Tom Paulin


Life
1949- [Thomas Neilson Paulin]; b. 25 Jan. 1949, in Leeds; son of protestant parents, a teacher from Tynemouth who became Headmaster of Annadale Grammar School, Belfast, 1953, and a GP from Northern Ireland who worked in war-time hospitals in London during the Blitz; brought up in Belfast from the age of 4; ed. Annadale Grammar School, Belfast; University of Hull (during Larkin’s Librarianship), grad. in English, 1970; and proceeded to Lincoln College, Oxford, working on Hardy’s poetry; appt. Lecturer in English at Nottingham Univ., 1972-89; met and married  Munjiet Kaur Khosa (“Giti”; m. 1973), at Hull, with whom two sons, Michael (b.1981), and Niall (b.1982); published a critical study of Hardy (1975);
 

contrib. The Honest Ulsterman; incl. in Poetry Introduction 3 (Faber), on recommendation of his acquaintance Douglas Dunnwon poetry awards incl. Eric Gregory Major Award, 1976; issued A State of Justice (1977), winner of Somerset Maugham Award, 1978 [err. 1977]; contrib. personal column to James Simmons’s Honest Ulsterman (1978); joint winner of Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, 1982, with Paul Muldoon; issued A New Look at the Language Question [Field Day pamphlet No. 1] (1983) - taking sides with Ian Adamson in the identification of an Ulster identity; issued Fivemiletown (1987), called a ‘corrosive and uproarious litany of bad sex, bad politics and bad religion’; appt. Lecturer in English at Nottingham University, 1989; afterwards Reader in Poetry, 1989-94; sometime acted as visiting lecturer at University of Virginia; appt. G. M. Young Lecturer in English at Hertford College, Oxford, 1994; 

 
issued A State of Justice (1977), winner of Somerset Maugham Prize; Liberty Tree (1983), assails narrowmindedness of Protestant Unionism; co-opted to the directorate of the Field Day Company; wrote The Riot Act, a version of Sophocles’ Antigone inspired by his antipathy to Conor Cruise O’Brien who had cited the play in a Listener article on N. Ireland, and commissioned by Field Day Company, but criticised by Fintan O’Toole and others for its weak ending; staged by Field Day in double bill with Derek Mahon’s High Time (after Molière); objected to the editing-out of Larkin’s more unpalatable racist views from his the Collected Letters edited by Anthony Thwaite, April 1992;
 
with issued Writing to the Moment (1996), a selection of his essays with strongly anti-Unionist overtones, combining Douglas Hurd and Ian Paisley (“the big man”) as models for Creon; The Wind Dog (1999), commissioned for the 50th anniversary of BBC3 [formerly Third Programme] was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize; gave T. S. Memorial Lecture at Canterbury, on Hazlitt (whose father was an Ulster Unitarian), Nov. 1996, and issued as The Day-Star of Liberty: William Hazlitt’s Radical Style (1998); his writings reveal an utopian desire for ‘a sweet equal republic’; appears regularily in BBC2 The Late Show, Late Review, and Newsnight Review; published “Killed in Crossfire” in The Observer (18 Feb. 2001), and attracted controversy with its reference to the ‘Zionist SS’;
 
virulently pro-Palestinian and anti-settler remarks made to an Egyptian newspaper (Al-Alhram) causes furore in the British and international press, April 2002; described Israel as an ‘ahistorical state’ which should never have been created and rebutted charges of anti-Semitism in letters to the Independent and the Daily Mail; an invitation to give Harvard’s Morris Gray lecture at first cancelled and later reissued; published The Invasion Book (2002), a topical sequence, and The Road to Inver (2004), being translations, versions and imitations, 1975-2003; appeared regularly on Mark Lawson’s “Newsnight Review” (BBC2), and involved in spat with Germaine Greer about British paratroopers and the Bloody Sunday killings in Derry;
 
presents Pen/Cross award to Seamus Heaney, Dublin, Feb. 2005; issued The Secret Life of Poems (2007), a part-anthology, part-criticism applying close-reading and historical context to poems of Shakespeare, Milton, Keats, Larkin, and Heaney, et al.; Paulin was a keynote speaker at the Tenth Hazlitt Day School, 5 June 2010; retired from Hertford College, after long illness, late 2010; continues to live in Oxford; some of his papers are deposited in Leeds UL; Roy Foster’s Paddy and Mr Punch (1993) is dedicated to Paulin, a colleague at Hertford; a br. Oswyn is a lawyer in the Northern Ireland Civil Service; Paulin wrote a preface for Terence Dolan’s ‘magnificent’ Hiberno-English dictionary, focusing on Heaney’s word ‘bleb’. DIW DIL ORM FDA HAM OCIL

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Works
Poetry
  • Theoretical Locations (Belfast: Ulsterman Publications 1975), 19pp.;
  • A State of Justice (London: Faber & Faber 1977), 47pp.;
  • The Strange Museum (London: Faber & Faber 1980; 1987), 51pp.;
  • The Book of Juniper (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Bloodaxe 1981), [24]pp., ill. [drawings Noel Connor];
  • Liberty Tree (London: Faber & Faber 1983), 78pp. [incls. ‘And Where Do You Stand on the National Question?’, pp.67-70];
  • The Argument at Great Tew (Dublin: Willbrook Press 1985), 16pp. [ltd. edn. of 120; held in copyright libraries only; prev. in London Review of Books, 4, 20 (4-17 Nov. 1982), p.19, and Irish University Review, 13, 1 (Spring 1983), pp.83-85;
  • Fivemiletown (London: Faber & Faber 1987, 2001), 67pp.;
  • Selected Poems 1972-1990 (London: Faber & Faber 1993), 120pp.;
  • Walking a Line (London: Faber & Faber 1994), 128pp.;
  • The Wind Dog (London: Faber & Faber 1999).
  • The Invasion Book (London: Faber & Faber 2002), 201pp.;
  • The Road to Inver: Translations, Versions and Imitations 1975-2003 (London: Faber & Faber 2004), 128pp. [trans. of Goethe, Verlaine, Francis Ponge, Rilke, Mallarmé, and Eugenio Montale];
  • The Camouflage School (Thame: Clutag Press 2007), [20]pp.
  • Love's Bonfire (London: Faber & Faber 2012), 64pp.
Music
  • Gala Opening Concert: Djanogly Recital Hall, 21 October 1994 (Nottingham University Arts Centre 1994), [20]pp., ill. [a concert given by the Allegri Quartet incl. “Pli de lin” by Colin Matthews with words by Tom Paulin.
Plays
  • The Riot Act (London: Faber & Faber 1985), 200pp.;
  • The Hillsborough Script: A Dramatic Satire (London: Faber & Faber 1987), [90]pp.;
  • Seize the Fire (London: Faber & Faber 1990), 65pp. [version of Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound].
  • Euripides’ Medea, in a new version by Tom Paulin (London: Nick Hern Books 2010), 65pp., port.
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Criticism
  • Thomas Hardy, The Poetry of Perception (London: Macmillan 1975), and Do. [2nd edn.] (London: Macmillan 1986), x, 225pp., 23cm.
  • ‘A Necessary Provincialism, Brian Moore, Maurice Leitch, Florence Mary McDowell’ pp.244-56, in Douglas Dunn, ed., Two Decades of Irish Writing (Carcanet 1975), [q.pp.];
  • A New Look at the Language Question [Field Day pamphlet No. 1] (Derry: Field Day Co. 1983), 20pp.;
  • Ireland and the English Crisis (Newcastle upon Tyne: Bloodaxe 1984), 222pp., with index [ded.: ‘for Brian Friel and Stephen Rea, founders of Field Day’; incls. ‘Paisley’s Progress’, and “The Making of a Loyalist’, a scathing article on Conor Cruise O’Brien as a Catholic Unionist];
  • Minotaur, Poetry and the Nation State (London: Faber & Faber 1992), vi, 298pp. [essays on poets incl. Clare, South, Larkin and Hughes];
  • Writing to the Moment: Selected Critical Essays 1980-1996 (London: Faber & Faber 1996, 1998), xiv, 318pp. [incl. ‘The British Presence in Ulysses’; ‘Paisley’s Progress’, and essays on Ted Hughes, Gerard Manley Hopkins, et al.; see note];
  • The Day-Star of Liberty: William Hazlitt’s Radical Style (London: Faber & Faber 1998), xvii, 382pp., ill. [8pp. of pls.]
  • .with Amit Chaudhuri, D. H. Lawrence and Difference: Postcoloniality and the Poetry of the Present (OUP 2003), 220pp.
  • The Secret Life of Poems: A Poetry Primer (London: Faber & Faber 2008), ix, 238pp.
  • Crusoe’s Secret: The Aesthetics of Dissent (London: Faber & Faber 2005, 2008), xxiii, 400pp. [essays on Defoe, Milton, Bunyan, Richardson, Clare, Sheridan, Kipling, Hopkins, Yeats, Synge, Lawrence, Joyce, Heaney.]
Editions, Anthols., &c.
  • Poetry: Introduction 3 (London: Faber & Faber 1975), 128pp. [with John Cassidy, Gillian Clarke, Valerie Gillies, Paul Groves, Ian McDonald, Andrew Motion, Jeffrey Wainwright, and Kit Wright.]
  • contrib. Modern Poets, 5 (London: Faber & Faber 1981), 149pp. [with Jim Hunter, C. H. Sisson, Andrew Waterman, Craig Raine, Robert Wells, and Andrew Motion];
  • ed. Faber Book of Political Verse (London: Faber & Faber 1986) 482pp.;
  • with Peter Messent, sel., Selected Tales of Henry James (London: Dent 1975; rep. 1987), xli, 350pp., and Do. [rep. edn.] (London: Dent 1993), xxxiv, 350pp. [update bibl. and new chron.]
  • ed., Faber Book of Vernacular Verse (London: Faber & Faber 1990), xxii, 404pp.;
  • intro., William Hazlitt, The Plain Speaker: The Key Essays, edited by Duncan Wu (Oxford: Blackwell 1998), xxxi, 215pp. [contents].
  • intro., William Hazlitt, The Fight and Other Writings, ed. David Chandler ([Penguin Classics] (London: Penguin 2000), xxii, 633pp.
  • intro., The Complete Poems of Elizabeth Bishop (London: Chatto & Windus 2004), 287pp.
  • ed. William Hazlitt, The Pleasure of Hating [Penguin Books: Great Ideas, 12] (London: Penguin 2004), 119pp. [The fight; The Indian jugglers; On the spirit of monarchy; What is the people?; On reason and imagination; On the pleasure of hating].
  • foreword to Rhyming Weavers: & Other Country Poets of Antrim and Down, ed. by John Hewitt [orig. 1974; new edn.] (Belfast: Blackstaff Press 2004), xiv, 191pp.
  • with Uttara Natarajan, Tom Paulin, and Duncan Wu, ed., Metaphysical Hazlitt: Bicentenary Essays [Routledge Studies in Romanticism, 5] (London: Routledge 2005), xviii, 188pp.
  • sel., Thomas Hardy: Poems [Poet to Poet ser.] (London: Faber & Faber 2005), xxii, 143pp.
  • sel., D. H. Lawrence: Poems [Poet to Poet ser.] (London: Faber & Faber 2007), xv, 152pp.
  • Selected Poems of Rozewicz Tadeusz, trans by Adam Czerniawski ... [et al.], with an afterword by Tom Paulin and John Osborne(Krako´w: Wydawn. Literackie 2008), 357pp., port, 25cm.
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Reviews (selected)
  • review of Barbara Coulton, Louis MacNeice at the BBC, in Times Literary Supplement (16 May 1980); ‘Clare in Babylon’;
  • review of Mark Storey ed., Letters of John Clare, in Times Literary Supplement (20 June 1986), pp.675-76;
  • review of Elizabeth Bishop, One Art, Selected Letters, in Times Literary Supplement (29 April 1994) [see Robert Giroux’s letter of 20 May. seq.];
  • ‘Undesirable’, review of Anthony Julius, T. S. Eliot: Anti-Semitism and Literary Form, in London Review of Books (9 May 1996), pp.12-15;
  • ‘Bournemouth, after Verlaine’, [poem], in Times Literary Supplement (29 Jan. 1999), p.35;
  • ‘The Cadence in the Song’, review-essay on Complete Poems of Christina Rossetti, in Times Literary Supplement (18 Jan. 2002), p.3;
  • ‘Prologue’ [poem], in London Review of Books (25 Jan. 2001), p.13;
  • ‘Many Cunning Passages: How Maynard Keynes Made His Mark on The Waste Land’, in Times Literary Supplement (29 Nov. 2002), p.14-15;
  • ‘The Vernacular City’, in Nicholas Allen & Aaron Kelly, ed., The Cities of Belfast (Four Courts Press 2003),[q.pp.];
  • ‘A Voluptous Eye on William Hazlitt’s Voyage through France and Italy’, in Times Literary Supplement (7 Jan. 1005), pp.11-12;
  • review of David Gilmour, The Long Recessional: The Imperial Life of Rudyard Kipling, in Times Literary Supplement (8 March 2002.), q.p. [extract]
Discography
  • Seamus Heaney and Tom Paulin (Faber Poetry Cassettes 1983).
  • Walking Lines (Faber/Penguin Audiobooks 1997) [incls. “Walking a Line”, as well as the poem “The Wind Dog”, which was written and broadcast to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Radio 3.
  • The Writers at Warwick Archive: Tom Paulin launches his collection The Wind Dog and discusses his life and work [Writers in Discussion] (Coventry: University of Warwick 2000), 1 sound cassette. [recording of 7 Feb. 2000).
Miscellaneous
  • Contrib. to No Alternative: The Prayer Book Controversy, ed.] with David Martin, et al. (Blackwell 1981) .
  • Ted Hughes: Laureate of the Free Market? [Lecture delivered on 1 November 1990; Kenneth Allott lectures, No; 7 (Liverpool: Liverpool Classical Monthly 1991), 19pp.
  • Preface to Terence Dolan, Hiberno-English Dictionary (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1998; rev. edn. 2004),pp.ix-xi.

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Bibliographical details

William Hazlitt, The Plain Speaker: The Key Essays, edited by Duncan Wu (Oxford: Blackwell 1998), xxxi, 215pp. CONTENT: Introduction by Tom Paulin. Editor’s Note. Editorial Principles. Acknowledgements. 1. The Plain Speaker. 2. On the Prose-Style of Poets. 3. On the Conversation of Authors. 4. The Same Subject Continued. 5. On Reason and Imagination. 6. On Application to Study. 7. On the Old Age of Artists. 8. On Envy (A Dialogue). 9. Whether Genius in Conscious of its Powers? 10. On the Pleasure of Hating. 11. On Egotism. 12. Hot and Cold. 13. On the Difference Between Writing and Speaking. 14. On a Portrait of an English Lady, by Vandyke. 15. Madame Pasta and Mademoiselle Mars. Appendix I: Advertisement to Hazlitt’s Table Talk (Paris, 1825). Appendix II: ‘A Half-length’: an uncollected Hazlitt portrait. Appendix III: Reynolds’ account of Hazlitt, 28 April 1817. Index.

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Criticism
  • Interview in Viewpoints, Poets in Conversation with John Haffenden (London: Faber & Faber 1981), pp.157-73;
  • Terry Eagleton, ‘The Poetry of Radical Republicanism’, rev. of Tom Paulin, ed., The Faber Book of Political Verse, in New Left Review, 158 (1986), pp.123-27;
  • Adrian Frazier, ‘Juniper, Otherwise Known: Poems by Paulin and Muldoon’ [review of Liberty Tree and Quoof], in Éire-Ireland, 19, 1 (Spring 1984), pp.123-44;
  • Edna Longley, ‘Poetry and Politics in Northern Ireland, in The Crane Bag, 9, 1 (1985), pp.26-40 [see extract];
  • Bernard O’Donoghue, ‘Tom Paulin: Theoretical Locations and Public Positions’, in Verse, 3, 3 (1987), pp.29-39;
  • ‘Q & A with Tom Paulin’, interview with Eamonn Hughes, Irish Literary Supplement (1988), pp.31-32;
  • Bernard O’Donoghue, ‘Involved Imaginings’, Tom Paulin’, in Neil Corcoran, ed., The Chosen Ground, Essays on the Contemporary Poetry of Northern Ireland (Bridgend: Seren Books 1992), pp.171-88;
  • Bernard O’Donoghue, ‘Involved Imaginings: Tom Paulin’, in Neil Corcoran, ed., The Chosen Ground: Essays on the Contemporary Poetry of Northern Ireland (Brigend, Mid Glamorgan: Seren Books; Dufour 1992), pp.171-87 [see extract];
  • Elmer Andrews, ‘Tom Paulin, Underground Resistance Fighter’, in Michael Kenneally, ed., Poetry in Contemporary Irish Literature [Studies in Contemporary Irish Literature 2] (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe, 1995), pp.329-43;
  • Peter McDonald, ‘History and Poetry: Derek Mahon and Tom Paulin’, in Elmer Andrews, ed., Contemporary Irish Poetry: A Collection of Critical Essays (Macmillan 1996), pp.86-106;
  • Anthony Roche, ‘Northern Irish Drama: Imagining Alternatives’, in Contemporary Irish Drama From Beckett to McGuinness (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1995), pp.216-78, espec. pp.255-65 [extract];
  • Seamus Heaney, ‘John Clare’s Prog’, in Redress of Poetry (London: Faber & Faber & Faber 1995), pp.80-81 [see extract];
  • Sarah Fulford, ‘The Strangeness of the Script: Tom Paulin in Conversation’, in Irish Studies Review, 19 (Summer 1997), pp.2-4;
  • Peter McDonald, ‘Derek Mahon, Tom Paulin and the Lost Tribe’ [Chap.], in Mistaken Identities: Poetry and Northern Ireland (OUP 2997) , pp.81-109;
  • Declan Kiberd, ‘The importance of Style’, review of The Day-Star of Liberty: William Hazlitt’d Radical Prose, in The Irish Times (13 June 1998) [see extract];
  • Paul Keegan, review The Day-Star of Liberty: William Hazzlitt’s Radical Style, in Times Literary Supplement (24 July, 1998), p.3-5 [see extract];
  • Eamonn Hughes, ‘Place in Tom Paulin’s Poetry’, in Ireland and cultural Theory: The Mechanics of Authenticity, ed. Colin Graham & Richard Kirkland (Basingstoke: Macmillan 1999), [cp.182];
  • Colin Graham, ‘Putting on the Style’, review of The Wind Dog, in The Irish Times (Weekend, 1 April 2000) [see extract];
  • George Szirtes, review of Tom Paulin, The Invasion Book, in The Irish Times, Weekend (6 Feb. 2002), p.11. [see extract];
  • Helen Meany, ‘Engaging with the Enemy’, interview with Tom Paulin, in The Irish Times (30 March 2002) [Weekend];
  • Nicholas Laird, ‘The Poet’s Ulcer’, review of The Invasion Book, in Times Literary Supplement (28 June 2002) [see extract];
  • Nicholas Wroe, ‘Literature's loose cannon’, in The Guardian, 23 March 2002) [see extract];
  • Omayma Abdel-Latif, ‘That Weasel Word - interview with Tom Paulin’, in Innovative Minds [internet journal] )(4 April 2002) [see extract];
  • Judith Shulevitz, ‘Senescent Prejudices’. review of The Invasion Book, in NY Times Book Review (1 Dec. 2003), p.23 [see extract];
  • Nick Topping, review of The Road to Inver, in Fortnight [Belfast] (Feb. 2005), p.29 [see extract]; Gareth Reeves [essay on Paulin], in Essays on Modern Irish Literature, ed. John Strachan & Alison O’Malley-Younger (Sunderland UP 2007) [q.pp.];
  • Elmer Kennedy-Andrews, ‘Tom Paulin: Dwelling Without Roots’, in Writing Home: Poetry and Place in Northern Ireland, 1968-2008 (Boydell & Brewer Ltd. 2008) [Chap. 8 - the title reflecting that of Paulin’s essay on Elizabeth Bishop in Minotaur; available at Google Books - online]
  • Alex Preston ‘Align with dissent’ [encomium on Paulin], in New Statesman (17 Oct. 2011) - available online [by a former student inspired to study English by Paulin's TV appearances];
  • Aidan O’Malley, Field Day and the Translation of Irish Identities: Performing Contradictions (London: Palgrave Macmillan 2011) - on  The Riot Act (pp.95-106).
  • Sean O’Brien, review of Love’s Bonfire, in The Guardian (27 April 2012) - available online;
  • Stephanie Schwerter, Northern Irish Poetry and the Russian Turn : Intertextuality in the Work of Seamus Heaney, Tom Paulin and Medbh McGuckian (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan 2013), x, 251pp.
See also ...
  • Seamus Deane, ‘Black Mountain Jacobin’, review of The Liberty Tree, in Honest Ulsterman, 74 [q.d.], p.49;
  • Seamus Deane, ‘Remembering the Future’, in The Crane Bag [RTÉ/UCD Lectures], 8, 1 (1984), pp.81-92 [remarks on The Riot Act].
  • Clair Wills, Improprieties: Politics and Sexuality in Northern Irish Poetry (Oxford: OUP 1993), 272pp. [readings of Tom Paulin, Medbh McGuckian, and Paul Muldoon].
  • Ciaran Hinds, programme notes on The Riot Act, dir. Stephen Rea [see under Friel, Quotations, supra.
  • Peter Foster, ‘What are Oxford dons to make of Tom Paulin?’ (27 April 2002) - available online

There is a British Council page on Paulin - online.

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Commentary
Edna Longley, ‘Poetry and Politics in Northern Ireland, in The Crane Bag, 9, 1 (1985), pp.26-40; rep. as Do., in Poetry in the Wars (Bloodaxe 1986), pp.185-210, offers strenuous criticism of Tom Paulin’s part in the neo-nationalist Field Day enterprise (pp.29ff.); Tom Paulin’s collection of poems Liberty Tree, as its title suggests, attacks contemporary Unionism for betraying the French and Irish Republican principles of ’98. His ideal unifying symbolism of “dissenting green”, “the northern starlight”, “the green tide rising through Mayo and Antrim” (another pre-lapsarian dream), carries less poetic conviction than his satire, which castigates the Northern state in the light of British colonialism. ... However, when Paulin comes nearer home, he cannot temper the extremist techniques of satire for purposes of inwards dissection [quotes “Desertmartin”] / That cliched, external impression of the Protestant community exposes Paulin’s own “parched certainty”.’ (p.29). Further [commenting on the linguistics of “Martello”], ‘Paulin’s version of two-language theory epitomises how politics abuse poetry: by an intellectually bullying of subject-matter, by exploitation akin to that which the poet deplores.’ (p.32). Quotes Paulin: ‘The history of a language is often a story of posssession and dispossession, territorial struggle and the establishment or imposition of a culture.’ (‘A New look at the Language Question’, Field Day Pamphlet, No. 1, 1983, p.5 [beginning]). See also Edna Longley, ‘Sweet Dreams or Rifles’, review of Paulin, The Liberty Tree, Fortnight, 196 (July-Aug. 1983), pp.19-21: ‘Paulin’s love affair with Romantic Ireland is, in its rural aspect, derivative as well as abstract. Western landscapes seem a natural resort of the Protestant urban poet, and Paulin knows Donegal; yet he experiences the countryside through Seamus Heaney’s poetry, adopting its vocabulary, rituals and cadences.’ (p.19.)

Anthony Roche, Contemporary Irish Drama (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1995), p.258f., discussing the origins of Paulin’s Sophoclean tragedy, The Riot Act in an exchange with Conor Cruise O’Brien arising from the latter’s articles on Northern Ireland, written as from the ethical standpoint of Creon. Roche quotes Paulin’s statement of dissaffection from the O’Brienite position: ‘Until about 1980 [... I] reacted like most members of the Unionist middle class and believed that Conor Cruise O’Brien was putting our case”. But there was something different in the air as the decade ended. I started reading Irish history again and found myself drawn to John Hume’s eloquence, his humane and constitutional politics. As a result, O’Brien’s articles in The Observer began to seem sloppy and unconvincing and I felt angered by them.’ (Introduction, Ireland and the English Crisis, p.16; Roche, op. cit., pp.258-59.)

Bernard O’Donoghue, ‘Involved Imaginings’, Tom Paulin’, in Neil Corcoran, ed., The Chosen Ground, Essays on the Contemporary Poetry of Northern Ireland (Bridgend: Seren Books 1992), pp.171-88: speaks of Paulin’s vigorous attacks on post-structuralism in 1983 and his advocacy of figures such as Christopher Ricks and Helen Gardner rather than the contemporary Raymond Williams, and remarks that he has changed his view diametrically, further concluding that ‘a split between Paulin’s literary commitment to Gardner-Ricks and his socialist political convictions was bound to come.’ (p.180.)

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Seamus Heaney, ‘John Clare’s Prog’, in Redress of Poetry (London: Faber & Faber 1995), refers to Paulin’s ‘essay of brilliant advocacy’ on the English poet in Minotaur (1992), and quotes from Paulin’s introduction to Faber Book of Vernacular Verse (1990): ‘The restored texts of the poems embody an alternative social idea. With their lack of punctuation, freedom from standard spelling, and charged demotic ripples, they become a form of Nation Language that rejects the polished urbanity of Official Standard’; further quotes Paulin’s remarks on Clare’s ‘Ranter’s sense of being trapped within an unjust society and an authoritarian language’, and his conclusino that ‘Clare dramatises his experience of the class system and its codified language as exile and imprisonment [80] in Babylon’. Heaney adds: ‘By implication, then Clare is a sponsor and a forerunner of modern poetry in post-colonial national languages, poetry that springs from the difference and/or disafection of cultral and perhaps political odds with others in possession of that normative “Official Standard”. Paulin’s contention is that wherever the accents fo exacerbation and orality enter a text, be it in Belfast or Brooklyn or Brixton, we are within earshot of Clare’s influence and example. What was once regarded as Clare’s out-fo-stepness with the main trends has become his central relevance: as ever the need for a new kind of poetry in the present has called into being precursors out of the past.’ (p.81.)

Nicholas Murray, review of Writing to the Moment, in Times Literary Supplement (29. Nov. 1996), p.26, cites his admission that he is a subscriber to the loose cannon school of literary criticism’, and holds William Hazlitt his hero; cites review of Ireland the the English Crisis in Times Literary Supplement (14 Jan. 1985); quotes ‘newness and nowness’; essay title, ‘The British presence in Ulysses’, deft and convincing, regarding the Martello Tower as politicised, and Joyce likewise as a ‘politicised aesthete’; on the other side, Hopkins becomes an ‘epistolary genius’ with ‘a loving egalitarian curiosity’ who came to ‘sympathise with the deprivation of powerless people’; Paulin remonstrates against the boringness and decency of Raymond Williams’ prose.

Paul Keegan, review The Day-Star of Liberty: William hazxzlitt’s Radical Style (Faber & Faber 1998), 368pp., Times Literary Supplement, 24 July, 1998, p.3-5, writes: ‘Paulin attends to what strikes the most casual reader but gets elided from accounts of Hazlitt: the scandal of his prose. / Paulin’s own prose is fairly scandaluous, but could be seen as a close maapping of Hazlitt’s radical style.’ ‘Paulin sees him as harbouring a largely solitary intention, “of becomnig the leading prose stylist of the age”, and as facing a predicament: the fugitiveness of prose.’ Paulin shows that Hazlitt is the great master of quotation, which De Quincey thought to be ‘at war with sincerity.’ ‘Paulin treats the mirror-imaging of Hazlitt and Burke’ (p.3). ‘Paulin’s critical writng has been ain search of a vernacular republican prose’ (p.4); ‘it is wonderful to have the culture of Hazlitt’s plainness recovered’ (p.4). ‘Hazlitt’s attempt to make prose register the shock of ordinary conversation’ (p.5).

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Declan Kiberd, ‘The importance of Style’, review of The Day-Star of Liberty: William Hazlitt’d Radical Prose (Faber & Faber 1998): ‘Hazlitt endures, he contends, by shee style’; ‘shaped by unitarian principles’; ‘narrates history of keywords’; ‘Paulin is a true liberal - which is to say that he tackles his intellectual enemies on their strongest rather than weakest grounds, happily admitting, even celebrating their good points’; ‘unafraid of offering interpretations that skirt the edge of the ludicrous (reading the final stanza of Keats’s “To Autumn” as a coded elegy for the dead reformers of Peterloo, or taking Thady in Castle Rackrent as a parody of Edmund Burke)’; ‘contends that there is some necessary connection wbetween political tendency and literary style’; ‘reopens an republican agenda for English letters, even as it demonstrates that true republicanism remains forever open to correction, counter-argument and to the essential criticism of its own staunchest codes.’ (The Irish Times, 13 June 1998.)

George Szirtes, review of Tom Paulin, The Invasion Book (London: Faber & Faber), 201pp.; main chars. Clemenceau, Woodrow Wilson, Stresemann, Austin Chamberlain, Aristide Briand, and the central event at Locarno, 1925. Szirtes writes, ‘The vision in The Invasion Handbook involves the unfolding of a tragic momentum: an overview presetned as a tidal wave of minute particulars. Though Paulin’s reading is comprehensive and passionate, it would be a msitake to think of his book as History, even as History spiced with moral-aesthetic disgust, though the disgust is palpable throughout. […] The Invasion Handbook is not history but poetry, and as a poetic project it has magnificent ambitions. Its sheer pace carries the reader along on a bristly [sic] gale.’ Finally, ‘Reading The Invasion Handbook is not so much like living in a sweaty jockstrap [allusion to phrase of Paulin’s on BBC’s Late Review] as like following the movements of a fist that smells of iron and puritan wind. In so far as I can see the eminence the poet is standing on it frightens the hell out of me.’ (Irish Times, Weekend, 6 Feb. 2002, p.11.)

Steven Matthews, ‘Protestant Vocables’, review of Tom Paulin, The Wind Dog, in Times Literary Supplement (25 February 2000), ‘Poets from Ireland have consistently placed much personal and political emphasis on the need to deploy form in ways that make their poetry consonant with the speaking voice. From Yeats to Eavan Boland, from Heaney to Paul Muldoon, this ambition has set a marker of their particular perspective on tradition. However, even as his attention here remains intensely focused on- Ireland’s divided inheritance, Tom Paulin’s The Wind Dog offers a more radical solution to the issue of local voice than that taken by his immediate peers or forebears.’ Discusses Paulin’s meditation on Hardy’s word ‘appertaining’ in Tess, and cites the poems “Sentence Sound”, “Over the Town” , “The Unholy One?” (on G. B. Shaw). Further remarks: ‘What seems most risky and convincing about this writing is the way it shows the pacy yet meditative voice to be always haunted by a sudden awareness of the contradictory, and especially political, symbols of places seemingly left behind. In “Drumcree Three” , a stepladder left out in Paulin’s “garden by the Thames” translates itself both into a masonic triangle and “a type of cubist / hard metal liberty tree”. Or, in the wrenching elegy for the young Quinn brothers murdered after the Omagh bombing - an elegy which never comes to its subject, as how could it? - “those little white boxes” are both grim ironic containers of wedding-cake and “the watering trough in Chagall’s L’Auge [...] oh not a cradle / a tiny coffin” ’, and concludes: ‘Both for its compelling execution and its vocal and historical imperatives, this is a vitally important book.’ (TLS, p.23.)

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Colin Graham, ‘Putting on the Style’, review of The Wind Dog, in The Irish Times (Weekend, 1 April 2000), writes: ‘Tom Paulin’s poetry is determinedly one of sound before lyricism, of intellect before evocation. “Style” , an early poem in this collection, puns on his recurrent assertion that words are a truculently awkward means of communication and effectively, explains Paulin’s own “style” , in which language has to be clambered over again and again, legged up by idea etymologies and lost associations. Once the “stile” is traversed, The Wind Dog rewards the reader with a Paulin more open and self-reflective than before.’ Further, ‘Paulin does not entirely remake himself in The Wind Dog. The England of this collection is predictably one in which Anglicanism is “brisk, bossy, heartless, / and utterly without hope” (“Bournemouth” ) and where the forgotten republicanism of Marvell and Milton is still bemoaned. “Oxford” is a buddleia-edged imperial centre. Of the poems on the recent politics of the North, “The Quinn Brothers” is the least successful in the collection, partly because the traumatic nature of its subject far exceeds the poem’s capacities - it ends with an awkward recanting of Paulin’s favourite metaphor, the liberty tree. Much more successful is “Drumcree Three” , in which a ladder used to prune a vine on the day of the march becomes, by the next day, a plethora of possibilities: it may have dropped from the sky, or risen from the earth, it may be the Jacob’s ladder on an Orange arch, or the arch itself, or “a type of cubist / hard metal liberty tree” . Graham concludes: Whether the ladder is “object or symbol?” is left as a question’, but adds an answer: ‘What it does symbolise is the openness, the critical multiplicity and, ultimately, the assurance which recur throughout The Wind Dog, making it an adventurous and important departure in the work of a major contemporary Irish poet.’ [End.]

Nicholas Laird, ‘The Poet’s Ulcer’, review of The Invasion Book, in Times Literary Supplement [28 June 2002]: ‘Tom Paulin is an angry man. Like most converts, he has a zealous disposition’; ‘The grey of the cover of Fivemiletown has been refreacted through Paulins’s mind and come out black and white’; ‘Paulin concentrates on blame and guilt and their transference, but a less head-on collision with his subject-matter might have been more rewarding.’ ‘Paulin misses what he claims for Huckleberry Finn, “vernacular authenticity hat bonds the reader in an immediate personal manner”. He can seem more liek the man Edna Longley has accused of appropriating dialecti words in order better to despise the people for whom such dialect is first language.’ ‘There is expected criticism of the war-time leadership, but also of detached the bystanding intellectual or poet.’

Nicholas Wroe, ‘Literature's loose cannon’, in The Guardian, 23 March 2002: [...] Paulin has published five collections of poetry, edited several anthologies and next month publishes the first volume of a hugely ambitious verse project about the second world war. Over 30 years he has also provided literary, cultural and historical criticism in books, reviews, essays and lectures. Most recently, in the wake of September 11 and the subsequent outbreak of renewed violence in Israel, he has been involved in an acrimonious public argument about Israeli policy towards Palestinians. But over the years he has also precipitated high-profile rows defending Milton's place in the literary canon, attacking establishment tolerance of TS Eliot's anti-Semitism and Philip Larkin's racism, and complaining about the deleterious influence of critical theory on the teaching of English literature. (- available online; see under Bloody Sunday, infra.).

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Judith Shulevitz, ‘Senescent Prejudices’. review of The Invasion Book, in NY Times Book Review (1.12.2003), discusses in hostile terms Paulin’s pro-Palestinian and reputedly anti-semitic statements [all settlers on the W. Bank ‘should be shot’] and cites the poems “On Being Dealth the Anti-Semitic Card” and “Caught [?Killed] in Crossfire” (which calls Israeli soldiers ‘the Zionist SS’), before commenting on the work: ‘[...] Paulin’s derision of puffed-up diplomats, his condemnations of dictators and appeasers, thunders down from the lofty perch of hindsight. His pronouncements on histroy smack of finger wagging, not original thought. / It is this shrill style, more than the actual subject matter, that ties The Invasion Handbook to a poem like “Killed in a Crossfire”. Also cites a ‘positive but puzzled’ review by Frank Kermode in the London Review of Books [q.d.] and complains about Paulin’s use of his vernacular Northern Irish words like ‘toltering’ and ‘loy’ not found in the current Oxford English Dictionary, adding: ‘He is a master prosoditsts, though, so even when the nuances of the poem escape you, you may still be entranced by its snappy conversational rhythms and their interplay with delicate meters and strong rhymes.’ Enters into comparisons with T. S. Eliot, as described by Paulin,and concludes: ‘He is not an anti-Semite, at least not in the chilly way Eliot was. Paulin is something different. He’s a thug.’ (p.23.)

Ciarán Hinds, account of The Riot Act (orig. 1984): ‘[...] Paulin’s version of Antigone finds its origin in an argument with Conor Cruise O’Brien over the interpretation of the play. O’Brien was one of the first to apply the story of Antigone to the Northern Irish situation. From his point of view, Antigone’s decision was a disputable one for Creon’s power, even though he had abused it, was legitimate, “and the life of the city would become intolerable if citizens should disobey any law that irked their conscience.” This commitment in favour of obedience to authority, from Paulin’s point of view, suggests unacceptable passivity and submission to Northern Ireland’s status quo (“the Unionist state is virtually absolved of all responsibility and Creon’s hands appear to be clean.”) / And Paulin was a man a little patience with those who choose compromission and stability over justice. His play claims itself a transposition to the Northern Irish context as the chorus leader (Ciarán Hinds) states it in the very beginning: “ever since the day I first made this speech - it was in another time and place, and in a different language too - the grief I was speaking of then has grown and multiplied.”’ (See full text version, attached.)

Neil Corcoran, ‘The state we’re in’ review of Seamus Heaney, The Burial at Thebes, in The Guardian [Sat.] (1 May 2004): ‘[...] The play [Antigone] has featured more recently, too, in Irish public life in the controversial article that Conor Cruise O’Brien published in The Listener in October 1968, in which he identified Antigone with the Queen’s University student civil rights campaigners - Heaney was a lecturer at Queen’s then - declaring that the consequences of her action were “a stiff price for that handful of dust on Polyneices”, and recommending instead the quietism of Ismene. Tom Paulin, in a relatively level-headed piece of spleen, subsequently derided O’Brien in an essay which he reprints at the head of his volume Writing to the Moment (1996), chastising him in particular for his failure to appreciate the true nature of Creon’s (that is, in this context, the British government’s) potentially devastating and always unaccommodating power. It was out of this aggression and rebuke that Paulin developed his own version of Sophocles, The Riot Act, produced, also by Field Day, in 1984. [...] While I was preparing this review I taught Milton’s Samson Agonistes to first-year students. One said, and the others agreed, that Samson was a suicide bomber. I’d never thought this; so here was a melancholy instruction in the way classic literature always exceeds itself in the recognitions made by succeeding generations. But I wondered if suicide bombers too might perceive themselves as Antigones. Although she makes her protest by non-violent civil disobedience, her god, as Creon insists, is Hades, the god of death. How might she behave if she stayed alive and Creon never relented? For Cruise O’Brien, Antigone is “an uncompromising element in our being, as dangerous in her way as Creon”. Her other god, Eros, is dangerous too [...; &c.]’ (See full text in RICORSO Library, “Criticism > Reviews”, attached.)

Nick Topping, review of The Road to Inver, in Fortnight [Belfast] (Feb. 2005), p.29, rebutts Anthony Thwaite’s Daily Telegraph review of same charging the poet with “travesties” of the originals, and quotes from the title poem (afte Pessoa): ‘I’m losing myself in the road in front of me . I’m adding myself to the distance. [...] how many borrowed things do / I go about in or use all day? / but the things that are lent I take / them over and make them mine / - one day way back they even loaned me me. [...] on the road to Inver / craving peace its slow so slow / drop into our laps but as far / from it and myself as ever’. Also cites review by David Constantine in the Independent [UK] arguing that the translations have been freed from their originals. Quotes “From the Death Cell” (after Chénier): ‘We live - dishonoured, in the shit. So what? It had to be. / This is the pits and yet we feed and sleep.’ Also quotes “Contemplation” (after Hugo) [see infra], and remarks: ‘This poem pretty accurately describes a lot of Paulin’s concerns and motivations in this collection. For Paulin, the poeet has a responsibility to art but also to society, to those “wee victims / of nature and history”. To approach this book on purely aesthetic and non-political terms, as someone like Thwaite does, is grossly disingenuous; and is to refuse to judge the work on its own terms. Histoyr is the travety, these poems only reflect that.’ Finally notes comparison and difference from Lowell: ‘Whilst these poems cross centuries and nationalities, they are also obsessively local. That’s just one of the reasons why I’ll keep reading them.’ [End.]

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Quotations

Poetry
Desertmartin”: ‘I see a plain / Presbyterian grace sour, then harden, / As a free strenuous spirit changes / Toa servile defiance that whines and shrieks / For the bondage of the letter: it shouts / For the Big Man to lead his wee people / To a clean white prison, their scorched tomorrow.’ (Quoted in Nicholas Laird, ‘The Poet’s Ulcer’, review of The Invasion Book, in Times Literary Supplement [28 June 2002])

Decommissioning”, a poem, in The Irish Times (4 March 2000), Weekend, p.8: ‘Something to do with precipices / and ice cream / and then nothing at all to do with them / - I’m tracing whatever / - yeah whatever / and want to be rocky ropy / yes claggy even ragged / like the smell of damp newspaper / smell that’s worse than dull / maybe it’s an icecream parlour - Fusco’s - / on the Ormeau Road / a gunman with an unused weapon / letting himself softly / out the back door? / I met a son of that family / last winter in Moscow / but here and now / there’s no thick innocent snow / to soften things / - their angles / their hard lines / as we watch David Trimble dangle / on a thread - / thread or a wire / a command wire that ends / in a hazel grove / that overlooks an A road / some council houses / a red phone box / in South Armagh / - this is what I’m thinking / as we all make this next trip / to the brink / it’s in me as I take the road / past the ice rink / to a house on the river / but the river I see / is a greasy groove / that might just be the Lagan / slipping or sliding / down to the sea / - would one jammed Armalite / a rusty revolver / and a sweaty wad / of Semtex do the trick? / it’s not likely / as the fabled pikes and a thousand bits / of new and ancient hardware / stay rammed in the thatch / for the next time / or the time after that / - no way will it hatch / either the oval / or the squared egg of peace / because the Union / - what’s left of it / the Union was always a dead end / a painted wee corner / whose two high walls / echo back No Surrender / as a pleading boxed-in command / Surrender.

Contemplation 27” (after Hugo); ‘Really because we hate them / I try to love the spider and the nettle - / the nettle has a hairy stem / no hairy stalk would be better / and the spider has wire legs / brisk and bent below a body / like a tiny egg / - nothing but nothing fulfils / and everything punishes / their mournful hope / they’re damned dreggy meagre / so one might as well / love a piece of old rope / - like great underpants / that carry the stain of the provincial / and can find nobody / to admire their vernacular / they’re not wee victims / of nature and history / who bring a taste of some minor abyss / brings grot and gloom / - ack the’yre like shattered limbs / or the shut smell of piss / in a basement room.’ (Times Literary Supplement, 30 July 2004, p.4.)

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Antigone (in Antigone, 1984): ‘You know all about men. / You know all about power. / You know all about money. // But you know nothing about women. / What man knows anything about woman? // If he did / He would change from being a man / As man recognises a man.’ (Antigone, p.35; quoted in Loredana Salis, ‘“So Greek with Consequence”: Classical Tragedy in Contemporary Irish Drama’, PhD Diss., UUC, 2005.) Ends with Creon: ‘’Wicked, cack-[handed], / that’s Creon, / Made a right blood-mess, / Did Creon. / And where’s the end of it?’ (p.62; Salis, op. cit., 2005.)

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“Killed in Crossfire”, in The Observer (18 February 2001)

‘To me the Zionists, who want to go back to the Jewish state of 70 AD (destruction of Jerusalem by Titus), are just as offensive as the Nazis. With their nosing after blood, their ancient “cultural roots”, their partly canting, partly obtuse winding back of the world, they are altogether a match for the National Socialists.’ - Victor Klemperer, 13 June 1934.

We’re fed this inert
this lying phrase
like comfort food
as another little Palestinian boy
in trainers jeans and a white teeshirt
is gunned down by the Zionist SS
whose initials we should
- but we don’t - dumb goys -
clock in that weasel word crossfire.

 
—first published in The Observer (Sunday, 18 Feb. 2001); available at Guardian website - online; also via Wikipedia Tom Paulin page - 23.02.2011.

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Prose
Ireland & the English Crisis (Bloodaxe 1984)

On DECONSTRUCTION: ‘Deconstruction is the cry of a culture cracking under the weight of its achievements. In Ireland, though, there is as yet no ratified idea of a culture which literary theorists could begin to undermine.’ [15] ‘My own critical position is eclectic and is founded on an idea of identity which has as yet no formal or institutional existence.’ [17] ‘Belatedly, I’ve come to believe that class politics and proper democracy will only be possible in Ireland once the “national question” has been answered. ... Once a full Irish identity has been established then some form of skeptical detachment - a repudiation of its possible narrowness - becomes necessary and obligatory. In my view it is impossible to achieve a wide and cultivated cosmopolitan outlook without beginning ... from the idea of a secular republic [18] [Wilde’s] aesthetic rebellion was a version of Robert Emmet’s, and it was also a principled rejection of the social role of the artist as lackey.’ [19] ‘Tom Moore ... sing for your supper and flicker through the gossip columns’ [19]. [ON CONOR CRUISE O’BRIEN, see O’Brien, supra]
 
ON THOMAS MOORE, a review of Terence de Vere White’s book in ‘garrulous telegraphese’; ‘It was always Moore’s intention to gain an important public place through the influence of the aristocracy he so assiduously cultivated ... He seems to have been one of those deeply selfish people whose radiant self-love casts a brief, delighted spell on everyone they meet ... a surface charmer who shied away from pain and suffering ... dazzling superficiality which made him safe, emotionally undemanding and companionable’ [39-41] See also remarks on John Morrow [supra].
 
ULSTERMAN’S CREDO: ‘Until about 1980 I took a different view and believed what most Ulster Protestants still believe - that Northern Ireland was, and ought to remain, permanently wedded to Great Britain. Although I had always hated Ulster Unionism very bitterly and supported the Civil Rights movement from the beginning, I believed that Civil Rights and greater social justice in Northern Ireland could be achieved within the context of the United Kingdom. I rejoiced, therefore, at the fall of Stormont and the same week attacked a Provo supporter who was selling nationalist newspapers … But there was something different in the air as the decade ended. I started reading Irish history again and found myself drawn to John Hume’s eloquence, his humane and constitutional politics.’ (Ireland and the English Crisis, p.16; cited in Bernard O’Donoghue, ‘Involved Imaginings, Tom Paulin’, in Neil Corcoran, ed., The Chosen Ground: Essays on the Contemporary Poetry of Northern Ireland, Bridgend: Seren Books 1992, p.177.)
 
ULSTER UNIONISM: ‘That community possesses very little in the way of an indigenous cultural tradition of its own and in its more reflective moments tends to identify with “the British way of life”. Although the dissenting tradition in Ulster created a distinctive and notable culture in the closing decades of the eighteenth century, that tradition went underground after the Act of Union and has still not been given the attention it deserves. This is largely because most Unionists have a highly selective historical memory and cling desperately to a raft constructed of two dates - 1690 and 1912. The result is an unusually fragmented culture and a snarl of superficial or negative attitudes. A provincialism of the most disabling kind.’ (Ireland and the English Crisis, 1984, p.17; cited in Peter McDonald [Elmer Andrews, ed.], 1996, p.101.)

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Hiberno-English: ‘[...] the language appears at the present moment to be in a state of anarchy. Spoken Irish English exists in a number of provincial and local forms, but because no scholar has as yet compiled a Dictionary of Irish English many words are literary homeless. they live in the careless richness of speech, but they rarely appear in print. When they do, many readers are unable to understand them and have no dictionary where they can discover their meaning. the language therefore lives freely and spontaneously as speech, but it lacks any institutional existence and so is impoverished as a literary medium. It is a language without a lexicon, a language without form. Like some strange creature of the open air, it exists simply as Geist or spirit.’ (A New Look at the Language Question, Field Day, 1983) [var. 1985]; quoted in Michael Montgomery, ‘The Lexicography of Hiberno-English’, publ. in Irish Studies: Working Papers, Nova Southwestern Univ., Florida, 1993).

Further: ‘Many words which now appear simply gnarled, or which “make strange” or seem opaque to most readers would be released into the shaped flow of a new public language. Thus in Ireland there would exist three fully-fledged languages - Irish, Ulster Scots and Irish English. Irish and Ulster Scots would be preserved and nourished, while Irish English would be a form of modern English which draws on Irish, the Yola and Fingallian dialects, Ulster Scots, Elizabethan English, Hiberno-English, British English and American English. A confident concept of Irish English would substantially increase the vocabulary and this would invigorate the written language. A language that lives lithely on the tongue ought to be capable of becoming the flexible written instrument of a complete cultural idea.’ (Paulin, ‘A New look at the Language Question’, Field Day Pamphlet, No. 1, 1983, p.17; quoted in Edna Longley, ‘Poetry and Politics in Northern Ireland, in The Crane Bag, 9, 1 1985, pp.26-40, p.30.)

See also - remarks on the same topic attributed to him - presumably from the same source: ‘We aim, if we can, to transcend the great gaps that there are between different political ideologies and obvious religious antagonisms by saying, Yes, there are two main traditions in this country and they are both to be attended to and nurtured ... They are important, each on its own is somehow adequate, but the two playing together, rather than fighting together, in a state of creative tension, could produce a really rich and interesting cultural life.’ (q.p.; quoted in Robert McCrum, Robert MacNeil, and William Cran, The Story of English [1986; 3rd Rev. Edn.] 2003, p.208. [Note that the authors give thanks and acknowledgements to the directors of Field Day, being Seamus Deane, Brian Friel, David Hammond, Seamus Heaney, Tom Paulin and Stephen Kea [sic for Rea] (Notes, p.417.)]

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T. S. Eliot’: review of Anthony Julius, T. S. Eliot: Anti-Semitism and Literary Form, in London Review of Books, 9 May, 1996, pp.[12]-15; discusses details of Eliot’s anti-Semitic outlook and writings, notably a dismissive book notice of a study of atrocities in Hitler’s pre-war Germany and deleted anti-Semitic verses on the dead Jew Bleistein in the parodic “Dirge” section of Wasteland (“Full fathoms five your Bleistein lies/…/Graves’ Disease on a dead jew’s eyes!”), and remarks with Ricks on Eliot’s shift from the liberalism of his Unitarian background to the more conservative ethos of Anglicanism and the violence of his treatment of classic texts in “The Wasteland” - a process that Kermode calls ‘decreation’ and which Maud Ellmann characterises as a desire to ‘desecrate tradition’; Paulin argues, ‘To notice this is to begin to align the supposedly classical Eliot much more closely with the complex, late romanticism of Yeats. If, tediously, we have grown used to critical accounts of the “blood sacrifice” that helped to found the Southern Irish statelet, it’s time we began to notice Eliot’s complicity in the prejudices and massacres which went to the founding of various national identities in Europe.’ (p.15); concludes, ‘for all its impressive scholarly detail, Julius’s study is only the beginning of a long process of revisionist criticism which should diminish the overwhelming, the stifling cultural authority which Eliot’s oeuvre has acquired. I have been reading him for more than thirty years, and teaching him for more than twenty - his work seems endlessly subtle and intelligent, many of his cadences are perfect, but there is a malignity in it which is terrifying. It’s so firm and so quiet, because like a true politician Eliot never apologises and he never explains.’ (p.15; End.)

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The Strangeness of the Script’, Paulin in conversation with Sarah Fulford, in Irish Studies Review (Summer 1997), pp.2-4: ‘The Irish textbooks had these illustrations which represented Ireland as some kind of Gaelic paradise. I looked at them and I was struck by the strangeness of the script/ Then, in the 1980s, I felt the pull of the regional vernacular and I started to use dialect words in my poetry. I read a great dictionary of dialect. I wrote a pamphlet arguing for a dictionary of Irish-English, Hiberno-English, or Ulster-English, a variation of English spoken in Ireland. But I know that deep down I feel a sense of loss that I was never taught the Irish language.’; ‘I feel that it is unfortunate that there is not a dictionary of Irish-English because I think it would be an important cultural treasure. I am sad about that. I worry about the limitations of standard English and the way it is enforced in schools. I am horrified by Estuary English.’ (p.2); ‘In general, the British do not speak an emotional language since the system here is structured and you speak a public language. Although you could say there are certain emotional looses when you speak a public language, I do think it is important to have this structure.’ (p.3). [See also remarks on Muldoon, supra.]

On Antigone (1984): ‘I imagined Creon partly as a Northern Irish Secretary, and had him give a press conference where he used the usual cliché about doing a great deal of listening. I wanted Creon to be a kind of puritan gangster, a megalomaniac who spoke alternately in an English public school voice and a deep menacing Ulster growl.’ (Paulin, in Marianne McDonald, & J. Michael Walton, eds., Amid Our Troubles: Irish Versions of Greek Tragedy, London: Methuen 2002, p.167; quoted in Loredana Salis, ‘‘“So Greek with Consequence””: Classical Tragedy in Contemporary Irish Drama’, PhD Diss., UUC, 2005.)

Unafraid: In ‘Self-regard, Pomp and Circumstance’ (Irish Times, Weekend [during] 1991), Paulin offers a scathing appraisal of Virginia Woolf considered as a snobbish writer who dismissed James Joyce as a ‘literary cornerboy’ on purely social grounds.

William Hazlitt: ‘Perhaps what we need is an epic of his times. Perhaps what we need is an anthology of his writings that breaks open individual essays and books, in order to present fragmentary passages that pint towards the Parthenon frieze he worked on all his life.’ (‘Juices of the Mind: William Hazlitt and the Idea of the Unfinished’, in Times Literary Supplement, 10 Oct. 1997, pp.15-17; p.17.)

The Poet breaks his Bonds’, Tom Paulin on Milton’s Samson Agonistes, performed at Dean Clough, Halifax, includes remark: ‘For Samson is England’s Cuchulain, and this is a visionary, heroic national drama, like Yeats’s Cuchulain plays, though of course far better written. Here, the cast achieve through their delivery of Milton’s lines that passionate syntax Yeats found in his lyric poems but only glimpsed in his drama. This is dramatic speech which is always instressed, stressed. On the page, “Dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon” reads as a brilliant movement from the three opening strong stresses to the security of iambic metre. By contrast, Rutter’s delivery makes “blaze” anguished, dominant, tragic and triumphant - a memory of the light of the lost republic and he obliterating wipe-out.’ Further: ‘This is the English republican imagination, armed and resolute and full of an absolute intellectual confidence.’ (TLS, 2 Oct. 1998, p.21.

Rudyard Kipling: review of David Gilmour, The Long Recessional: The Imperial Life of Rudyard Kipling, in Times Literary Supplement (8 March 2002): ‘In his masterpiece, Kim, he uses a series of contradictions to construct his endearing central character, Kimball O’Hara, who is variously described as “English”, a “poor white of the very poorest”, who is also Irish as well as being “burned black as any native”. Kim’s father was an Irish colour sergeant. The “half-caste” woman - Kipling’s phrase - who looks after Kim claims she is the sister of Kim’s mother, but Kipling says “his mother had been nursemaid in a Colonel’s regiment and married Kimball O’Hara”. This does not prove that Kim is white, and it is curious that Kipling should raise the idea of Kim’s being of mixed race only to dispel it. In an odd non-sequitur, we are told that the lama was Kim’s “trove, and he purposed to take possession. Kim’s mother had been Irish too”. / Paulin goes on: ‘Kipling, Gilmour shows, did not like anyone drawing attention to the Celtic side of his ancestry (he had Scottish Jacobite and Ulster ancestors on his mother’s side), but he is presenting Kim as belonging to the “other” in a favourable manner here. He frequently uses racial and cultural stereotypes, viz. - Kim hates cobras because no training can quench the white man’s horror [… &c.], but sits cross legged, and squats as only natives can, while at one point ‘the “Irish” and the “Oriental” in his soul is “tickled”.’ / Paulin adds: ‘Kim’s Irishness is a questionable form of whiteness, and Kipling may have heard the theory that the Irish are descended from primeval Dravidian Indians [...] The point Kipling is making or exploring is that these identities are not polar opposites. Kim has a shifting, ambiguous, protean identity - an identity that expresses so much that is essential to the experience of the colonised, a cunning personality which often takes on or mirrors the identity of the coloniser. Kim’s complexity perhaps expresses Kipling’s impatience with what we now term cultural essentialism, and with the racist ideology that, on another level of mind, he held to.’ Note: Paulin cites Ashis Nandy’s remark in The Intimate Enemy: The Loss and Recovery of Self under Colonialism that Lord Dufferin [Blackwood] liked Kipling’s mother and used to drop in for tea at Simla.

Further, ‘Kipling ‘believed the Irish Free State was the precursor of the “Free States of Evil” throughout the Empire, and described Irish nationalism fatuously as “Bolshevism in Erse”. He broke with Beaverbrook over Ireland, and became increasingly isolated, though he was a close friend of George V and was for many years on good term with his cousin Stanley Baldwin, who first became Prime Minister in 1923.’ Paulin ends by reminding us that verses from Kipling’s “Ulster 1912” were painted on a placard outside Harland and Wolff in 1985. (p.4.) [See also Kipling in RICORSO Library, “Critics”, infra and texts and commentaries in RICORSO Classroom, “Postcolonial Fiction”, infra.)

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Interview with Omayma Abdel-Latif on Israel-Palestine (2002)

‘In my view the European culture carries a very heavy responsibility for the creation of Israel... it is a product of both British and Stalin's anti- Semitism, but the British never faced their own complicity in its construction.’
 Should the British, then, declare a historic responsibility towards the plight of the Palestinians?
 ‘I am not very moved by historical apologies. I don't think the British carry a historical consciousness either.’
 But why?
 ‘Because there is a sort of amorphous, sort of darkness at the heart of things, because there is a certain kind of complacency and individualism.’
 Despite this bleak vision, Paulin thinks the majority of British people do support the Palestinians. The problem is, though, that there is no way of articulating this support.
 ‘This sympathy is not translated into force against the British government because it is not like the anti- apartheid movement which had a high profile here and Mandela is a more engaging figure than Yasser Arafat,’ he says.
 But he believes that the Palestinian cause must somehow occupy that space. ’I think protest and actions have to be organised against the Israelis and their backers. There needs to be a concerted high profile campaign to raise awareness of the people in this country.’
 One of the responsibilities of the writer is to take a stand, argues Paulin, and any literary-political weapon he can summon to support his cause he will. Recently he resigned from the Labour party after realising that the Blair government was ’a Zionist government.’
 ‘Sixty members of the Labour party went on friendly visits to Israel. Blair's special envoy to the Middle East, Lord Levy, has a son who works for the Israeli government, which means that it is linked in all kinds of ways to the Zionist government in Israel.’
 Israel Paulin describes as an ’ahistoric state.’
 ‘It is a state created by the powerful nations somewhere else. It is an artificial state.’
 Nor is he quiet about the balance of power between the Israelis and the Palestinians. The Palestinians, he says, need good anti-tank weapons. ’They have got to meet force with force. They have to be cunning and forceful.’
 So how does the suicide bomber fit within this balance of power?
 ‘I can understand how suicide bombers feel,’ he answers. ’It is an expression of deep injustice and tragedy. I think -- though -- that it is better to resort to conventional guerrilla warfare. I think attacks on civilians in fact boost morale. Hitler bombed London into submission but in fact it created a sense of national solidarity.’
 If there is one thing Paulin clearly abhors about Israel, it is the Brooklyn--born Jewish settlers.
 ‘They should be shot dead,’ he says forcefully. ’I think they are Nazis, racists, I feel nothing but hatred for them.’

‘That Weasel Word’, in Innovative Minds [internet journal] (4 April 2002) - available online

 

Many Cunning Passages: How Maynard Keynes Made His Mark on The Waste Land’, in Times Literary Supplement (29 Nov. 2002): ‘To return to Eliot’s poem after reading Keynes is to realise that in it Eliot is anatomising that “dry sterile”, punitive intellect he shared with Clemenceau in order to reach out like Raskolnikov to an ethic of mercy and forgiveness, an so pass, as Dostoevsky phrases it, from one world to another.’ (pp.14-15; end.)

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References
Andrew Carpenter & Peter Fallon, eds., The Writers: A Sense of Place (Dublin: O’Brien Press 1980), selects ‘Desertmartin: A Poem’ (pp.186); also photo-port.

Blake Morrison & Andrew Motion, eds., The Penguin Book of Contemporary British Poetry (Harmondsworth: Penguin 1982), contains “Settlers”, “Under the Eyes”, “Provincial Narratives”, “In a Northern Landscape”, “Dawros Parish Church”, “Trotsky in Finland”, “Anastasia McLaughlin”, “The Harbour in the Evening”, “Second-Rate Republics”, “A Lyric Afterwards” (pp.116-24.)

Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 2, selects from The Strange Museum; Liberty Tree; Fivemiletown, [1406-10]; BIOG 1435. ADD COMM, Caroline MacDonagh, ‘The Image of the Big House in the Poetry of Derek Mahon and Tom Paulin’, in Jacqueline Genet, ed., The Big House in Ireland (Dingle: Brandon; NY: Barnes & Noble 1991), pp.289-303.

Patrick Crotty, ed., Modern Irish Poetry: An Anthology (Belfast: Blackstaff Press 1995), selects “Pot Burial” [321]; “Where Art Is a Midwife” [322]; “Desertmartin” [322]; “Off the Back of a Lorry” [323]; “A Written Answer” [324]; “The Lonely Tower” [324].

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Catalogues
Books in Print (1994), Theoretical Locations (Belfast: Ulsterman Publications 1975) [0 903048 06 X]; A State of Justice (London: Faber & Faber 1977) [0 571 10982 9]; Personal Column (Belfast: Ulsterman 1978); The Strange Museum (London: Faber & Faber 1980; rep. 1987) [0 571 11511 X]; The Book of Juniper (Newcastle: Bloodaxe 1982) [BNB 1981], ill. Noel Connor [0 90642 716 9]; Liberty Tree (London: Faber & Faber 1983) [UUC ?ERR 1981] [0 571 13025 9]; Fivemiletown (London: Faber & Faber 1987), 67pp. [0 571 14914 6] [US CONGRESS CAT. NOT REG. IN BNB]; Selected Poems 1972-1990 (London: Faber & Faber 1993) [0 571 14941 3]; Walking a Line (London: Faber & Faber 1994) [0 571 17081 1]; also The Argument at Great Tew (Willbrook Press [n.d]) [0 948693 00 2]; Ted Hughes, Laureate of the Free Market? (Kenneth Allott Lectures] (Liverpool Classical Monthly 1991) [1 87125 25 7]; A New Look at the Language Question (Field Day 1983) [0 946755 00 0]; Ireland and the English Crisis (Newcastle upon Tyne: Bloodaxe 1984) [0 906427 64 9]; Minotaur, Poetry and the Nation State (1992) [0 571 16308 4]

Hibernia Books (Cat. No 19) lists Two Poems in Honest Ulsterman (June 1973); Two Poems in Honest Ulsterman (June 1976); Personal Column [Ulsterman 1978]

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Notes
Stormont is a lonely symbol of Ulster Protestant nationalism since there is ‘very little in the way of an indigenous cultural tradition of its own’ in Ulster Protestantism.’ (Ireland and the English Crisis, 1984, p.17; see Brian J. Graham, ‘No Place of the Mind, Contested Protestant Representation of Ulster’, in Ecumene, Journal of Environment, Culture, Meaning, 1.3 (1994), p.265-66.

Ireland’s Liberty Tree’ [a 5 stanza ballad], is copied in A. N. Jeffares, A New Commentary to the Poems of W. B. Yeats (1984), pp.194: ‘A tree has been planted in Ireland,/And watered with tears of the brave;/By our Great-grandsires it was nourished,/Who scorned to be held like the slaves./The trust they transported to their children/To keep it until they were free/And yearly the plant has grown stronger/’Tis called “Ireland’s Liberty Tree!”’//Chorus:] Protect then, the tree, sons of Erin,/Its branches from traitors keep free,/Though Martyrs before ye have perished/’Neath Ireland’s famed Liberty-Tree.

Ian Adamson: Adamson’s Cruithin books were lauded by Tom Paulin in A New Look at the Language Question (1983) as revealing ‘an attitude of mind which is modern, non-sectarian and egalitarian’ - according to a Books Ireland reviewer (March 1993) - who deferred from this judgement, however, placing the books in question next or in the UDA camp.

Bloody Sunday: In a spat with Germaine Greer on “Latenight Review”, presented by Mark Lawson, Paul said of the paratroopers responsible for the Bloody Sunday killings in Derry (Jan. 1972) as ‘they were thugs sent in by public schoolboys to kill innocent Irish people; they were rotten racist bastards’. (Nicholas Wroe, ‘Literature's loose cannon’, in The Guardian, 23 March 2002; see more under Wroe, supra.)

Neil Corcoran takes his title for a collection of critical essays on Northern Irish poets (Brigend 1882) from Tom Paulin’s ‘the chosen ground’ in “The Caravans at Lüneberg Heath” (Fivemiletown, 1987).

Walt Whitman is chosen by Paulin choses in his ‘International Books of the Year’ choice [TLS, 4 Dec 1993], remarking on the lack of celebration for his liberated modern consciousness an benevolent Republicanism in his centenary year in America, calling him ‘the last poet of the good old cause’. In the same column, Paul Muldoon confesses his admiration for Julian Barnes.

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Philip Larkin: Anthony Thwaite’s edition of The Larkin Letters is the subject of a letter from Paulin in Times Literary Supplement (6 Nov. 1992): ‘I share Mick Imlah’s concern [in a review of 23 Oct], particularly in relation to the race hatred these letters exude in places. There are moments in this selection when Thwaite pulls back, so far as I can tell, from allowing Larkin’s racial prejudices free rein [...] For the present, this selection stands as a distressing and in many ways revolting compilation which imperfectly reveals and conceals the sewer under the national monument Larkin became.’ Thwaite replies in the following issue, claiming that he has made no circumspect deletions. On 20 Nov. in the same organ, Tim Trengove-Jones offers the view that ‘racism is usually glossed with the tag of Englishness, and we should be grateful to Paulin for scraping away the veneer.’ In the same issue, W. Ruddick considers that Paulin has trouble ‘catching Larkin’s often farcical tone of voice and fondness for literary burlesque.’ Paulin answers on his own account on 27 Nov., calling for the printing of the possible two pages of possibly offensive letter, and another correspondent, Robindra K Biswas of Leicester, disclaims any sense of troubling racism in Larkin, and accuses Paulin of ‘deduction from a total gap’. He is also facetious about his ’s language in phrases such as ‘presently [sic]’ for at present, and ‘persons of colour’ for those like the correspondent himself.

Palestine setters: Paulin is the subject of reports in the Independent on Sunday (28 April 2002), arising from his remarks to an Egyptian newspaper that “Brooklyn born Jews” who settle in occupied territories in Palestine “should be shot dead” adding, “I thinkg they are Nazis, racists, I feel nothing but hatred for them”. Robert Mendick writes, ‘his problems have been compounded by a judge’s ruling that his actions as moral tutor in supporting an Asian student bringing a race discrimination claim against the university were “lamentable”.’ Notes also that the National Lottery grant of £75,000 to Paulin. An editorial in the same issue is headed “… but don’t ban Dr Paulin” (‘the dishevelled darling of BBC2’s Late Review’, conceding that ‘Dr Paulin has exploited them [the ‘privileges of freedom of thought and speech’] ‘in a thoughtless and savage manner’ but that that our defence of free speech is tested by opinions we dislike, not those we like.

Sin of omission?: Paulin’s poetry was not included in The Bloodaxe Book of Twentieth Century Poetry from Britain and Ireland edited by Edna Longley (2001).

The Invasion Book (2002): Conceived in several volumes, each book is independent but contributes to an evolving whole, an epic in cento form. The Invasion Handbook opens with the Versailles Peace Treaty of 1919, which excluded Germany from the community of nations, and with the answering but ill-fated attempt of the Locarno Treaties of 1925 to restore the torn fabric of Europe. It evokes Weimar culture, Hitler’s rise to power, the beginnings of the persecution of the Jews, moving backwards and forwards in response to the vast shuttle of events. The poem is a triumph of technique, a simultaneous vision which proceeds by quotation and collage, catalogue and caption, prose as well as verse - a myriad staging of historical realities through the poet’s intense and bitter scrutiny of the particulars of time and place. Tom Paulin’s poem of war affirms the struggle and the memory of a generation upon whom the doors of living memory are now closing - the generation of the poet’s parents - and it extends concerns which have haunted Tom Paulin’s poetry: the relation of art to war and to questions of national identity, the search for peace and for a shared civic culture. (Publisher’s note; see COPAC online; accessed 28.02.2011.)

Euripedes’ Medea (2010): maddened by her husband Jason’s infidelity, murders their two sons. One of the most famous of the Greek tragedies, is reworked by poet Tom Paulin into lithe and sinewy modern English that conveys the shocking story - and our conflicted loyalties as spectators to the tragedy - more strongly than ever. (See COPAC online.)

Roy Foster: in the Times Literary Supplement ‘Books of the Year’ column during Dec. 2002, Foster selected, inter al., Tom Paulin, The Invasion Handbook (Faber), of which he writes: ‘Tacking across Europe in a scatter-gun montage of discordant and challenging voices and visions, from the Treaty of Versailles to the phoney war, it demands rereading and promises to build into something completely new’ (TLS, 6 Dec. 2002).

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Literary papers?: Literary papers of Tom Paulin, with some related material, including correspondence are deposited at Leeds University Library. These consist of 2 boxes; manuscript, typescript, photographs, press cuttings, floppy discs, and printed material (some photocopy), incl. 3 floppy discs. Contents: (1) 15 autograph manuscript drafts of Paulin’s poem ’Hegel and the War Criminals’ (n.d.); (2) A photocopy of the typescript of his essay ‘Imagining history: Ian Paisley and the Historians’, with autograph revisions (ca. 1981); (3) Papers concerning his poetry collection The Book of Juniper (c.1981), including a typescript of the text, a signed copy of the published work, a corrected proof of the poem printed in the Times Literary Supplement, 8 Feb. 1980, and a photocopy of a letter from Noel Connor to Paulin, dated 6 Oct. 1980, concerning the illustrations in the book; (4) Papers concerning his poetry collection The Liberty Tree (c.1983), including autograph manuscripts of 25 poems published in the book, together with 11 other poems, a photocopied typescript of the complete contents, 3 sets of proofs (1 of which is incomplete) with autograph revisions, a copy of the pulped edition of the work as it first appeared in 1983 and was rejected by the author, papers concerning the revised cover for the book with 2 coloured photographs, and some correspondence, dated 1982-83, concerning the purchase of this part of the archive for the Brotherton Collection; and (5) Papers concerning his verse play The Riot Act (c.1985), including autograph manuscripts, several wordprocessed printouts, 3 floppy discs, proofs of the play, a corrected printer’s proof copy, the Field Day Theatre Company’s printed publicity brochure, and letters from Faber and Faber to Paulin, dated 1985, concerning the page proofs.

Writing to the Moment (1996) - the selected essays of 1980-96 was reprinted in 1996 with the notice: A collection of essays, reviews and introductions - many with a marked political slant - plus some overtly political writings, by a poet and critic who is also a champion of British and Irish dissent. Northern Ireland looms large, but Paulin’s main concern is with artistic excellence.

Family life:  Paulin met his wife, Munjiet Kaur Khosa, called Giti, at Hull, where they were on the same course. Having grown up in Northern Ireland's small Sikh community and had attended a Catholic school, she afterwards became schools adviser for the Local Education Authority in Oxford. They have two sons, Michael (b.1981) and Niall (b.1982), graduates respectively from Leeds and Sheffield. (See Nicholas Wroe, op. cit.,

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