Maurice Riordan

1953- ; b. Lisgoold, Co. Cork; ed. St. Colman’s College, Fermoy, UCC (NUI) and McMaster University, Ontario; briefly taught at UCC; teaches at Imperial College and Goldsmiths College; issued A Word from the Loki (1995), poems, shortlisted for T. S. Eliot Prize; awarded Society of Authors’ travelling scholarship; issued Floods (2000), shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize; selected as one of the “Next Generation” poets by the Poetry Society, 2004; dir. of Tower Poetry; ed. of Poetry London, 2005;

issued trans. of the Maltese poet Immanuel Mifsud in Confidential Reports (2005); a new collection, The Holy Land (2007), incorporating 18 “Idylls”; issued The Holy Land (1007), winner of the Michael Hartnett Award; lives in London; taught at Imperial and Goldsmith Colleges, London; appt. editor of Poetry London, and teaches at Sheffield Hallam; The Water Stealer nominated for the T. S. Eliot Poetry Prize, Oct. 2013.

BBC3 ) - Ian McMillan presents The Verb with poet Maurice Riordan; writers Ben Masters and Chloe Aridjis; and singer-songwriter, Lisa Knapp. (Friday, 29 Nov. 2013 at 22.00 and podcast.)

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Poetry collections
  • A Word form the Loki (London: Faber 1995), x, 50pp.;
  • Floods (London: Faber & Faber 2000), 53pp.;
  • trans., Immanuel Mifsud, Confidential Reports (Cork: Southword Edns. 2005), 63pp.; The Holy Land (London: Faber & Faber 2007), 64pp. [ded. to his father].
  • ed., with Jon Turney, A Quark for Mister Mark: 101 Poems About Science (London: Faber & Faber 2000), xiv, 208pp. [echoing Joyce’s Wake phrase and Gell-Mann’s adaptation of same in naming the newly discovered sub-atomic particle];
  • ed., with John Burnside, Wild Reckoning: An Anthology Provoked by Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” (London: Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 2004), 254pp.;
  • ed., with Colm Breathnach, The Best of Irish Poetry ( Southword Edns. 2006), q.pp.;

Also, The Moon Has Written You a Poem, [children’s stories] after José Letria [Portuguese] (2005).

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James Scruton, review of A Word from the Loki, in Irish Literary Supplement (Fall 1995), p.8; Fiona Sampson, review of The Holy Land, in The Irish Times (3 March 2007), Weekend, p.13 [‘a fine and serious book, which deserves a wide, non-specialist audience’].

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Tim Dooley, review of A Word from the Loki, in Times Literary Supplement (26 May 1995), starting points are Ireland and scenes from the dissolution of a marriage.

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John McAuliffe, review of The Water Stealer, in The Irish Times (13 July 2013)

‘Riordan is a thoughtful, enquiring poet and an impressive storyteller. “The Lull”, typically, freezes the frame of a particular and disorienting moment which shatters the veneer of daily routines [Quotes: “The Lull”]:

  that lull [when] no one can enter the world,
or leave it; the cars stand on the motorway,
the greyhound’s legs are knotted above the track,
a missile is framed in mid-flight, no sound
can come from the child’s mouth, the open beak

Even as he conjures such a moment Riordan allows that the opposite is true, that there will be no “time out”’:

  [When] the punching fist can be opened, the egg slipped back
under the nesting bird, and each of us could scurry
to forestall one mischance, or undo one wrong choice
whose thorn of consequence has lodged till now,
before whatever it is keeps the world scary
and true breaks loose.

Riordan puzzles over the recurrence and significance of certain feelings and events, but he also does more than simply register what happened. [He] invents other possibilities in poems which bear his very particular stamp and poise, with archaic words and philosophical ruminations slipped into a more conversational idiom. [...]’ Remarks that Gregory O’Donogue, Michael Murphy and Michael Donaghy are all remembered in elegies. [Note: McAuliffe’s sentence above is quoted in The Irish Times report on Riordan’s shortlisting for T. S. Eliot Prize, 31 Aug. 2013.]

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Greg Delanty [with Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill], ed., Jumping Off Shadows (Cork UP 1995), incls. poem[s].

Patrick Crotty, ed., Modern Irish Poetry: An Anthology (Belfast: Blackstaff Press 1995), selects “Milk” [384]; “Time Out” [385]; “A Word from the Loki” [387].

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