open up to its wonder. I suppose, as in the case of much else, to love is to know. Yet, how often have we heard "I like so and so but I'm no expert in poetry" as though poetry were the exclusive property of some coterie of mandarins or intellectuals. Just as instinctively we can relish good music without following the minutiae of its harmonic progressions or appreciate the stars without astronomic expertise, so too can we fall for poetry. Of course, any love makes demands but the effort becomes a joy of exploration.

There are many complex factors at play in the marginalization of poetry in our society. Undoubtedly, the pressures of consumerism or the despairs of poverty are factors. Yet, I have often felt that most of us as school children succumbed intuitively to verse. What is it that creates a block? Is it the analytic approach, the need to interpret and annotate poem by poem in warm June exam halls? Is it there the dread of not finding the "right" meaning begins?

During my term as editor it would give me great pleasure if I could do anything, which would broaden the audience for contemporary poetry. It struck me that I have seldom met anyone who didn't remember at least one poem from their schooling which left an indelible stain on there consciousness. It seemed an interesting idea to ask a selection of prominent people outside the traditional "creative" arts which poem they remembered best from their school days and why? I hope the responses (page 20) will strike chords in others or even rouse a desire to relive that first moment of discovery, which is poetry.
The outstanding pleasures of editing my first review was the opportunity to interview the distinguished poet Anne ~Stevenson whose selected poems were published in paperback in May and whose biography of Sylvia Plath is due this autumn. Two previously unpublished poems by Anne Stevenson also appear in this issue.

Since the special large and anniversary Poetry Ire/and Review No. 25, edited by my predecessor John Ennis, there is much to report from the Irish poetry scene. Books have appeared from two senior figures: Anthony Cronin's The End of the Modern Word/~ Richard Murphy's Selected Poems and his new work The Mirror Wal4 all of which are reviewed in this issue. It had been hoped to include a short comparative study by Declan Kiberd of John Montague's and Seamus Heaney's attitude to the past to mark their turning sixty and fifty respectively. Due to unforeseen circumstances it will now appear in the next issue.

It was the Russian poet Osip Mandelstam who believed that a civilization could be gauged by the size of its poetry reading public. With so much attention focused on the changes taking place in Eastern European culture, generally. It seems particularly appropriate to include Dennis O’Driscoll’s fine article Eastern Ripples and Mark Hutcheson's Russian Poetry and Glasnost: A Case Study.

I hope the readers will enjoy the selection of new poetry, some from the distinguished and well known, some from the relatively unknown. Apart from a huge backlog inherited from my predecessor, I received an incredible amount of poems. Inevitably choices had to be made and I can only ask those whose work I didn't choose to remember that, like all editors, I am human and fallible.

Finally, I would like to thank former editors Dennis O'Driscoll and John Ennis and John F. Deane, founder of Poetry Ireland, for their help and encouragement.


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