Pat Boran


Life
1963- ; b. 4 Sept., and grew up on Main St., Portlaoise, Co. Laois, son of a travel agent; ed. St. Mary’s Christian Brothers’ School; Kavanagh Award, 1989; administrator for Poetry Ireland, 1989-91; BBC Young Playwright award for Not Dead But Lifeless; poet-in-residence for Dublin City Libraries, 1992; ed. Poetry Ireland Review from 1993; collections include The Unwound Clock (1990), Patrick Kavanagh Award, 1989; History and Promise (1990), Strange Bedfellows (1991), stories; also collections. Familiar Things (1993) and The Shape of Water (Dedalus 1994); appt. writer-in-residence in At Annaghmakerrig House - the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Co. Fermanagh, 1993;
 
read at Yeats Winter School, 1996, giving a paper on the ‘Uncertainty Principle’ and the Heisenberg connection in Irish poetry; lives in Dublin; worked with Theo Dorgan on Poetry Ireland; appt. Programme Director of Dublin Writers’ Festival [2001; New and Selected Poems (2005); winner of Lawrence O'Shaughnessy Award (St. Paul’s U., Minnesota); edited Flowing, Still: Irish Poets on Irish Poetry (2009), essays on Irish poetry from 1900 to the present; also autobiography, The Invisible Prison: Scenes from an Irish Childhood (2010); he has presented The Poetry Programme and Rattlebag on RTÉ Radio, and Undercover on RTÉ TV. OCIL

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Works
Poetry
  • The Unwound Clock (Dublin: Dedalus 1990);
  • History and Promise (International UP 1990);
  • Familiar Things Dublin: Dedalus 1993), 83pp.;
  • The Shape of Water (Dublin: Dedalus 1994)m 80pp.[in 3 sects., ‘Plainsong’, ‘The Shape of Water’, and ‘The Way of Peace’];
  • As the Hand, the Glove (Dedalus 2002), 86pp.;
  • New and Selected Poems, introduced by Denis O’Driscoll (Great Wilbraham; Salt 2005), 205pp.

See also ‘Poems’, Irish Studies Review, [q.d.] p.25 [‘How to Be My Heart’; ‘Cinema’; ‘For My Goldfish’, ‘Valentine’].

For children
  • All the Way from China, ill. by Stewart Curry (Dublin: Poolbeg 1998), 6ipp.;
  • trans., Jean Orizet, L’homme et ses masques / Man and His Masks [Poetry Europe series, No. 4] (Dublin: Dedalus Press 1998), 95pp.
Prose
  • Strange Bedfellows (Galway: Salmon Press 1991);
  • ‘Stars’, in Honest Ulsterman (Aug. 1996), pp.15-17;
  • The Portable Creative Writing Workshop (Cliffs of Moher: Salmon Press 1999, 2000), 202pp.;
  • A Short History of Dublin (Cork: Mercier Press 2000), 158pp.;
  • ed., Flowing, Still : Irish Poets on Irish Poetry (Dublin: Dedalus Press 2009), 185pp. [Essays on Irish poetry from 1900 to the present, being an update of Watching the River Flow: A Century of Irish Poetry, 1999]
  • The Invisible Prison: Scenes from an Irish Childhood (Dedalus Press 2010), 268pp.
Miscellaneous
  • Portable Creative Writing Workshop (Dublin: New Island 2005), 250pp.;
  • ed., Flowing, Still: Irish Poets on Irish Poetry (Cork: Mercier Press 2009), 194pp. ;
  • ed. Bee-loud Glade: a Living Anthology of Irish Poetry (Dedalus Press 2011), 64pp. [+ audio disc];

Books reviewed incl. Bernard O’Donoghue, Outliving, in The Irish Times (17 May 2003), Weekend, p.12 [infra].

Discography
  • with Jamie McKendrick [Writers at Warwick Archive] (Warwick Univ. 2000), cassette [Royal Fest. Hall / BBC3 “New Voices”].

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Commentary
Bernard O’Donoghue, review of Selected Poems [with other poets], in The Irish Times (18 June 2005), Weekend, p.10: ‘In Pat Boran’s poetry, stylish and learned as it is, the humanity has always been to the forefront. As Dennis O’Driscoll says in his characteristically just introduction, the publication of this ample selection of Boran’s poems is greatly to be applauded. Boran is a salutary figure in many areas - not least the generosity he expends on the promotion and understanding of other writers’ work, from Ireland and beyond. Much admired and appreciated as he is, seeing the work extensively like this is a revelation, from the complex meditations on place and home and leaving in the 1990 poems, to the unsentimental facing of his father’s death, and the sureness of eye in the elegies and observations in the new poems. Boran has throughout been a kind of lateral visionary; his poems are never only about what they seem to be about. Like Auden’s, they are stranger than they look. The lightness of his syntactic touch is masterly: a “Travel Agency” is “a place you go when you want to go some place”. The elegy for Michael Hartnett evokes its subject with perfect delicacy: “The skull of a martin’s nest / grins in the eaves.” The disconcerting “His First Confession” is a wonderfully sympathetic view of the dilemma of the young priest hearing a first confession, from a girl who says “I hate you, Father”: an impressively unclichéd - and necessary - intervention into a current Irish debate. / “Living with Artists” is about a dog whose “blind eye sheds white tears” (Boran is excellent on dogs). As O’Driscoll says, Boran brings a local world to life; but Portlaoise and Mountmellick and Castlecomer bear the weight of the serious subjects that are never out of his sight, lucid as his gaze is, the “Castlecomer Jukebox” should be in every anthology of Irish poetry.’ (See full text, infra; and note that Boran reviewed Bernard O’Donoghue, Outliving, in The Irish Times, 17 May 2003, as infra.)

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Quotations
I believe in things other, / things external, in history, / but in something like its opposite, too: / a time of unmeasured by events, / where clocks are works of naïve art / like milk bottles left out beneath the moon. // I believe in a kind of zen that says / dim the light to find the stars, / and in the little doll, the pupil, of the eye. / In rhyme, sometimes, I like the slow / almost wary full of a word to its echo, / but I also like half-pairs, surprise-!’ (Quoted in Brendan Hamill, rev. of The Shape of Water, in Fortnight Review, March 1997, p.36.)

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