Derek Mahon (1941- )


Life
b. 23 Nov. 1941, Belfast; raised Glengormley, to a Church of Ireland family, his father and grandfather having worked in Harland and Wolff (‘blue-to-white-collar jobs)’, his father latterly as an inspector of engines, and his mother in the local York St. Flax Spinning Co. [Linen] - though after marriage a house-wife only; ed. Skegoneil Primary school, and later at the Royal Belfast Academical Institute, where he was taught by John Boyle, a TCD graduate and member of the NI Labour Party; acquired reading habits (Dylan Thomas, Huxley) and won Forrest Reid Memorial Prize with the Dylanesque poem “The power that gives the water breath”; failed an eye-test for the Navy (‘tried for the Merchant Navy’); entered Trinity College, Dublin, 1961;
 
studied Classics and Modern Languages; grad. BA in French Hons., 1965; with Michael Longley contrib. to and ed. Icarus, the TCD undergraduate magazine (fnd. Alec Reid), reviewing MacNeice’s Solstice in 1961; experienced near-drowning episode at Trinity; contrib. to Dublin Magazine, with Eavan Boland, Brendan Kennelly and others; shared Eric Gregory Award with Michael Longley, 1965; issued 1965: Twelve Poems (1965), a Belfast Festival pamphlet; spent a year at Sorbonne in Paris, reading Camus, Sartre and Pascal, inter al.; travelled in USA, 1966; issued Night-crossing (1968); co-fnd. Atlantis (1970-74) with Seamus Deane and W. J. McCormack; published Ecclesiastes (1970);
 
m. Doreen Douglas - a native of Portballintrae whom he met at TCD, who became a news announcer on Ulster Television, and with whom he had children Kate and Rory (later divorced); worked on London papers and journals from 1970, including features editor on Vogue; moved to rural Surrey with his family, 1975; winner of Denis Devlin Award, 1975; working for the BBC and sundry journals; made TV adaptations of Jennifer Johnston, John Montague, Elizabeth Bowen, and completed translation versions of French and Greek classics; appt. writer-in-residence at New University of Ulster [NUU], 1978-79, living in a cottage-style house on the coast, nr. Portrush;
 
moved to Kinsale, 1986-88; he was a regular The Irish Times reviewer and latterly correspondent from New York, 1993- ; adapt. Molière for Field Day, 1984; TCD writing fellow, 1986; Night Crossing (1968); Lives (1972); ed. The Sphere Book of Modern Irish Poetry (1972), which he regards as ‘hack-work’; The Snow-Party (1975); Poems, 1962-1978 (1979); Courtyards in Delft (1981), reflecting an interest in paintings of de Hoog, Munch, and Uccelli (‘Hunt by Night’); setted in Dublin, occupying a top-floor flat in a house of Fitzwilliam Square - where the psychiatrist Anthony Clare occupied ground-floor consultancy rooms;
 
The Hunt by Night (1982); Antarctica (1985); trans. Gerard de Nerval’s The Chimeras (1982); trans. Molière’s The School for Husbands, as High Time (Field Day 1984), set in a Georgian house in Ireland [note Gallery edn. prod. date 27 Nov. 1985], also Molière’s School for Wives (1986); winner Scott-Moncrief Prize with his trans. Selected Poems of Philippe Jaccottet (1988), a Swiss-French poet; co-ed. with Peter Fallon The Penguin Book of Contemporary Irish Poetry (1990), largely in response to Paul Muldoon’s Northern-biased Faber anthology of 1986; resident interviewer on Irish Times ‘Week-End’ literary section, 1986-early 1990s;
 
issued Selected Poems (1991), winner of Irish Times Literature Award (Poetry), 1992 - contain much-revised versions (‘I tried to manufacture belatedly a homogeneous voiceö); Irish Times-Aer Lingus Poetry Prize, 1992; Guggenheim Fellowship, and TCD DLitt, 1995; produced a version of Euripides’ Bacchae and of Racine’s Phaedra (Phèdre; orig. after Euripides’ Hyppolytus), reduced from five acts to two, and produced at the Gate with Dearbhla Molloy in the title role (1996); divided his time between Fitzwilliam Sq., Dublin, and New York, settling in Dublin again in 1996, with an address on Fitzwilliam Sq.; edited a writer’s issue of Ireland of the Welcomes for Bord Fáilte; issued The Yellow Book (1997), based on epistolary style of Juvenal;
 
received American Ireland Fund Literary Award and the Martin Toonder Award; member of Aosdána; papers held at Emory University (Atlanta); Mahon’s Collected Poems appeared in November 1999; issued Harbour Lights (2005), winner of Irish Times Poetry Award, 2006; awarded the £40,000 David Cohen Prize for Literature, a lifetime award usually given to novelists, March 2007 and himself selected Peter Fallon of Gallery Press for the Clarissa Luard Award (worth £12,500) as part of the winner’s entitlement; gave a masterclass in poetry at the Irish Writers’ Centre on 27-28 Jan. 2007;  refused both the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry and an OBE during the government of Tony Blair;
 

issued Homage to Gaia (Oldcastle: Gallery Press 2008), containing “Climate Songs”, written after a trip to India [‘You will prevail of course / If in a different form; / We go from bad to worse / Just trying to keep warm’]; issued Life on Earth (Nov. 2008), winner of the Irish Times Poetry Award, March 2009; also incl. on international shortlist of the Griffin Poetry Prize, 2009; subject of a bio-documentary (Derek Mahon: The Poetry Nonsense, 2009), dir. Roger Greene; issued An Autumn Wind (2010), which includes poems for Heaney, Longley, Simmons and Montague; his New Collected Poems, ed. by Terence Brown and Michael Longley, issued by Gallery, May 2011; there is a critical biography by Stephen Enniss (After the Titanic, 2014); issued . ORM HAM FDA OCIL DIL/2


See notice and poems at Poetry International Web - online.

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Works
Poetry collections
  • Twelve Poems (Belfast: QUB/Festival Publications 1965), 18pp. [pamph.]
  • Night-Crossing (London: OUP 1968; 1969), [9], 38pp.
  • Ecclesiastes [Phoenix Pamphlet Poets, No. 9] (Manchester: Phoenix 1970), 21pp. [ed. Harry Chambers & John Ashbrook; edn. of 700; first 60 signed by author].
  • Beyond Howth Head [Poetry Ireland Edns., II] (Dublin: Dolmen 1970), 16pp., with notes [ded. Jeremy Lewis; 23 stanzas].
  • Lives (London: OUP 1972), 39pp. [contents].
  • The Man Who Built His City in Snow [in mem. Wallace Stevens, 1879-1955] (London; Bourton, Dorset: Poem-of-the-Month Club [1972]), 1 sh. [full ser. 1970-77 incls. W.H. Auden, Philip Larkin, Stevie Smith, C. Day Lewis, Roy Fuller, Robert Graves, Stephen Spender, George Barker, Seamus Heaney, John Betjeman, et 38 al.]
  • The Snow Party (London: OUP 1975), [7], 38pp.
  • Light Music (Belfast: Ulsterman 1977), 23pp. [contents].
  • with Seamus Heaney, In Their Element (NI Arts Council 1977), pamphlet [contents].
  • The Sea in Winter (Mass: Deerfield Press; Dublin: Gallery 1979), 10pp., ill. by Timothy Engelland, ded. ‘for Desmond O’Grady’.
  • Courtyards in Delft (Dublin: Gallery 1981), 29pp.
  • The Hunt by Night (Oxford: OUP 1982; Winston-Salem: Wake Forest UP, 1983), 63pp.[contents].
  • A Kensington Notebook (London: Anvil Press 1984), [8]pp. [ltd. edn. of 500 of which 250 signed by the poet].
  • Antarctica (Dublin: Gallery 1985), 37pp. [pamphlet].
  • The Yaddo Letter (Oldcastle: Gallery 1992) 5pp. [pamph.] front. by Barrie Cooke [ltd. edn. 350 copies].
  • The Hudson Letter (Lough Crew: Gallery 1995; Wake Forest 1996), 77pp. [poem in 18 pts., printed with ‘The Yaddo Letter’].
  • The Yellow Book (Dublin: Gallery 1997), 58pp. [contents].
  • Harbour Lights (Oldcastle: Gallery Press 2005), 80pp.
  • Adaptations (Oldcastle: Gallery Press 2006), 101pp. [incl.s versions of Sophocles, Juvenal, Jaccottet, Brecht; the trobairitz (women troubadours); Nerval (Chimeras), Valéry (“The Seaside Cemetery”), Baudelaire, Pasternak, Rilke, Pasolini, and Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill.]
  • Art Works (Oldcastle: Gallery Press 2006), 24pp., ill. [drawings by Vivienne Roche; signed ltd. edn.]
  • Somewhere the Wave (Oldcastle Gallery Press 2007), 36pp. [ltd. edn. 500 copies; 50 reserved].
  • Homage to Gaia (Oldcastle: Gallery Press 2008), 40pp., ill. by Hammond Journeaux.
  • Life on Earth (Oldcastle: Gallery Press 2008), 64pp. [incorporates “Homage to Gaia”];
  • Sextus and Cynthia, after Propertius (Oldcastle: Gallery Press 2009), q.pp., ill. by Hammond Journeax [ltd. edn. of 175 signed copies; sewn].
  • An Autumn Wind (Oldcastle: Gallery Press 2010), 79pp.
  • Raw Material (Oldcastle: Gallery Press 2011), q.pp. 
  • Echo’s Grove: Translations (Oldcastle: Gallery Press 2013), 206pp. [contains Ovid, Corbière, Laforgue, Gopal Singh [a fictitious poet]; Propertius, T’ang, trobairitz, Nerval, Valéry (“Le Cimetière marin” as “The Seaside Cemetery”)].
Selected & collected editions
  • Selected Poems 1962-1978 (Oxford: OUP 1979), 117pp. with index of first lines [ded. ‘For Doreen; and for Rory and Katherine when the time comes’].
  • The Collected Poems of Derek Mahon (Oldcastle: Gallery 1999), 360pp.
  • Selected Poems of Derek Mahon (Oldcastle: Gallery in assoc. OUP 1991; rep. London: Penguin 1993), 194pp. [contents].
  • New Collected Poems (Oldcastle: Gallery Press 2011), 391pp.
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Plays
  • High Time: A Comedy in One Act Based on Molière’s “School for Husbands” (Gallery 1985, 1993), 55pp.;
  • The Bacchae, After Euripides (Dublin: Gallery 1991; 1993), 59/60pp.;
  • Racine’s Phaedra (Oldcastle: Gallery 1995);
  • Oedipus [after Sophocles] (Oldcastle: Gallery Press 2005), q.pp.
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Translations
  • Ed. & trans., Selected Poems of Philippe Jaccottet (Harmondsworth: Penguin/Winston-Salem: Wake Forest UP 1988), reiss. in bilingual version as Words in the Wind: Selected Poems of Philippe Jaccottet (Oldcastle: Gallery 1999), 79pp.;
  • Gerard de Nerval, The Chimeras - A Version of Les Chimères by Gérard de Nerval (Dublin: Gallery Press 1982), cloth [also Gallery 27 Nov. 1985], 55pp. [‘El Desdichado’, ‘Myrtho’, ‘Horus’, ‘Anteros’, ‘Delphica’, ‘Artemis’, ‘Christ on the Mount of Olives, I-V’, ‘Pythagorean Lines’]; ‘Paranoia’, ‘The Stone Age’, and ‘Fragile as a Shell’, in Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Pharaoh’s Daughter [bilingual edition] (Dublin: Gallery 1990), pp.57, 69, 95.

Translations by Mahon are included in Gregory A. Schirmer, ed., After the Irish: An Anthology of Poetic Translation (Cork UP 2009), 500pp.

Prose
  • Journalism: Selected Prose 1970-1995, introduced by Terence Brown (Oldcastle: Gallery 1996), 239pp. [incl. writing on MacNeice, Beckett, Brian Moore, Longley, Montague, Heaney, and “The Coleraine Triangle”; also a record of a meeting with Anthony Burgess].
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Articles (Selected)
  • ‘Patrick Kavanagh’, The Dublin Magazine, Vol. 7, No. 1 (Spring 1968), pp.6-8;
  • ‘Poetry in Northern Ireland’, Twentieth Century Studies, No. 4 (November 1970), pp.89-93;
  • [q. title,] Écrire en Ulster’, in Lettres Nouvelles (March 1973) [q.pp.];
  • The Listener, 27 Sept. 1973, p.412;
  • ‘MacNeice in England and Ireland’, in Terence Brown & Alec Reid, eds., Time Was Away (Dublin: Dolmen 1974), pp.113-22;
  • ‘Orpheus Ascending, The Poetry of Paul Durcan’, Irish Review, No. 1 1986), pp.15-19;
  • ‘Young Eavan and Early Boland’, in Irish University Review, 23, 1 (1993), pp.23-28 [rep. in Journalism: Selected Prose 1970-1995, Dublin: Gallery Press 1996, pp.105-11];
  • ed., Ireland of the Welcomes, ‘Special Issue: New Irish Writing’, 45, 5 (Sept.-Oct. 1996).
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Anthologies & editions
  • Ed. Sphere Book of Modern Irish Poetry (London: Sphere Bks. 1972);
  • ed. with Peter Fallon, The Penguin Book of Contemporary Irish Poetry (Harmondsworth: Penguin 1990);
  • Racine’s Phaedra (Gallery 1995), 72[64]pp.;
  • Derek Mahon, sel. & intro., Jonathan Swift: Selected Poems (London: Faber & Faber 2002), 122pp. [infra];
  • ed., Jonathan Swift [Poet to Poet Ser.] ((London: Faber & Faber 2006), 128pp.
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Miscellaneous contributions
  • “The Man who Built his City in Snow” appeared in Poem of the Month Club (1970-77), Third Folio.‘The Sheep and the Goats’, review of Paul Muldoon, ed., Faber Anthology of Contemporary Irish Poetry, in Irish Times (7 June 1986), p.13;
  • article on John Hewitt, in The Irish Times (2 Jan. 1988);
  • ‘Louis MacNeice Issue’, in Carrickfergus and District Historical Journal, VII: (Carrickfergus 1994);
  • ‘The Participating Eye’, foreword to John Minihan, An Unweaving of Rainbows: Images of Irish Writers, Souvenir Press 1998), pp.5-8.
  • “New Wave” [poem], in London Review of Books, 23, 7 (5 April 2001), p.6;
  • Icarus’ [entry], in W. J. McCormack, ed., The Blackwell Companion to Modern Irish Culture (1999; 2001), p.296;
  • “Shapes and Shadows”, poem incl. in Adrian Rice & Angela Reid, eds., A Conversation Piece (Nat. Museums & galleries of N. Ireland [2002]), and rep. in The Irish Times (29 June 2002) [response to painting of William Scott].
  • contrib. poem to Anne le Brocquy Madden Retrospective (2007), IMMA catalogue.
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Discography,

  • Niall Toibin reads “Everything is Going to Be All Right” by Derek Mahon, on Voices and Poetry of Ireland (London: HarperCollins 2003).

Bibliographical details

Light Music (Ulsterman Publications 1977; ed. Frank Ormsby), 23ppp. [20 haikus]; this contains twenty epiphanic sets of short verse with variations from those printed in the Selected Poems (1991), incl. omission of 3. Portrush; addition of 3. Negatives; omission of 4. Donegal; renaming of 7. Walking the Boy as 7. Rory; reordering of 9. Aesthetics as 5. Aesthetics; revision of 10. Mozart to 14. Mozart [ ‘Float art out over/the dark field/and moonlit outhouses.//Turn it up so they can hear/on the other planets’, to ‘The Clarinet Concerto/in A, K.622,/the second movement,//turn it up [... &c.]; 13. Joyce in Paris; renaming of 14. Come in, as 16 Enter; omission of 15. Magritte; 16. Spring, 1, Astronaut; reordering of 18. Byzantiaum as 12. Byzantium; addition of 19. East Strand; 20. Plane; 21. Absence; 22. Night; 23. Dark Edge; 24. Haven; 25. Fly-life; 26 Bluebells; 27. Loft; 28. Waterfront; 29. Outside; 30. Donegal; 31. Vertical; 32. Rogue Leaf; 34. Flying; renumbering of 20. Revelation as 33. Revelation. [End.]

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In Their Element: Seamus Heaney & Derek Mahon ([Belfast:] NI Arts Council 1977), pamphlet [18pp.]; contains poems by Heaney [q.v., & see under Works, infra], and poems by Mahon: “Girls in their Seasons”; “In Carrowdore Churchyard”; “Death of a Film-star”; “An Unborn Child”; “In Belfast”; “Edvard Munch”; “A Dark Country”; “After Cavafy”; “Afterlives” [ded. James Simmons] 2; “The Snow Party”; “A Disused Shed in Co. Wexford”; “Ford Manor”; “Penshurst Place”; “The chair squeaks …”. The poems were read at Belfast; Irvinestown; Omagh; Londonderry; Magherafelt; Banbridge; Ballycastle, 23-19 May.

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The Hunt by Night (London: OUP 1982; Wake UP, 1983), 63pp.[ded. ‘In memory of J. G. Farrell, 1935-1979’; Poetry Book Society Choice]; contains Courtyards in Delft (for Gordon Woods); Derry Morning; North Wind: Portrush; an Old Lady; Rathlin Island; Brecht in Svendborg; Knut Hamsen in Old Age; The Andean Flute; At the Pool; Tractatus (for Aidan Higgins); Morning Radio; Rock Music; The Dawn Chorus; Table Talk; Another Sunday morning; The Hunt by Night; Girls on the Bridge; Brighton Beach (for Paul Smyth); How to Live; Ovid in Tomis; A Lighthouse in Maine; The Joycentenary Ode; A Postcard from Berlin (for Paul Durcan); One of these Nights; The Terminal bar; from The Drunken Boat; A Garage in Cork; The Woods; The Eart; The Globe in North Carolina.

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Lives (London: OUP 1972), 39pp.[‘for my father and mother’; title poem ded. Seamus Heaney]; contains Homecoming; A Dying Art; Ecclesiastes; Edvard Much; In the Aran Islands; Rocks; Night Song; An Image from Beckett (for Doreen Douglas); The Last Dane; (for Tom and Peggy MacIntyre) The Archaeologist (for Hugh Maxton [W. J. McCormack]; J. P. Donleavy’s Dublin; Lives (ded. Seamus Heaney); Deaths; A Dark Country; Folk Song; A Tolerable Wisdom; Job’s Comforter; Rage for Order; After Cavafy; As It Should Be; What Will Remain; Consolations of Philosophy (for Eugene Lambe); Gipsies Revisited (for Julian Harvey); Entropy; I am Raftery; Beyond Howth Head; Notes on Beyond Howth Head; note that an epigraph from Pascal is added to the pamphlet publication: ‘Il faut partir. Cela n’est pas volontaire. Vous êtes embarqué’.

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Selected Poems 1962-1978 (OUP 1979), 117pp.; ded., ‘for Doreen; and for Rory and Katherine when the time comes’; contains Glengormley; The Poets of the Nineties; In Carrowdore Churchyard; The Spring Vacation; Grandfather; My Wicked Uncle; The Death of Marilyn Monroe; Preface to a Love Poem; Bird Sanctuary; A Mythological Figure; De Quincey at Grasmere; Breton Walks; Van Gogh in the Borinage; The Forger; Jail Journal; Day Trip in Donegal; September in Great Yarmouth; An Unborn child; the condensed Shorter testament; Girls in their Seasons; Canadian Pacific; Epitaph for Robert Flaherty; April on Toronto Island; Thinking of Inishere in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Homecoming; A Kind of People; The Poets Lie Where They Fell; A Dying Art; Ecclesiastes; Teaching in Belfast; Bruce Ismay’s Soliloquy [on the Titanic]; The Studio; In the Aran Islands; Rock; Two Songs; A tolerable Wisdom; An Image from Beckett; The Early Anthropologists; Lives; Deaths; Rage for Order; Poem Beginning with a Line by Cavafy; As it Should Be; A Stong Age Figure Far Below; Consolations of Philosophy; Gipsies; Entropy; I am Raftery; Dog Days; Beyond Howth Head; Afterlives [ded. James Simmons]; Leaves; Father-in-law; Homage to Malcolm Lowry; Going Home; The Snow Party; The Last of The Fire Kings; The North African Campaign; The Golden Bough; The Antigone Riddle; The Facts of Life; Nostalgias; The Mute Phenomena; Matthew V. 29-30; A Refusal to Mourn; Postcards; The banished Gods; A Disused Shed in Co. Wexford; Ford Manor; Penshurst Place; Three Poems after Jaccottet; Surrey Poems; Soles; Jet Trail; Autobiographies; Light Music; The Return; The Chinese Restaurant in Portrush; The Blackbird; The Old Snaps; The Attic; The Poet in Residence; Everything is Going To Be All Right; Heraclitus on Rivers; The Window; The Sea in Winter [index of first lines]. Acknowl. to Aquarius, New Statesman, Poetry Review, Honest ulsterman, Hibernia, Irish Times, New Irish Writing, Ciphers, Magill, and Ploughshares.

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Selected Poems (Viking/Gallery in assoc. OUP 1991; rep. 1993), 194pp. [ded. ‘For Rory and Katie’], contains In Carrowdore Churchyard (at the grave of Louis MacNeice), Glengormley, Grandfather, Preface to a Love Poem, De Quincey in Later Life, Four Walks in the Country Near Saint-Brieuc [Morning, Man and Bird, After Midnight, Exit Molloy]; The Forger; A Portrait of the Artist (for Colin Middleton); Day Trip in Donegal; An Unborn Child (for Michael and Edna Longley); Canadian Pacific; Thinking of Inis Oírr in Cambridge, Mass. (for Eamon Grennan); Homecoming; A Dying Art; Ecclesiastes; After the Titanic [formerly Bruce Ismay’s Soliloquy]; The Studio; Aran; Two Songs; A Tolerable Wisdom; An Image from Beckett (for Doreen); Lives (for Seamus Heaney); Death; As it Should Be; A Stone Age Figure Far Below (formerly ‘The Archaeologist’; for Bill McCormack); Consolations of Philosophy (for Eugene Lambe); Gipsies; beyond Howth Head (for Jeremy Lewis); Afterlives (for James Simmons); Leaves; Dream Days; Nostalgias; Father-in-Law; Homage to Malcolm Lowry; The Snow Party (for Louis Asekoff); The Last of the Fire Kings; A Refusal to Mourn; A Disused Shed in Co. Wicklow; The Mute Phenomena (after Nerval); Light Music [34 haiku]; Midsummer; Ford Manor; Penshurst Place; How to Live; Ovid in Love; from The Drunken Boat (after Rimbaud); three Poems by Philippe Jaccottet (The Voice; Ignorance; Words in the Air); Soles; Autobiographies; A Kensington Notebook [4 pts.]; Going Home (for John Hewitt); The Chinese Restaurant in Portrush; Rock Music; The Blackbird; The Attic (for John and Evelyn Montague); The Old Snaps; Dawn at St. Patrick’s; Beyond the Pale (after Corbière); Everything is Going To Be All Right; Heraclitus on Rivers; The Sea in Winter (for Desmond O‘Grady); ‘Songs of Praise’; Courtyards in Delft; Rathlin; Derry Morning; North Wind: Portrush; an Old Lady; Old Roscoff; Brecht in Svendborg; Knut Hamsun in Old Age; The Andean Flute; Tractatus (for Aidan Higgins); Katie at the Pool; the Dawn Chorus; Morning Radio (for John Scotney); Table Talk; Another Sunday Morning; A Lighthouse in Maine; St. Eustace; The Joycentenary Ode; A postcard from Berlin (for Paul Durcan); One of these Nights; A Garage in Co. Cork; The Woods; Craigvara House; The Terminal Bar; After Pasternak (White Night; The Earth); The Globe in North Carolina; Squince; Mt. Gabriel; Tithonus; Girls on the Bridge; The Hunt by Night; Brighton Beach; Achill; Ovid in Tomis; October in Hyde Park; Dejection; Night Drive; Antartica; Kinsale; Death in the Sun (Albert Camus 1913-1960). [No acknowls.]

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The Yellow Book (Oldcastle: Gallery 1997), 57pp. CONTENTS: Landscape page [11]; I. Night Thoughts [12]; II. Axel’s Castle [14]; III. At the Shelbourne [16]; IV. ‘shiver in your tenement’ [18]; V Schopenhauer’s Day 20]; VI. To Eugene Lambe in Heaven [23]; VII. An Bonnan Bui 26]; VIII. Remembering the ‘90s 28; IX. At the Gate Theatre 30; X. The Idiocy of Human Aspiration 33; XI. At the Chelsea Arts Club [35]; XII. Aphrodite’s Pool [37]; XIII. Dusk [39]; XIV. Rue des Beaux-Arts [41]; XV. Smoke [44]; XVI. America Deserta [46]; XVII. The World of J. G. Farrell [49]; XVIII. Death in Bangor [51]; XIX. On the Automation of the Irish Lights [54]; XX Christmas in Kinsale [56]. The epigraph is from Cyril Connolly’s The Unquiet Grave [Palinurus:] ‘To live in a decadence need not make us despair; it is but one technical problem the more which a writer has to solve.’

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Criticism
Monographs
  • Enrico Reggiani, In Attesa della Vita: Introduzione alla Poetica di Derek Mahon (Milano: Vita e Pensiero 1996), 432pp., and Do. [2nd. Edn.] (2005);
  • Hugh Haughton, The Poetry of Derek Mahon (Oxford UP 2007), 384pp. [see contents] ;
  • Stephen Enniss, After the Titanic: A Life of Derek Mahon (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 2014), 204pp.
Dedicated collection(s)
  • Kennedy-Andrews, Elmer, ed., The Poetry of Derek Mahon (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 2002), 356pp. & index [essays by Edna Longley, Gerald Dawe, Bruce Stewart, Jerzy Harniewicz, Eamonn Hughes, Richard York, Frank Sewell, John Goodby, Neil Corcoran, Stan Smith, Patrick Crotty].
Articles & Reviews
  • Edna Longley, review of Night-Crossing, in The Honest Ulsterman, 8 (Dec. 1968), pp.27-29.
  • ‘Harriet Cooke talks to the Poet Derek Mahon’, Irish Times (17 Jan. 1973), p.10.
  • Terence Brown, ‘Four New Voices, Poets of the Present’, in Northern Voices: Poets from Ulster (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1975), [q.p.].
  • D. E. S. Maxwell, ‘Contemporary Poetry in Northern Ireland’, in Douglas Dunn, ed., Two Decades of Irish Writing (Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire: Carcanet 1975), pp.166-85 [remarks on Mahon, pp.179-83 [see extract].
  • Douglas Dunn, ‘Let God not Abandon Us, on the Poetry of Derek Mahon’, Stone Ferry Review, 2 (Winter 1978), pp.7-30.
  • James Liddy, ‘Irish Poets and the Protestant Muse’, Éire-Ireland: A Journal of Irish Studies, 14, 2 (Summer 1979), pp.118-[28].
  • Stan Smith, [review article on Mahon, widely considered injudicious], Literary Review, 22 (8 Aug. 1980), p.11.
  • Willie Kelly, ‘“Each Poem for me is a New Beginning”’, interview with Derek Mahon’, Cork Review, 2, 3 (June 1981), pp.10-12 [see extract].
  • Andrew Waterman, ‘Somewhere, Out There, Beyond: The Poetry of Seamus Heaney and Derek Mahon’, in PN Review, 21 (1981), pp.39-47.
  • John Byrne, ‘Derek Mahon: A Commitment to Change’, Crane Bag, 6, 1 (1982), pp.62-72 [see extract].
  • Declan Kiberd, review of Poems 1962-1978, in Irish University Review, 12, 1 (1982), p.109 [see extract].
  • Stan Smith, in Inviolable Voice: History and Twentieth Century Poetry (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1982), pp.188-93.
  • Declan Kiberd, review of Poems 1962-1978, in Irish University Review, 12 (1982), cp.109 [see extract].
  • John Willett [letter to the Editor], Times Literary Supplement (13 May 1983), p.489.
  • Eamon Grennan, ‘“To the Point of Speech”: The Poetry of Derek Mahon, in Contemporary Irish Writing, ed. James D. Brophy & Raymond J. Porter (Boston: Iona College Press 1983), p.15 [see extract].
  • Edna Longley, [review article,] in Fortnight, 196 (Summer 1983), [see extract].
  • Adrian Frazer, ‘Proper Portion: Derek Mahon’s The Hunt by Night’, in Éire-Ireland, 18, 4 (Winter 1983), pp.136-43.
  • Seamus Deane, Celtic Revivals: Essays in Modern Irish Literature (London: Faber 1984), p.156, p.163 [see extract].
  • Maurice Riordan, ‘An Urbane Perspective: The Poetry of Derek Mahon’, in Maurice Harmon, ed., The Irish Writer and the City, ed. Maurice Harmon (Gerrard’s Cross: Smythe 1984), pp.167-79 [extract].
  • Gerald Dawe, ‘Icons and Lares: Derek Mahon and Michael Longley’, in Across a Roaring Hill, ed. Gerald Dawe & Edna Longley (Belfast: Blackstaff 1985), pp.218-35 [rep in Dawe, Against Piety: Essays in Irish Poetry, Belfast: Lagan 1995, pp.153-68].
  • Edna Longley, ‘Poetry and Politics in Northern Ireland’, in Crane Bag, 9, 1 (1985), pp.26-40 [see extract].
  • Seamus Deane, ‘Derek Mahon: Freedom from History’ in Celtic Revivals: Essays in Modern Irish Literature (London: Faber 1985), pp.156-65 [see extract].
  • Terence Brown, ‘An Interview with Derek Mahon’, in Poetry Ireland Review, 14 (1985), pp.11-19.
  • Dillon Johnston, ‘MacNeice and Mahon’, in Irish Poetry After Joyce (Notre Dame UP 1985), pp.136-43, also p.224-46.
  • John Constable, ‘Derek Mahon’s Development’, in Agenda, 22, 3-4 (Autumn/Winter 1984-85), pp.107-18.
  • James McElroy, ‘Derek Mahon’s “Rage for Order”’, Northwest Review, 24, 1 (1986), pp.93-101.
  • Edna Longley, ‘The Singing Line: Form in Derek Mahon’s Poetry’, in Poetry in the Wars (1986), pp.170-84.
  • Brendan Kennelly, ‘Derek Mahon’s Humane Perspective’, in Terence Brown and Nicholas Grene, eds., Tradition and Influence in Anglo-Irish Poetry (London: Macmillan 1989), pp.143-52.
  • Joris Duytschaever, ‘History in the Poetry of Derek Mahon’, in History and Violence in Anglo-Irish Literature, ed. Duytschaever & Geert Lernout [Conference of 9 April 1986; Costerus Ser. Vol. 71] (Amsterdam: Rodopi 1988), pp.97-109 [see extract].
  • [?] Mullaney, ‘A Poetics of Silence: Derek Mahon “At One Remove”’, in Journal of Irish Literature, 18, 3 (Sept. 1989), pp.45-54.
  • Caroline MacDonagh, ‘The Image of the Big House in the Poetry of Derek Mahon and Tom Paulin, in The Big House in Ireland, ed. Jacqueline Genet (Dingle: Brandon NY: Barnes & Noble 1991), pp.289-303.
  • David Manicom, ‘Mapping the Sublime in Derek Mahon’, in Graph, 10 (Summer/Autumn 1991), [pp.1-2]
  • [q.a.], ‘Derek Mahon Interviewed’, Poetry Review, 81, 2 [“Irish Issue”] (Chicago: Summer 1991) [q.p.].
  • James J. Murphy, Lucy McDairmid and Michael Durkan, ‘Q. and A. with Derek Mahon’, Irish Literary Supplement, 10 (Fall 1991), pp.27-28.
  • Bill Tinley, ‘International Perspectives in the Poetry of Derek Mahon’, in Irish University Review, 21 (Spring-Summer 1991), pp.106-17.
  • Kathleen McCracken, ‘Homophrosyne: The French Element in the Poetry of Derek Mahon’ in The Internationalism of Irish Literature and Drama, ed. Joseph McMinn (Gerrards Cross: Smythe 1992), pp.181-192.
  • Peter McDonald, ‘History and Poetry: Derek Mahon and Tom Paulin’ Contemporary Irish Poetry, ed. in Elmer Andrews (London: Macmillan 1992), pp.86-106.
  • Hugh Haughton, ‘“Even now there are places where a thought might grow”: Places and Displacement in the Poetry of Derek Mahon’ in Neil Corcoran, ed., The Chosen Ground: Essays on the Contemporary Poetry of Northern Ireland (Brigend, Mid Glamorgan: Seren Books, Dufour 1992), pp.87-120 [extract].
  • Terence Brown, ‘Home and Away: Derek Mahon’s France‘ in Barbara Hayley & Christopher Murray, eds., Ireland and France - A Bountiful Friendship: Essays in Honour of Patrick Rafroidi (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1992), pp.144-151.
  • Istvan D. Racz, ‘Mask Lyrics in the Poetry of Paul Muldoon and Derek Mahon’ in Donald E. Morse, et al., eds., A Small Nation’s Contribution to the World (Gerrards Cross: Smythe 1993), pp.107-18.
  • Brian Donnelly, ed., ‘Derek Mahon Special Number’, Irish University Review, 24, 1 (1994) [see contents].
  • Edna Longley, The Living Stream: Literature and Revisionism in Ireland, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne: Bloodaxe 1994) [see extract].
  • Edna Longley, ‘Derek Mahon: Extreme Religion of Art’ in Michael Kenneally, ed., Poetry in Contemporary Irish Literature [Studies in Contemporary Irish Literature 2] (Gerrards Cross: Smythe 1995), pp.280-303.
  • Jon Stallworthy, ‘Fathers and Sons’ [on McNeice with Mahon, Longley, and Muldoon], Bullán: A Journal of Irish Studies, 2, 1 (Summer 1995), pp1-15, espec., 11ff. [see extract].
  • Kathleen Shields, ‘Derek Mahon’s Nerval’, in Translation as Literature, 2, 1 (1995), pp.60-73 [see extract].
  • Mark Ford, ‘Inteview with Graham Bradshaw’ in Talking Verse, ed. Robert Crawford (St. Andrews: Verse 1995) [see extract].
  • Elmer Andrews, ‘The Poetry of Derek Mahon: “Places where a Thought Might Grow”’, in Andrews, ed., Contemporary Irish Poetry: A Collection of Critical Essays (London: Macmillan 1996), pp.235-309 [see extract].
  • Enrico Reggiani, In Attesa della Vita: Introduzione alla poetica di Derek Mahon [Scienze filologiche e letteratura 55] (Milano: Vita e pensiero 1996), xv, 413pp..
  • Tim Kendall, ‘Beauty and the Beast’, in Poetry Review, LXXXVI (Spring 1996), pp.52-53.
  • Lucy McDiarmid, review of The Hudson Letter (1995), in Irish Literary Supplement (Spring 1996), pp.20-21.
  • Jamie McKendrick, ‘Earth-residence’ review of The Hudson Letter, in Times Literary Supplement (12 April 1996), p.25 [see extract].
  • Martin Mooney, ‘Nice Little Earners’, review of Journalism, in Fortnight Review (Oct. 1996), p.35 [see extract].
  • Peter McDonald, ‘Derek Mahon, Tom Paulin and the Lost Tribe’ [Chap.], in Mistaken Identities: Poetry and Northern Ireland (OUP 2997) , pp.81-109.
  • Patrick Crotty, ‘Letters from - and to - Portrush’ review of Journalism, in Times Literary Supplement (29 Nov. 1997), p.26 [see extract].
  • Gerald Dawe, ‘Floating free of the Here and Now’ review of The Yellow Book, in Irish Times (20 Dec. 1997), [see extract].
  • Des O’Rawe, review of Phaedra, in Irish Review (Winter 1997), p.143ff. [see extract].
  • Peter McDonald, ‘Derek Mahon, Tom Paulin, and the Lost Tribe’ in Mistaken Identities: Poetry and Northern Ireland (Clarendon Press 1997), pp.81-110.
  • Peter McDonald, ‘Michael Longley’s Homes’ in Mistaken Identities: Poetry and Northern Ireland (London: Clarendon 1997), pp.110-[22].
  • Hugh Haughton, ‘Le spleen in Dublin’ review of The Yellow Book in Times Literary Supplement (14 April 1998), p.24 [see extract].
  • Peter McDonald, ‘“With Eyes Turned Down on the Part”: MacNeice’s Classicism’ in Louis MacNeice and His Influence, ed. Kathleen Devine & Alan Peacock (Gerrards Cross: C. Smythe 1998), pp.34-52.
  • Peter McDonald, ‘Incurable Ache’, in Poetry Review, LVI (Spring 1998), pp.116-17.
  • Robert Hass discusses Mahon’s ‘Everything Is Going to Be All Right’, in “Poet’s Choice” [column], The Washington Post (19 April 1998) [go online].
  • Sean O’Brien, ‘Derek Mahon: World as Exile’ in The Deregulated Muse (Bloodaxe 1998), pp.97-103.
  • Daniel Tobin, ‘In the Back of Beyond: Tradition and History in the Poetry of Derek Mahon’ Studies, 88, 351 (Autumn 1999), pp.295-304.
  • Neil Corcoran, ‘Resident Alien: American in the Poetry of Derek Mahon’, in Poets of Modern Ireland: Text, Context, Intertext (Wales UP 1999), pp.137-55.
  • Christina Hunt Mahony, ‘Derek Mahon’ in Contemporary Irish Literature: Transforming Tradition (NY: St Martin’s Press: London: Macmillan 1999), pp.58-65.
  • Oonagh Warke, review of The Yellow Book, in Books Ireland (March 1999), pp.56-57.
  • Eamon Grennan, ‘“To the Point of Speech”: The Poetry of Derek Mahon’ in Facing the Music: Irish Poetry in the Twentieth Century (Creighton UP 1999), pp.257-72.
  • John Goodby, ‘Reading Protestant Writing: Representations of the Troubles in the Poetry of Derek Mahon and Glenn Patterson’s Burning Your Own’ in Kathleen Devine, ed., Modern Irish Writers and the Wars [Ulster Editions and Monographs, 7] (Gerrards Cross: Smythe 1999), pp.219-89.
  • John Redmond, ‘Perish the Thought’, review of Selected Poems, in London Review of Books (8 Feb. 2001), pp.30-31.
  • Eamon Grennan, interview with Derek Mahon, in The Paris Review, 154, [Vol. 42] (2000), c.p.166.
  • Christina Hunt Mahony, review of The Yellow Book, and Ciaran Carson, Opera et Cetera’ in Canadian Journal of Irish Studies, 25, 1 (2000), pp.239-41 [see extract].
  • Hugh Haughton, review of Collected Poems, Times Literary Supplement (6 Oct. 2000).
  • Stephen Ennis, ‘Permanence in Flux: The Poetry of Derek Mahon’, in The London Magazine, 41.1-2 (April/May 2001);
  • Jefferson Holdridge, ‘Night-Rule: Decadence and Sublimity in Derek Mahon from The Yellow Book to the ‘Italian Poems’, in Journal of Irish Studies [IASIL-Japan], XVII (2002), pp.50-69 [see extract].
  • Terence Brown, ‘Mahon and Longley: Place and Placelessness’, in The Cambridge Companion to Contemporary Irish Poetry, ed. Matthew Campbell (Cambridge UP 2003), pp.133-48.
  • Stephen Ennis, ‘Light Enough and Time: Derek Mahon and the Literary Marketplace’, in The Irish Book in the Twentieth Century, ed. Clare Hutton (Dublin: Irish Academic Press 2004) [q.pp.]
  • Elmer Kennedy-Andrews, ‘Derek Mahon: “An Exile and a Stranger”’, in Writing Home: Poetry and Place in Northern Ireland, 1968-2008 (Woodbridge: D. S. Brewer 2008), pp.155-79.
  • Gerald Dawe, ‘So much going on it could make a soul dizzy’, review of New Collected Poems, in The Irish Times (2 July 2011), Weekend Review, p.11 [see extract].
  • Aidan O’Malley, Field Day and the Translation of Irish Identities: Performing Contradictions (London: Palgrave Macmillan 2011) - on Mahon, High Time (pp.131-41).
 

See also Eve Patton, ‘Translations: An Interview with Derek Mahon’ in Rhinoceros, No.3 [q.d.], pp.81-90; Jonathan Hufstader, Tongue of Water, Teeth of Stones: Northern Irish Poetry and Social Violence (Kentucky UP 1999); Eileen Battersby, Interview with Derek Mahon in The Irish Times (9 March 2001); Dillon Johnson, interview with Derek Mahon in James. P. Myers Jr., ed., Writing Irish: Selected Interviews with Irish Writers, in Irish Literary Supplement (2001) [q.pp.];

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Bibliographical details

Hugh Haughton, The Poetry of Derek Mahon (Oxford UP 2007), 384pp. CONTENTS: 1. Introduction: The Poetics of Home; 2. ‘Forging an identity: Night-Crossing’; 3. ‘The Ironic Conscience: Lives’; 4. ‘The Poetry of afterlives: The Snow Party’; 5. ‘Writing Crisis: The Sea in Winter’; 6. ‘The Time of Exile: The Hunt by Night’ and Antarctica’; 7. ‘Poet in New York: The Hudson Letter’; 8. ‘The Yellow Book’ and the Fin de Siècle’; 9. A New Wave: ‘Harbour Lights.’ Apparatus incls. ‘Derek Mahon: An Inventory of Poems” [383]; available at Google Books - online.]

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Irish University Review, ‘Derek Mahon Special Number’, ed. Brian Donnelly, 24, 1 (1994), CONTENTS: Catriona Clutterbuck, ‘“Elpenor’s Crumbling Oar”: Disconnection and Art in Derek Mahon’, pp.6-26; Peter Denman, ‘Know the One? Insolent Ontology and Mahon’s Revisions’, pp.27-37; Terence Brown, ‘Derek Mahon, The Poet and Painting’, pp.38-50; Michael Longley, ‘The Empty Holes of Spring: Some Reminiscences of Trinity Days & Two Poems Addressed to Derek Mahon’, pp.51-57 [Incls. poems, “Birthmarks for D.M.” [... &c.]; Eavan Boland, ‘Compact and Compromise, Derek Mahon as a Young Poet’, pp.61-66; Kathleen Shields, ‘Derek Mahon’s Poetry of Belonging’, pp.67-79; Bill Tinley, ‘“Harmonies and Disharmonies”, Mahon’s Francophile Poetics’, pp.80-95; John Redmond, ‘Wilful Inconsistency: Derek Mahon’s Verse-Letters’, pp.96-11; Christopher Murray, ‘“For the Fun of the Thing”: Derek Mahon’s Dramatic Adaptations’, pp.117-130; Jody Allen-Randolph, ‘Derek Mahon, A Bibliography’, pp.131-56 [incl. 400+ items of lit. journalism].

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Kathleen Shields, ‘Derek Mahon’s Poetry of Belonging’, Irish University Review, 24, 1 (1994), 67-79: Bibl., Edna Longley on Derek Mahon, Fortnight, 211 (Dec. 1984- Jan 1985), pp.17-18; Stan Smith, Inviolable Voices, pp.188-92; Edna Longley, ‘Louis MacNeice: “The Walls are Flowing”, in Across the Roaring Hill, ed., Dawe & Longley (Belfast: Blackstaff 1985), p.99; Basil Payne, Studies, 58 (Spring 1969), p.76; Philip Hobsbaum, ‘Derek Mahon’, in Contemporary Poets, ed. James Vinson (St. James’ Press 1975), p.985; Gerald Dawe, Sweet Discourses, Honest Ulsterman, 69 (June-October 1981), p.67; Maurice Harmon, [q.t.,] Irish University Review, 12, 1 (Spring 1982), p.103; Neil Corcoran, ‘Flying the Private Kite’, Times Literary Supplement (18 Feb. 1983), p.160.

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Joris Duytschaever, ‘History in the Poetry of Derek Mahon’, in Duytschaever and Geert Lernout, eds., History and Violence in Anglo-Irish Literature [Costerus Ser. Vol. 71] (Amsterdam: Rodopi 1988), pp.97-109, cites the following Brendan Kennelly, ‘Lyric Wit’, Irish Times ( 22 Dec. 1979); Aidan C. Mathews, ‘Winter Quarters for a Poet-exile’, Irish Times (Feb. 19 1983), [q.p.]; Edna Longley, review of Night-Crossing, in Honest Ulsterman, 8 (Dec. 1968), pp.27-29; Edna Longley, ‘The Singing Line: Form in Derek Mahon’s Poetry’, in Poetry in the Wars (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Bloodaxe 1986), pp.170-84; Dillon Johnston, Irish Poetry After Joyce (Notre Dame UP; Dublin: Dolmen 1285); Seamus Heaney, Place and Displacement: Recent Poetry of Northern Ireland (Trustees of Dove Cottage 1985); Paul Durcan, ‘The Work of Derek Mahon’, Magill (Christmas 1984), p.43; Terence Brown, ‘An Interview with Derek Mahon’, Poetry Ireland Review, 14 (Autumn 1985), pp.16-17.

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References
Edward Lucie-Smith, ed., and intro., British Poetry Since 1945 (Harmondsworth: Penguin 1970), incls. ‘My Wicked Uncle’, ‘An Unborn Child’, with the introductory remark, ‘Derek Mahon’s work is close to Heaney’s in style, and shows much the same influences, and the same high level of technical accomplishment.’ (pp.342-45).

Mahon is included in the See-And-Hear site of the Griffin Poetry Award, of which he was a winner - online [scroll down far]. The poem given is "Dirigibles" from Life on Earth (2008) - see text, attached.

Blake Morrison and Andrew Motion, eds., The Penguin Book of Contemporary British Poetry (Harmondsworth: Penguin 1982), contains “Afterlives”, “Ecclesiastes”, “Lives”, “A Refusal to Mourn”, “the Last of the Fire Kings”, “The Banished Gods”, “Leaves”, “The Snow Party”, “A Disused Shed in Co. Wexford” (pp.69-80).

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Peter Fallon and Seán Golden, ed., Soft Day: a miscellany of contemporary Irish writing, ed. (Notre Dame/Wolfhound 1980), contains “Ford Manor”; “Penshurst Place”; “Please”; “The Return”. Surrey Poems.

The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing, gen. ed., Seamus Deane (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 3, selects from Night Crossing the poems “Glengormley”, “In Carrowdore Churchyard [to Louis MacNeice], “A Portrait of the Artist”, “Thinking of Inishere in Cambridge, Mass.”; from Lives, “Ecclesiastes”, “An Image of Beckett”; “I Am Raftery” [omitted from Selected Poems, 1991]; from The Snow Party, “The Mute Phenomenon”, “A Disused Shed in Co. Wexford”; from Poems 1962-1978, “The Chinese Restaurant in Portrush”; from The Hunt by Night, “The Globe of North Carolina”, “Courtyards in Delft”, and “Derry Morning”. REMS at 633n 648, 652, 1311-12; 1315; 1371, 1375; BIOG 1434 [no criticism cited].

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Patrick Crotty, ed., Modern Irish Poetry: An Anthology (Belfast: Blackstaff Press 1995), selects “A Dying Art” [253]; “Ecclesiastes” [254]; “An Image from Beckett” [254]; “Lives” [256]; “The Snow Party” [258]; “A Refusal to Mourn” [259]; “A Disused Shed in Co. Wexford” [261]; “Courtyards in Delft” [263]; “Rathlin” [264]; “Tractatus” [265].

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Catalogues
Hibernia Books
19, [20], lists ‘Dog Days’, [as] Poem on the Underground (London: Faber/British Library [n.d.]); ‘Irish Issue’, Poetry Review, Vol. 81, No. 2 (Summer 1991), ‘Derek Mahon Interviewed’, also review of Mahon, Heaney, Longley, et al.; Rhinoceros, 3 [n.d.], Translations: an interview with Derek Mahon, also Carson, Ginsberg, Holub.

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Book titles to 1994: Beyond Howth Head (Dublin: Dolmen; London: OUP1972), 16pp. [0 19 647583 X]; Lives (London: OUP 1972) [[19 211816 1]; The Snow Party (London: OUP 1975) [0 19 211850 1]; Light and Music (Ulsterman Publ. 1977), 23pp.; Selected Poems 1962-1978 (London: OUP 1979) [0 19211 897 8]; Courtyards in Delft (Dublin: Gallery Press 1981) 0 90401 119 4]; The Hunt by Night (London: OUP 1982; N. Carolina: Wake Forest UP 1983) [0 19211 953 2]; Kensington Notebook (Anvil Poetry Press 1984) [0 85646 129 6]; Antarctica (Dublin: Gallery Press 1985) [0 90401 182 8]; Selected Poems (Dublin: Gallery Press/NY: Viking 1991; rep. Gallery; Penguin Internat. Poets 1993) [1-85235-062-8; 0-670-83575-7; and [0-14-058663-6]; The Yaddo Letter (Gallery Press Books) 15pp. [1-85235-083-0]; The Chimeras [after de Nerval] (Dublin: Gallery Press 1982), 20pp. [0 904011 31 3]

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Notes
Early publications
incl. ‘Late Night Walk’ [poem], in Dublin Magazine (Summer 1965); ‘Two Poemsrs, in Dublin Magazine (Spring 1966), p.68 [“Spring Letter in Winter”; and “Recalling Aran”: ‘I clutch the memory still, and I / Have measured everything with it since’]; also in this issue, “Canadian Pacific”, a poem on emigrants; Poems, “April on Toronto Island”, and “Parapeople”, in The Dublin Magazine, Vol. 6 No. 2 (Summer 1967), p.18.

Variants ....
Mahon is well-known for the extent of revisions and earlier and later printed versions of his poems - e.g.,
Mozart”: ‘The Clarinet Concerto / in A, K.622, / the second movement, // turn it up [... &c.]’ (Collected Poems, 1999, p.71) - cf., ‘Float art out over / the dark field / and moonlit outhouses. // Turn it up so they can hear / on the other planets.’ (Light Music, Ulsterman Publications 1977).
 
Afterlives” (for James Simmons): ‘[…] What middle-class shits we are / To imagine for one second / That our privileged ideals / Are divine wisdom, and that the dim / Forms that kneel at noon / In the city not ourselves’ […]. But the hills are still the same / Grey-blue above Belfast. / Perhaps if I’d stayed behind / And lived it bomb by bomb / I might have grown up at last / And learn what is meant by home.’ (Coll. Poems, pp.58-59.)

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A Misconception: Derek Mahon has written to The Irish Times correcting Fintan O’Toole who - writing on Heaney’s Nobel - relates that Mahon, Longley and others ‘began writing’ in Philip Hobsbaum’s poetry seminar in QUB; Mahon and Longley ‘began writing’ with Alec Reid, the ‘late great’ teacher at TCD [and founder of Icarus]; ‘These things are more complicated than they seem.’ (dated Fitzwilliam [Sq.], 12 Oct. 1995.) Seamus Heaney was arguably responsible for the misconception in answering a question from Seamus Deane, he said: ‘I think there is a recognisable group in a literary sense. This would include Simmons, Longley, Mahon, Muldoon, and others; […] I’m talking of a certain literary style which arose from the “well made poem” cult in English writing in the late fifties and sixties. Though harking to different writers all of us in this group were harking to writers from the English cultural background. In that sense, there is a kind of tightmouthedness which might be considered “Northern” by many in the South, but which is really the result of a particular literary apprenticeship.’ (Interview with Seamus Deane, ‘’Unhappy and At Home’, in The Crane Bag, Vol. 1, No. 1, 1977, pp.61-72.)

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Elegy on MacNeice: Michael Longley, in his preface to the Faber & Faber selection of Louis MacNeice (2001), relates how, in September 1963, he drove with Mahon and Seamus Heaney to the poet’s grave in Carrowdore churchyard. Shocked by his premature death at 55, and bereft of a father figure (Mahon being the only one of them who had met him personally), they ‘We dawdled between the graves, then signed the visitors’ book, each contemplating an elegy’, according to Mahon. When next together, Derek Mahon produced from his pocket his poem, “In Carrowdore Churchyard” and read it aloud. Heaney, according to Longley, started to recite his poem, then crumpled it up. Longley decided there and then not to attempt anything: ‘Mahon had produced the definitive elegy.’ (Related in “Sadbh” column of The Irish Times, 24 Feb. 2001 [by Caroline Walsh].)

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What are friends for?: Longley cajoled by Derek Mahon into repeating Moderatorship Exams [TCD Mod.] when he walked out in a ‘brain storm’. See ‘The Empty Holes of Spring: Some Reminiscences of Trinity & Two Poems Addressed to Derek Mahon’, in Irish University Review, 24, 1 (Spring / Summer 1994), pp.52-57.

War memorial: Note that the statue in Portstewart is the subject of “In Memoriam” by Heaney (‘the loyal, fallen names on the embossed plaque’), as well as poems by Simmons, Mahon and Andrew Waterman.

Fado Yaddo: The Yaddo Letter (1992) is associated with Yaddo, the writers’ residence established by Spencer Trask and his wife Katrina, herself a poet, in Saratoga, NY State, presum. visited by Mahon. It was often visited by Elizabeth Bishop (‘“At Yaddo,” she complained, “one must produce”’ - see New Yorker article on Bishop by Claudia Roth Pierpont of 6 March 2017).

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Desmond Fennell took issue with Mahon’s purported ownership of Racine’s Phaedra [Phèdre] and its classical antecedents, notably Seneca (not mentioned by Mahon), in a letter to The Irish Times (11 March 1996) - see under Fennell, infra.)

Tribute: Mahon contributed a poetical tribute to Seamus Heaney on the latter’s 70th anniversary, in the Heaney Supplement of The Irish Times (11 April 2009) [see under Heaney, supra.]

Brand Ireland: When Brian Cowen (Taoiseach) suggested in his speech at Clifton’s inauguration as Ireland Professor of Poetry that ‘Brand Ireland’ could ‘give us the competitive advantage in a globalised world’ while arts and culture had a ‘big role’ to play in getting us ‘back on track’ in the post-Celtic Tiger period, Clifton warned of the dangers to poetry from ‘the kind of people who have too strong an agenda’, not to mention the ‘crush of market forces’. Derek Mahon later told The Irish Times that ‘the idea of using the arts to build ‘Brand Ireland’ is very dense and philistine’ The Taoiseach’s speech was published at www.irlgov.ie. (See Déaglán de Bréadun [column], in The Irish Times, 31 July 2010, p.14 [Opinion and Analysis].)

David Gascoyne: James Fergusson (Bookseller), compiler of the library Catalogue of David & Judy Gascoyne, lists Derek Mahon, The Hunt by Night: [poems]. (Oxford University Press 1982) as Item 1186, being inscribed by the author on the half-title, “for David Gascoyne with the greatest admiration – Derek Mahon, Cambridge, ’83”. The book is available at £125 from Fergusson, 39 Melrose Gardens, London, W6 7RN (UK) - @ email.

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Stephen Enniss: Stephen Enniss - author of a critical biography of Derek Mahon (2014) was Director of the Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library of Emory University, Atlanta - where he had studied Librarianship following a BA degree at Davidson College, and followed by a PhD at the University of Georgia. He afterwards occupied assumed the post of Eric Weinmann Librarian at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., and was appointed Director of the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, Austin, in 2013. At Emory, he spearheaded the acquisition of the papers of many contemporary Irish poets including Mahon and Seamus Heaney as well as forming archives of Ted Hughes and Salman Rushdie. He also negotiated the gift of the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library, a 75,000-volume English language poetry library thought to be among the largest ever assembled by a single collector. Ennis wrote his book on Mahon with a bronze statue of the poet nearby.

Note: Mahon’s custom was to take notes on a small pad which he carried with him and to drop this and other material in card-board boxes for which the Library paid him on delivery to Emory University. [See Emory News - online; accessed 24.10.2014.]

Leverhulme Fellowship: Dr. Stephen Ennis held a Leverhulme Fellowship to London University’s Schoool of Advanced Studies (SAS) during Aug. 2002-June 2003 and gave a seminar in the Dean’s Seminar Series entitled ‘“Some Rich Myth of Reconciliation”: Derek Mahon and the Poetry of Redemptive Form’ on 16th October 2002 [pub. in Agenda, Winter/Spring 2004 - infra]. In the introductory notice includes remarks about ‘Mahon's life-long preoccupation with loss and the mutable arguing that his art has its source in the persistent desire for that which is beyond all recovery.’ and adds: that Mahon’s work takes ‘the form of a restoration of personal or collective history, that is achievable only provisionally in the formal achievement of his poems’. (See SAS/Leverhulme announcement - online.)

In his report on the Fellowship, Enniss gives notice that he has discovered the very first Mahon publication in the shape of a poem issued as a Christmas greeting by the Church of St. Peters when Mahon was a young teen. those he interviewed in Belfast and Dublin about Mahon include Michael Longley, Maurice Leitch, Brendan Kennelly, Thomas [Tommy] Murtagh, Jeremy Lewis and Dorothy Singmaster. (See PDF Report - online.)

Bibl. Stephen Ennis, ‘Some Rich Myth of Reconciliation: Derek Mahon and the Poetry of Redemptive Form’, in Agenda, 40.1-3 (Winter/Spring 2004).

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