Richard Kell

Life
1927- ; b. Cork; son of Methodist minister and missionary; lived first five years in India, ed. in school in Ireland and at TCD; retired from Snr. Lecturer in English Dept. at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1983 [var. since 1970], and returned to Ireland; composer with pieces performed by several orchestras; wrote reviews for in Guardian, 1970s; suffered loss of his wife Muriel by drowning, 1975, and memorialised in “Heartwood”; issued Collected Poems (Lagan 2002) and further collections Under the Rainbow (2003) and Letters to Enid (2004). DIW

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Works

  • Poems [The Fantasy Poets, 35; gen. eds. Bernard Berzoni & Oscar Mellor] (Eynsham, Oxford: Fantasy Press 1957); [8]pp. [Contents: The swan - Citadels - A supplicant speaks of the goddess Kwan Yin - Kwan Yin gives her explanation - Harbour - Memorandum for Minos];
  • Control Tower [Phoenix Living Poets] (London: Chatto & Windus/Hogarth Press 1962), 48pp.;
  • Differences (London: Chatto & Windus / Hogarth Press 1969), 55pp.;
  • Humours (Sutherland Arts Centre: Coelfrith Press 1978), [23]pp., ill. [drawings by Dick Ward;
  • Heartwood (Newcastle upon Tyne: Northern House 1978, [18]pp.; signed copy at Birmingham UL];
  • The Broken Circle (Sunderland Arts Centre: Coelfrith Press 1981), 58pp.;
  • In Praise of Warmth: New and Selected Poems (Dublin: Dedalus Press 1987), 90pp.;
  • Rock and Water (Dublin: Dedalus Press 1993), q.pp. [unlised in COPAC];
  • Collected Poems, intro. Fred Johnston (Belfast: Lagan Press 2001), 246pp.;
  • Under the Rainbow (Belfast: Lagan Press 2003), 100pp.
    Letters to Enid (Beeston: Shoestring Press 2004), 36pp.
Miscellaneous
  • review of Seamus Heaney, Guardian ( [n.d.] 1972);

Anthology-contributions incl. Robin Skelton, ed., Six Irish Poets (London: OUP 1962); David Lampe & Dennis Maloney, eds., Five Irish Poets, pref. Thomas Kinsella (Dublin: Dedalus; Fredonia NY: White Pine Press 1990) [see note]; Katie Donovan, A. N. Jeffares & Brendan Kennelly, eds., Ireland’s Women (Dublin: Gill &Macmillan 1994); and John F. Deane, ed.,] Dedalus Irish Poets (1992), pp.71-78 [with biographical notice]; The Cold Heaven: Irish Poetry of Faith and Doubt, ed. John F. Deane (Dublin: Wolfhound Press, 1990) [biog. notice, p.187].

Incl. in Five Irish poets, ed. David Lampe & Dennis Maloney, with an introduction by Lampe and a preface by Thomas Kinsella (Dublin: Dedalus; Fredonia NY: White Pine Press 1990), 136p. [with Padraig J. Daly, John F. Deane, Dennis O’Driscoll, Macdara Woods].

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Commentary
Rory Brennan, review of Richard Kell, Collected Poems, intro. Fred Johnston (Lagan Press), in Books Ireland (Summer 2002). Brennan writes, ‘disillusion is one of the key tones [sic] in Kell’s oeuvre. But is no facile or repetitive disillusion … Rather it is an intelligent, almost researched, anticipated, stoic disillusoin with which Kell faces the pleastures and punishments of love, inexorable physical decline, the drifting seasons, the death of those deeply loved. (p.157.)

John Greening, short notice of Collected Poems, 1962-1993 (Lagan Press [2002]): cites fine long poem, “The Dancers”, concerning the effects of preachers in Cornwall, and marking a key-change in the collection [quotes]: ‘shaping some argument about / my craft, my father’s mission, and the Word’; also “Heartwood”, moving 15-part poem in memory of his wife Muriel, drowned in 1975; notes ‘shocking directness’ and ‘no-nonsense tone’; ‘tendency towards prosaic in longer poems’; ‘usually taut’; ‘thoughtful balancing of esoteric, ecological and domestic concerns.’ Initially remarks that, though born in Co. Cork, ‘there is not much of Ireland about his Collected Poems’.

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