'Thank you, O golden mother, / For giving me a life,' says Paul Durcan in this brilliant new collection, a poignant tribute to 'the first woman I ever knew'. Sheila MacBride came from a political family – her uncle John MacBride was executed in 1916 for his part in the Easter Uprising – but when Sheila married into the 'black, red-roaring, fighting Durcans of Mayo' she was obliged to give up a promising legal career. These poems commemorate his mother as Paul Durcan remembers her playing golf, reading Tolstoy, and initiating him in the magic of the cinema. He recalls her compassion and loyalty when he was committed to a mental hospital in adolescence and how she endured the ordeal of her old age.
Durcan also muses upon the beauty of Greek women and questions our need for newspapers and the new religion of golf. He is beguiled by a beggar woman, enraged by a young man picking his nose on the Dublin–Sligo commuter train, and gets into difficulty at the security gate of Dublin airport.
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The world is all the richer for this man’s verse - Irish Independent
Durcan’s voice speaks clearly on the page in poems of harrowing intimacy, politics and love - Carol Ann Duffy
Paul Durcan's Ireland is the one we inhabit. At times he is ready to celebrate the bizarre and the ordinary; at other times he is full of a surreal rage against both order and disorder - Times Literary Supplement
Risky, complex, full of compassion, Durcan's interrogations of storytelling itself, of the juxtapositions and confluences of personal history and political struggle, are a bristling tour de force - Independent
Durcan's importance as a writer, and his uniqueness, are still reassuringly evident - Guardian
Anyone who has attended one of his electrifying poetry readings and been reduced to hysteria (a common enough occurrence) can testify to the unique flavour of his work - Guardian
Paul Durcan was born in Dublin in 1944. His first book, Endsville (1967), has been followed by twenty-two others, including The Berlin Wall Café (a Poetry Book Society Choice in 1985), Daddy, Daddy (winner of the Whitbread Award for Poetry in 1990), Crazy About Women (1991), A Snail in My Prime: New and Selected Poems (1993), Give Me Your Hand (1994), Greetings to Our Friends in Brazil (1999), The Art of Life (2004), Life is a Dream: 40 Years Reading Poems 1967-2007 (2009), and Praise in Which I Live and Move and Have My Being (2012). In 2001 Paul Durcan received a Cholmondeley Award. He was Ireland Professor of Poetry from 2004 to 2007. He was conferred with a DLitt by Trinity College Dublin in 2009 and by University College Dublin in 2011. He is a member of Aosdána.