Michael O’Loughlin


1958- ; b. Finglas, ed. TCD; co-fnd. Raven Arts Press with Dermot Bolger, Colm Tóibín , et al.; he taught TELF in Barcelona and Denmark, and later in Amsterdam [Holland], 1982, where he settled with his Dutch wife; worked for the British Council and then the International School; translated some Dutch films; issued poetry collections incl. The Diary of Silence (1985), Another Nation (1996);
In This Life (2011); also a study of Frank Ryan in the Raven Arts “Letters from the New Island” series (1987); he has also translated Hans Blokland’s Wegen naar vrijheid (1991), winner of the Pieter de la Court award of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts Sciences, as Freedom and Culture in Western Society (1997); issued In This Life (2011), incorporating poems of fictional poet Mikelis Norgalis;
he has also written a feature film, Snapshots (2003), starring Burt Reynolds and Julie Christie, and For My Baby, an award-winning Holocaust drama starring Alan Cumming and Frank Finlay; in The Irish Times (26 Oct. 2010), O’Loughlan vigorously criticised Patrick Crotty for omission of his generation of southern poets from Penguin Book of Irish Poetry (2910).

[ top ]

Poetry, with Phyl O'Donnell, et al., Urban Voices (Dublin: Raven Arts [1980]), 32pp.; Stalingrad: The Street Dictionary (Dublin: Raven Press [1980]), 48pp. [ill., ports.]; Atlantic Blues (Dublin: Raven Arts Press 1982), 48pp., ill. [port.]; The Diary of Silence (Dublin: Raven Arts Press 1985), 63pp.; Another Nation (New Island Books 1996), 105pp.; In This Life (Dublin: New Island Press 2011), 250pp.

Translation, trans., Hidden Weddings: Selected Poems, by Gerrit Achterberg (Dublin: Raven Arts Press 1987), 72pp.; trans. Freedom and Culture in Western Society, by Hans Blokland (Routledge Studies in Social and Political Thought, 5] (London: Routledge 1997), xii, 319pp. - see contents]

Fiction, The Inside Story (Dublin: Raven Arts Press 1989), 95pp. [a novel].

Criticism, After Kavanagh: Patrick Kavanagh and the Discourse of Contemporary Irish Poetry (Dublin: Raven Arts Press [1985]), 38pp.; Frank Ryan: Journey to the Centre [Letters from the New Island, 1, 3] (Dublin: Raven Arts Press 1987), 19pp.

Miscellaneous, with Dermot Bolger, A New Primer for Irish Schools (Dublin: Raven Arts [1985]), 36pp. [see note]; short piece in ‘The State of Poetry’ [Special Issue], Krino, ed. Gerald Dawe & Jonathan Williams (Winter 1993), pp.56-60 [prose & poems]; ‘Have You Seen These Missing Poets?’, in The Irish Times (26 Oct. 2010) [critique of Patrick Crotty’s Penguin Book of Irish Poetry ], in The Irish Times (26 Ot. 2010) - see extract.

Bibliographical details

Freedom and Culture in Western Society [orig. Wegen naar vrijheid], by Hans Blokland (London: Routledge 1997), xii, 319pp. - CONTENTS: 1. General Introduction; 2. Isaiah Berlin on Positive and Negative Freedom; 3. Freedom of the Individual 4. Freedom and Society; 5. Emancipation and Paternalism; 6. Final Balance and Synthesis: Freedom and Cultural Politics; 7. Culture, Politics and Freedom. Epilogue; Bibliography: Freedom & Autonomy; Bibliography: Arts & Culture; Index. [See COPAC online.]

A New Primer for Irish Schools, [by] Dermot Bolger and Michael O'Loughlin (Dublin: Raven Arts [1985]), 36pp. [‘... published to mark the occasion of the fiftieth Raven Arts Press title in a limited edition of four hundred copies of which eighty have been hardbacked, numbered and signed by the authors’ [t.p. verso].]

[ top ]

Sebastian Barry, ed., The Inherited Boundaries: Younger Poets of the Republic of Ireland (Dublin: Dolmen 1986) contains:

from Stalingrad: The Street Dictionary  
  The City
Copenhagen Dreaming of Leningrad
The Irish Lesson
from Atlantic Blues  
  The Fugitive
A Letter from Barcelona
Two Women
Declasse Memory
Venus in Concrete
from The Diary of a Silence  
  The Shards
An Irish Requiem
The Diary of a Silence
Summer in Monaghan
On Hearing Michael Harnett Read His Poetry in Irish
The Real Thing
In the Suburbs
Latin as a Foreign Language

[ top ]

  • Interview in Books Ireland, ‘Poetry on Screen’ (March 1996), pp.11-12;
  • Philip Coleman, review of In This Life [with collections by other writers], in The Irish Times (20 Aug. 2011), Weekend, p.11 [see extract];
  • J. P. O’Malley, interview-article, at Culture Northern Ireland website - see copy attached;
  • Peter Anny-Nzekwue, ‘The Big Conversation[,] with Michael O’Loughlin’, in The Dublin Quarterly International Literary Review (June-Aug. 2011) - see extract;

Remarks on Patrick Crotty’s Penguin Book of Irish Poetry

‘What Kavanagh said was that his purpose was to have no purpose. / In my essay After Kavanagh I argued that this liberated the Irish poet from the weight of cultural expectations, so that we could develop in any direction we wanted. I still think that is true, but it’s the critical reception which is still lagging behind. When I hear talk of traditions, identities and so on, I reach for my revolver. I just thought that Crotty’s choice of contemporary poets was so bizarre and eccentric that I wanted to explore the rationale behind his choices. After the article appeared a lot of people wrote to me and offered explanations. One plausible one suggested a certain prejudice against Dublin “intellectuals”, against people who don’t focus on the single well-made poem. That may be true, as I personally tend to admire people for other reasons. It is true that there are kinds of Irish poetry, which still meet resistance. It’s always going to be difficult to come up with an anthology that pleases everyone. But Irish poetry is short of good anthologies, so it’s a pity.’

—See full text in RICORSO Library, “Criticism > Reviews”, via index or direct.


[ top ]

Philip Coleman, review of In This Life, [with collections by other writers], in The Irish Times (20 Aug. 2011), Weekend, p.11 - describes the governing principle of the middle section, which centres on the fictional person of one Mikelis Norgelis [recte sic], ‘a fictional Latvian poet [and] immigrant to Ireland’ as ‘a dangerous strategy’, and remarks: ‘[...] the absurd machismo of some of the Norgelis poems is less in evidence in pieces on either side of the collection’s central sequence, such as Messiah of Manhattan and The Widow’s Prayers, as well as the book’s wonderful opening poem, “Elegy for a Basset Hound”. Here O’Loughlin reveals a tenderness that tempers his engagements with history at the same time as it enhances his portrayals of the mundane. “I’ve read Freud, I’ve read Jung” the speaker says in The “Widow’s Prayers”, “But there’s nothing here to analyse”. O’Loughlin is at his best when the intellectual scaffolding is abandoned and he focuses directly on what he calls “the darkness and unknowing before Creation” in the book’s opening elegy. The idea may have been inspired by the poet’s reading in the Kabbalah, but the poem’s closing image of a lost dog raising its nose to “the fouled air” to locate his master is one of the most memorable in a book that tries perhaps a little too hard at times to survey the barbarous wastes of contemporary Irish and European history.’

[ top ]

Have You Seen These Missing Poets?’ [critique of Patrick Crotty, ed., The Penguin Book of Irish Poetry], in The Irish Times (26 Oct. 2010): complains about the omission of such poets as Harry Clifton, Paula Meehan, and Peter Sirr. ‘[...] Apart from the accident of place and time it is hard to find anything that binds this generation together. On closer investigation, a few vaguely shared characteristics emerge. They are more likely to have turned to Berlin than Boston, many of them have lived abroad for long periods, and are more likely to have translated from Italian or German than from the Irish. In addition – and this may be the crucial factor in their invisibility – they have maintained a resolutely semi-detached relationship to academia (not to mention “Brand Ireland”). / And yet, in having no agenda and little sense of national identity one way or another, they are the generation of poets that Irish history was working towards – a generation, to borrow a formulation from Kavanagh, whose purpose was to have no purpose. But this generation has fashioned a body of work that defines the last decades in Ireland, and skilfully, unselfconsciously, solved the cultural conundrums they inherited. [...] in this new “national tale”, there is no room for the pesky fact of the shabby, flawed, vaguely autonomous entity that has been the Republic of Ireland. Nor for those writers who have sung it and continue to live in it. For all kinds of reasons, the experience of this generation is too unclassifiable and too unwelcome. [...]’ (See full-text version, attached.)