Thursday, October 13, 2016

THIS WRITING LIFE : James Liddy & et cetera

From Journal,
[Saturday, 8 Oct. ‘16]

Ive been reading James Liddy’s It Swings from Side to Side (Arlen House, 2011), poems written in 2008 during his illness, a knowingly posthumous collection? Again I’m struck by the exultant writing which is the timbre of thinking aloud/talking/singing in the moment, receptive, responsible indeed, to the frame, the field delineated by the moment. Nothing to do with style, everything to do with being present. Paradoxically such a writer is historically fluent, for the history that flows in the poetry is ultimately opportunity for his own song, that is his own compounded phrasing, intent for his own sound, intensely himself.

[Tuesday, 11 Oct. ‘16]

This kind of historical man --history not incorporated as Whitman, Pound, but constituent of the flow, perhaps even constituting it --for which “song of myself” the intensity of presence is what one reads & hears.

P.S. (2)
[from Facebook post, 13 Oct. 16]

Suddenly realized that the author of the article "A note on the legacy of Patrick Kavanagh" in the splendid Honeysuckle, Honeyjuice : A Tribute to James Liddy (ed Michael Begnal, Arlen House, Galway, 2006), is the same Emily Cullen met here in Melbourne couple of years or so ago! Dropped her a line, described current reading around George Stanley, James Liddy & other Irish & American poets. She confirmed, mentioned the introduction to Libby Hart, a continuing connection she says. Likes my description of Liddy's poetry as 'powerful & poignant'...

Meanwhile Ive read Brendan Kennelly's essay on Patrick Kavanagh (in Journey into Joy, Bloodaxe, '94), excellent in itself, in which Liddy is described as a 'loner'. Kennelly, "I'm thinking of poets who, instead of becoming embroiled in Ireland's local squabbles, write and work in different parts of the world. Bernard O'Donoghue, Eamon Grennan, Peter McDonald, Greg Delanty, James Liddy, Matthew Sweeney are, literally, outsiders whose work reflects that fact. Ireland is an island washed, in the eyes of many exiles, by nostalgic seas. None of the poets I've mentioned has been a victim of this nostalgia." Whilst holding up as & within an Irish literary-political perspective, Liddy's hardly a loner in the psychological sense, and in America was a San Franciscan at an important time for the New Poetry, and later in Wisconsin, pivotal to Irish & American cross-currents.

Regarding the Kavanagh/Liddy correlation Emily writes, "In the same way that James Liddy is uniquely James Liddy, Patrick Kavanagh was Patrick Kavanagh alone --his own man, true to himself --ultimately inscrutable, but wonderfully original in every way. It is one of the tragedies of Irish literature that the gift of Patrick Kavanagh was not more widely appreciated during his lifetime. Without the recognition Kavanagh received from a core group of the upcoming generation of poets, including Liddy, Eavan Boland, Brendan Kennelly, Leland Bardwell, Paul Durcan, etc., there would be a palpable gap in the acknowledgement and passing on of the poet's work..."


richard lopez said...

excellent post on liddy and kavanagh. i've been a great admirer of both poets for some time. kavanagh's mystical earthiness is something special. that his collected is a slim volume does not correlate to a diminished achievement. that cranky old poet is astonishing in his range. thank you, kris, for your thoughts.

collectedworks said...

Thank you Richard... The Kavanagh story well known of course but delighted you read/have read Liddy... I had the Collected Liddy twenty-odd years ago but because of writing on George Stanley have now reconnected and am reading all the books i can lay hands on! I'll be posting something soon on Stanley, Liddy & co... Best wishes, Kris