Brian Coffey (1905-95)


Life
b. 8 June 1905, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin; son of Denis Coffey (1st President of UCD, 1908-40, of right wing Catholic opinions); at ed. Mount St. Benedict, Gorey, Co. Wexford, 1917-19; Clongowes Wood College, 1919-22; then in Paris (studying for Baccalauréat); and UCD, 1924-1930 (BA, BSc., and MSc.); also BA from Institution St. Vincent (Senlis, Oise), 1924; amateur boxer; issued translations of Claudel and others with poems by Denis Devlin (Poems, 1930), in the year they first met;
 

studied Physical Chemistry, Paris, under Jean-Baptiste Berrin, the 1926 Nobel winner [vafr. Perrin], 1930-33; changed to philosophy and studied at Institut Catholique de Paris under Jacques Maritain, 1933, taking licentiate exam in 1936; met Thomas MacGreevy, 1932-33; published Three Poems in Paris (Librairie Jeannette Monnier [F. Paillait] 1933) [150 copies]; introduced to Beckett by MacGreevy in summer 1934 and praised with McGreevy in Beckett’s Bookman article, ‘Recent Irish Poetry’;

 
he associated with Beckett and Devlin in Bar du Depart, Paris; played golf in Dublin with Beckett; contrib. to Radio Éireann programmes; returned to Paris as exchange student to work on philosophy doctorate; m. 1938; contrib.to Eliot’s journal Criterion; issued Third Person (London: George Reavey 1938); m. Bridget Rosalind Baynes, with whom a large family; holidaying in Ireland and unable to return to Paris at outbreak of war; settled in London with young family;
 
became RAF VR instructor in Maths; spent two years school-teaching [at Winchester College] and working in bank; received doctoral degree from Institut Catholique, Paris 1947; moved to US, teaching philosophy at St. Louis, Missouri, 1947-52, where he was often on bad terms with his Jesuit employers and where his identity as a poet was virtually unknown; contrib. to The Modern Schoolman, 1948-49; resigned 1952; lived penuriously at eastern edge of Ozarks; worked as 6th-form maths. teacher in London and Southampton, 1954-69;
 
wrote ‘Missouri Sequence’, 1961-65, first appearing in University Review (1962) and dealing with a premature birth [2nd edn. ded. Leonard Eslick, Professor of Phil., St. Louis]; also published ‘Nine-A Musing’ [Univ. Rev.]; his Selected Poems issued by Michael Smith (New Writers’ Press 1971); published “Advent”, a poem about a mother’s morning for her son killed in a motorbike accident, with “Leo” and a selection of trans. from Eluard, Mallarmé et al. in Brian Coffey special issue of Irish University Review (Spring 1975); named Devlin's literary executor, issuing his Collected Poems (1964) and Heavenly Foreigner (1967);
 
issued Death of Hektor (Circle Press 1979; Menard 1982); Augustus Young’s BBC radio tribute (London 1983) in which Cyril Cusack read Advent and Death of Hektor; Seán Ó Mórdha made a feature programme (RTE 1985); he was living in Birmingham in 1992; d. Southampton, 14 April 1995; publications & papers incl. typescript of Missouri sequence (21pp.) held in TCD Library. DIW OCIL FDA

[ top ]

Works
Poetry
  • [with Denis Devlin,] Poems (Dublin: [priv.] Alex Thom 1930), 32pp. [4 by Devlin; 5 by Coffey];
  • Three Poems (Paris: Librairie Jeannette Monnier 1933), 15,[1]pp.;
  • Third Person [Europa Poets, No. 7] (London: Europa Press [George Reavey] 1938), 28pp.;
  • Collected Poems (Dolmen Press 1964), xxiv, 132pp.;
  • Dice Thrown Never Will Annul Chance (Dublin: Dolmen Press 1965), 32pp. [trans. of Mallarmé’s Coup de Dés; rep. in [Mallarmé], Selected Poems and Prose, ed. Mark Ann Caws (NY: New Directions 1982), pp.112-13, 127 [cited in Davis, op. cit., infra., 1995];
  • Selected Poems (Dublin: New Writers’ Press 1971), 68pp. [250 signed ltd. edn. ];
  • “Advent”, in Irish University Review, Vol. 5., No. 1 (Spring 1975), and Do. [rep.] (London: Menard Press 1986), [8]pp.;
  • “Death of Hektor” [1964], in Irish University Review, No. 5, 1 [Special Issue] (1975), pp.11-29 [intro. by J. C. C. Mays]; later printed as Death of Hektor (Guilford: Circle Press 1979), ill. S. W. Hayter [ltd. edn.], and Do. as Death of Hektor: Poem (London: Menard Press 1982), 15pp. ;
  • The Big Laugh (Dublin: Sugar Loaf 1976), 29pp.;
  • Monster: A Concrete Poem (London: Advent 1966), ill. John Parsons, [14]pp.; ltd. edn. 500];
  • Death of Hektor, in Irish University Review, No. 5, 1 [‘Special Coffey Issue’] (1975), pp.11-29, and Do. [rep. edn.] (Guilford: Circle Press 1979; London: Menard Press 1982), 15pp.;
  • Chanterelles: Short Poems 1971-83 (Cork: Melmoth Press 1985);
  • Selected Poems (Dublin: New Writers’ Press [Zozimus Books] 1971), 68pp.;
  • Topos and Other Poems (Bath: Mammon Press 1981), [27]pp.;
  • Poems and Versions 1929-1990, pref. by J. C. C. Mays (Dublin: Dedalus Press 1991), 243pp.;
  • Poems from Mallarmé (Dublin: New Writers Press/Menard Press 1991).
[ top ]
Philosophy & Criticism
  • ‘The Philosophy of Science and the Scientific Attitude: I’, in The Modern Schoolman, 36 (1948), pp.23-35;
  • ‘The Notion of Order According to St. Thomas Aquinas’, in The Modern Schoolman, 28 , 1 (1949), pp.1-18;
  • ‘Notes on Modern Cosmological Speculation’, in The Modern Schoolman, 29, 3 (1952), pp.183-96;
  • ‘Memory’s Murphy Maker’, in Threshold vol. 17 (1962), p.33 [on Beckett];
  • ‘Of Denis Devlin: Vestiges, Sentences, Presages’, in Irish University Review 2, 10 (1965), pp.3-18;
  • ‘A Note on Rat Island’, in Irish University Review, Vol. 3. No. 8 (1966), pp.25-8;
  • ‘Denis Devlin: Poet of Distance’, in Place, Personality and the Irish Writer, ed. Andrew Carpenter (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1977), 137-57;
  • ‘Extracts from “Concerning Making”’, in The Lace Curtain, 6 (Autumnn 1978), pp.31-7;
  • ‘Memory’s Murphy Maker: Some Notes on Samuel Beckett’, in Threshold, 17 (1962), pp.28-32;
  • “About Poetry”, Dedalus Irish Poets: An Anthology [ed. J. F. Deane] (Dublin: Dedalus Press 1992) [c.p.253-54].
[ top ]

Miscellaneous, ed., Denis Devlin: Poems University Review [Special Issue] (1963; Dolmen 1964) [with epigraph from Douglas Hyde: ‘ Bíonn a shlighe féin ag gach file / Agus a chaint féin ag gach bard / Ní lia tír ná gnás / A’s ní ceann ná céard; A way of his own has every poet / And every bard his own way finds; / So many lands, so many habits / so many heads, so many minds.’ [no source.] Also issued Denis Devlin’s The Heavenly Foreigner (Dublin: Dolmen Press 1967), 71pp.

Query: Brian Coffey, in Alice Notley, Wendy Mulford, Brian Coffey, Etruscan Reader, VII (Buckfastleigh: Etruscan 1997), 141pp.

[ top ]

Criticism
  • Stan Smith, ‘On Other Grounds: The Poetry of Brian Coffey’, in Douglas Dunn, ed., Two Decades of Irish Writing (Manchester: Carcanet 1975), pp.59-80 [rev. version in Coughlan & Davis, Modernism in Irelan, 150-72, infra];
  • James Mays, ed. & intro., Irish University Review, Vol. 5, No. 1 [“Brian Coffey Special Issue”] (Spring 1975) [incls. ‘Biographical Notice & Introductory Essay’, and works by Coffey such as ‘Advent’];
  • Parkman Howe, ‘Brian Coffey: An Interview […]’, in Éire-Ireland, 13, 1 (1978), p.119;
  • J. C. C. Mays, ‘Passivity and Openness in Two Long Poems of Brian Coffey’, in Irish University Review, Vol. 13, No.1 (Spring 1983), pp.67-82;
  • Parkman Howe, Time and Place, The Poetry and Prose of Brian Coffey [PhD Thesis] (UCD 1981);
  • J. C. C. Mays, ‘Brian Coffey’s Work in Progress’, in Krino, 4 (Autumn 1987), p.65;
  • Bernard Tucker, ‘What is The Colour of Pi?’: Conversations with Brian Coffey’, in Irish Studies Review (Winter 1994/95), pp.35-37 [with photo-port.];
  • Alex Davis, ‘“Poetry is Ontology”: Brian Coffey’s Poetics’, in Patricia Coughlan & Alex Davis, eds., Modernism in Ireland: The Poetry of the 1930s (Cork UP 1995), pp.150-72;
  • Dónal Moriarty, The Art of Brian Coffey (UCD Press 2000), 143[160]pp.;
  • Alex Davis, ‘The Irish Modernists and Their Legacy’, in Matthew Campbell, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Contemporary Irish Poetry (Cambridge UP 2003), pp.76-93, espec. p.81ff.;
  • Michael Smith, ‘Passing on the Gift of Poetry’ [Centenary Essay], in The Irish Times (4 June 2005, Weekend, p.13.
  • Alan Gillis, Irish Poetry of the 1930s (Oxford: OUP 2005), viii, 228pp. [espec. Chap. 4: ‘Denis Devlin, Brian Coffey, and Samuel Beckett: Across the Tempest of Emblems’];
  • Benjamin Keatinge & Aengus Woods, ed., Other Edens: The Life and Work of Brian Coffey (Dublin: IAP 2009), 288pp. [TCD symposium; contribs. incl. Gerald Dawe, Justin Quinn, Maria Johnston, Augustus Young, et al.]
Find extracts from various of the above under Commentary, infra.
 
See also Alex Davis, ‘Reactions from their Burg: Irish Modernist Poets of the 1930s’, in Davis & Lee M. Jenkins, ed., Locations of literary Modernism: Region and Nation in British and American Modernist Poetry (Cambridge UP 2000), q.p.; Stan Smith, Irish Poetry and the Construction of Modern Identity: Ireland between Fantasy and History (Dublin: Irish Academic Press 2005), 248pp. [incls. 3rd rev. vers. of ‘On Other Grounds: The Poetry of Brian Coffey’, as supra]; Terence Brown, review of Other Edens: The Life and Work of Brian Coffey, ed. Benjamin Keatinge & Aengus Woods, in The Irish Times, 19 Dec. 2010, Weekend, p.12.
 
Query: Jack Morgan, ‘Yeats and Brian Coffey: Poems for their Daughters’, in Deborah McWilliams, ed., Studies [‘Across the Pond: Reflections on Irish Writing - A View from the Irish States’: Special Issue], Vol. 88, No. 351 (Autumn 1999), pp.270-76;
[ top ]

Commentary
Gerald Dawe [with D. E. S. Maxwell & Riana O’Dwyer], ‘20th Century Irish literature’, in Irish Studies, A General Introduction, ed. Bartlett et al., Gill & Macmillan 1988): ‘Coffey’s own work [as distinct from Devlin’s] is marvellously diverse and from his first publication, a joint collection with Devlin [ in 1930], to his most recent collection, the magnificent long poem, Death of Hektor, it defies easy assimilation with ‘the’ tradition of Irish poetry and casts doubts upon the existence of such a mighty monolith.’ (p.178.)

[ top ]

Augustus Young, obituary of Brian Coffey, in The Guardian (21 April 1995): [Young] became aware of Coffey in the 1960s when IUR published several long poems, including Missouri Sequence, and How Far from Daybreak; visited Muswell Hill, where Coffey and his artist wife Bridget Bayes lived with their nine children; Coffey remained a Catholic of a most un-Irish kind; out of kilter with Irish poetry, which was essentially anti-modernist; exchanging post-cards with Samuel Beckett for 40 years in mutually indecipherable hieroglyphics; ‘the surface style of his poetry is frequently forbidding, Eliot’s Cathedral without the Murder, but it contains a living tabernacle of lived experience, presenting itself in a pervasive dramatic and musical manner all its own; Young prepared BBC programme on Coffey’s poetry in 1983, with Cyril Cusack reading Advent and Death of Hektor. Exasperated I advised Cyril to close his eyes and listen to them and all would be clear. I emptied by mind, reading the text like musical notation, while Cyril repeated the words with extraordinary effects which finally put to rest the notion that Coffey’s work was not simple. Death Of Hektor emerged as a powerful paean [sic] to family life in a hostile world, and Advent as a doomed ‘explanation’ of the death of a young son in an accident and the existence of evil in the world ... the poems were absorbing and moving in the extreme; shortly before his death he attended a luncheon given by Menard Press, publisher of his last collection (Mallarmé).

[ top ]

[Q. auth.], review of Brian Coffey, Poems and Versions 1929-1990 (Dedalus P. 1991) and Poems from Mallarmé (New Writers Press; Menard Press 1991), in [?Irish Times, 1991]: notes that Beckett called Coffey, along with Devlin, ‘;without question the most interesting of the youngest generation of Irish poets’ in 1934; Coffey’s interest in French symbolists has led to a distinctive line which little resembles ordinary English: ‘;He was strange from start went in his dream leading not led choosing not doing outside of rules in deathwards racing’, from “Advent” (a poem about a mother’s morning of her son killed in a motorbike accident). Reviewer mentions a unnamed commentary by Anthony Bradley describing Coffey as a ‘Christian existentialist’ and ends with a quotation from “Advent”: ‘nothingness / more vehement than our whole knowing how it was here.’

[ top ]

Aisling Ó Domhnaill, review of Poems and Versions (1991) in Books Ireland (Summer 1992), calls Third Person (1928) Coffey’s first solo collection following Poems jointly with Devlin in 1930. Further, Michael Smith [ed. Lace Curtain] brought out Selected Poems in 1971. Coffey spent time in Paris till the war, then in England, and in the USA from 1947 to 1954 [sic] (Univ. St. Louis, Missouri. “Missouri Sequence” publ. University Review, 1962; returned to Britain, 1970; ‘Coffey, like Devlin and MacGreevy, tapped into a greater European Catholic heritage in music and visual art.

[ top ]

Alex Davis, ‘“Poetry is Ontology””: Brian Coffey’s Poetics’, in Patricia Coughlan & Alex Davis, eds., Modernism in Ireland: The Poetry of the 1930s (Cork UP 1995), pp.150-72: ‘This powerful poetry, I have argued, has its roots in Coffey’s resistance to certain currents within modernism, as viewed through the prism of Neo-Thomist aesthetics. Coffey is wary of, firstly, surrealism’s desire to realise the “pathos of experience” in poetic form; and, secondly, and more significantly, the implications of pure art’s belief that, in the words of Mallarmé: “The only Reality is Beauty and Its only perfect expression is Poetry”. Coffey’s disparaging view of both these strains of modernism reveals a larger dissatisfaction with aesthetic modernity. Coffey’s rejection of art’s autonomy, and his concomitant emphasis on the artwork’s connections with the author’s and readers’ lifeworlds, constitute an implicit critique of the post-Kantian separation of science, morality and art. Modernism, stripped of a social dimension, its double-edged autonomy laid bare in its elevation of form over content, represents the culmination of art’s disengagement from the political and ethical spheres of society ... In this light, Coffey’s desire to relocate art within human experience as a whole can be seen to be inseparable form the conservative Catholicism he shares with, and partly derives from, Maritain. Maritain’s rosy portrayal of a medieval society in which art and religion are fused, in which Baudelaire’s “modern” uncertainty over the origins of poetic beauty is inconceivable, is diametrically opposed to the fragmented technocratic world represented by the “Bullfrogs” in Advent: ;“No going back”, they bay “Prophets of doom to the wall” so / Bullfrog say as Bullfrog is “Expend Bigger Better Expend / “Only” says Bullfrog so mincingly corky “Only / growth counts” while grinding salt mills grind on’ (PV, p.122; here p.167.) Further,quotes Coffey: ‘Poets, Coffey writes, may be valuably studied, as “either having faced the void or chosen otherwise’ (“About Poetry”, Dedalus Irish Poets: An Anthology [ed. J. F. Deane], Dublin: Dedalus Press 1992, pp.253-54; here p.168.) Finally: ‘If the hiatus after Third Person arguably attests, to some degree, to the disjunction Coffey felt in the 1930s between the claims of aesthetic modernism and Catholicism, it is equally noteworthy that he resumed writing at the time of the New Critical canonisation of modernism.’ Ends with remarks on Coffey’s ‘neo-Thomist attempts to ground poetry in “humankind”, in non-aesthetic spheres of human activity: ethics, politics and history.’ (End.)

[ top ]

Dónal Moriarty, The Art of Brian Coffey (UCD Press 2000), writes: ‘Brian Coffey is now acknowledged as a pioneer of Irish modernism and is closely associated with a small hand of writers whose careers began in the late 1920s and early 1930s. ... He possesses a reputation as a formidably obscure and cerebral poet, and critics have responded to the challenge by focusing almost exclusively on the thematic contents of his writing. ... However, I believe that an alternative approach to Coffey’s work - one that engages with the specifics of his unique poetic mode - will make possible a more informed appreciation of his achievement. / More than any of his contemporaries, Coffey was struck by the fact of language as sound, and the words that constitute his poems were chosen for their auditory qualities as well as their meanings. Most poets attend to the rhythmic properties of words and to the sounds of their vowels and consonants, but for Coffey the impulse to charge his lines with a kind of musical tension was unusually strong. The music of his poetry has a distinctive signature: his lines and stanzas possess a highly reverberant quality and often while reading through a Coffey poem, we become increasingly aware of an accumulating store of significant echoes ... he creates an unusually live acoustic which enables sounds to echo over pages [... &c.]’ (p.1.) [Cont.]

[ top ]

Dónal Moriarty (The Art of Brian Coffey, 2000) - cont.: ‘With the notable exception of J. C. C. Mays, commentators have either ignored Coffey’s translations or mistaken the way they reflect the conditions of translation for incompetence or wilful obscurity. The great irony here is that while Irish critics have traditionally acknowledged writers who, like Synge, were imaginative enough to absorb the grammatical constructions and rhythms of Irish into English, they still find it difficult, in an age that celebrates hybridity, to appreciate writers who continue to expand the possibilities of English by opening it up to the influence of other foreign languages. Rather than turn French into English, Coffey turns English into French and makes free use of nonce words, archaisms, literalisms and odd translations that apparently deviate from the sense [12] intended by the author. The resulting texts bristle with meaning and they afford the reader a privileged access to complexities of thought and feeling that are peculiar to French poetry.’ (pp.12-13.) [Cont.]

[ top ]

Dónal Moriarty (The Art of Brian Coffey, 2000) - cont.: ‘While philosophy is an important element of Coffey’s poetry, one does not need a degree in the writing of St Thomas Aquinas in order to get anything out of his poems. A preparedness to begin by attending to the sound of the poems - and to the way the organs of vocal production must work to enunciate the sounds - in advance of any comprehension of their conceptual content will take one a lot farther than any intimate knowledge of the Summa Theologiae. [.../] when it came to philosophy, Coffey was more learned than Beckett or Joyce. Yet he so utterly assimilated the philosophy of Artistotle, Aquinas, Hegel and others into his thinking that their respective influences cannot be proven in the conventional way. Philosophers are not referred to by name; they are rarely invoked by way of quotation and very few passages of his poetry can be adduced as an example of the influence of this or that thinker. Instead of constituting thematic content, it would be more accurate to say that [their] philosophy informs the perspective from which Coffey regards such themes as love, self-awareness and the relationships between poetry and life.’ (p.15). Note also comments on Derek Mahon’ translation of Gérard de Nerval (p.63f.)

[ top ]

Michael Smith, ‘;Passing on the gift of Poetry’ [Centenary Essay], in The Irish Times (4 June 2005, Weekend, p.13.) ‘;[…] Turning to Coffey’s poetry, it is difficult reading. To the consumers of the trivial, domestic and social poetry now in vogue - which Geoffrey Hill has impishly called “home video poetry” - this difficulty is sometimes labelled obscurantism. Nothing could be further from the truth. / For Coffey, poetry was always a way of asking questions about the meaning of human existence. These questions may be the same questions asked by philosophers but poetry asks them differently, in its own unique way. As with philosophy, it is our encounter with the questions that is the important experience of poetry - the humanising experience - not its capacity to deliver answers. It is essentially the Socratic method of inquiry: it is necessary to remove the crutches to find out if the cripple can walk. / Coffey saw poetry as a special kind of actualisation of the human spirit, both in its making and in its appreciation. Therefore, he saw the poetry of stock response - personal, political or social - as reductionist, false and often dangerous. The difficulty many readers have with his work is its thoroughgoing rejection of conditioned response, linguistic, conceptual and emotional. Its avoidance.of stock response - the raw material of popular success - has made it extremely difficult to raise a critical scaffolding which could be of use to uninitiated readers. / The modernity of his poems consists of his preoccupation with the making of poetry, in the deepest sense of the word making: that is to say, bringing into existence. And it was this preoccupation, throughout a long lifetime, that most clearly distinguished him from other Irish poets of his time.’ Smith here quotes from a letter to himself [as infra]; also quotes from Coffey’s essay on Beckett [as infra].

[ top ]

Quotations
Poet’s business?: ‘One is less tolerant of the idea that it is an Irish poet’s business to sing of peasants and country gentlemen, of monks and porter-drinkers in their respective avocations, of the upper crust of a mere seven centuries past. One remembers that Yeats expressed himself as wishing “to preseve that which is living and help our two Irelands, Gaelic and Anglo-Irieland, so to unite that neither shall lose its pride.” But then we should to have to go back well beyond the seventh century, back as far as maybe never …’ (In ‘A Note on Rat Island’, University Review, 3, 8, 1966, p.25; quoted by Jack Morgan, ‘Yeats and Brian Coffey: Poems for their Daughters’, Studies, Autumn 1999, pp.270-76; p.272.)

[ top ]

W. B. Yeats: ‘One remembers that Yeats expressed himself as wishing to “preserve that which is living and help our two Irelands, Gaelic Ireland and AngIo-Ireland, so to unite that neither shall lose its pride”. But then we should have to go well back behind the seventh century, back as far as maybe never to find our aboriginals and their instinctively habitual modes of action and being. All the while, too, we should be forgetting how fruitless paired categories (Gaelic with Anglo-Irish, Protestant with Catholic, insular with missionary, &c.) are for thinking social and political reality with, not to mention poetic reality.’ (In ‘A Note on Rat Island’, University Review, 3, 8, 1966, pp.25-6; quoted in Alex Davis, ‘Irish Poetic Modernisms: A Reappraisal’, in Critical Survey, 8, 2, 1996, p.186-97, and copied on Thomas MacGreevy Archive [link].)

[ top ]

Poetry & Truth: ‘;The poet only has the capacity to make words into a form of human truth. He discovers nothing that is not already present in being human, and he is, to begin with, thoroughly human; but his mistakes lead him into invidious positions and relationships with powers and dominations which ultimately lead to some form of idolatry - the anti-human ... The poet’s first aim is to write the poem he is capable of. When it at last exists he can think about giving it to the world. And don’t forget it is all luck, chance, hazard, fortune, unpredictable and not at the poet’s command; towards him it is a gift, from him it goes best as a gift.” (Quoted from letter to Michael Smith in Smith, ‘Passing on the gift of Poetry’ [Centenary Essay], The Irish Times (4 June 2005, Weekend, p.13.)

[ top ]

Samuel Beckett: ‘We were on a bridge, lake waters each side. A mother was placing bread crumbs on her about-five-year-old daughter’s head, above which the birds, gulls and pigeons planed and hovered. The child was awaiting the alighting of airborne feet, webbed or scratching, the small face an expectation and a concern. I heard Sam exclaim: “Look, Brian, look!” And I looked to see the scarred, wrecked and still beautiful features declaring his delight, his happiness at another like human being, sharing the feelings that had been his own much more than 50 years ago. Ever the same anew. The real Beckett who has discovered compassion and loving in the night of agony, in the man-made midden of malice.’ (Quoted from letter to Michael Smith in Smith, ‘;Passing on the gift of Poetry’ [Centenary Essay], in The Irish Times (4 June 2005, Weekend, p.13; see supra.)

[ top ]

References
John Montague, ed., Faber Book of Irish Verse (London: Faber & Faber 1974), contains passage from Muse, June, Related (to the memory of Denis Devlin).’

See Brian Coffey page on Answers.com - online; accessed 28.03.2011.

Frank Ormsby , Rage for Order: Poetry of the Northern Ireland Troubles (Belfast: Blackstaff 1992), incls. extract.

Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 3: selects Selected Poems, ‘The Missouri Sequence’, first published in Irish University Review, 1962 [156-58]; REMS, 131-32 [the lessons of Joycean modernism had been absorbed]; 244 [ed. Devlin, Dolmen 1974], 248 [Beckett, 1934, Devlin and Coffey ‘without question the most interesting of the youngest generation of Irish poets, but I do not propose to disoblige them by quoting from the volume of verse which they published jointly in 1930’]; BIOG, 169, as above. Also, The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing,Vol. 2: best understood [with others] as emerging in reaction to pieties of early revival writers [723].

Patrick Crotty, ed., Modern Irish Poetry: An Anthology (Belfast: Blackstaff Press 1995), selects from “Death of Hektor”, 6 [59]; from “For What for Whom Unwanted” 1, 8” [60].

[ top ]

COPAC (Victoria Univ. Manchester) lists with Denis Devlin, Poems (Dublin: [for authors] Alex Thom 1930), [1-4] 5-23 [24-32]pp. [2 leaves: B4, *4, C2 [D]4; 18.5 cm.]; Three poems (Paris: Librairie Jeannette Monnier 1933), 15,[1]pp. ; Third person [Europa poets, No. 7] (London: G. Reavey - Europa Press 1938), 28pp.; Collected poems (Dolmen Press 1964), xxiv, 132pp.; Dice Thrown Never will Annul Chance: a translation, Mallarme (Dublin: Dolmen Press 1965), [32]pp.; Monster: A Concrete Poem (London: Advent 1966), ill. John Parsons, [14]pp.; ltd. edn. 500]; The heavenly foreigner (Dublin: Dolmen Press 1967), 71pp.; The Time the Place (London: Advent Books 1969), [8]p. [ltd. edn. 226]; rep. as The time and the Place and Other Poems [Advent No. 3] (Southampton: Advent 1976), 17pp.; Selected poems [Zozimus Books] (Dublin: New Writers’ Press 1971), 68pp.; Versheet 1 (Dublin: New Writers’ Press 1971), 6pp.; Abecedarian (Southampton: Advent Books 1974), 32pp., ill. Sandra Hill; The Big laugh (Dublin: Sugar Loaf, 1976), 29pp.; Topos and Other Poems (Bath: Mammon Press 1981), [27]pp.; Death of Hektor: Poem (London: Menard Press 1982), 15pp.; Advent (London: Menard Press 1986), [8]pp., orig. as in Brian Coffey Special Issue. Irish University Review, No. 5, 1 (Dublin 1975).; Advent (London: Menard Press 1986), 42pp.; Poems of Mallarme: bilingual version (London: Menard; Dublin: New Writers’ Press [1990], 34 pp.; The Coloured Word, lith. by Sarah James (Winchester School of Art Press 1988), [32]pp.; Salut: Versions of Some Sonnets of Mallarme (Dublin: HardPressed Poetry [1988], [13]pp.; Poems and versions 1929-1990 (Dublin: Dedalus Press 1991), 243pp.; “form and existence ... [Form Card No. 2; reposte to harry Gilonis’ Form Card No. 1] (London: Form Books 1993); Salute/verse/circumstance [keepsake ... Brian Coffey’s reading at SubVoicive in London] (London: Form Books 1994), [8]pp.; “lines from the conclusion of Part VII of ‘;Advent’, re-published here to mark Brian Coffey’s 90th year ...” (London: Form Books [Menard Press] 1994 ; Alice Notley, Wendy Mulford, Brian Coffey, Etruscan reader [No. 7] (Buckfastleigh [Newcastle upon Lyne]: Etruscan Press 1997), 141pp. Fiction, ; Blood risk [A contact book] (London: Futura 1972, 1974, 1975), [4],160pp. [fiction]; Surrounded [Barker suspense] (London: Barker 1975), [4], 167pp. [prev. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1974) Also, Missouri sequence, 21pp. typescript in TCD Library. Bibl. query: The Voice of the Night (London: Hale 1981), and Do. rep edn. by Dean R. Koontz (London: Star 1985), 277pp.; Gerald Cubitt, Wild New Zealand [photographs], text by Les Molloy; consultants Sue Miller & Brian Coffey (London: New Holland 1994); K.R. Dwyer, The face of fear (London: P. Davies, 1978, 1980 ) [5],244pp. [orog. under name of Brian Coffey (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1977). [English in fiction.]

[ top ]

Notes
Family album
: There is a pencil portrait of Denis Coffey (1864-1945) by Seán O’Sullivan in the National Gallery of Ireland.

Dr. Coffey [father of the above] trans. De Wulf’s Introduction a la philosophie néo-scholastique in Dr. Coffey’s translation of 1907 and is cited in Constantine Curran, James Joyce Remembered (1968), p.37.

Namesake (b.1945), author of Blood Risk [A Contact Book] (London: Futura 1972, 1974, 1975), [4],160pp.; Surrounded [Barker Suspense] ([prev. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill 1974; London: Barker 1975), [4], 167pp. :

[ top ]