Timothy Brownlow

WorksCriticismCommentary

Life
?1945- ; b. in Ireland; ed. TCD in the mid-1960s; school-teacher at Columba’s College, Rathfarnham; became co. ed. with Rivers Carew, The Dublin Magazine (1966-1970) [formerly The Dubliner, ed. Bruce Arnold, et al.; now assuming the name of The Dublin Magazine, 1954- , and issued from New Square Publications - TCD, Dublin]; emig. to Canada; met and Jennifer Wall, 1973; taught in Novia Scotia; settled in British Columbia, 1991; taught at Malaspina University-College, 1992-2002; author of distinguished book on John Clare. MAC

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Works
Poetry, The Hurdle Ford (Dublin: New Square Publications 1964), 27pp.; With Rivers Carew, Figures out of the Mist (Dublin: New Square Publications 1966), 45pp.; Prelude: to Jennifer ( Rushden [Eng.]: Sceptre Press [1974]), [4]pp. [edn. of 150 numbered copies'; single copies in BL & Cambridge UL; another in TCD Lib. being out-of-series]; Climbing Croagh Patrick (Canada, BC: Oolican Books 1999).

Criticism, John Clare and Picturesque Landscape (Oxford & NY: Clarendon Press/OUP 1983), x, 158pp. [23 cm.]; Hiding Places: Essays (Lantzville, B.C.: Oolichan Books 2008), 269pp. [with port.];

Miscellaneous: “April 1966” [poem], in The Dublin Magazine (Spring 1966), pp.33-34; also “Aghadoe” [6 quatrains], ibid., p.66. Note that the former is taken as an epigraph for the journal [1st issue].

Canadian publications incl. Climbing Croagh Patrick (Oolichan Jan. 1998), poetry. contribs. in The Penguin Book of Irish Verse; The Critical Perspective (Chelsea House, New York); Poems for Clare (UK); In Fine Form: The Canadian Book of Form Poetry (Raincoast Books); and Apples Under the Bed (Hedgerow Press); Poetry Ireland Review (June 2007).

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Criticism
Austin Clarke, ‘Two Young Poets’, review of Figures out of the Mist by Timothy Brownlow and Rivers Carew, and Poetry Ireland, No. 6, ed. John Jordan, in Irish Press, 24 Sept. !966 [cited in Maurice Harmon, Austin Clarke, 1896-1974: A Critical Introduction, Dublin: Wolfhound Press; NY: Barnes & Noble 1989, p.296 [Bibliography].

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Commentary

Poetry Ireland [q. auth.; q.date]

In early December 1963, at the end of his first term as a young school master, Timothy Brownlow heard that Bruce Arnold had decided to relinquish his editorship of The Dubliner, which he had founded in 1960, and had asked Tim Webb, classical scholar and poet, if he would like to take over. Webb declined, asking Brownlow, “What about you?”
With Arnold’s blessing, Brownlow and Rivers Carew took over The Dubliner in January 1964, changing the name in 1965 to The Dublin Magazine (the original Dublin Magazine had a distinguished run from 1923 to 1958, under Seamus O’Sullivan).
The Arts Council gave support and, for a brief period, Aer Lingus distributed the magazine free on transatlantic flights. It published poetry, criticism, fiction, an illustrated article - usually on the visual arts - book reviews and, occasionally, short plays. The contributors included Austin Clarke, Padraic Colum, Monk Gibbon, Kathleen Raine and Mary Lavin, as well as lesser-known names such as Brendan Kennelly, Derek Mahon, John Montague, Richard Murphy, Michael Longley, Edna Longley, Thomas Kinsella, Eilean Ni Chuilleanain, Eavan Boland and a young poet from the North, Seamus Heaney.
The editors’ aims were “modest”, according to Brownlow: “to help keep the flame of Irish writing alive’ in a period that was still largely inhospitable to the arts and “in which the subtle apartheid of the two national religions was still a strong force to be reckoned with/ As editors, they were, he admits, “perhaps blissfully unaware of how deeply political literary matters are in Ireland.” Their initial idealism “quickly foundered as we watched the powerful egotisms of rival writers in action.” No won der he defines a literary movement as “a number of people with artistic aspirations living in the same vicinity and cordially disliking each other.”
....Brownlow and Carew remained editors for six years, until 1969. Carew by then had moved to the RTE newsroom while Brownlow left for Canada in 1970. He now sees the Sixties in Ireland as “a hopeful, expansive decade caught in aspic between the stagnation of the Fifties and the violence of [47]] the Seventies”.
However, on a personal level, things had gone awry before the decade was up. The family business went bankrupt in 1966; he did not want to teach at St Columba’s College forever. So, following up contacts, he embarked on a doctorate in Toronto. He left, expecting to return to Ireland or England after his graduate work had been completed, but Canada “released many of [his] hidden energies”. Although there were aspects of Ireland he “missed profoundly”, he likes to quote the remark John Butler Yeats made about his experience of New York: the elder Yeats, to everyone’s surprise, had taken greatly to his new life, saying: “In Ireland, I was always on the defensive. In New York, I’m on the offensive.” Canada got him “back on [his] material and mental feet’ after the setbacks of the late Sixties. He was awarded Canada Council Scholarships and the prestigious Queen Elizabeth II Ontario Fellowship; and he met Jennifer Wall, whom he married in 1973. They went to Oxford for two years, where he did graduate work and taught tutorials at Pembroke College. Oxford was within striking distance of the two major collections of Clare manuscripts - at Peterborough and Northampton - crucial sources for Brownlow’s thesis. He befriended several dons who were also poets and lovers of Clare: Jon Stallworthy, Francis Warner and Peter Levi. The friendship of such people provided “a bracing education in itself.
In 1975, Brownlow took up a three-year post-doctoral fellowship at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia. Here he completed the rewriting of his thesis, which appeared as John Clare and Picturesque Landscape (OUP, 1983). Eavan Boland, writing in The Irish Times, described it as “elegantly written and argued’ and that it “should bring many a reader to Clare”. In Studies in English Literature, Nina Auerbach called it “surely the best study of John Clare yet written#148; and “one of the best books on a single poet I have read recently.”

Text supplied by Adrian Frazier on Facebook (28.08.2016).

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Quotations
April 1966”: ‘Once Ireland gained her freedom, Davis wrote, / The arts would flourish; many a new throat / Would sing the legendary song / Which had been absent for so long. / But tongues which Parnell gave a cause to wag / Till hatred bit each hand that fed / Proved Goethe’s wisdom when he said / The Irish always hunt a noble stag’ (Dublin Magazine, Spring 1966, p.34.)

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