Aidan Mathews

1956- [freq. Aidan Carl Mathews]; b. Dublin; ed. Gonzaga [Jesuit] College, Dublin and University College, Dublin; Irish Times Poetry Award, 1974; winner of L&H Prize; elected Auditor of English Literature Society, 1975-76; winner of the Patrick Kavanagh Award in 1976; taught at Belvedere, 1977-79; poetry collection Windfalls (1979), winner of Patrick Kavanagh Award, 1976; Macaulay Fellowship, 1978-79; TCD, MA, 1980-81;
accepted by Donald Davie into his Seminar in Creative Literature at Stanford University, where he won Ina Coolbrith Poetry Prize, 1981, studying uner René Girard; joined RTÉ as radio sound producer; Minding Ruth (1983), viewing the Jewish holocaust through a child’s eyes, won an American poetry prize; worked for Project Arts Centre, Dublin; issued The Antigone (1984), after Sophocles, dir. by Michael Scott and sharing a double-bill premiere at the Project with Derek Mahon’s High Time (1 Aug. 1984);
issued short story collection Adventures in a Bathyscope (1988), which was shortlisted for Guinness Peat Award (GPA); issued Exit/Entrance (1990), poems; participated in l’Imaginaire irlandais, 1996; According to the Small Hours (1999), poems; his story ‘‘Lipstick on the Host’’ broadcast by RTÉ in May 1999; contrib. Cain and Abel and The Last Supper to “Mysteries 2000”; works as a Drama Producer in RTÉ Radio; a successful play, Communion (Peacock [2003]); with Michael Nugent and Paul Woodfull, author of I, Keanu (Olympia Th., 12th Jan. to 18th Feb.) DIL/2 FDA OCIL

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Poetry, Windfalls (Dublin: Dolmen 1977); Minding Ruth (Dublin: Dolmen 1983); According to the Small Hours (London: Jonathan Cape 1999).

Plays, The Diamond Body (1984) [Listowel 1984 drama award]; Exit/Entrance (1988; pub. Gallery Press 1990); Sophocles’ Antigone (1984); Euripides Troades as Trojans (1994); Lorca’s The House of Bernarda Alba (1989); Communion (London: Nick Hern 2002), 88pp.

Short fiction, Adventures in a Bathyscope (London: Secker & Warburg 1988); ‘Charlie Chaplin’s Wishbone’, in Steve MacDonogh, ed., Irish Short Stories (Dingle: Mounteagle Press 1998) [q.pp.]; Lipstick on the Host (London: Secker & Warburg 1992), stories.

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Novels, Muesli at Midnight (London: Secker & Warburg 1990). Also ed., Immediate Man: Cuimhní ar Chearbhaill Ó Dálaigh (Dublin: Dolmen 1983).

Miscellaneous, ed. Immediate Man: Cuimhni ar Chearbhaill O Dalaigh (Dublin: Dolmen 1983); ‘A Question of Covenants: Modern Irish Poetry’, in The Crane Bag, 3, 1 (1979), pp.48-57 [see also Gerald Dawe’s response in issue 3, 2 (1979), pp.88-91];] ‘The Antigone’, in Theatre Ireland, 7 (1984), p.18; ‘Knowledge of Good and Evil: The Work of René Girard’, in To Honor René Girard: presented on the occasion of his sixtieth birthday by colleagues, students, friends [Stanford French & Italian Studies] (Saratoga, CA: Anma Libri 1986), pp.17-26; ‘Barber-Surgeons’, in Caroline Walsh, ed., Arrows in Flight: Stories from a New Ireland (Dublin: TownHouse; UK & US: Scribner 2002), pp.1-36; ‘The German Soldier That Fell For Forty Years’ [story], in Whispers and Shouts: Ireland’s Monthly Story Telling Magazine, No. 2 (2004) [q.pp.].

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Richard Jones, ‘Cognizant with the Past’, While Trying to Invent the Future: Conversations with Aidan Mathews and Michael Scott’, in Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, 13, 2 (Spring 1999), pp.95-109.

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Catriona Reilly, reviewing According to the Small Hours (Cape), in Irish Times (16 Jan. 1999), cites titles: ‘Surgeon at Seventy-Five’, ‘A Third is the Life and soul of the Ward’, ‘A Second Writes to Her Dead Son Daily’, ‘At the Nurses’ Station’, ‘Total Immersion’, ‘Caedmon’, ‘Working Through the Night’, and ‘Wearings’ - and calls the collection ‘a triumphant vindication of its author’s talent’.

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Death of Irish”: ‘The tide gone out for good,/Thirty-one words for seaweed/Whiten on the foreshore.’ (In Penguin Contemporary Irish Poets, ed. Derek Mahon, 1990.)

Antigone, like all the major tragedies of the Greek canon, exists in a cowed form. It has been sedated [...] The harm of its art has been drained from it. As a result, it’s suffered a sea-change, a fate worse than death; it has become a classic.’ (‘The Antigone’, in Theatre Ireland, 7, 1984, p.18; quoted in Loredana Salis, ‘“So Greek with Consequence”: Classical Tragedy in Contemporary Irish Drama’, PhD Diss., UUC, 2005.)

“Last Things”

When Wittgenstein’s cottage in Galway was unlocked
He had outwitted his critics: thousands of comics

Rose up among mice droppings where they had wanted
To find folios from an Ubermensch, not Superman.

And Yeats, dying, so intently on the Cote d’Azur,
Read Westerns while he worked on his obituary

Though lariats turn to cinctures in the last verses.
Cú Chulainn was present, but also Bat Masterson.

Which is to say we aim at shoddy rapture.
The trash of dailiness has-warmed us like newspaper

Down throughthe years inside our vests and jackets
Against all weathers. When we must manage naked,

Some sheet of it may seem less print than parchment
From the event of its being bodily sheltered

As if the humdrum could become papyrus
Because we had touched it and held it close to us,

The breastplate of the tramp, the thing that lasts.

The Irish Times (25 April 2009), Weekend, p.11.

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Andrew Carpenter & Peter Fallon, eds., The Writers: A Sense of Place (Dublin: O’Brien Press 1980), selects four poems, “Untitled”; ‘‘Talismans’’; ‘‘Affidavit’’; ‘‘Neighbours’’, pp.118-20 [photo-port].

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Poems in The Inherited Boundaries: Younger Poets of the Republic of Ireland, ed. Sebastian Barry (Dolmen 1986):
from Windfalls
To a Child
Returning to Kilcoole

from Minding Ruth
A Landing
At the Wailing Wall
The River's Elegy
Minding Ruth
Elegy for a Five Year Old
Letter Following
Keeping Pacific Time
Two Months Married
Descartes at Daybreak


from The Small Hours
How Words Meet to Make a Poem
Handbook for Revolutionaries
Lawrence O'Toole
Adam's Commentary after the Fall


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Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 3, selects from Adventures in a Bathyscope (1988), stories set var. in Ireland, England, Greece, US, and Japan [using] pastiche and satire, ‘Fathers’ [1121-25]; and poems, mostly very short, from Windfalls, ‘An Answer’ [to Yeats’s ‘Meru’]; Minding Ruth, ‘Passages’; ‘The Death of Irish’ [‘The tide gone out for good, / Thirty-one words for seaweed / Whiten on the foreshore’], ‘Keeping Pacific Time’ [1427-28]. BIOG, 1436, ed. UCD and TCD; writing fellowship, Stanford, 1981-83; Ina Coolbrith Prize for ‘Minding Ruth’; radio producer, RTÉ; plays, incl. Antigone (1984) and The Diamond Body (1985). Poems and prose, as above. Matthews is anthologised [as Aidan Carl Matthews] in Frank Ormsby, Poets of Northern Ireland (Belfast: Blackstaff 1990).

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