My Favourite Male Poet – Paul Durcan

Paul Durcan:

Poetry collections
  • with Brian Lynch, Endsville (Dublin: New Writers Press 1967);
  • O Westport in the Light of Asia Minor (Dublin: Anna Livia Books [Dublin Magazine Press] 1975), and Do. [rep. edn.] (London: Harvill 1995), 86pp. [citing 1967 as 1st edn.];
  • Teresa’s Bar (Dublin: Gallery Press 1976; rev. edn. 1986), 56pp.;
  • Sam’s Cross (Dublin: Profile [Poetry] Press 1978), 88pp.;
  • Jesus, Break His Fall (Dublin: Raven Arts Press 1980, 1982), 62pp. [see contents];
  • Ark of the North (Dublin: Raven Arts 1982) [ltd. edn. 25 copies];
  • Edna Longley, ed., The Selected Paul Durcan (Belfast: Blackstaff 1982; 2nd edn. 1985), 144pp.;
  • Jumping the Train Tracks with Angela (Dublin: Raven Arts; Manchester: Carcanet New Press 1983);
  • The Berlin Wall Café (Belfast: Blackstaff 1985), 70pp., cover ill. by Edward Maguire [“Blackbird on a Plate II”], and Do. [rep. edn.] (London: Harvill 1995), 96pp.;
  • Going Home to Russia (Belfast: Blackstaff 1987; 2nd edn. 1990);
  • Jesus and Angela (Belfast: Blackstaff; Chester Springs: Dufour Eds. 1988, 1989);
  • with Gene Lambert, In the Land of Punt (Dublin: Clashganna Mills Press 1988), 36pp.,;
  • Daddy Daddy: Poems (Belfast: Blackstaff 1990), ‘in memory of John James Durcan of Turlough, County Mayo 1907-1988’ [assisted by Arts Council];
  • Crazy About Women (Dublin: NGI 1991);
  • A Snail in My Prime: New and Selected Poems (Belfast: Blackstaff; Harvill 1993), 272pp;
  • Give Me Your Hand (London: Macmillan 1994) ill. [based on impressions of paintings in National Gallery, London];
  • Christmas Day [with] A Goose in The Frost (London: Harvill 1996), 88pp., long poems
  • Cries of an Irish Caveman (London: Harvill 2001), 166pp.;
  • The Art of Life (London: Harvill 2004), 118pp.
  • The Laughter of Mothers (Harvill 2008), q.pp.
  • Life Is a Dream: 40 Years Reading Poems 1967-2007 (London: Random House UK 2009), 586pp. ;
  • The Praise in Which I Move and Have My Being (London: Harvill Secker 2012), q.pp.
  • The Day of Surprise (London: Harvill Secker 2015)

See also poems in The Irish Review, 27, 1 (Summer 2001) & 30, 1 (November 2003).

  • Paul Durcan’s Diary (Dublin: New Island Press 2003), 270pp.

See also The Poet’s Chair: The First Nine Years of the Ireland Chair of Poetry – John Montague, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Paul Durcan, with a foreword by Seamus Heaney and a preface by Donnell Deeny (Dublin: Lilliput Press 2008), xiv, 264pp. [Durcan – 7. ‘Cronin’s Cantos’; 8. ‘Hartnett’s Farewell’; 9. ‘The Mountain and Mahomet[: The Mystery of Harry Clifton]’.

  • Foreword to Anthony Cronin, R.M.S. Titanic [Raven Long Poems] (Dublin: Raven Arts Press 1981), 22pp.;
  • Ark of the North: for Francis Stuart on his Eightieth Birthday (28th April 1982) [Raven Long Poems Ser. (Dublin: Raven Arts 1982), 24pp.;
  • ‘Passage to Utopia’, in Richard kearney, ed., Across the Frontiers: Ireland in the 1990s (Dublin: Wolfhound 1988), cp.196)
  • foreword to E. Estyn Evans, The Personality of Ireland [rep. edn.] (Dublin: Lilliput Press 1992);
  • intro., Redemption, by Francis Stuart (Dublin: New Island Press 1994) [q.pp.];
  • Contrib. to Tom Dunne & Laurence M. Geary, ed., History and the Public Sphere: Essays in Honour of John A. Murphy (Cork UP 2005), [q.pp.];
  • ‘Critical faculties’, review of Hugh McFadden, ed., Crystal Clear: The Selected Prose of John Jordan, in The Irish Times (15 July 2006), Weekend

Paul Durcan’s Diary (2003)

The Art of Life (2004) – shortlisted for Poetry Now Award, 2005;

inaug. to Ireland Chair of Poetry with a lecture on “Cronin’s Cantos: The Poet as Philosopher”, 3 March 2005; subject of interview-programme, dir. Alan Gilsenan, in “Arts Lives” series (RTE, 8 May 2007, 10.15pm);

issued a new collection, The Laughter of Mothers (2007); received Hon. D.Litt from TCD in 2009;

issued Life Is a Dream: 40 Years Reading Poems 1967-2007 (2009); Hon. D.Litt from UCD, 2011;

issued new collection, The Praise in Which I Live and Move and Have My Being (2012), his twenty-second collection – reworking Acts. 12:28 [New Testament] and celebrating the resilience of ordinary people in the face of the banking scandal and the fall of the Celtic Tiger; read at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, 2012;

Durcan lives on Cambridge [Rd.], Ringsend [Irishtown], Dublin; received Lifetime Achievement Irish Book Award, 2014; The Day of Surprise (2015)

Documentary on Paul Durcan :

Life & Poetry By Irish Culture & Customs:

John Knowles, interview with Paul Durcan, in Fortnight [Belfast] (April/May 2005), pp.21-22: ‘The ability to absorb himself in places and events, is also something that marks his work.”

Eve Patten, ‘Critical Perspective on Paul Durcan’, in Contemporary Writers (British Council 2008): One of modern Ireland’s most distinctive poets, Paul Durcan is renowned as both an outspoken critic of his native country, and as a chronicler of its emergence from the repressions of the 1950s to the contradictions of the present day. His work is aggressively satirical, dedicated to exposing a range of Irish ills: the hypocrisies of the church, the obfuscating bureaucracy of state and the smug bourgeois affectations of Dublin’s “chattering classes”. But he has a capacity too for lyricism and intense personal romanticism, as a poet of love, eroticism, and loss. His striking metaphors and dislocating images, meanwhile, result in a poetry which is extraordinarily visual and frequently, surreal. Celebrated for his dramatic and incantatory reading style he is, above all, a risk taker, unorthodox in his use of prayer forms, ballads, and free-flowing dramatic monologues, and relentlessly iconoclastic in his treatment of contemporary life and events.

Harry Clifton, ‘In the work of Paul Durcan, we have a realisation of Patrick Kavanagh’s idea of Comedy, or the Comic Vision, as Abundance of Life. Kavanagh may have outlined the blueprint for such a vision but Durcan has filled in the spaces.’

Paul Durcan:

Sample Poem:

“Cissy Youngs” – to Rosa Alice Branco

That first year in Cork city – ’71/72 –
I spent the afternoons from four to six
Sitting alone sipping pints of Smithwicks
In a public house on the Bandon Road,
Cissy Young’s,
Reading Bishop Berkeley’s A Treatise
Concerning the Principles of Human
I, ex-footballer, ex-hurler,
Branded by the dominant males
Of the Irish tribe “a hippy,”
Rejoiced in the eighteenth-century,
I sat in the private lounge,
As distinct from the public bar,
Because the private lounge was nearly
always empty.
Men in the public bar saluted me
Through the hatch.
Cissy Young’s, all formica, banquette,
More anonymous, cosier by far
Than any salty, arty Kinsale bar.

That year in Cissy Young’s reading Berkeley
Was a foundation year in my life as a writer
And, if I may meekly, profoundly trumpet,
My life as the virtuoso university teacher
I never became:
An attacking player on Berkeley’s dream team.
Cissy Young’s on the Bandon Road
Was my University of the Bermudas
Where I learnt the basics of my trade:
Learnt to think the hard way,
Learnt how to head the ball one way, looking
the other way;
Learnt the relationship between soul and body;
Learnt to communicate through the hatch;
Learnt how to introduce Libyan storytellers to
Cork insurance officials;
Learnt that reality is poetry, poetry reality;
Learnt the way of all things;
Learnt the existence of God –
That at five in the afternoon
On the Bandon Road in Cork City in Ireland
In the empty, private lounge of Cissy Young’s
“To be is to be perceived.”


About Author Annette J Dunlea Irish Writer

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