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This article is taken from PN Review 57, Volume 14 Number 1, September - October 1987.

Irish Stew and Flummery Andrew Waterman

The books under review here accompanied me during the Christmas period across the border and north into 'the South', to the top of Donegal. On Christmas Eve I opted for the pub, aware that the quality of the Guinness and the company could be better depended upon than that of a miscellany of contemporary Irish poetry and criticism thereof. On Christmas Day itself the weather was clement, sun rekindled some green in the mountainy slopes backing Dunfanaghy and made lambent the ocean idling around the outflung hump of Horn Head. Having time to spare, I began reading Robert F. Garratt's book Modern Irish Poetry (University of California Press, £25.00), here at the quiet limit of the world . . ..

And there possessed me a sense of incongruity, in my awareness that all round the globe are thrumming the academic factories and assembly-lines of the multinational phenomenon, Anglo-Irish literary studies - in Australia, in Scandinavia, thriving in Japan even, but above all beyond the curve of Atlantic glittering before me, in the continent of North America. What would they make of it all here in North Donegal? - not, doubtless, the only test of the validity of literary activity, yet the ordinary Irish person - a hairdresser, say, or farmer, publican, building-society clerk - does commonly have a genuine interest in and liking for poetry rarely encountered in their counter-parts across the water; and a live concern for culture generally. But most products of the global Anglo-Irish ...


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