PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
News and Notes
PNR266 Now Available
The latest issue of PN Review is now available to read online. read more
Most Read... Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Tim Parksin conversation with Natalia Ginzburg
(PN Review 49)
M. Wynn ThomasThe Other Side of the Hedge
(PN Review 239)
Jamie OsbornIn conversation with Sasha Dugdale
(PN Review 240)
Drew MilneTom Raworth’s Writing ‘present past improved’: Tom Raworth’s Writing
(PN Review 236)
Next Issue Stav Poleg Running Between Languages Jeffrey Meyers on Mr W.H. (Auden) Miles Burrows The Critic as Cleaning Lady Timothy Ades translates Brecht, Karen Leeder translates Ulrike Almut Sandig
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PNR 250 Poetry Archive Banner
PN Review New Issue

This interview is taken from PN Review 95, Volume 20 Number 3, January - February 1994.

in Conversation with P.J. Kavanagh Clive Wilmer

I tend to think of P.J. Kavanagh as first and foremost a 'nature poet', very much in the tradition of Edward Thomas and Ivor Gurney. Neither Thomas nor Gurney were 'modernists', but both of them 'modernized': they loosened the old metres, favoured conversational diction and sought to capture in words the exact texture and particularity of the things they so closely observed. Kavanagh has followed them in all these ways, and paid homage to both of them in two fine poems. He also edited the historic Collected Poems of Ivor Gurney which for many of us, in 1982, re-adjusted our perspectives on modern poetry in England.

This is not to say that Kavanagh is stuck in a pre-war world of rural nostalgia, though there is plenty of evidence in his poems that he prefers the country to the city. It is rather that the vanishing countryside becomes for him a kind of vantage point from which to view our changing world, as well as the more general questions of human love and suffering that are always with us.

Born in 1931, Kavanagh has been a teacher overseas, a broadcaster and an actor, as well as what he now is, a professional writer, with six novels, two memoirs, some anthologies and a book of journalism to his credit. But the central focus of his work remains his poetry: seven books of it, now gathered together as Collected Poems (1992).

There's a very large autobiographical ...


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image