Welcome to Irish poetry - March 2006
For the second issue of the Irish domain we once again present two poets, one writing in Irish, the other in English. They are roughly of the same generation. Both involve myth in their work. Both have a feel for language as a plastic textural medium. Not only do the associated nuances and signifiers of the combined words matter to them, but in a way which is more extreme than in most poets, their feel for the sounds of the words is crucial. There is an almost tactile quality to the language they use.
Famously during a straw poll in the ‘90s, Seamus Heaney chose John Ennis as Ireland’s most undeservedly neglected poet. The situation has not improved in the meantime. Despite the prolific nature of Ennis’s output (or perhaps even because of it) there is a dearth of critical assessment focussing on his oeuvre. He has not only been prolific in output but also in the range of his subject matter and choice of forms. He is one of the few contemporary Irish poets to have written and published a book-length poem and his tendency towards length is reflected in the selection we present here.
Celia de Fréine has been less prolific than Ennis, starting to publish only in this century but already attracting the admiration of peers such as Paul Muldoon and Bernard O’Donoghue. Still, the lack of academic attention given to both these poets is typical of most poets of the Republic and is reflected in the dearth of web links we can provide on Ennis and De Fréine.