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This review is taken from PN Review 145, Volume 28 Number 5, May - June 2002.

HEALTHY SUSPICION DENNIS O'DRISCOLL, Troubled Thoughts, Majestic Dreams (Gallery Press) £23.63 hb, £13.78 pb

In Dennis O'Driscoll's recent collection of selected prose writings, Troubled Thoughts, Majestic Dreams, the reader is not only treated to over forty of his discerning reviews and articles (written over the past fifteen years and published in magazines such as PN Review, Agenda, Poetry Review, and the Times Literary Supplement) but also offered insight into this County Tipperary-bred critic and poet from autobiographical entries such as 'Circling the Square' and 'At Work'. These pieces are supplemented by a transcript of an interview with Michael Garvey for Irish television, which was produced in 1998.

What we learn about Dennis O'Driscoll in these autobiographical entries informs the reader not so much about his five collections of poems or even his maturation as a poet, but rather about what growing up in a sleepy town like Thurles was like, or about how O'Driscoll objects to the blatant favouritism that is rampant in Irish poetry reviews. His reflections on the nature of poetry are discussed in three essays from the 'On Writing' section of the book. Of course, as might be expected, the remaining essays include reviews on Irish, English, American, and European poetry. But O'Driscoll's European poetry reviews skirt the expected western European poets' collections; instead, he focuses on collections written by poets emerging from the old Iron Curtain countries, where being a poet still carries a distinction now largely ignored here in the West. Estonian (Jaan Kaplinski), Lithuanian (Czeslaw Milosz), Polish (Adam Zagajewski), Czech (Sylva Fischerová), and Serbian (Vasko ...


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