Author(s): Wes Davis
Never before has there been a single-volume anthology of modern Irish poetry so significant and groundbreaking as "An Anthology of Modern Irish Poetry". Collected here is a comprehensive representation of Irish poetic achievement in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, from poets such as Austin Clarke and Samuel Beckett who were writing while Yeats and Joyce were still living; to those who came of age in the turbulent '60s as sectarian violence escalated, including Seamus Heaney and Michael Longley; to a new generation of Irish writers, represented by such diverse, interesting voices as David Wheatley (born 1970) and Sinead Morrissey (born 1972). Scholar and editor Wes Davis has chosen work by more than fifty leading modern and contemporary Irish poets. Each poet is represented by a generous number of poems (there are nearly 800 poems in the anthology). The editor's selection includes work by world-renowned poets, including a couple of Nobel Prize winners, as well as work by poets whose careers may be less well known to the general public; by poets writing in English; and by several working in the Irish language (Gaelic selections appear in translation). Accompanying the selections are a general introduction that provides a historical overview, informative short essays on each poet, and helpful notes - all prepared by the editor.
'Irish poets, learn your trade,' enjoined Yeats. 'Sing whatever is well made.' They did, they do. Ireland's contemporary poets, wherever they now live, have made a new poetry as rich and strange, as varied and touching, as the language can be. Wes Davis's extraordinary anthology is itself an island-a place apart in the heart of things, and an unparalleled view onto writing that soars and crackles and thrills. I've already put it onto my short shelf of indispensable books! -- J. D. McClatchy A much-needed volume, and one that will quickly become indispensable to readers of poetry as well as those interested in all things Irish. This is a publishing event...a great achievement. -- David Mikics, University of Houston It is good to see that Irish poetry thrives on the examples of Kinsella, Montague, Longley, Heaney, Mahon, and their colleagues. Younger poets make a different call on our attention: it will take us a little while to see where they stand in relation to their established elders. Davis's anthology will help us immensely in those questionings. His notes are helpful, never intrusive. No one could have presented the poems more handsomely. A splendid, notably generous selection. -- Denis Donoghue A bountiful selection, displaying much of the range and vigour of poetry in two languages. The Anthology pits the mundane against the mythical, valuably emphasising the ways in which Irish artists explore the ordinary universe and everyday life. -- Declan Kiberd
Wes Davis is a former assistant professor of English at Yale University. He has written on British and American literature for publications ranging from the Southwest Review and Parnassus to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.